"The Jingle Bell Bum" (Read The Touching True Story...please!) Comment at patriciahanrion.com

"The Jingle Bell Bum" (Read The Touching True Story...please!) Comment at patriciahanrion.com
Still available on Amazon for Nook and Kindle, hard copy booklett to re-print November 2013

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Helen Left the Building!

I Think we all feel guilty when our parents pass away; for what we did; or did not do.

When the Doctor recommended Helen to be put into hospice I decided to get permission to leave my missionary area to make a visit. I could leave our assignment for an emergency but wondered if it was really necessary to travel to California. I had been there the previous month and Helen was eating well and was her usual complaining self. I hesitated to ask for the leave. as I  remember my friend Dee's mom was put on Hospice and she survived for three years. Tim my brother said, "Help mother manage her money. She's not going anywhere until she's 105.

I began to wonder if this was going to mark the end, or would my mom cling to all that she knew and reach my brother's prophecy. Mother was stubborn and a tough woman in many ways. I did not really believe this would be the end. I  thought that she would hang-on for a long time. But I drove to California anyway.


This time my visits with her were good. Not like some of the contentious ones previously where she was angry because she didn't bring her sewing-machine. This time, over a period of three days, I had 7 or 8 excellent short visits. I learned to be brief. I knew that for the first ten minutes she would make sense. Then she would get angry and start yelling, or talk about crazy things, or be paranoid or drift off asleep in the middle of a word. It was also best to keep the visits short so I could go to the hotel and gird my loins for the next salvo of conversation bombs.


In between talking to my mother I spent time reading and signing all the papers to set her up in hospice. I was hoping this would help pay for some of her medications...even diapers, so that her little pot of gold would last till she was the designated 105 yrs.


I understood her paranoia to some extent. Things had disappeared! Her flip phone was gone within a week. AND she wore it in a case around her neck.  This loss made me particularly sad because I knew she felt isolated. But on the other hand she had led an isolated life...maybe it was more sad for me because I couldn't call and find out how she was doing. I had to wait for one of her caregivers to be kind enough to call me on their phone. 


The few pieces of jewelry I didn't sell I left with her at the care facility. I wanted her to enjoy her things but on several visits she told me to take rings and watches home. "I know they must come in when I'm sleeping and take my few nice things." I left some pieces of costume jewelry and these disappeared. She wore a silver charm necklace that Timothy bought for her on one of their cruises. She never took it off and clung to it desperately. On this last visit she was not wearing the necklace. I didn't ask her where it was but looked through all her boxes and night table. I couldn't find it. 


When I left on the last day, I kissed  her and reminded her that this was her early birthday visit. "Mom, I'll come back in late October." We hugged. She felt so thin. While driving away, my thoughts said, "This is the last time you will see your mom." I pushed the thought down and away. "No, she will live to 105, like my brother said."


The Hospice nurse called me every week, sometimes twice a week to tell me all they were doing for my mom. The thing they stressed was that they were managing her pain. This made me so happy. Since I can remember my mom, Helen, has complained of pain. She was allergic to aspirin and many other pain medications. As she grew older her childhood Scoliosis and Osteoporosis and Kyphosis (dowagers' hump) ruled her life. The last 6 or 7 years she sat sideways. Timothy would say, "Mom, sit up straight."



Patrick, Rebecca, Megan, Mike, Grandma Helen Pat the Mom, Pat the Dad...colleen is missing...

I think the last time we all had a get-together was in 2014. She was a good sport and we loved teasing her.

Two weeks after I met with the hospice nurse and had all the paperwork in place I got a call around 4 in the afternoon. The nurse who did the initial evaluation said "Your Mom is failing, you may want to come see her. "Should I leave right away, I'm in Tucson?" I asked. "No, don't drive all night, you'll be fine. Start out in the morning" he suggested."  "Okay, I'll be there by noon." 

Another call came at 6:00 am. I was already three hours from Santa Clarita as I had left the house at 2:30 am. "Are you on the road?" Doty the nurse asked. "Yes, I'm more than half way there." "Good," he said, I think this may be Miss Helen's time." "I'll be there soon,"

 At 7:00 am, my daughter Colleen called. "Mom she's gone."  "Are you there with her? I asked. "I didn't know you were in California."  "I'm here visiting my boyfriend and had the funny feeling I needed to visit grandma.  When I came in the room I said "Hi Grandma." The nurse at the bedside said after she heard my voice she took her last breath.

In two hours I was at the bedside. I saw my mom looking thin and pasty, and obviously dead. I kissed her on the cheek. They had called the mortician at Glen Haven Cemetery. They came with a green gurney, picked her up and whisked her down the hall. "Bye Mom. Say Hi to Dad." 

to be continued...

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


 Helen in Hospice:  Ruth, Helen, and cousins
  •     
  • It has now been almost a year that my mom, Helen, has lived at Pacifica assisted living. I selected this place to be near my brother as he has been her care trustee since I moved to Gilbert Arizona. The weird thing is that even though in the past he had made mother breakfast and visited her every day, when I moved her to Pacifica, he never saw her once. By that time, I think he was consumed with pain and despair and the realization that his life was coming to an end. On one of my last visits to see Tim he had his best friend, who was a lawyer, come over to help transfer Helen’s executor responsibilities from him to me because he knew the end was near. After putting up a valiant fight with cancer, the outlook was grim.

  • Before that day the hopes were high that after his Whipple Procedure he would fully recover. I remember taking him out to lunch and telling him, “You know we have planned on serving a mission for the church and I want to know if you will be okay to still care for mother. I will pay for her meals on wheels if you can take care of Maria’s charges. (Maria came in the afternoon and stayed for dinner and put Helen into bed.) Although Helen said “I like Todd to put Me to bed because he gives me a big hug.” But sometimes she did not remember who Todd was (her grandson) and said “There are Two Todds, one nice, one not so nice! “Tim and I talked about a lot of things, but not dying or death. He avoided the topic, the same as my dad the last time I saw him when he was at Motion Picture hospital. At the end of our talk on that day, Tim said “Don’t worry, I got this.” I had a friend who recovered from pancreatic cancer and prayed that Tim’s optimism would help his wishes come true. Not so. and after a short time he didn’t have much energy left. No patience for mom’s complaints, or demands or orders to do something or other when he was trying to cope and hurting.

  • So there we were signing papers turning Mother’s finances over to me. Patrick and I had already made the commitment to serve as the missionaries to the construction of the Tucson Temple and felt a bit overwhelmed at my dual responsibilities. So I was trying to do the duty of caring for my mother like I hope my children will care for me. Mother has been cared for all her life, often by me, so why not now too…

  • I called a good friend in Santa Clarita and asked advice about Helen’s finances. I was somewhat reluctant to discuss this matter with her and was happy to take his advice. “Do nothing, but get her account down to under $150 thousand.” And I plan to do this ASAP. I did not want to talk to her about having the money transferred to me as a trustee due to the fact that often she became paranoid, blaming everyone for taking her things and her money. 

  • Sometimes her conversation was a bit bizarre. After Tim passed away late December with the funeral in January she got even more confused. All her friends have died and all relatives, including her son, are also gone. I am the only exception. So she calls me Ruth, her sister, who passed two years ago, and even Lou-la her friend who is also gone. And she refers to my husband Patrick as Dad (Herm her husband,) and also Tim.   Patrick Hiking...

  • Sometimes she even gets me messed up with her crazy reality. “I’m in Palm Springs and the pool is a mess. The boys are not taking care of this house.” Rather than argue I said, “I’ll call Todd and make sure he can get out there and clean the pool. Don’t worry.” I decided to go along with her confusion to see if that was a better choice…rather than be yelled at! But the outcome the same. Manipulation, whining, demands and guilt, the gift that keeps on giving. And how can I blame her for now her world is down to a room with her few remaining things. (At least the few things she has left that the staff have not stolen.)          

  • But I am pretty sure she is better off than my brother-in-law Don who is in a convalescent home in Kanab Utah. Last time my daughter visited he told her not only is a good pal of John Wayne, but he is also a Doctor. He told her he was a gynecologist and does "Lady exams." Then he explained..."call before you come here next time and make an appointment as I am very busy." She called us and said "He is completely off his rocker!" 
  • Back to mother...she is losing weight even though she eats everything they put in front of her. She can no longer stand or bear her own weight. She must be lifted out of bed by two care givers. The doctor is putting her on hospice which is end of life care. She already has a plot next to Herman her love of over 50 years who died 20 years ago. 

  • I have decided that when we get bad…Patrick and I. We will fly a plane upside through a barn so we can leave this world together and blazing on to heaven! Of course first, we’ll have to buy a plane and a barn. But heck I refuse to spend my last 20 years alone. Maybe that’s why Helen is so nasty…naw she’s been unpleasant for 99 years. I tell my husband that’s why I’m such a sweetie so he has a lot to thank Helen for, and maybe just maybe so do I.

Red Tape and Dumb Rules, Helen update!

     Now that we are in Tucson...
with amazing cactus everywhere. It is also the land of flat roofs squatting behind weeds and cactus. Where are the houses I wondered..."There and over there." a native Tucson-ion will say. "I can't see anything," I respond. "That's the point." But "why," I ask. "Is everyone on a witness protection program? Or an escaped felon," I query. Silence follows...Hmm, and no night lighting either. Now as a person who lived in California, San Fernando to be exact; to have no lighting is disconcerting to say the least! I want to be able to see the attacker or pick-pocket coming. I don't like the stealth attitude around Tucson where every Tom, Dick and Harry has a gun on their hip...Product Details
But don't tell anyone I feel uncomfortable especially the cactus hugging rock people of Tucson. The the thought passes through my head, "Why the heck did Edison labor, low those many years ago, to invent lighting?...
Answer: So you could SEE Stuff silly.

We have also found this to be an area where u-turns are rampant. In most places you are discouraged from doing u-turns to avoid a collision with right turning people. However, In Tucson...the "no left turn signals" are rampant...so you are encouraged to advance to a special u turn place. Image result for panhandlers
And guess what you get to ride by the pan-handlers twice every time you need to turn. The bum patrol are in every median and on every corner... unavoidable... but to make you pass by twice and experience raging guilt unless you open the window and give the unclean vagrant money to go buy drugs is not fair. I calculated the number of corner beggars and figured out I would soon be standing there with them if I responded to their watery eyes and sad faces. A few have dogs and cats.  HEY "I can't afford a pet right now so how can they?" Answer, They Can't. 

Image result for u turn signBut for a few bucks you can buy pet food with your hard earned social security!
Back to U-turns made by the mush & prune crowd. HA! Give one of those 90 year olds the u turn command and they make that turn slowly while yanking on the wheel with non-muscular arms... then barely one other person can make the turn during the green arrow cycle ...resulting in the second car making the turn on the red light and taking their life in their hands!!! You are also a sitting duck for a right turn accident as most "oldie" u-turn folks swing wide...and end up in the far lane where a right turn person should be. Having studied the rules I know any turn...right or left or u-turn; You are to end up into the closest lane...but often the "swing wide" crowd ends up in the opposite farthest lane possible...ready for the accident, insurance, and ambulance chassers to fly in like vultures to "take care of everything" including your wallet. 
Helen called me yesterday, "Come get me." "Where are you," I asked. I'm sitting right here in front of the cemetery." 

I Said "Mom, look around and tell me what you see." Silence, long pause, "I'm at the gas station across the street from the cemetery where Tim is." 
"Mom, who called me then gave you their phone? Are you sitting on your flowered couch or in your bed? I hear your television going." "I'm at the cemetery." "Mom did you have a dream and wake up and think it was real?" Give the phone to the lady who is in your room so I can talk to her." "Well, you are no help whatsoever."
She hands the phone to the caregiver who says, "Your mom is fine, I think she had a dream." "So do I," I said thanks for letting her call." I decided not to ask her to show mother how to work her phone. I'll send a message to Todd tomorrow and ask him to visit. 
I was upset after the call and was reassured by Patrick that there was nothing I could do to make it better and to be glad she wasn't meeting John Wayne for lunch at the Grand Canyon like his brother told him he did last week! But, that sounded like a lot more fun than sitting in front of a cemetery. 


     

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Are there Miracles?

How do you Measure a Miracle?

My new book about my son's head injury is now available on Amazon and Create Space for only $7.75, and you can download on Kindle for $4.

But my sense of fairness kicked in and when they asked what price to ask for the download if a customer bought the book, I said, "If they bought the hard copy, then the download should be free." What a bargain!

I hope many of you enjoy my journey to discover the truth about miracles...

Friday, September 18, 2015

James Dean and Left Hand Turns!


I am beginning to feel somewhat like an Arizona-ite. I've lived here for 18 months and have suffered through two summers of 116+ temperatures, Aha-boo dust storms, Monsoons, Micro-bursts of wind that knock down full grown trees. But cannot get used to all the accidents at major intersections.
I hate to refer to my past state of residence, however, I have never seen so many fender benders and considering we lived for many years in the land of fruit and Nuts where everyone drives fast. James Dean was a speedster who drove down one of the Canyons near our old house and crashed. He died from driving too fast ...not from a left hand turn.

Living in Calif. was not all that wonderful in the auto department. I was rear-ended twice while sitting at a red light. I also was subjected to kids in parking lots opening doors so wide they dented the sides of my beloved Infinity 35. (those dents have never been fixed...why bother, it will happen again) 

My mom's friend, Dolores, who used to drive her to the mall would make 4 right turns rather hand one left...she knew her limitations and took precautions. At least until she drove through the front of her Dr.s office. and had her license taken away.

I saw weirdos daily. A woman driving with a purse covering her entire head. A man in rainbow dreadlocks bouncing out the moon roof of his car while grooving to music. Another with a cracked and duct taped windshield was driving with his head out the window and the best was when I saw a guy kissing an iguana while behind the wheel, stopped at a red light. But amazingly, no accidents occurred from that kind of creative behavior.
 
I do like the freedoms of Arizona. You can drive listening music with two ear-buds in place. One time I got a ticket soon after I passed the border into California for having two ear-buds in place..."In Cali, young lady, you can only have one "bud" in one ear," I was told by the cop who wrote me a $150 ticket. 

So what's the deal here in the state where you can wear a gun into Walmart? Has the incredible heat fried car driver's brains? Is that why so many people have problems with left turns. I know getting into a car that has been sitting and baking in the valley of the sun is a challenge. You can easily get 3rd degree burns from the steering wheel or by sitting on the plastic seat. But I don't think it is the heat...
The real problem is all the snowbirds who are pushing 100 yrs old and are still clinging to their driver's licence...with their eye sight and reflexes shot...No wonder I am overly cautious going through intersections... (even with the green arrow flashing to make a left turn)...who knows what some crazed heat stroke senior citizen of Arizona will do? And most have guns under the front seat of their vehicle. OH MY!


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Things don't change!

One day while teaching at College of the Canyons, I told my nursing students that at various times I took care of family members who were unable to care for themselves. I explained that they were unable to speak. They had to be fed and most had no teeth. They could not walk and had to be carried or pushed around. And all were totally incontinent of bladder and bowel. I told them somberly that I loved each one of them.

I added bits of sad detail and before long most of the 30 students had wet eyes and were blowing their noses. Halfway through the class I confessed to them that those incontinent people were my five children when they were babies! Oh! Were they mad at me for manipulating their emotions when I told them the "rest of the story"...I continued on and said.

"As we go into this long term care facility and you care for your patients many will be like those infants I lovingly took care of. They will have difficulty communicating, maybe have no teeth, be unable to feed themselves, some will not be able to walk, and most will be incontinent. Care for them tenderly as if they are your parents, or your babies..."

It seems a little joke of our heavenly father that we leave this earth as we arrived; unable to care for ourselves. And I have also wondered why are babies so loved and cherished. Yet the elderly, who may be in the same condition as infants, are not so fun to care for, or to be around.

Maybe this is because some people, will get unreasonable, selfish and nastier as time goes on. Yet, others have told me their parents, who were difficult when they were growing up,...seemed to soften and mellow as the years passed, I guess you can never know!
But no matter what, we all go through this life knowing that one day it will end. Some of us will choose to be the grumpy old aunt, uncle, or parent. The ones no one wants to care for....like the baby with colic that no matter what you do, they fuss, they cry and complain.

We can also learn a lot from those who pass this earthly life with acceptance, grace, kindness, and an understanding that their loved ones are doing their very best to make their last days the best that they can be.   

Patrick and I were given a call not long ago from two dear friends from our past.
Don playing twister...Don and Patrick holding Brad and Little Pat
 
When we were in our 20's Don was Patrick's catcher for the ball team he pitched for. We had such fun travelling with the team. Ann and I were pregnant with our first babies at the same time. We shared the joy of the births of our boys and talked and laughed about the future. Soon after that the Barnes moved away to pursue Doctorate degrees in education. (We bought their house.) 
Fast Pitch Softball for North Hollywood Third Ward...
We kept in touch through the years but soon contact became only Christmas letters. Both families shared news and weddings each year. At one point when the Barnes were teaching at the University of Southern Utah, our youngest daughter lived with them for a semester. Don and Ann were always upbeat and fun to be around. Even through the difficulty of learning about a debilitating diagnosis of their first born, Brad. They worked hard to make sure he could be independent even though he had a rare disease called Tuberous Sclerosis. (Brad has worked as a janitor at an elementary school for over 20 years. It is said by many teachers that he IS the school.) After they knew Brad was safe and happy they traveled the world while teaching. 

Their phone call began, "You guys are on our bucket list." Wow, what an honor when you think about it. A few weeks later they had business in our area and came by for a brief visit. We planned  to take a cruise together, because, Ann has pancreatic cancer and has gone through very painful treatments and surgeries so she can have one day, one week or one year, or one moment more with her family. She is enjoying each second of her life. They had been on several cruises during Ann's recovery, and they wanted to share the fun they were having with us. How could we say,"No."
Pat and Ann at Green Gables 
We had so much fun playing remember when? Talking and sharing the last 30 years of our lives. I soon realized Ann is amazing in her attitude. She smiles and laughs through the good and the bad. She is ready for any adventure. Don does everything he can to make sure her life is meaningful and full of fun. I love and admire them both. 
Patrick, Patricia Ann & Don Barnes
Knowing them had made me realize how important it is to find joy in each day, to look for the good not the bad. As we reach our expiration dates, (kinda like what you see on the salad you buy in a bag, or on a milk carton) I want to make sure I can suck up bad moments and not let poor health or a difficult situation sour my attitude. I want to make sure that everyone knows of my appreciation for kindness and love freely given. I want to keep my sensibility and my mind so I can cling to my Cherub like demeanor to my last breath.               I hope, I hope, I,,,



I  

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Oh Helen... How Sad!

Patrick and I arrive in Santa Clarita after a 7 hour drive from Arizona to see how the estate sale is going. We
want to finish clearing out Helen's condo so it will sell. It is still packed with treasures.


After that we go to Helen's Assisted living apartment. The moment we walk in she is already complaining. 
"You have a house, Tim has a house, Todd has a house...I have nothing," she is crying.
"But mom, remember we need to sell your things so you have money to live. Remember I told you we are helping you gather a pot of gold."
"How much did you get for the Estate Sale?'
"Not sure, but we hope it is enough to pay for the painters to fix up the living room with those high ceilings...and the loft too. We also want to have the carpet cleaned. Then next week we can put it up for sale. We talked to the realtor and he said to get a quick sale we needed to clean it up. Patrick and I are washing the other walls and cleaning out everything. Boxing up the leftovers to donate."
" So you made nothing...NOTHING!"
" Mom it is really too bad that it rained buckets for the two days of the sale...I think that didn't encourage folks to come by and have a look...and I guess you didn't understand me last week when I tried to explain...half the money will go to the people who set up the sale. That is for all their work: two days pricing everything and advertising, then two days at the condo dickering with customers for the best price. There were 4 people working. They had it looking like a fancy boutique."
"But you have nothing for all my beautiful things. OR my sewing machine"
"Mom you have not touched that sewing machine for years."
"I need to fix Tim's lace tablecloth."
"That has been sitting in the living room to be fixed for over four years."
"I can't get up the stairs."
"I know...so...We sold the machine to someone who was so happy to have it."
Helen glares and gives a very dirty look...
"Mom...please listen! The money will pay for the repairs to the condo...Patrick and I have been cleaning so it can sell."
"My house was not dirty. I cleaned it all the time."
"No mom! it was dirty...You couldn't get out of your wheelchair to clean for 2 years...the cleaning ladies only did the top stuff, not the walls or doors, or corners...look at my hands...all chipped and worn from cleaning."
"Not dirty."
NEXT DAY telephone conversation
"So! do you have something to say."
"About What?"
"You STOLE SOMETHING."
"What are you talking about?"
"You came into my room while I was downstairs for dinner...and took my phone charger!"
"Mother! Why would I do that...we have been boxing up your stuff that did not sell to donate to the Hope Rescue Mission. We have been in your condo all day long . I did not take anything, you must have lost it."
"Did not!"
"I'll see you tomorrow."
FOLLOWING AFTERNOON
"Hi mom." As I walk into the room.
Silence from Helen...looking at her hands and picking at a bag around her neck...
"How are you?" I say.
Silence, Helen looks up with nasty mean eyes...but says nothing.
"Mom, please stop! Everyone here and your family want to help you! I am sorry you can't be in the condo, but you cannot walk up the stairs. I promised to find you a nice place...look around, many of your things are here, your couch, TV, bookcases, tables and chairs; even your dishes; All so you can feel like this is home. Look! Patrick is putting up your pictures."
"I want to be in my house."

"Mom, I know you do; but we talked about this. We found you this nice place to live with people to help you day and night. We need to sell the condo to pay for this. You are lucky you can sell it and have your pot of gold."
"You spent my pot."
"I spent it on you so you can be in a nice place. and please don't forget to be nice to the people who are helping you...nice to family and staff so you will get good care and you can be happy."
"Where is my charger?"
I pick up her handbag on the floor, find her phone charger and give it to her.
She begins to wind the cord and won't look at me.
"Well mom, see you tomorrow."
NEXT DAY
"Hi mom."
"Hello."
"How are you doing."
"Are you done ranting at me."
"Mom, I'm not ranting, I'm trying to explain things to you."
"Todd came by and explained everything and now I understand. Why couldn't you explain like him."
"I'm glad he explained it so you understand...
We are going home to Arizona tomorrow, but will be back next week for the carpet cleaning."
"How is Tim, why won't he call me?"
"Maybe because it tires him out...he is very sick."
"I know he's sick but he could call and make sure I'm okay."
I'm not surprised that it is all about Helen, but that is how it has always been.
"Here are the tums you wanted mom. I brought enough diapers for a few months because after next week we won't be back for a while."
"I'm getting up." uh uh uh Uh Uh UH UH! Don't help me.
"Mom, you can't do that...you'll fall...push the button and call for the nurse...(I give her a kiss and she turns her head.)
We have to go...see you next week."



I left feeling like every time I talk to my mother I'm down the rabbit hole in Wonderland. Everything is twisted around and topsy turvy! so "Where is the white rabbit?"


New Development
The phone rang and Patrick's older brother has been diagnosed with dementia and is wandering around the streets. Guess we may move him to a lock up facility in Tucson when we move there...His wife said "He went outside in nothing but his diaper." His wife can't manage him anymore! What makes her think we can manage him? Am I losing my mind or am I simply the bologna in the sandwich, with pressure on all sides...covered with mayonnaise and green relish!

Has anyone else been in this kind of a situation...please let me know...and let me know how you managed to get through it with your sanity! Anyone! Anyone? Anyone?

UP-date! We came home for four days, did a bit of laundry and drove back to Calif. We arrived just as the carpet cleaners pulled up. The homeless mission will pick up the last of Helen's belongings. Then we painted and cleaned and packed and by Monday the condo will be on the market.
We visited Helen before we left. We were both dirty, covered with paint and obviously exhausted. She wanted me to put up more of her pictures and put away dishes and move things around...finally Patrick said, I'm tired and starving, we didn't have lunch so we need to go. As I went over to give her a hug she demanded, "When will you be back." I told her we would be back for her Birthday Sept 16 when she will be 98. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Revised Chapter Three "The Chiasmus Cipher"

Chapter Three
07:50 PM, June 10,
300 N. 42 E. Young’s Farm
Alton, Utah
 
 
 

 

    Tory drove down the main street and out of town to the first farm house. It was painted yellow with a wraparound porch and a red front door. She pulled passed the house to a converted garage which was so small you could hardly call it an apartment. Tory had planned to review her data when she got home but had left her pack at the office. Regret was forgotten when she got to the front steps. “Right now, all I want is a long hot shower.” 
     She opened the door, and reached over to the light. Switch. Tory looked around at the once neat room. Her books were pulled off the shelves, and papers had exploded across the room. The file cabinet in the corner holding her research and other documents was gaping open.
     Camping equipment was dumped out of the duffel bag into a jumbled heap in the middle of the room. Someone had gone through her stuff and left a huge mess. 
     With shock and growing anger she thought, “What’s going on; am I the joke of a day. This really stinks.” She got scared, “Oh no, what if the robber is still here?” 
    Grabbing her keys, she ran back to her truck to get her pistol and flashlight, but instead grabbed the old softball bat in the bed of her truck. She came cautiously back into the confusion of the room holding the bat above her shoulder, ready to swing away. The only place anyone could hide was behind the counter, or in the bathroom. She moved forward slowly, listening carefully for any indication someone was hiding. Seeing no one in the kitchen area, she silently went across to the bathroom. Throwing the door open she shined the beam into all the corners and found nothing except some towels on the floor that needed to see some detergent soon.
     “I’m beginning to feel stupid.”  
     Tory went to the phone and stood there wondering who to call. She had only moved in a week ago and didn’t want to call the sheriff and be the new comer who complained. It was hard enough to fit in as an out-of-towner. Usually, unless you were born into a small town, you were looked at with suspicion.
     She thought, “Maybe it’s the same guy from the mountain snooping around to check out the latest move-in. Geese, this is a pile to clean up. I don’t have time for this.” 
     After the extraordinary departure the shooter he certainly could have beaten her back to town and still have time to ransack her room. She needed somehow to find out if any locals were into base-jumping.
     “So, What should I do?” she thought grimly.
     Quickly looking through her scattered papers she concluded her research was accounted for.
     “Maybe it was a prank, an initiation test, or something dumb like that.” She began to think of all the stupid stuff she had done as a kid. “But after what happened up on the mountain, there must be something else behind it.” Continuing to look through the jumble, she thought of the only person she knew of who lived nearby and resolutely picked up the phone.
     Bobby Hawk was a friend from the track team and after graduation he came to Southern Utah to work at a community clinic while waiting for his medical school entrance results to come back. She wondered if his cell number would still work, and decided to give it a try. As the phone rang, she looked at her watch and realized it was getting late. 
     Bobby answered on the first ring with his usual, “Yup,” and brightened with recognition when he heard her voice, “Is that you Tory?"
     After a few greetings, Tory got to the point.
     “Is that clinic you work at anywhere near Alton? She asked.
     She gave him the condensed version of her day and then asked, “What would you do?  I’m not scared or anything. Should I call the Sheriff over a prank and stir things up?”
     “The town where you’re renting is only a few miles down the road from where I am in Glendale. Give me the directions. I can be there in ten minutes to check things out.”
     “You don’t have to do that. I only wanted to get some advice.”
     Bobby interrupted, “Well, guess what. I’m already in the car and heading your way, so give me the street and how to get there.”
     “Okay, thanks, um, the house is on the main road, Highway 87. The house is yellow with a barn and pasture full of cows.  It says 300 on the mailbox where you turn in. The garage is behind the house. You’ll see my truck parked by a door on the side.”
     “Ah, your old Junker, I won’t miss that. See you in a few.”
     The duffel bag was almost re-packed with her camping gear by the time Bobby got to the door. He gave a few staccato knocks and then walked right in. 
     With one step Bobby was across the room, pulled Tory up off the floor and encircled her with his powerfully built arms. He looked around over the top of her head, and then ran a hand through his thick black hair to get the wavy mop from his eyes. He and gave a low whistle then   stepped back and looked into her questioning eyes.
     “Sorry, kiddo, you got a mess here, but better you than me. I’m so tied up these days; this mess would pretty much stay where sits until I moved out.” 
     Bobby’s 6’5” lean muscular body and broad shoulders filled the small living space and made Tory realize how tiny the room was, but heck she thought.
     “What do you want for $250 a month, plus utilities?” 
     At least she didn’t have to share the bathroom with three other girls like at school.
     She watched the easy way he moved about the cramped space and remembered the first time they met when they were both freshmen.
     During the orientation meeting for summer track she held back and watched to see how everyone interacted. The only person she knew was the field coach who came to the state championship when she was in shot-put finals and talked to her about a scholarship for ASU. There was a cold reception from the veteran team members so the new additions stuck together. She and Bobby grew to be friends, and ended up lab partners in chemistry. The last few semesters they even lived in the same apartment complex.
     She started to pick up the papers trying to get them into piles and watched him go around the room carefully looking over everything. He studied the window latch.
     “Whoever or whatever it was got in through the window. You must have left it open. Tory, you should be more careful.” 
     “Yeah, I know…so, what do you think, call the cops or let it go?”
     “Well, is anything missing, or vandalized?” 
     “From what I’ve been able to tell—no, nothing, only my stuff messed up.”
     “If it was me, I’d let it go, and figure if it happened again I‘d try to set a trap. Ya know, city girl, with that window open it could’ve been a raccoon. Did you leave any food out?
     Tory tried to remember, “I don’t think so.”
     “I‘ve had those cute looking raccoons be really bold, climb right up my leg to take food out of my hand. This is the kind of mess they leave. But then again with what you told me happened up on the mountain—I don’t know.”
     “I suppose it could have been a raccoon. I left before sunup, when those things prowl. I feel so dumb. But it doesn’t seem so cut and dry. I sure wish you were two doors down from me like you used to be.”
     “For one thing, I’m not leaving you alone tonight. If someone comes back at least they’ll know you’re not the lone woman who doesn’t know anyone in town."
     “Yeah perfect, around here, they’ll simply think I’m a wild woman with a guy in my room. But thanks. I don’t want to be alone tonight.”
     Bobby went back to his car, got his worn sleeping bag and a thirty-aught-six rifle from the back seat under the floor mat. Before he came in, he walked beyond the garage and parking area to look into the pasture. He saw a good sized barn and a chicken coop at the far end of the property. As he approached the cedar fence, a scruffy black and white spotted cow came up and put her head down for him to scratch.
     “Somebody’s pet,” he thought and reached out to scratch the soft fluff between the animal’s horns. She leaned into the fence to get closer. He tracked back and forth across the pasture with his wary deep green eyes penetrating the darkness and saw nothing unusual under the star lit night.
     He decided not to tell Tory he was worried and that he thought the events of the day were a bit bizarre. He didn’t want to keep her from getting her job completed. He knew how much it meant to her because he was there when she got her acceptance letter. She’d been dancing around and high-jumped over the couch into his arms—war whooping like a crazy girl.
     All of his buddies had been jealous of their relationship. Most of the guys he hung out with were rough country boys who drooled over her type; a city girl with curves and brains. She was an untouchable to him.
     Somehow, she reminded him of his sisters back on the reservation—fun loving and athletic. Because of that he treated her with the easy familiarity of a brother. She was in lots of his classes and his statistics study group. He never asked her out, not that the thought hadn’t occurred to him. He always got tongue tied around her and made the excuse that he didn’t want to wreck a good thing. Inside there was a much darker reason for not getting close to her. But his friends at school didn’t know about his background so they thought he was nuts not to ask her on a date. They all knew he had a crush on her.
     He turned and went back to the small garage looking around once again before he went inside and locked the door behind him.
     “Got any ice-cream?”
     Tory began to laugh, remembering the late night study group sessions and Bobby’s addiction.
     “I think so Kemo Sabe,” using her playful nick-name for him.
     She went over to the fridge clunking away in the corner and located some ice cream toward the back of the freezer. She found two bowls, located clean spoons and put some chocolate syrup on the mounds of vanilla. “Sorry no Strawberry, I know it’s your favorite.”
     Bobby was sitting on the lumpy gold couch, thumbing through the papers on the floor and without looking, reached up a waiting hand for the bowl.
     “Bobby, is this your dinner?  You always had a way with junk food that made me forget a proper diet.” She savored a small bit of ice cream from her bowl and mumbled, “Well, so much about me and my problems.”
     She pulled off her hiking boots and curled up in the tattered recliner chair.
     “Tell me about your job.”
     He looked up as he responded,“It’s okay. I’m working with kids at the clinic, but I can’t wait to get my test results back and see if I have a shot at med. school."
     “Do you know where you want to send your applications yet?”
     “I have some ideas, but the scores will let me know if I should waste my time and money sending the results off to a high power school. I’ve been thinking about UCLA because the doctor I’m working with says the curriculum is awesome. And I’d like to stay in the west where I can keep up with my running without the cold or snow. But I don’t have to make any decisions until I’m closer to graduation.”
     “You shouldn’t have any problems wherever you apply. You are at the top of our class and” she hesitated, “you have the native thing going for you.”
     “You know I’ve never wanted to take advantage of my heritage.”
     “Yeah, I know. I remember you wouldn’t admit that you were a Native American for the first year at school. You tried to convince everyone you were a tall Hispanic with your marine haircut, kaki pants and loafers. But no one was fooled for long...”
     He nodded, “I wanted to leave the reservation at home.”
    Tory mused, “Later I wondered why you joined the track team instead of the rodeo competitions like most of your native friends.”
     “To be honest I was tired the lazy native stereotype and breaking my butt at rodeos. I wanted to get something useful out of my education. Didn’t want to knock my brains out, or have an injury that would stop me from getting decent grades. I’ve already broken my arm twice working cattle on the reservation. I figured my head would be next.
     Anyway, little lady, my head is intact and I’m here for the night. Plus I think we should hike to the spot where you think you were ambushed and check it out. I haven’t had anything to do on the weekends except go on a run, or watch TV with the Doc. And give me a call if anything else weird happens. But I bet this is the end of your adventure,” he said yawning.
     “You don’t know how much better I feel having you here.”
     “It’s Bobby to the rescue!”
     “And that hike up the mountain would be great. Come back here Saturday around six and we’ll go up to the cliffs. I’ll even pack a lunch.”
     “I’ll take you up on that lunch offer and make you a trade?  I’ve been wondering who I could ask for help? I need a brainer; someone good at riddles.” He gave her a sly look.
     “Brainer, huh, thanks, I think?” She popped out the foot of the recliner took her pillow and a quilt from the floor along and leaned back. “If you’re going to be my body guard you take the couch. At least I fit in this lounge chair.” She tipped back even further.
     “Um, guess I did hog the couch, sorry.” He stretched out and reached down for his sleeping bag. “But you did have the reputation of being the puzzle brainer in our statistics group. And I have a mystery to unravel, something important to my Pop. So if I come and help you out on the mountain, will you help me with this puzzle I’m supposed to solve?”
     “Yeah, sure, I’ll help if I can.”
     He yawned again, dangled his long legs over the couch arm and put his head back. His head hit the softball bat lying under the pillow and he sat back up.
     “You’ve gotta be kidding me!  Is this your weapon of choice?”
     “I’m pretty good with that thing, believe it or not. You’re not the only one with hidden skills. I was a pretty good hitter on my high school softball team. Set the record stealing bases, but changed to the track team when some friends asked me to help out on the relay team.”
     Bobby put the bat on the floor and leaned back once again, putting his hands behind his head. “Softball’s loss is track team’s gain. I’ll remember to stay out of the way when you’re holding that thing.” His eyes closed. “I better get a few hours rest. Its baby exam day tomorrow and we have a full schedule so ̶ ̶ your ̶ body ̶ ̶ guard ̶ ̶ um- ̶ will ̶ ̶.”  His voice trailed off.
     Looking over at his sleeping body Tory wanted to laugh at the way her protector hung off both ends of the couch. She wrapped the quilt over her shoulders and gave into the fatigue she’d been fighting off. It was barely seconds before she joined him in sleep. When Tory awoke early the next day Bobby was gone.

coming soon chapter 4