Burning Down Boise
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Dan Slaughter has given up on appearances. With his wife dead and his kids grown, he’s slowly reverting back to the east Tennessee boy he used to be three decades earlier. He quit cutting his hair and started smoking pot. He drinks when he wants to and sings along with the classic songs of his lost youth.
When his childhood friend Carl dies suddenly, Dan agrees to help Carl’s mother with the estate, even when it means traveling across the country to Boise, Idaho. Worse yet, Dan has to fly and that’s no easy task for a paranoid hillbilly not used to following rules.
Once he arrives in Boise, it doesn’t take long for Dan to figure out that there’s a lot more to his friend’s death than he’d been led to believe. He begins to suspect the overdose was actually murder and he can’t let it rest.
Only days after arriving, a mysterious solar event traps Dan in the city, leaving him with no prospect of returning home anytime soon. Rather than panicking, Dan readily accepts the new state of things. For him, the apocalypse is an opportunity. With no law enforcement, his plan to deliver a dose of Tennessee justice in downtown Boise just got a whole lot easier.
Release date: July 8, 2020
Publisher: Independently published
Print pages: 274
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Burning Down Boise
Carl Kelly loved playing The Pink Room. It was a regular gig for him and he took the stage there every Wednesday night. He knew many of the folks in the audience and they knew him. They were an older crowd than that found in some of the places he played. More adult than kid, more respectful of performers. They did the things people came to bars to do. They talked, laughed, played pool, and drank, yet he always felt like they were listening to him instead of competing with him. They clapped when he was done and stuffed tips in the beer mug on the corner of the stage to show their appreciation.
He played three sets of about forty-five minutes each. That was a normal show for him. He had set lists written down as a basic guide to what he was going to play, but some in the audience had their favorites.
“Play ‘Heart Of Gold!’” someone shouted.
With a grin and a nod, he’d roll right into their requests, playing the tune as if it were a personal show just for them. In between sets he also did those things people came to bars to do. He drank, joked, flirted with women, and talked to friends. Sometimes people offered to buy him drinks and he made new friends. The Pink Room was that kind of place. Mostly regulars with just enough new blood to keep things interesting. This was what Carl lived for. It was his scene.
He’d had been in Boise for a couple of years now so even his oldest friends there were relatively new. Before that he’d lived in Nashville, which had an understandably thriving scene for singer-songwriters like him. He was in Nashville for over twenty years before he burned out on the place for a number of reasons.
For one, many of the musicians there were trying too hard. They were so desperate to break through and make a name for themselves they weren’t content to play bars and small venues. They all yearned for stadium shows with tiny microphones and elaborate sets. Being around people like that made him tired, but maybe he was getting old and cranky.
Fame had never been Carl’s goal. He loved playing. He was all about being a musician, and he loved interacting with the audience. All he wanted out of life was intimate venues, a few free drinks, and enough cash to keep the bill collectors at bay. That was his career and he was pulling it off. With his baritone voice and masterful guitar playing he always had gigs. He always had enough money to support himself. Audiences loved him.
Wives...not so much.
He met his first wife in Nashville and she ended up being part of the reason he eventually left town. He caught her eye while he was playing a downtown bar. She liked her men scruffy and a little battered, like a favorite old paperback. With his long hair and beard, Carl met the criteria. The problem came when she wanted to polish him up and make something out of him.
“Hell woman, I’m over fifty years old. As Popeye would say, I yam what I yam.”
“But you spend all your time in bars. You come home every night smelling like booze and cigarettes.”
“You met me in a bar,” he reminded her. “I work in bars. It’s what I do.”
She’d expected him to grow up and get a real job. She wanted to take the man she married and turn him into something respectable. It was part of her nature. Some women sewed, some gardened, some decorated houses, and some devoted their lives to trying to fix men. The very idea of it made Carl laugh and he wanted no part of it. He never intended to be any more or any less than he was at that particular moment. He liked himself. As far as he was concerned he had a good life, with or without her.
Then he made the mistake of stating that to her instead of simply thinking it.
They ended up divorcing and she took half of what little he had. That soured him on Nashville, but it was okay since he was growing tired of the place anyway. He decided to go out west and start over, but he wasn’t sure where he wanted to go. He didn’t know much about the west. He’d heard the coastal states were run by pinkos that thought they owned the rain and he knew that wouldn’t work for him. He didn’t do well with rules, especially stupid ones.
He tried Colorado for a while. It was a beautiful place, full of great people, but he never found the right town for him. From there he floated to Provo, Utah, then to Jackson, Wyoming. He had some good times, played some bars, and drank some liquor, but never found his stride.
He found the same thing in Bozeman, Montana. He liked the remote landscape of Montana. He liked that it was a long way from damn near everything, but found the prospect of winter there to be a little intimidating. He couldn’t see himself snowmobiling home drunk from the bar after a show. He’d end up dead of hypothermia.
He decided he’d try Nevada but took a circuitous route through Boise, Idaho, on his way there. There was something about Boise that felt right, though Carl couldn’t have expressed what it was. Deciding to assess the job prospects there for a singer-songwriter such as himself, he checked into a cheap hotel and explored the bar scene. He drank in some fine establishments, listened to some decent musicians, and observed the audiences. After a few days in town, he’d lined up a half-dozen gigs and collected phone numbers from two beautiful women.
Those first gigs went well enough for him to stay for a while. Audiences liked the fact that he played the things they didn’t hear in other bars. It wasn’t acoustic “standards” like Jimmy Buffet, Tracy Chapman, The Indigo Girls, and Neil Young. Carl played Billy Joe Shaver, Jimmy Dale Gilmore, and Townes Van Zandt. He knew all of J.J. Cale’s good stuff.
He dusted off his country chops with classics by George Jones, Tom T. Hall, Willie Nelson, and Waylon Jennings. He knew the Johnny Cash tunes that got the audience singing along and stomping their feet. Sometimes he threw out obscure acoustic tunes by players like Bill Morrisey, Michael Hedges, and John Gorka. When people watched Carl play, they knew he was pouring everything into it. He was putting on a show. They felt it and responded to it.
When he finished his last set of the night, he thanked the audience. He reminded them he played The Pink Room every Wednesday night and wished them a good evening. There was applause and a few more people came forward to poke bills into his tip mug. Carl smiled and thanked them, wiping down his old Gibson before he stowed it away for the night. He pocketed his tips, returned the mug to the bartender, and stashed his guitar behind the bar for safekeeping.
“Another Makers Mark, Carl?” the bartender asked.
“I’d be much obliged,” Carl said with a nod. It had been a Makers kind of night. The bartender grabbed the bottle from the shelf, pouring Carl’s third double of the night.
“Thanks,” Carl said, taking the glass.
He was on his first sip when he heard a painfully familiar laugh. It was too loud and too fake, like nails on a chalkboard. It was Jasmine, his ex-wife. This was not, however, his Nashville ex-wife. This was the new Boise ex-wife. Nothing like starting a new life with the same old bad habits.
The bartender must have caught the sour look on Carl’s face. “Sorry, mate. I would have warned you but I assumed you saw her from the stage.”
Carl grimaced. “No, I didn’t have the pleasure.”
He took another sip of his drink, then craned his head around, looking through the crowd. There she was, dressed like an old hippie and standing with her “friend.” Carl didn’t know what else to call the guy. His nickname was Sasquatch or Bigfoot or something. He and Jasmine had apparently been a thing before she and Carl got married. Unfortunately, they continued to be a thing even after the marriage and Carl wasn’t cool with that.
When he figured it out, he kicked himself for being stupid and kicked her to the curb. Admittedly, Carl had no business marrying her anyway. It was kind of like she came with the place. New city, new life, new wife. Except she had more baggage than he did and she wasn’t able to leave all hers behind. The whole sordid thing lasted about a year.
They’d only been divorced for three months now so the ink was still wet and the wound still raw. He saw her all the time, which made it hard to put behind him. They were both drinkers, hung out in the same bars, and they were both too old to change. Hell, they’d met at The Pink Room and neither of them was willing to surrender the ground.
Carl quickly drained his double and slid the glass toward the bartender. He got up and grabbed his guitar. “I think I’m going to call it a night. I’ll see you guys later. You mind if I go out the back?” He hoped that would keep him from having to talk to Jasmine and her keeper.
“Help yourself,” the bartender said.
Carl kept low and pushed through the swinging doors into the kitchen. It was hot from the stove and steamy from the dishwasher. The lights were too bright and Carl shaded his eyes. He stepped out the back door into a cloud of fragrant pot smoke. The cook and dishwasher were passing a joint back and forth.
“Fucking stoners,” Carl grumbled. “Can’t go anywhere without running into potheads.”
“Want some?” the cook asked.
“Sure,” Carl said, taking a hit off the joint. He held the smoke, then exhaled a stream into the cool night air. “Thanks, Rob. I needed that.”
“No problem, Carl.”
Carl’s van was parked by the dumpster, just outside the kitchen. He unlocked the back door and slid his guitar case in. “You fellas have a good night.”
“That your van?” Rob asked.
Carl nodded. “Yeah. Why?”
“I thought it belonged to that lady. I saw her in it earlier.”
Carl slammed the door and eyed the cook suspiciously. “What lady?”
“The loud one, stuck in the sixties. The hippie barfly.”
“I think that might be her name. You know her?”
“I was married to her.”
“I’m sorry,” Rob replied.
“Sorry I was married to her or sorry you were talking smack about her?”
Rob shrugged. “Sorry you were married to her, bro.”
“Yeah, me too,” Carl admitted. “You see what she was doing in my van?”
Rob shook his head. “Nope. She was in there when we came out. When she saw us, she shut the door. Had that big scary motherfucker with her.”
“Yeah, I know the guy.”
Carl opened the back of the van again and gave it a quick once-over. He saw nothing out of place. Nothing missing. He slammed the doors shut. “Well, I’m out of here. You guys have a good night.”
For the entire drive back to his house, the idea that Jasmine had been in the back of his van nagged at him. He was obsessive about locking it since he usually had musical instruments stored there. She’d once had a key though and it was possible she still had it. It would be just like her to hold it back for a rainy day. She had that little streak of psycho in her.
When he got to his neighborhood he pulled around behind his house to the garage. He didn’t have a fancy remote that would open the door with the push of a button. He had to go in through the side door, unlock the garage door, and wrestle the thing up into the air. When this was done, he got back in the van and pulled inside. He killed the engine and sat there for a moment, his mind on what Jasmine might have been doing in his van. There was no way he was going to sleep until he knew for certain.
He threw open the back doors and grabbed a mechanic’s light with a rusty wire cage around the bulb. The back of the van was a mess. There was a sleeping bag and pillow for the nights he drank too much, several changes of clothes, an empty cooler, and some trash. There was a small sound system for playing gigs where they didn’t have one. Then, of course, there was his guitar, a spare, and a bag with assorted crap he might need for a show, like spare strings.
Carl went through everything, setting each item outside the van when he was done with it. He checked every compartment from the glove box to beneath the seats. It wasn’t until he shoved his hand in the open back of an amplifier that he found something that shouldn’t have been there. He pulled it out and examined it. It was a parcel about the size of a one pound package of ground beef, wrapped securely in multiple layers of clear packing tape. Carl was instantly suspicious. It had to be drugs.
He pulled out his pocketknife, opened the blade, and pierced the package. When he extracted the blade he found it covered in white powder. Carl didn’t know what the hell it was but he wasn’t about to taste it and find out. Cocaine, heroin, whatever — it didn’t matter to him. Aside from smoking a little pot, he wasn’t into drugs, either selling them or using them. Jasmine apparently was, though. It was yet one more thing he’d not known about her.
He couldn’t believe she’d have the audacity, the callousness, to hide her drugs in the back of his vehicle. Well, of course he could. If he’d learned anything about her it was that she was selfish, a user. He’d just been too dumb to see it. The thought also crossed his mind that she might be trying to set him up. Were the cops going to show up any minute and claim they had a tip he was a drug dealer?
He reloaded the van, turned off the lights, and went inside. He considered calling the cops but didn’t want the hassle. The kitchen staff at The Pink Room had seen her messing around in his van, but what if the cops thought the drugs were his? He was a Tennessee boy at heart, a hillbilly born and raised in east Tennessee, where cops were a last resort and folks had a natural suspicion of law enforcement. Carl had never outgrown that.
Cursing Jasmine with every step he walked to the bathroom, raised the toilet seat, slit open the package, and dumped the contents in the toilet. It took several flushes to clear the bowl. He’d have to burn the package too but that could wait until tomorrow. For now he tossed it in the trash, scowling yet again at the violation of trust.
He brushed his teeth and headed off to bed. As he curled up beneath a ratty old quilt his grandmother made, he had no idea it would be his last night doing so.
Dan Slaughter was at work when he got the call. He didn’t answer it initially because he was stuck in a mind-numbing meeting about sales goals for the upcoming year. He didn’t know why he even had to attend those stupid meetings. He wasn’t in sales. He didn’t care how many units they sold or how they went about it. In fact, he cared very little about his job anymore. There had been a day when he cared, but it was so far gone now he couldn’t remember what it felt like. These days he was simply going through the motions, showing up because he didn’t know what else to do with himself.
When his phone again buzzed on the table in front of him, he studied the number. He didn’t recognize it. He figured it was some scammer trying to sell him an extended warranty for his car. Perhaps it was one of those Nigerians trying to convince him he was going to be arrested by the IRS in twenty-five minutes if he didn’t pay a fine over the phone.
But what if it wasn’t?
His kids were both out of the house now. They’d graduated from college and were settled into their own lives. However, just because they were fairly self-sufficient didn’t mean they were above needing Dad every once in a while. They often hit him up for advice on insurance, loans, or cars. What if one of them was in trouble and needed his help? He couldn’t push the thought out of his mind. He was going to have to take the call or he’d torment himself trying to figure out what it was about.
Dan stood up and walked out. There were over fifty people in the meeting and it wasn’t like it was going to grind to a halt just because he left. The sales guys loved to talk and they could go on all day. He hated meetings like that. In fact, he hated all meetings.
Once in the hall, he punched the voicemail button on his phone and stuck it to his ear. It was an elderly woman whose voice he didn’t recognize at first. She said her name was Virginia Kelly but that didn’t ring any bells. With one sentence it hit him like a train at a crossing.
“Carl died last night.”
Virginia Kelly was Carl’s mother. Carl was his best friend and had been for nearly his entire life. The rush of emotion was disorienting. Dan listened to the message a second time just to make sure it said what he thought it said. He hoped he’d been wrong, that he’d misunderstood, but he wasn’t wrong. Carl had died and his mother needed Dan to call her back.
Carl Kelly had always been his best friend. The two met as children and hit it off immediately. Even after all these years they remained in contact. They communicated several times a week, despite a lot of miles separating them. Like all good friends, they had that ability to dredge up the past like no one else could, reminding each other of the embarrassing things they wanted to forget. They could say stupid things to each other they’d never say in front of anyone else. It was a relationship that involved so much history it could never be replaced.
Dan lived in east Tennessee, not far from where the two had grown up. Carl had been living in Idaho these last few years, playing music around Boise. Before that, he’d lived in Nashville, where the two got to see each other a little more often. Dan hadn’t seen Carl in nearly a year, since he was last back in Tennessee visiting his mom. He’d never gone to see his friend in Boise since he didn’t like to fly anymore and Idaho was a long damn drive.
The barrage of thoughts made Dan lightheaded and he looked for a place to sit down. He needed to get his head together before he returned that call and he needed someplace more private than his cubicle. There were too many damn people in that fishbowl of an office. He went to the restroom and locked himself into a stall like a teenage girl. It didn’t feel like the most mature response but he didn’t know what else to do.
There were no tears, only a stunned emptiness that left the world feeling off kilter. His thoughts raced. The idea popped into his head that he should call his wife, Samantha, and let her know. There might be some comfort in sharing the news with someone. Then he immediately felt stupid. She’d passed away from cancer two years ago at barely fifty years old. His heart ached even more than it had seconds before.
In times of stress, Dan sometimes forgot she’d died. It took a while to reprogram the brain after nearly thirty years of marriage. It happened on nights when he had to work late. Out of habit, he’d tell his coworkers that he needed to call home. They’d hang their heads and give him that look of pity that he detested so much. Only then would he remember there was no one at home to call.
He realized there was no one to help him process his friend’s death. It wasn’t the kind of thing he could call his kids about. They couldn’t understand. They didn’t know Carl that well and Dan wasn’t sure either of them ever had a friendship like he and Carl did. Young people didn’t form that kind of bond with a single friend these days, their social circles artificially expanded by social media. His children’s generation had the ability to have thousands of friends. The world had been much different when he was younger. So much smaller.
Get your shit together and deal with this.
Dan wasn’t one to ruminate, he was a problem-solver. That was what he did for a living. Deciding that returning the call from the bathroom stall would feel weird, he got up and splashed cold water in his face, walked down the hall, and exited out a side door. He stepped into the vast employee parking lot with its hundreds of spaces and called the number back.
A tearful voice answered almost immediately. Apparently, she recognized the number because she didn’t even say hello. “Thanks for calling me back, Dan.”
At hearing her voice, being plugged so directly into her grief and loss, the numbness Dan felt began to thaw. His voice cracked when he tried to speak. “What happened, Virginia?”
It was all he could think to ask. Words weren’t coming. His brain wasn’t working right.
Carl’s mother released a sigh so profound it sounded as if her soul, indeed a part of her life itself, escaped her. “They say it was a drug overdose. They’re doing an autopsy to make sure.”
Dan abruptly stopped his pacing. “A drug overdose? That’s ridiculous!” He was getting loud, raising his voice. He fought to reel it back in. As absurd as the idea of a drug overdose was, Carl’s mother wasn’t the one to yell at. She had enough to deal with right now.
“I know,” Virginia replied, starting to cry as she spoke. “That’s what I tried to tell them, that this didn’t sound like him at all. I know sometimes these musicians get hooked on stuff but I can’t imagine him doing something like that.”
Carl had his issues, his problems, sure, but drugs weren’t one of them. He was much more likely to be killed by a jealous husband, fall down a set of steps while he was drunk, or nod off at the wheel coming home from a show. Anything but a drug overdose. It was out of character.
“You’re right. He wouldn’t have done that. Why would they even think that’s what happened?”
“The officer who called me – I got her name wrote down here somewhere – said there was a syringe beside him. Beside his...body. There was a mark where it looked like he’d shot drugs into his arm.”
Virginia Kelly was probably in her late seventies and it was clear none of this made sense to her. Not only the idea her son might have done this, but the very thought of anyone doing such a thing to themselves. In her day, normal people didn’t take medicines they didn’t need or jab needles into their arms. It just wasn’t done. Drugs were the realm of the criminal sub-class, not of decent Americans.
“Is there anything I can do?” Dan asked.
Mrs. Kelly was alone in the world now. She didn’t have anyone who could help her with the arrangements, and Dan would offer whatever assistance he could.
“Well, they’re going to send him back here for burial when the autopsy is complete. I’ve already talked to the funeral home and we’ll have the service here in Knoxville. I’m looking at burial plots tomorrow. I’m hoping to put him beside his daddy. Of course, I was hoping you might speak at the funeral. It would mean more if someone who knew him spoke over him.”
“I’d be glad to. I’ll do anything you need, Mrs. Kelly.”
She hesitated. That big sigh came again as she tried to keep her emotions in check. “Actually, there is one more thing that you could help me with, if it’s not too much trouble.”
“Whatever it is, I’ll do it.”
“I hate to ask but Carl had a house out there in Boise. It’s just a little old place but he owned it and it’s full of his stuff. I don’t have any way to deal with all that. I can’t travel because of my health and I don’t have anyone else to ask. I know it’s an imposition but is there any way you could take a look at it and see what’s there?”
Carl’s dad had been dead for twenty years or so and his mother was alone now. No close family, no friends who weren’t little old ladies themselves. Dan knew she had several health issues from what Carl told him. He couldn’t imagine her backing a rental truck up to the door and personally toting out all the furniture, her on a walker. That was okay. Logistics was his thing.
“I’d be glad to deal with it,” Dan told her. “That’s what friends are for.”
Even as he was saying it, it sounded wrong. That was not what friends were for. Friends were about drinking and talking, about giving you shit. They were about remembering the old days and helping you get through the tough days. They listened to you bitch and whine. That was what friendship was about, not settling estates and packing up your life when you died too early.
Maybe it was, though. Perhaps this was exactly what it was about, even when he didn’t want it to be.
“I don’t know how much you have time for, Dan, but you can leave the furniture. They can sell the house furnished as far as I’m concerned. You keep anything out of it you want. I don’t care. Just bring anything special back home to me and we’ll get a realtor to sell the house. I would like one of his guitars. Memories, you know. I’ll take any pictures you find, personal things like that. The rest I don’t care about. I got no place to put it.”
“Let me know the details of the funeral and I’ll take care of the rest, Mrs. Kelly. Don’t you worry about a thing.”
She gave a quavering sigh, long and mournful. “I appreciate it, Dan. You were always such a good friend to him.”
“He was a good friend to me too. The best.”
With those words, the significance of the loss hit him again. He’d lost his best friend. If you were lucky, you got one in this life. It was something that couldn’t be replaced. The surges of emotion disoriented him. It was like being hit by a wave when he was already neck deep in the ocean. One moment his feet were on the ground, the next he was bobbing, flailing.
“Well, I have to call the rest of the family. Thank you again.”
“You take care of yourself and call if you need anything,” Dan said. “We’ll talk soon.”
She ended the call and Dan took a seat on a concrete bench by the sidewalk. There was no way he could say no to her, but it was going to require a significant effort to carry out her wishes. He knew it was about two thousand miles to Boise because he’d considered driving it before. He kept promising Carl he’d make the trip. The two of them would hit the bars, listen to music, and eat some good food. They would tell lies and embarrass themselves in front of women.
It hadn’t happened. There was always some reason Dan couldn’t go. Now he never would. There was no more bitter taste than regret, of a wrong that couldn’t be righted.
Normal people would simply have bought a plane ticket and flown out there to visit their friend. They wouldn’t have thought a thing of it. However, the whole normal thing pretty much ruled Dan out. He hadn’t flown since the 1990s. He wasn’t particularly afraid of flying; he’d flown a lot before 9/11. Yet since then, twenty years ago, he hadn’t flown once.
Perhaps it was the Tennessee redneck in him, but he refused to be searched, herded like a cow, and dehumanized by the TSA. The convenience of flight did not outweigh the indignity in his eyes. When he traveled these days, he did it by vehicle. He drove on his own schedule, at his own pace, and he carried as much crap as he wanted. He saw the country. He saw the things he’d miss if he flew overtop of it. He knew how the terrain changed from one state to the next, how the dirt smelled different, and he knew how the night sounded when unfamiliar birds called a place home.
Not only did driving allow him to carry as many ounces of any given liquid as he wanted, but he carried a gun and knife as well. He could carry ten guns and ten knives if he wanted because this was America and that was what freedom was about. However, his freedom was about to take a kick in the nuts. Boise was a long way. He wasn’t sure he could swing such a long drive this time. He had vacation time saved up but he wasn’t sure it was enough to drive to Boise, spend a week or so there, and then drive back in a rented truck.
That brought up an entirely different logistical issue. Even if he did take that much time, he couldn’t exactly drive his own truck out there if he had to drive a rental back. It was possible he could tow his truck back with the rental truck but that was an awkward load. It would be stressful.
He was getting lost down the rabbit hole of logistics, but that made sense. Logistics were his job. It was what he did for Hatfield Homes, one of the largest manufactured home suppliers in the country. The company built the homes and he got them where they needed to go.
More important than getting to Boise was the issue of why he was having to go in the first place. That was what he should be focusing on, not his own personal issues around flying. He still couldn’t imagine Carl had died from a drug overdose. Perhaps Carl’s mom had misunderstood.
Carl smoked pot but that was the extent of his experimentation, as far as Dan knew. Carl had always preferred the soothing effects of alcohol. He enjoyed the social aspect of drinking with people. There was certainly no way he’d shot up a drug. Dan knew that as sure as he knew anything else in the world. That Carl had not overdosed was as certain as gravity, the change of seasons, or even the progression of time itself. It was a truth of the world. Dan would never believe it.
He sat on the bench, phone in hand, staring out at the warm spring day. It seemed a lot prettier an hour ago, before he’d taken this call. Spring was the season of potential. Now, in the blink of an eye, the world felt different. Some potential had been lost and the world was a darker place for it.
There were things in life that changed so gradually, like the fading of paint, that one barely noticed the transition. You got older and one day you noticed your hair was gray. Your kids grew up and suddenly they were graduating high school. All of it moved so slowly that the transition went unnoticed. Then there were other things that marked life so suddenly and with such significance that the days after were never the same as the days before. The birth of Dan’s kids were such days. The death of his wife was another. This day would be too.
When his wife died, Dan considered leaving his job. There had been some insurance, the house was already paid for, and the kids were nearly self-sufficient. However, he was too young to retire. He was a little over fifty at the time and had a lot of working years ahead of him. He’d been at Hatfield Homes for a long time, starting there when he was nineteen years old. Frankly, he was tired of it.
In the end, he’d only stayed because he had no other plan. He was worried that home would be too depressing if he had nowhere else to go and nothing else to do. Maybe this was the point where that all changed? Perhaps this was where he’d make a break.
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