© 2017 by D. Jeffrey Levin Jr 

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another last day

"Sing like no one's listening.

Love like you've never been hurt,

Dance like nobody's watching,

And live like its Heaven on Earth."

- Mark Twain

You are going to die today.

What?

You are going to die today.

That’s crazy. Nobody gets told ahead of time when they are going to die.

Sometimes when it is deemed warranted, advance notice is given.

Who decides that?

A power greater than both of us.

     The sting of the water in the shower felt good on his tired muscles. The shower ‘room’ and spa in the master suite of his home had long since been a final refuge for Jack going back to the days when he was still practicing law, and the stress associated with his job had nearly destroyed his marriage and prompted weekly visits to chiropractors, massage therapists, and at one point a cardiologist. The shower had been a refuge against the phone, the e-mail, and sometimes even the family. It provided the final refuge that he could not even find on the golf course because nobody would dare come talk to him while he was in the shower.

     The steam billowed up to the ten foot ceiling, swirling and forming clouds around the humidity protected light, as drops of mist fell back toward his upturned face. The workout he had just completed had been one of the harder ones of late, but he felt good. Business was good, his stress levels minimal, and aside from the familiar twinge in his right knee, all was right with the world.

     He had experienced that occasional sharp pang in the heart again this morning, but it was before he had mounted the elliptical, and it had quickly passed. More annoying than anything else, it nonetheless always got his attention.

     “An irregular heart valve sequence” is what the doctor had called it twenty five years ago when Kathy had rushed him to the ER after calling her mother to come and watch the two kids. The tests at the hospital had been inconclusive and he had felt redeemed because he knew that it was nothing. The doctor went on to confirm these results the next day in his private office, and said that Jack would have it for the rest of his life and when he got to be ‘older’ that he might confuse it for a real heart attack that could very well kill him. No treatment, no corrective surgery, no meds, just something that he would have to learn to live with, much like some people learn to live with a trick knee or elbow. 

     Now a fully recovered attorney, he was completely comfortable in his new career, selling houses. A couple three sales a year in the high end market and it was far less stress, a lot easier money, and allowed for a whole lot more time to play golf, fool around with their very modest speedboat, and to see more of the kids and grandkids.

     Not to mention which, nobody makes realtor jokes. He still remembered all of the punchlines to the myriad of attorney jokes that he had had to endure over the years:

     “What do you call one thousand attorneys up to their necks in sand on the beach?” A: Not enough sand.

     “What do you call one thousand attorneys on the bottom of the ocean?” A: a good start.

     “Why can lawyers swim unharmed in shark-infested waters?” A: professional courtesy.

     One of his friends had thought to send him at least one attorney joke every day for nearly ten years. At one point he had seriously considered forming a compilation of this ridiculous humor and marketing it, but had abandoned the idea when he realized that he personally resented the humor that came at the expense of a lot of good and honest attorneys who had to suffer the sling and arrows that should have been directed at only a small number of those who labored under the guise of counselors at law.

     Jackson Davis Lee. His parents, born and bred in Richmond VA, like their parents before them, had never quite given up on the fact that the “War of Northern Aggression,” or that “recent unpleasantness” had ended with the South at the losing end of the score. All four boys in his family bore the names of Confederate generals. As the oldest, he was lucky. He was named for Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and President Jefferson Davis, two men clearly dedicated to their duty.

     After obtaining an Army commission through ROTC at Virginia Commonwealth University, and during a stint in the Army, Jack had married Kathy, his high school sweetheart, and they had started their life and family together while he attended law school in Charlottesville, VA at the University of Virginia Law School. Twenty years of practice had been hard on him, as well as the family, and had nearly fractured his marriage on a couple of occasions when protracted trials had kept him away from them for long periods of time.

     At age 51, after burying yet another friend who had died of a premature heart attack, Jack had taken down the shingle, and had transitioned to a career in high-end residential real estate.

     Today at age 57, he had been told by a voice only present in his head that he was going to die.

     “The steam billowed up to the ten foot ceiling, swirling and forming clouds around the humidity protected light, as drops of mist fell back toward his upturned face. The workout he had just completed had been one of the harder ones of late, but he felt good. Business was good, his stress levels minimal, and aside from the familiar twinge in his right knee, all was right with the world.

     He had experienced that occasional sharp pang in the heart again this morning, but it was before he had mounted the elliptical, and it had quickly passed. More annoying than anything else, it nonetheless always got his attention.

     “An irregular heart valve sequence” is what the doctor had called it twenty five years ago when Kathy had rushed him to the ER after calling her mother to come and watch the two kids. The tests at the hospital had been inconclusive and he had felt redeemed because he knew that it was nothing. The doctor went on to confirm these results the next day in his private office, and said that Jack would have it for the rest of his life and when he got to be ‘older’ that[…]”

EXCERPT

CHAPTER 1

0600

 

Time is ticking...

See what Jackson Lee does with the time he has left.

 

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