They returned to the road and navigated the beautiful but slow crossing of the Rocky Mountains and ear popping descent of the Western slope onto the Colorado and Utah plains now crossing into the four corners of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah and then Mesquite, Nevada with the first glimpse of a neon casino sign located seemingly in the middle of nowhere at least at two in the morning with little else other than desert scrub as a point of reference.
They drove almost through the entirety of Las Vegas and settled into a weekly rental the Budget Suites on West Tropicana built a few blocks west of the strip and interstate and a straight line to their new home and life. He carried Chad his sleepy lifeless body into one of the adjoining suites. The pups followed and Tuesday bathed the children, fed and walked the pups and retired just as the midnight sky receded from deep purple to burnt orange at the edge of the horizon. He unloaded the rest of their effects from both vehicles into a third suite then checked on his kids, wife and moved a chair outside, sat down lit a cigar and twisted the cap of a Heineken smashing a wedge of lime into the bottle the tart residue, taste of cigar and sunrise reminding him of the many blessings conferred on him by Almighty God and most recently the safe passage provided them from New York to Las Vegas not even a hang nail to interrupt their transition to this the Mecca of the Western United States.
The phone rang three hours later and he a light sleeper cradled the cell to his ear. An excited voice on the other end described how another family had fallen off the waiting list and a home was available for immediate sale the only hitch their sole decision was the color of appliances. He replied: “Yes, black” hung up the phone and nodded back off to sleep.
The family rallied shortly thereafter with a knock on the door as their new nanny arrived to transport the kids to McDonalds and a movie. Tuesday kissed each of her children and waved goodbye from their second floor walkway. They drove West on Tropicana until the pavement was no more pressing through the dust and dirt grading several hundred yards further to the sales office.
Upon completing the review and signing the small mound of paperwork and with writer’s cramp to boot they invited their agent Chantel to lunch. As they left the office Chantel walked left but they didn’t follow. She turned with a perplexed look and said: “Don’t you want to see the model.” In unison they replied: “No we trust you!” Tuesday giggled, Chantel returned and off they went to a nice sit down meal a long time coming after weeks of grabbing food on the run, interrupted intermittingly by four and five star room service.
They moved in to their home at 5189 Ridge Heights in the conclave of Shadow Mountain Ranch before the paving of the street was finished. Sprint, the local phone company, to the chagrin of their neighbors transferred six hard wired phone lines for their immediate use leaving the neighbors and gay couple next door with a fat resentment and reduced to chatting on their complimentary sprint cell phones until the rest of the block was settled and all homes occupied before the line puller returned.
He worked in a stay at home capacity and Tuesday enrolled each child in school with Cassie scoring Bishop Gorman Catholic High and College Preparatory School located in mid town off St. Louis Avenue and near an Episcopal Church while the Bishop’s Board planned to build a new campus in the Southwest less then a mile from their front door and at ninety three million dollars was truly an exciting high school experience for Cassie to contemplate that prior to graduation mingling with her new friends on such a magnificent campus.
Tuesday supervised the landscaping and build out of the back yard, planting of cherry, lemon and apple trees, the grape arbor and laying of sod. Then she hired an unemployed carpenter from The Samaritan House in Las Vegas and transitional home for recovering alcoholics. Jeff crafted from scratch a monkey-bridge and open storage bin over the entirety of their garage of four bays and attached to the frame of the home providing the movers easy access to the overhead for the recovery of their seasonal keepsakes.
Tuesday watched like an eagle and requested the woman of the twelve emptying the contents of four Mayflower’s to set all of the Halloween boxes to one side.
Halloween was very exciting for Tuesday who as a child would sneak into the garage in their modest home in Albuquerque, New Mexico locate the recycled A-1 Beer cardboard crates carefully lift the top off and slip on the plastic witch mask just to soak in the aroma and arouse her memories of this spirit filled festival. One fall her mother sewed from scratch a leopard costume complete with shawl and black ears.
Tuesday intended to make a big deal of this meet and greet the neighbor’s this Halloween and for her children too especially this first year in their new hometown.
The magical night arrived and the front yard, on cue at sundown and the beneficiary of outdoor timers with light sensors, sprung to life as the inflatable ghost rider on his Harley and the giant pumpkin with a purple witches hat tethered to the garage door assumed their party positions; the candy over flowing from plastic orange pumpkins and black buckets. She snapped a hundred photos if one and kissed each of her gremlins as they walked out the door not a grim reaper among them. Cassie guided Chad with one hand a cell phone with one button to mom connection in her other hand.
Outside of her office window the sound activated ghost on a string crossed the nearly invisible fish line to the front door. He sat on their love swing and tapped the foot petal control of the fogger when an approaching group of costumed kids with parents in tow walked up the driveway. The parents lingering a bit as he answered their questions how everything worked including the fogger hidden behind the hay bales staked in place by scare crows.
Some children were afraid to approach the front door with parents standing in the street instructing them to do so anyway. A little later in the evening from the next street over and behind them a haunting theme of organ music beckoned forth from the shadows.
Their kids eventually trouping home and into the shower before a snack and bed; Tuesday sat with him on the swing while disgorging their still ample stock of treats into the pillow sacks of the final late comers and “Trick or Treaters” dressed as little more than excited high school girls and boys.
They chatted about the night, the neighbors and he held her close she melting in his embrace as he was everything to her. He kissed her and asked her to check on the kids and let the pups out and to bring him cup of coffee. She returned twenty minutes later and they listened intently to the fading sounds of feet running back and forth across distant streets as the cloud shielded moon peeked out in a nod of approval for another Halloween well done. Suddenly the skeleton bride posted near the front door sprang to life as her teeth chatted and her red laser like eyes cut through the darkness. Tuesday jumped and he laughed. Then they both laughed.
Halloween came again next year and the next year with new neighbors and more fun stuff to impress kids of all ages. Caravans of cars from across town blocked the street as doors would swing open and children jumped out to trick or treat first at their home then up and down the block then to return to their ride and to a new neighborhood. Some parents parked and walked up the street to take in all the wonderment. He meeting and greeting people halfway down the driveway with fists of candy for every boy and girl while acting like the consummate politician shaking hands and initiating introductions with some parental and neighborly conversations lasting ten or fifteen minutes.
Tuesday marked the latest Halloweens with home made pies from their very own pumpkin patch terraced at the base of the grapes. Upon request she cranked up the flavor spicing select pours with habanera laced filling.
The following summer of 2005 they noticed that the neighbors were extra busy with adding swimming pools, customizing their homes, buying new Hummers and picking up second and third houses all on the strength of paper equity. He was deeply distressed by these events. His timing for such things was impeccable. He pondered his fate and the welfare of his own family. He called his attorney and created and funded trusts for each of his four children in the amount of one million dollars apiece and his wife for ten million. He then purchased a life insurance policy for an additional ten million dollars payable to his wife with additional beneficiaries and flow through provisions naming Cassie the legal guardian, administrator and medical power of attorney of her siblings and each of them in the event he and Tuesday died or were incapacitated and not able to care for their children.
He then listed the home and received an immediate offer of eight hundred thousand dollars a four fold return for their inconspicuous base of operation. They closed two weeks later at the exact peak of the market melt up in Las Vegas and moved to the outskirts of town preferring to rent an Executive Mansion on Water Crossing in Steeple Chase. The kids barely protested as they knew each time daddy executed and implemented a decision their lives improved.
One day the next summer while working on the pool he felt faint but unlike any thing he had ever experienced before and decided to see a doctor. Six weeks later the tests arrived and the news grim. A hospice was contacted and he admitted two weeks later. Tuesday and the kids functioned in denial, as the hospice people were so nice especially the young man and chaplain who always brought him communion on Saturday evenings or Sunday mornings; the family believed daddy would be released and return home any day now!
One day while everyone was at his bedside including the chaplain he asked Tuesday if she would take the kids and pick him up a meal at Burger King. She replied that the food here was good, he replied: “Tuesday, please” She obeyed and left with the kids. The chaplain thinking he wanted some private time also walked toward the door. He said no! Please stay and as the chaplain turned around he died. It was Halloween.
The nurse was summoned and marked the time of death. When Tuesday arrived with the kids the aroma of fresh hot fries in the corridor she walked into the room and fell sobbing at his side the nurse and chaplain supporting her. Why did he ask us to leave, when we should have been here? The elder children stood there stunned as the veil of denial now lifting that daddy would not be coming home. Chad sat in the corner and ate the fries.
That day his spirit left his body and remained in the room; watching his family through the mist of death as they eventually departed for home the morticians with gurney waiting outside. That night he went home too. He laid next to his sleeping wife only the pups aware of his presence. He used to sing to them at night while strumming the guitar on the patio and next to the fire pit. Parker would curl up at his feet and Spitzer would hump his leg. This time though the pups attentive but still as the night air.
The next morning he followed them to church and then to the funeral home. He was to be buried in Santa Fe next to his estranged parents where they could finally be reconciled and share the same space without confrontation.
Page 3 The Fireman Electric Arguments 2008.11
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