Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: 24 Hours (01/27/11)
TITLE: A Patsy Persuasion
By Mary Toll
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From the stately chocolate brown windows the autumn sun peeked through the blinds of the hospice living quarters. As Danny’s condition worsened, patterns of moaning and restlessness stirred him in his sleep.
Reni placed another scripture card onto the TV screen above Danny’s head.
Inscribed, she wrote, ‘I will not die but live, and declare the works of the Lord.’
“Hello, Sunshine.” She greeted Danny smoothing her friend’s furrowed brow. “Your food is here.”
As if trapped in a cold plastic bag, an unpleasant odor of a sour apple and oatmeal lingered in the ‘L’ shaped room. Beneath its scratched glass cover, breakfast was left untouched upon the table top again.
“Danny. Who’s singing for you today? Patsy, Perry, or Andy?” contriving a cheerful smile.
A weakened bladder permeated the pad as Danny lay like an infant on the mechanical cot.
“P-a-t-s-y please,” came a feeble reply. His jaw relaxed wide open.
Like a Cardinal’s joyful twitter rising through a dreadful storm, the tone of Patsy’s crooning soothed like a familiar companion. With its country quality, Reni yielded to its life changing words. “’I must make up my mind to-day…what to have and to h-old…’”
Caressing Danny’s cold feet, regrets of rejecting her husband’s troubled friend, Danny, hammered at Reni’s emotions.
“He’s just wants you at the bars with him, Carl.” She would banter. “And I hate it when he calls me Sunshine. I’m sure it’s a joke.”
Or, “You’re always taking Danny’s side it’s like having another woman.”
“What good does it do you to stick your head in that bible if you come out foaming like a demon?” Carl charged. “Danny wins the Jesus idol from me.”
Reni knew Carl was right. Danny’s been good to them and the kids. Jealousy gave the devil an invitation to bully her mind and marriage.
Reni grew in God’s word to overcome her insecurities. It not only reconciled her to Danny, but she acquired a new husband for herself and a new bride for Carl. Her growing admiration for her husband’s character would be evident as Danny’s demise played out.
“…it’s a good thing you brought Danny in when you did,” The nurse told Carl, moments after Danny checked in.
“Danny’s known for quite awhile about the cancer.”
Carl leaned over in shock at the nurse’s station.
“That bonehead,” Carl joked, trying not to cry. “He claimed ‘I’ was the prankster.”
Staggering like a drunken sailor, Carl paced the buckled hallway leading to his buddy’s room.
He never said a word, Reni.” turning to his wife. “I warned him to stay off the booze.”
“We met in the service.” He told the nurse. “He just hasn’t been the same since his nasty divorce.”
Reni clutches close to her husband. “How long does he have?”
Her words were sincere but sounded rehearsed.
“I’m sorry.” The nurse replied, with a long and weary face. “I would give him 24 hours.”
Reni remembered the call from Danny’s doctor.
“The VA’s holding Danny.” Carl told Reni. “It’s not good.”
“I glad you persuaded Danny to go in.” Reni praised Carl as they were directed to intensive care.
Carl drew near to Danny’s bedside as Reni followed close behind. Reni froze with fear. What use to be a strapping, Texan brown hunter now looked like a shrunken head on a stick? Paralysis had stricken Danny down one side of his face.
Compassion filled Reni’s heart. With a wandering eye of uncertainty, Danny let out a frightful sob. Mumbling his words of gratitude, Danny gripped his loyal friend by the hand.
“Watch the hand holding stuff, Danny boy,” Carl choked, “Or Reni’s really gonna squeal.”
Danny continued to wail. An exchange of hand gestures and whimpering noises were all he could muster to communicate with Carl. Finally, with a shake of his head, Carl placed a pencil and notebook on Danny’s lap. Steadily the words were scribbled for them to read, ‘Thank you, Sunshine, for coming.’
“Oh, don’t you dare let go of Carl, Danny,” Reni laughed, “And don’t be afraid. We love you.”
Reni and an elderly friend from their church sandwiched Danny’s bedsides like the Old and New Testament. Family and friends paying their respects buzzed about us them as they prayed along with Carl.
“You have two good looking women here, Danny.” The friend replied with a wink. “Just like the Patsy music you adore, let’s make an important decision today, what to have and to hold.”
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