(Click the title to go to Pine Tree Mysteries ezine and read my mini-mystery, A Bird's Eye View)


(A Dramatic Dialogue)

"How are you feeling, Papa?"
"Get away from me."
"You're just cranky because you don't feel well."
"I don't feel anything. I'm paralyzed."
"I met Doctor Silverman on the stairs as he was leaving earlier. He said you're coming along about like expected."
"That quack."
"Doctor Silverman's not a quack, Papa. He's taken care of you for more than forty years."
"And for more than forty years I've hated him."
"I think the stroke addled your brain."
"Brain's fine. Body's a piece of deadwood--but the brain's going strong."
"Here, let me fluff your pillows. All this stuff in the way--plastic tubing and beeping machines."
"Leave me alone."
"My goodness, how do you manage to get your hair in such a tangle? I'll get a brush."
"You'll get the hell away from me. Hovering. Always hovering. I don't need my pillows fluffed and my hair suits me fine. Just get the hell away."
"Hold still while I untangle your hair. Lord, I know it must be hard not to be able to move. Doctor Silverman said it was a blessing that you had no brain damage. Don't you think it's a miracle, Papa, that your mind's clear as a bell?"
"I don't believe in such witchery. How the hell would Silverman know anything about miracles. Damn Jew."
"If his being Jewish bothers you, why don't you get another doctor?"
"For the same reason I don't get another lawyer. Jews may suck the marrow out of your bones, but at least you get your money's worth."
"Jews don't steal."
"Rabid mongrels, running loose in the streets, making more mongrels. If I had been in Germany in '42--talk about trains running on time."
"Please don't get excited and get your nerves to racing...there now, your hair looks much better."
"For God's sake, quit hanging over me like a vulture. Your mother used to do that and it drove me crazy. Picking. Always picking."
"Do you miss her, Papa? Mama, I mean. Since she died, do you think about her much?"
"That shrew? I'm not sorry the day she pitched headlong down the stairs and broke her neck."
"How do you know she pitched, Papa? The doctor said she probably tripped on the carpet and tumbled all the way down."
"How the hell do I know? I was out in the garden pruning my roses."
"No, Papa. You were up here. I was in my room playing Barbies, and my door was open. I heard loud voices--you and Mama. And then Mama shouted 'No, Claude,' just before she screamed."
"Who remembers anything after twenty-five years."
"I remember. And I think you killed her, Papa. I think you pushed her and she pitched down the stairs just like you said."
"What are you going to do, have me locked away? It would take three vans just to move all this medical apparatus."
"Look at this handle, Papa. Do you know what it is--this blue lever? It controls your oxygen. Grip it tightly and close it all the way off--like this--and the air can't get through."
"Katherine, don't."
"You know, Papa, I never did get over Mama's death. I think a part of me stopped growing at the age of ten. By the time I was eleven, I was cutting myself. I had a notion that the grief would bleed out along with the blood. It might've helped some--the cutting I mean. Enough for me to do it for nearly ten years. But I knew she would've been disappointed in me, so I stopped. Now, I just talk to my dolls about her and how kind and gracious she was. Listen. Everything's so quiet. The machines have stopped beeping--listen--how quiet they are."
"Papa? Speak to me. Dear, dear, Papa--Oh, I've got to call the doctor. Where's the pager number? Doctor Silverman's pager--here it is: two...seven...Oh, God, what's the next number--I can't make it out. Please let me punch it in correctly...three...five, this number and this one, and another seven. There--the page went off. He'll call any minute--any minute. There he is now."
"Doctor, you must come quickly. It's Papa. I think he's dead."
"What?--Well, he gasped and seemed to choke a little. He tried to raise up, but of course he couldn't. Then his body went limp and all the machines were suddenly silent, and I could see he wasn't breathing. What, Doctor?--What were we talking about when it happened? Mama--we were talking about Mama--and when she died. Yes, Doctor, I'm listening...do you think that's what it was--a heart attack?...they're not unusual in these situations? Right now--you're coming right now? Thank you. I'll be at the front door."
"I'm going downstairs to wait for the doctor, Papa. And when he comes I will bring him up here. He will take one look: 'I'm so sorry, Katarina,' he will say and pat my arm, 'but your papa is dead....Yes, yes, most definitely a heart attack. And it was to be expected.'"

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