CHAPTER 1 of my next book
Falling Down the Hole
Sometimes when I finish the
I had strayed from my regular Saturday morning routine of waking at 7am and bolting out the door by eight. I was up before six and had spent more than an hour watching the tape of my 12-year-old daughter Samantha’s piano recital from the night before. I re-watched her twenty-minute solo until it felt as though I had not missed the show. However, Sam would not forgive me, as easily as I wished, nor would she care how much I had earned while absent.
I put in eighty-hour workweeks with Friday marking the only scheduled rest day. Lately I had worked them as well. The real-estate market was booming higher than anything experienced in the last century. Record sales meant record commissions. I had everything I had ever dreamed of including an M-Class Mercedes and thousand dollar Italian suits. All I needed was more time for my wife and child.
In the kitchen was a new dilemma. By 7:30, the Mr. Coffee had long since passed its automatic shut off time and the urn was ice cold.
No problem, nuke it. I filled a clean mug, placed it in the miracle of modern convenience, and pushed the beverage button twice. I leaned my back on the stove and rubbed the remaining sleep gunk from my weary eyelids.
My thoughts shifted to Samantha. Her misty-eyed disappointment and her harsh words….
“You don’t give a damn about me…only care about making money!”
My father would never have stood for such talk from a child. Though he’d been gone thirty years, I still occasionally sensed his presence; a hand on my shoulder or a peripheral image that of course wasn’t there.
I opened my eyes in time to watch the timer roll down from twelve seconds. A superstition that always brought me a fine tasting re-heat.
Eleven-ten-nine. A strange sensation flashed my senses. I knew I had had the dream again last night. This time I could not remember the images, however, the emotional impact remained. I recalled the racing heart, a suffocating shortness of breath and jolting awake to cold darkness.
I stared at the screen that read zero for almost a minute thinking about the dream and why it continued to plague my sleep.
I punched the door release, and then grabbed the cup of steaming liquid. When I removed the cup and moved it to the stovetop, two drops of coffee hit the floor, and another rained on my foot. A leak?
I lifted the mug, tipped it forward on a slight angle, and held it so I could see the bottom. Sure enough, drips of dark liquid were trickling from a chip on the edge of the cup below the handle.
My face boiled and I staggered away from the stove. My 20-20 vision flared from searing red to blinding white to a drowning blur. My head spun, nausea swept over me, and I needed to scream.
“Peter!” my wife, Danielle, called to me.
I heard her worn slippers on the hardwood flooring of the dining room.
“Pete, what was that? Did something break?”
I thought she was standing in the doorway.
I turned to her and said, “I dunno.”
I heard a horrified gasp from her and then, “Oh, God! Oh, God!”
“Dan. I-thin-I-gonna-pass-out,” I mumbled.
“Oh, God.” I heard her behind me and she moved something. “There is a chair right at your butt. Just sit gently.”
I sat and slumped forward. Then Dani was gone. Fear washed over me, and then she returned.
“Oh, shit. Oh, God, this phone isn’t charged—its dead,” she said.
My heart hammered in my ears, so loud and so fast. I put my left hand to my face and felt a sharp object jutting from where my left eye should be. “Dani?” My voice sounded weak.
“I’m using the living room phone,” she said. “It has a cord, remember? So hang on! Ambulance!” Dani’s words sounded distant. “My husband. His coffee mug exploded. His…his face is all cut and bleeding!”
My mind drifted to when I first met Dani when we were barely twenty. Her father was buying her a used car and I sold the wrecks part-time. She visited my lot several times, even though she could have found a quality vehicle anywhere.
Oh, God, what happened?
“Dani—I’m sore. I’m sore I worse so mush.” I tried to apologize for putting in so many hours and for leaving her alone too often.
“Tell Shammy I love her.” I heard my words slur and I knew I would never see my daughter again. My legs weakened and I slid forward on the chair until I slumped on the floor.
“No, I can’t stay on the line!” Dani sounded angry. “Just hurry!”
I felt her hands on me.
“You’re going to be okay.”
I didn’t believe her.
“You’re going to be fine.”
Then I felt nothing.
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