Authors: K. J. Janssen
K. J. Janssen
Copyright © 2015 by K.J. Janssen.
All rights reserved.
First Print Edition: August 2015
Limitless Publishing, LLC
Kailua, HI 96734
Formatting: Limitless Publishing
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to locales, events, business establishments, or actual persons—living or dead—is entirely coincidental.
This book is dedicated to my beautiful wife Jeannette, whose support and encouragement made it all possible.
Table of Contents
6 a.m. at the Symington Household
Ronald Symington looked at his lathered up face in the mirror as he lifted the four-bladed razor and began systematic strokes over his face and neck.
Dr. Ronald Mason Symington, OB/GYN graduated from Yale University, School of Medicine in 1984 and immediately took up residency at Wallington General Hospital. After his residency was completed he left the hospital to form the Symington Medical Center, Inc. and as its Director, added multiple specialties until it became the state’s largest medical group.
He got up early today because he knew that in a few hours his daughter Maggie would arrive to help Marilyn with the cooking. Maggie worked as a RN at a hospital several towns over from Wallington and between the distance and her irregular hours, her visits home became more infrequent. Maggie was his favorite, although he was careful never to display it openly. Of course it was no secret to the others in the family, including Maggie, but they respected his attempt to conceal it. He missed the time he and his daughter spent together discussing hospital experiences and life in general. Ron was happy that she had off from her duties today. He would make sure they had some private time together.
He shaved slowly, knowing from years of experience, that too fast a stroke made him prone to razor nicks and scrapes. When he finished, he bent down to wash his face and clean the razor under the faucet. As he stood up, he saw in the mirror the image of his deceased father standing behind him. He was startled at first, even though in the past seven years, since his father’s sudden passing from a brain aneurysm, the image of Dr. Ralph David Symington had appeared to him at least a dozen times.
“Dad, what are you doing here?”
Ronnie, you know I visit you in times of need.
“What are you talking about, Dad? I’m not in need.”
Come on, son. This is me you’re talking to. Don’t get so defensive.
“Who’s being defensive? I don’t have anything to be defensive about.”
Still playing the martyr, I see. Okay, let’s do this your way. We both know that I only appear when you have a problem. I’m here only because you’ve conjured me up. You don’t do that unless something is bothering you. Now out with it. What’s so all-fired important that you need to talk with me?
Ron sat down on the toilet seat, carefully averting his eyes from the space where his father’s image would be. As much as he wanted to, he knew from experience that if he looked directly at the image, his rational mind would immediately end the session; attempting to look directly at the image of his father would violate the ethereal accord that somehow allowed him to discourse with his deceased father and the last thing he wanted to do today was lose this fragile bond.
“You’re right of course. I don’t know why I think I can fool you. You know me like a book. Yes, I am troubled and it has to do with Wilson coming to dinner today. We have a history of Thanksgiving meals ending badly. Now with his having been in prison hanging over our heads, I’m concerned there may be some real trouble. I know that Richard is bringing his fiancée, but I’m tossed as to whether he will prefer to behave himself or play the bully to impress her. I’m worried about the impression she’ll take away.”
You have every right to be concerned. Richard always likes to rib Wilson and he usually goes for the jugular when he does. If I remember correctly, that’s what started the brouhaha the last time Wilson came for dinner. Richard wouldn’t let up until his brother took a swing at him. I remember you stepped in to break it up and Wilson stormed out of the house. Maggie tried to go after him, but Marilyn held her back. You and Richard had a few words and then you both just picked up a couple of beers and went back to the football game as if nothing had happened. The ladies cleaned up the dinner dishes and went out on the porch with a couple bottles of wine. Wilson never came back that time. Last year, even with Wilson absent, Maggie took offense to something Richard said and left right in the middle of the meal, with tears streaming down her face. Nothing you could say to her would change her mind.
So, yes, I can see why you’re concerned. Thanksgiving dinner at the Symington household is usually a disaster waiting to happen. What does Marilyn have to say about this?
“She’s her usual optimistic self. She always looks for the best. ‘Everything will be fine, dear’ was her answer.”
She is a sweetie, that one; always looking for the best in people. I always liked that about her.
“Yes, that’s her all right, she’s a real sweetie. It’s a credit to her that she’s never been the perpetrator of one of our Thanksgiving disasters. She always tries to keep the peace, but with our family that’s not always possible. She’s been so good to those kids; always helping them out when they needed something. You would think that they would want to be at their best behavior, just for her sake. She spends hours preparing the Thanksgiving meal and trying to make the dinner a good time for everyone. I just don’t understand my children, even after all these years.”
Well, son, I don’t quite know what to tell you. I know that Wilson’s gone through a lot.
He deserves a chance to redeem himself in the family’s eyes. What has he done with his life since he came back ten months ago?
“When he got out he moved in with a friend he knew from high school. A few months ago he got his own studio apartment. He has a job at Wallington House supervising the valet parking concession. The pay is decent, but still, it’s a damn shame. He’s got a BS in Logistics. He had an internship with a big shipping company during his last year at college. When he graduated, he was on a waiting list for a full time job with them as a Senior Traffic Analyst. He was expecting an offer from them at the time he was picked up on the drug charge. What a waste. Now no company will touch him.”
It must be especially difficult for you and Marilyn to watch this happening. Apparently neither of you had any idea he was messing around with drugs. I remember when I was in medical school. Some of my fellow students resorted to drugs to handle the stress. Some of them got messed up. I was tempted a few times, but the worst I had was a few joints, shared with a nurse in a storage room after some outstanding sex. Of course that was before I met your mother. How did you fare in that department?
I had my share of pot and some uppers. It’s rare to find anyone in med school who hasn’t, but I always knew when to quit. You were a great influence on me in those days, although you probably didn’t realize it. You had such faith in me that I didn’t want to let you down. Truth be known, I was probably more afraid of what you would do to me if you found out. Well, it all worked out and I’m sure that this thing with Wilson will too. Do you think I should say something to Richard and Maggie about being at their best behavior, especially with Wilson?”
I don’t think that’s a good idea, son. That might cause them to freeze up and not be
themselves. I don’t see how that could make for an enjoyable Thanksgiving dinner. I would think that they would be sensitive enough to realize the situation could be volatile. The only advice I will give you now is to pay close attention to the dynamics of the situation. Be ready to intervene before things go too far. I’m sure everyone already has their own apprehensions about today and although Marilyn may seem all business about putting together a great Thanksgiving feast, she’s sure to be on edge. She’s seen too many of these dinners end in disaster. Her heart goes out to her children, but she still knows that there is little she can do to assure a peaceful dinner. She’ll be counting on your support. Don’t let her down.
Last year, while Wilson was still incarcerated, the four of you managed to get through the day okay, until that problem between Richard and Maggie ensued. I’d suggest that you try to control the beer and wine they consume. I don’t have to tell you that when people get too relaxed, they tend to lose their self-control. From what I’ve seen in the past, that’s when most of your family fights start.
“I know you’re right, Dad, but it’s hard to control alcohol at a holiday dinner. I’ll keep an eye on it, but I’m not sure how effective I’ll be. I’m not concerned about the women. It’s Wilson that has me worried the most. The few times I’ve talked with him since he got out of prison, he seemed to have a chip on his shoulder. I guess I’m not very good at hiding my feelings. He can read my disappointment in him and my apprehension about his future. I’m so afraid that he’ll revert back to his old ways.”
That’s always possible. Can’t you help him find work?
“Wilson and I had a brief discussion about that when he came back. He turned me down flat.
I honored his decision, but I’ll get him aside this afternoon and make the offer again.”
He needs an incentive. Is he even trying to find a company willing to overlook his past and take a chance on him? I think if he had some job prospects, he’d have a brighter outlook.
“I don’t think he’s looking at all, but you know what, I bet I could help out there. I know some people at the club that are executives at companies that distribute things. Maybe one of them might take a chance on him. I’ll get in touch with a few of them tomorrow, but I won’t say anything to Wil until someone agrees to talk with him.”
That sounds like a plan, Ronnie. He’s a good kid who just made a mistake. He deserves a chance to redeem himself. I wish you luck with that. Well, son, I don’t know what else I can do for you. I hope all goes well with your dinner. Remember to keep an eye on the liquor consumption. I love you.
He started to tell his father that he loved him too, but as he turned in that direction, the image of his father was gone as quickly as it had appeared. Dr. Ronald Mason Symington was once again alone in the bathroom.
Ron finished shaving, returned to the bedroom, and dressed for the day, choosing a blue and
grey plaid shirt and a pair of charcoal grey slacks. He decided to keep his slippers on. All set for the day, he headed down to the kitchen for some much needed coffee.
The Symington family numbered five, in all. The couple’s first child, Richard Walter Symington, was born the same month and day as his mother. The birthday oddity didn’t stop there, as the couple’s second son, Wilson Arnold Symington, was born the same month and day that his father was born. Finally, their only daughter, Margaret Mary Symington, joined her male siblings about a year after Wilson.
The Symington’s lived in the picturesque town of Wallington. The town, incorporated in 1780, had been the home of the current Symington line for five generations. The day they moved into their new home, Dr. Ronald Mason Symington and his new bride added a plaque, hung by chains, to the mailbox that proudly announced their arrival to the neighborhood;
stood out in bright blue letters against a background of antique white. Here was where they would raise their family.