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3/19/20: 9:34 A.M.
[An extract from my Apocalisp journal.]
The flip phone rang on the plastic dresser next to my head.
By the time I rolled over to answer it the phone stopped, so I rolled back over.
I saw later that the phone had rung at 8:34.
The phone rang again and I managed to roll over and pick it up.
It was Riley, who I had called on the way home Wednesday afternoon to tell him that I rescheduled my trip to his Colorado hideaway for August, as I did not want to take a chance of spreading the bad chest cold that has gripped the world in terror from its California haunts to his elderly lungs.
The voice on the other end was not Riley’s even toned Mississippi drawl. It was the broken voice of a breaking woman.
“Hello, James, this is Rosali, Riley’s wife. [1] Riley passed away Tuesday night, in his sleep. When I woke he was gone. He had a smile on his face. He didn’t suffer. I now he thought very highly of you. Could you please let Bob know. He wanted to be returned to Mississippi. At some point I’ll take his ashes there. Right now, with this virus, you can’t do anything. Riley was such a good man and he valued your friendship highly. I’m sorry—I have to go. I will call you again sometime.”
I don’t plan on changing my train schedule that has me stopping off in Denver for a week this August, unless Rosali informs me that she wishes otherwise. I’d like to help with whatever work needs done towards whatever end the heartbroken lady has in mind.
I’ll will always miss Riley Smith.
And, now that he is beyond the reaches of the evil rulers of this world, I can finally post his last name.
-1. This is not her name, but it fits.
One of my greatest pleasures as a writer was to be present when the two kindest souls I have known met on my account. One is Bob, the other Riley, and Lynn and Bob did an eulogy for Riley over at the BlogSpot, which passes for my online sanctum, as the silver-voiced woman who curates my writing provides there a mirror I can be proud of—and another plane jets out of Portland. You know Riley thought this hysteria was all horseshit.
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