Wolf’s eyes opened around three am, he was twitching and aching from sleeping in the chair by her bed. He spoke to the night nurse, home was just five minutes from the hospital. He’d go home and take a shower maybe dose a bit in his own bed and then come back.
Wolf stepped in the house, the kitchen a mess. The cat had to be fed, he couldn’t remember the last time he’d eaten. He’d just stepped out of the shower when his cell rang, it was the Oncology Desk, Come Now was all he heard.
Arriving by her side, Trice, her breath now a slow, deep, death rattle. Wolf held her. Her favorite show, Mad About You, now in reruns, a long time, was on the TV., The show started at six. As it ended so did Trice’s breath. As her hand became still he put his lips to hers, one last time. No tears came, the night nurse came in, “Are you OK?” she asked, as Wolf’s lips eased from his wife’s. I’m not sure what Wolf thought would happen at this point but I think he had just come to the realization that he wouldn’t be going with her. Trice and Wolf had been inseparable from day one, over fifteen years ago. The last few months by her side, day and night, had left him lost in her world, a world of pain and opioid thoughts and dreams. Since her diagnosis, Wolf was numb, the doctor had pulled him aside saying, “Let her have and do whatever it is in your power to provide her.” The writing, was on the wall. Wolf’s fight or flight was in full gear, his escape…., her…., his total focus was her. His Patrice had gone from an active, four times a week, at the gym, kind of girl, to being wheelchair bound in the course of three weeks, that Spring. The cancer experience, the most intense education either of them had ever been through. When doctors found the cancer in Patrice it was already stage four, metastasized lung cancer. They found out she was sick in May, that year and the love of his life, Trice, left him in August…..
Why would God, Allah, Higher Power, Whatever…. take his lovely Trice, she never hurt anyone. If anyone had deserved the pain and the suffering that Trice had gone through, it was him.
He had stepped away from his life and handed his business over to his second in command and left. Wolf brought Trice to the far end of Long Island. They had been married there and summer-ed every year in the village of Montauk.
On November 1st, All Saints day, the day after All Hollow’s Eve, Wolf holding two bouquets of roses, and Trice, encased in her prized jewelry box, boarded The Shepard, a thirty-eight foot fishing machine, docked behind Dave’s Grill, over in the Gurney’s Area, on the Inlet. Jimmy Rollins, one of Wolf’s oldest friends from the Bronx, was waiting for him on the deck.
The crisp bite of East End November Air felt good against Wolf’s face, but the scent of low tide and the burning diesel being blown back in the cockpit, mixed with the coffee Jimmy handed him as he came aboard had Wolf’s stomach doing flip flops..Maybe one less black and tan, and a few less shots of tequila, last night, could have avoided that…standing in the salon behind the immense windshield, Jim eased his craft out of the marina, the morning fog now being broken up by the sun’s rays and the grace screaming gulls. Jim joined the traffic heading out between the jetty’s of Montauk Inlet….
Once the Ocean 38 passed the channel buoy Jim pushed the throttle to ten knots, heading due east. Wolf started to feel better, the fresh air paying dividends. Over on the beach, a few buggies were on the sand but the beach was mostly deserted. Easing passed Shagwon, Jim angled The Shepard south, towards The Point. He put the boat on Auto Pilot and moved to Wolf’s side, reached in a storage bin, his hand returning with an unopened Bushmill’s Malt Twenty One…”So, what are you gonna do now, Wolf?” Jim asked.
“Fuck if I know Jimmy!” Wolf announced, as he lit a cigarette, “I feel like an outsider in my on life here, I feel like I have no say in anything…..all I get to do is watch and react. I took a leave of absence from my own company, Jim. Is that crazy or what? Hell they’re better off without me, I’ve been useless since we got the word that Trice was sick.”
Jim poured them each three fingers of the golden liquid, in plastic cups. They each grabbed one, tapped cups, and sent the sweet liquid to do its job.
“Damn Wolf, I’m really sorry, bro.” Jim replied, tipping his head indicating that Wolf should look behind…..Sure enough there it was. A a grey hulled center-console, black tee-topped government issue vessel, either DEA, Homeland Security, The Sherrif’s Department. It could have been any of them.
“Damn, Wolf, there still never far from you are they?”
“No Jimmy their not” Wolf took a deep drag off his fading cigarette. “But there’s a big difference in how I feel about it today” the white smoke lingering about his face as he continued, “They got nothing on me any more man, I’ve paid my debt.”
“You know Wolf, you been through some tough stuff over the years….”
‘We have, Jimmy, not just me but I don’t know what I’d do with out you!, You and The Shepard, have been my sanctuary all these years man and today you’re doing me such a special favor Jimmy…. I thank you…with all my heart!’
‘Come on bro…..I loved Trice…..I’d a been awful pissed if you’d a asked anyone else to take this trip!’
‘Thanks Jim….’ The two men stood silent, side by side as the Lighthouse came into view. A sight Wolf had seen so many times. Yet today it all felt so surreal. Several boats were drifting the rips in front of the point. Jim circled the fishing fleet wide. Now the trip west, along the Montauk Coast. Camp Hero, The Ditch, Town Beach and finally Hither Hills. There they dropped anchor, a quarter-mile off shore. The shore that Trice and Wolf had played on for many years. The beach where they spent time with the people they loved. Jim put a Sarah McLachlan disc in the player, one a Trice’s favorites.
‘So why the jewelry box?’ asked Jim.
‘Oh, she loved that box, I bought it for her a few Christmases back. So when it came time to pick a vessel, the cold impersonal ceramic and pottery urns they wanted me to buy seemed too cold, So I took the box to a cabinet-maker friend of mine and he redesigned it to hold my jewel.’
The two men sat in the deck chairs in the cockpit as the boat swayed in the two to threes. They spoke of times the three of them had. Their adventures of the East End. Jimmy had come out to Montauk back in the early 80’s. He quit his job, bought The Shepard and a small house in the Heights. He’s never been happier. Wolf has known Jimmy since first grade. They’d been friends through it all. Jimmy knew Wolf’s past and loved him just the same. Wolf went down the gangway, coming back with “Trice’s Box” and the two dozen roses..
‘I guess we should do this…’
‘Whenever you’re ready, bro’
In the Arms of an Angel came on the stereo, Wolf knew it was time. This was Trice’s favorite song….He turned down the music, Jimmy stood beside him at the stern…Wolf, looking across the water toward “Thiel Beach”. They had named their spot on Hither Hills. Looking up into the sky above their beach Wolf began, ‘God, Lord, Father….I’m not sure what to call you but I’m here today with Jimmy, my dearest old friend to send Patrice home to you, and to Thank You God for giving me the time I did have with this Creation of Your Love. She was any mans dream and is and will forever be sorely missed’…..Wolf opened the box and gently released Trice’s ashes from her jewelry box as Jim slowly cast roses and petals overboard…All the while….Sarah sings…….”You will find…some comfort there………..”
As Jim raised the anchor Wolf spotted “The Boat” again, cruising by in binocular range…Wolf grinned knowing they’d never be far away…..Wolf waved, the running was over…