If you are reading this, then I’m dead and will forever remain sixty-six years old.
If you are a searcher, looking through the rubble for survivors or their remains, thanks for trying. I appreciate your efforts. If you are a looter who picked up my MacBook Air because you wanted it, consider the laptop a gift from me. I won’t need it anymore. But whatever your reasons, it makes no difference because I’m dead and just glad someone is reading my story.
Oh yeah, my name is Jackson Edwards.
Maybe I better get on with it because I’m drifting off more and more because of the pain.
It all began when my doorbell rang a few months ago.
I hit pause on the TV remote and stood up. My sciatica and arthritis ached more than usual so I stretched myself, hoping to work out the kinks, before reaching for the doorknob. Halloween had passed two weeks earlier, but I still took no chances and looked through the peephole first. I saw my bearded neighbor standing in the hallway and opened the door.
“Monsieur Roberto,” I said with a lousy French accent.
“Si vou ples, Monsieur Jackson,” he said in his own second rate accent, pointing toward the living room.
“Come in, my Charismaniac friend.”
He laughed and walked into the living room and sat down on the sectional. I followed and sat on the opposite side of the coffee table in the leather recliner.
“I don’t know where to begin,” he said, rubbing his hands together.
His blue eyes checked out the oak floor that his jogging shoes rested upon. Something bothered him.
“What’s wrong?” I asked. “Don’t you usually start with John 3:16 and work your way through the rest of the Bible when you come here?”
“Hey, man, I’m sorry if I’ve ever whacked you over the head with my Bible.”
“Just yanking your chain, Dr. Bob.”
“Okay, but I still don’t know where to start.”
“Why not at the beginning? It’s only 7 p.m. and we have all night.”
He nodded and rubbed his forehead with a hand.
“Do you remember four years ago when I told you about a vision a Christian woman had about a gigantic ocean wave hitting Japan? Do you remember that?”
“Vaguely,” I whispered, not being totally honest because I remembered the story quite well. In fact, I even did research on Google and discovered numerous other warnings spoken ahead of time about the tsunami.
“Okay,” he said. “Well, this same woman just had a vision of a nuclear blast hitting us here in San Francisco ─”
“Yes, and not only that, a prophet friend from Albuquerque called and told us a disaster would soon hit the Bay Area. He recommended we should pack up and leave now.”
“Hmm,” I said, leaning forward in the recliner. “What are you going to do?”
“Mary and I sold our condo today, furniture and all. We’re moving to an area near Tahoe.”
“What about your medical practice? And your two kids”
“My two partners bought out my share and we’ll homeschool our kids.”
Everything moved too fast to grab a hold of what he was telling me.
“Well, it’ll take sixty days or so for everything to close, right? So, we’ll have plenty of time to talk in the future.”
I stood up, hoping to end this uncomfortable conversation.
“No, sadly, we won’t. I made cash deals and sold everything for sixty cents on the dollar.”
I fell backwards into the recliner and shook my head.
“You took a four hundred thousand dollar loss on your condo?”
“I would have given it away if I had to.”
I opened my mouth and closed it. How do you challenge a person who is willing to turn his back on a fabulous way of life in the city he loved? I know I could never have done it. It had been too hard building a forty-year career in Silicon Valley to end up tossing it away. And a million dollar condo on Nob Hill? That would have been a laughable goal back in the days of my youth, living in the inner city of Oakland.
“Is this goodbye?” I asked.
He nodded and stood up, offering his hand to me. I stood and shook hands with him.
“Listen, Jackson, why don’t you come along with us? Mary and I really feel some bad things are going to happen in San Francisco and we don’t want anything to happen to you. We love you.”
“No way, I’ll take my chances here on Nob Hill,” I said, shaking my head. I winked my eye and added, “Just remember, my white Charismaniac friend, I’m still one of them jive-talking, hustle-or-die blacks from the inner city. We know how to survive.”
Bob turned and left. I never saw him again.
Dr. Bob’s declaration upset me so much I immediately rushed into the kitchen and made myself a cup of black tea. Coffee was my morning slap in the face, but tea was my meditative brew of choice. My former wife, an English gal from Liverpool, taught me this ritual in our four years of marriage.
“Jackson, you need a cuppa now,” she proclaimed whenever she noticed my neck muscles tightening.
I miss her, I thought, carrying my tea and a shortbread cookie into the living room. Too bad she wanted children. Oh well, women have never been hard to find for an ex-Stanford athlete like me. This time I just need to focus my 160 IQ on the right one.
I sat down in the recliner and sipped some tea.
I looked at my cell phone and knew the call could not be ducked.
“Jackson, I missed you Sunday. Where were you?”
“Sorry Mama, I had a project.”
“I was stuck with a Monday morning deadline.”
“Honey, I’m eighty-six years old and need some time with you, too. I won’t live forever, you know?”
“I know, I know. Maybe next Sunday, okay?”
Dead air space on the phone with Mama meant churning wheels inside her brain.
“Yes, Mama?” I replied, gritting my teeth.
“What’s wrong with you?”
“Don’t lie. Your mama always knows when something is wrong with you.”
I blew out a breath and then told her about Dr. Bob’s visit and his nuclear bomb revelation.
“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!”
“You can say that again, Mama.”
“You need to return to church, son.”
“Mama, you know I’m not into that right now.”
“It’s time to put an end to that silly nonsense of yours,” she said. “Did you know Father Kerry has returned to St. Edwards?”
“Father Kerry, huh? I was an altar boy for him over fifty years ago.”
“He asked about you Sunday. Why don’t you give him a call?”
“Okay, Jackson, but the church is the answer for your nuclear bomb worries.”
The conversation soon sailed into safer waters and focused on my two brothers and their families. My tea was cold when the call ended so I went to bed.
(Excerpt from Unhinged Geezer by Larry Nevenhoven, © 2015, Amazon eBook)