The final Chapter of my story.
Swinging in the Neighborhood Chapter 31 A Star Guides our Souls

I just stared at her as she walked away as I was whether shocked that she had said that he was cute. I flipped open the folder to find a letter of introduction. The letter stated how this young man would be a good asset to my company. I read it quickly as it was just a normal letter of recommendation. That was until I got to the ending. It finally hit me where I knew this boy from as I read it.

“Hope you and that lovely family of yours are doing well,” “Please give this man a chance I once knew some one very much like him.” The letter was signed, Detective Steve ______ (former Sheriff Steve to you Sgt. J)

That boy in the outer office was the son of our former Sheriff Steve. He had taken another job in the big city where he became the head detective on the city’s police department. The last time I had seen his boy was when he was maybe 11 or 12. Steve had brought him along one day when we had gone fishing.

I remembered him as a quiet boy back then as well as a boy who loved to fish. I also remembered that he seemed afraid of me back then or maybe he had just been shy. For the life of me, I could not remember his name. Hell, I had not heard from Steve in over seven or 8 years, Sheriff Gail had told me that he would call her every now and then just to check in with her. She had also told me that he was willing to testify on my behalf if I had gone on trial for the assault on Sherri’s ex husband.

I looked at his resume next, his name was Daniel however, he went by the name of Duke he was 30 years old. I saw that he had spent two years after high school going to college working on an engineering degree. Then in 1992 at the age of twenty, he joined the army. Why would anyone do that I thought?

He had spent the last ten years serving his county in the military. His military jacket just happened to have been in that folder. This is something that normal would have been requested if he had already been interviewed by Kay, Cathy or Sherri. I wondered which of the three had taken an interest in this boy.

I soon realized as I read his jacket this man was no boy. He was a man and a very brave man according to his files. His service to his county included serving in Kuwait as well as in “Operation Gothic Serpent” which was a military operation conducted by special operations forces of the United States with the primary mission of capturing warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid. The operation took place in Somalia from August to October 1993 and supervised by JSOC (which stands for the Joint Special Operations Command.)

As part of the operation, the soldier’s mission was to arrest two of Aidid's lieutenants. The result of that mission – executed under the command of Gothic Serpent – known as the Battle of Mogadishu, or "The Battle of the Black Sea" to those who fought in it.

I remembered that going down I believe a movie was made later “Blackhawk Down,” about how the fighting was over there during this time. It was also around the time of the bombing of the trade centers. I was a little at odds with myself back then as I felt I should be doing my part. I wanted to and even talked to Cathy about it. She told me that I had done my service and it was time others stepped up in my place.

“John your 41 years old, you have a family that needs you,” “You have nothing to runaway from this time,” Cathy said to me. “John, please think before you do something foolish again,” she added when we had talked back at that time.

That was when I took my little business trip out west and if you have read chapter 28 you know how that turned out. The day Kay had driven me to the airport I never realized that deep in her heart she knew what I was up too. I remember her words to me that day at the airport.

“I will not try to stop you John for I know you must do what you believe you have to do.” “I could tell you hundreds or thousands of reasons why you don’t, however I know it would not stop you,” Kay said to me when she dropped me off at the airport. “Just you make sure that you make it back to me in one piece, you hear ME MISTER,” Kay added with a smile and a tear.

When I had gotten back home from that trip Kay confided to me that she had thought I might have ran away to play war and they would never see me again. I did not have the heart to tell her that I did. However, when I offered my services to my county again during that time they turned me down. It was mainly due to my ankle fusion and how did that young lieutenant put it.

“Your war was over a long time ago Sergeant,” “Let the young men do the fighting,” he told me as they shuffled me out the door.

I felt useless back then and maybe my pride had been hurt as well. The county I had once proudly served did not need my services not even as an instructor in the art of war. I found out on that trip from other vets that they had been informed the same thing. After all, we were no longer just brave, loyal and trustworthy men. We were crazy or damaged soldiers from a war long forgotten except by those of us who had fought in it. I never really got over the rejection especially since I had given so much to the county I had once served proudly.

I read on to see that during 1994–1995 he had served in Haiti. “Operation Uphold Democracy,” United States ships had begun embargo against Haiti. Followed by up to 20,000 U.S. military troops deployment to Haiti to restore democratically elected Haiti President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from a military regime that came into power in 1991 after a major coup. He had also served in some places I did not even know we were involved with until I read his jacket.

He had become Sgt. Duke in 2001 where he served in the War in Afghanistan. The War on Terrorism began with “Operation Enduring Freedom.” On October 7, 2001, US Armed Forces invade Afghanistan in response to the 9/11 attacks and so began the combat action in Afghanistan against Al Qaeda terrorists and their Taliban supporters.

As a county during 911, we all stood together with sorrow in our hearts and tears in our eyes as the horror unfolded around us all. The screams and cries of the innocent souls who lost their lives that day rang loudly in my ears. Those brave men, women and children died without ever given the chances to fight back. We lost 2,753 brave souls when those towers fell. We also lost 59 brave souls whose plane was highjack and flown into the pentagon taking another 125 brave souls in the building. Then another 40 brave souls in another plane crash in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The brave passengers attempted to take control of the jet from the hijackers but it was too late. That crash rather hit us hard, as it was not that far from our home.

Our safe secure part of the world was no longer, as nightmares filled the television screens. Everywhere you went you saw people wiping tears away as they watched in horror as those events filled the T.V. We no longer had to fall asleep to take our nightly walk through nightmare valley we did it that day wide awake and in the daylight.

Sherri, our crew and I were in the middle of a project when we got the news those twin towers had been attacked. I sent everyone home that day to be with his or her family out of fear of what may yet to come. At home, my family sat in front of the television watching those towers fall repeatedly. I went outside down to the boat dock as I could not watch them fall anymore. I sat alone watching the waves as they gently rolled against the shoreline.

I looked to the heavens and I prayed for the first time since losing Carrie. I prayed to the same being I have despised for all these years for taking Carrie and my unborn child away from me. I prayed for him to lift the darkness that had fallen upon us all that day. I told him not to worry about me but to protect others and my family that day. I sat there alone with my thoughts until late in the afternoon. Sherri walked down to the dock and she took a hold of my hand.

“Daddy, come with me for a little drive,” Sherri said pulling me from my chair.

We drove into town where she pulled into the flower shop. I smiled at her as we both got out and went inside. We both brought lovely bouquets of flowers then returned to her truck. Sherri drove us to the cemetery to Carrie’s gravesite. She told me to wait in the truck, as she would only have Carrie for a few minutes.

Sherri opened my door as she said, “She is all yours daddy.”

I walked slowly to her grave gently laying the flowers upon the ground as I knelt kissing their grave marker. I traced my finger through their names as I talked to each of them, Carrie first, then Melissa then Brenda. I spoke to them about how much I missed them all. I told them I knew they were busy what with welcoming so many to that special place in the sky on that day.

“I am OK Carrie don’t worry about me,” “Others need your gentle touch and loving heart more than I do this day,” I said with my hand on her name. “Go my love speed through the heavens night sky and help those in need.” “Take Melissa and Brenda with you tonight.” “I will watch for shooting stars streaking across the night skies.” “I will know it is three angels returning to earth to lend a hand or to guide someone, somewhere in need,” I added as I kissed each of their names.

I went on with reading the folder before me on Daniel. He had received a purple heart as well as a bronze star as well as other awards during his military service, which had ended due to wounds received in the service of his county in a far away land. I sat there wondering why he had left college with a promising future as an engineer to join the army.

I called Sherri on our office phone and told her to bring Daniel into my office. I saw that he was at least 6’ 2” in height, his body was lean and muscular, and his hair cut military style. I also noticed he walked with a noticeable limp as well. When he turned sideway, I also saw the telltale sign of shrapnel wounds on part of his upper arm. I looked into his eyes searching his soul for any signs of demons in his soul.

Sherri closed the door then walked beside Daniel as they came to my desk and she said, “Sgt. Duke this is my dad Sgt. J.”

Daniel looked to me then to Sherri as he replied, “Please Miss call me Daniel or just Duke,” He stuck out his hand to shake mine as he said, “My father Detective Steve has told me a lot about you Sgt. J.”

I stood up shaking his hand as I replied, “Call me John son my war was over a very long time ago.”

I told him to pull up a chair as I sat back down picking up his folder once more. I looked up to see Sherri sitting on the corner of my desk just staring at Daniel. I was reading more from his folder as Sherri just sat there making eyes at him. I could see that Daniel was a little uncomfortable with her staring as well.

“Princess how about you leave us for now,” I said to Sherri.

Sherri got off my desk turning to me as she replied, “Sorry daddy it’s just that he reminds me of someone I know,” as she smiled and winked at me.

Sherri turned and as she headed for the door, Daniel jumped from his seat. He rushed to the door opening it for her. Sherri stopped and looked over her shoulder to me with a big smile on her face.

She turned back to Daniel as she said, “Your only the second man to ever have opened doors for me,” as she smiled to him.

“Then they were all fools not to give you the respect you deserve,” replied Daniel as she walked from my office.

Daniel closed the door and he took his seat again as he said, “Sorry sir I did not mean it to sound as if I was interested in your daughter.”

I looked at him as I replied, “Son if you aren’t then you are not the man I believe you to be.”

Daniel and I talked not about his working for me but about his dad. He then asked me if the stories his dad had told him about me were true. I told him that would depend on which stories he told you as I gave a little laugh.

“Son, I have to ask you why leave college to join the military?” I asked him.

“All because of a girl who I thought really loved me but who was just using me,” Daniel replied. “I wanted to get the furthest away from her and my life as I could." "What better way than joining the Army and seeing the world,” he added.

He looked around the room at the pictures hanging on the wall then he said, “I believe you know what I am talking about,” “I never grew tired of dad telling mom and I the story of a soldier named John and a lovely woman named Carrie.”

He stood up and walked to the picture of Carrie and me standing together with me in my uniform. He told us of how a brave boy left his neighborhood to go fight in a war far from home. How he had served his county with honor and showed much bravery by returning for a second tour of duty.

Dad would have mom in tears telling us about how you returned to Vietnam while Carrie waited for your return home. How your love for her made you walk out of that jungle severely wounded. How you lie in a coma near death with Carrie by your side. Dad would tell us that the love you two shared kept you both going during that time. He would have me in tears when he told us how he was the one who had to tell you that Carrie was no longer with us.

He stared at the picture then turned to me as he said, “She was more beautiful than I ever imagined,” as he sat back down.

“She was son she was,” I replied.

“Son I also have to ask you something else,” I said to him staring into his eyes.

“Ask me anything sir,” Daniel replied.

“Son did you bring any excess baggage home with you from your time in Afghanistan?” I asked.

“Only what I had carried into the service with me that being unable to trust anyone,” Daniel replied.

“When people ask me why it's so hard to trust people, I would normally ask them why is it so hard to keep a promise however the truth is you have to earn my respect before I could ever begin to trust them sir,” Daniel replied.

“Do you trust me?” I asked looking into his eyes.

“Yes sir because you and I live by the same code,” Daniel replied sitting tall in his chair.

My phone rang it was Sherri and she asked, “Daddy is everything OK in there you two have been in there for hours now.”

I looked at my watch and she was right we had been talking for almost two hours, “Yes princess and please come in as I need to see you,” I said to her on my phone.

Sherri came into the office and Daniel jumped to his feet as she entered the room. Sherri walked by him smiling as she leaned down on my desk as she said, “You used to do that all the time,” as she gave me a big smile.

“Princess take Duke here and show him around as he will be starting on Monday,” I said. I looked to Duke as I asked, “That is if you still are interested in working here?”

“Yes sir and thank you,” He replied holding out his hand.

I shook his hand as I stood up and then I said, “Stop calling me sir,” “Call me John.”

Sherri laced her arm through his as they walked toward the door. I yelled princess, which made her stop and look back at me. I was going to remind her of our hands off policy at work. However as she stopped the sun light from my office window fell upon her. That glow around her appeared to me as I stood there however it grew around them both as I stared at them. The glow around them took on the shape of a heart.

“Yes daddy,” Sherri said.

“Nothing princess never mind we will talk later,” I replied as I turned wiping the tear from my eye.

I sat down at my desk as they closed the door behind them. I knew right then I had just lost that sweet little girl of ten whose skates I had fixed once more. However at least this time I felt OK with it. There was a knock at my door then Kay and Cathy came rushing into my office. They wanted to know all about the man who had just walked from my office. I looked up to them from my desk.

“Did not one of you already interview him and request his military jacket?” I asked.

“I did not John,” “Sherri just introduced him to us as someone who had been sent to us looking for work,” Kay replied.

“Nor did I,” Cathy added. “Just who is he?” Cathy then asked.

Before I could answer Kay asked, “Can we trust him with Sherri?”

“She is in good hands,” I replied as I smiled at them as I picked up the folder from my desk. “Here look for yourselves,” I added handing it to them as I walked from my office.

I left the girls standing in my office as I walked over to the window looking to the truck yard seeing Sherri and Duke standing there. I left the office and silently walked toward the truck yard. I made it to the side of the wall leading into the yard. I looked from behind the wall to see them standing beside one of our trucks. I ducked behind the wall again as they had their backs to me. I wanted to hear what they were saying or talking about to each other. I opened my ears however; I heard nothing but silence filling them.

“You can come out daddy Duke heard you,” Sherri called out.

I walked out from behind the wall as I said, “I had to stop to tie my boot it was not like I was spying on you two.”

“Daddy,” Sherri cried out.

“It’s OK I do not blame him for wanting to keep someone as lovely as you safe from the unknown as well as the darkness,” Duke said as he stared into Sherri’s eyes.

Sherri looked to me and I noticed a small tear forming in her eye as her lips trembled. Duke used his hand to turn her face back toward him. He used his finger to wipe her tears gently away.

“Do not cry pretty one it dulls the sparkle in those lovely blue eyes of yours,” Duke said to her.

Sherri touched her hand to the side of his face then turned and ran by me back into the office. Duke turned to me with a concerned look on his face. He hung his head down as he came walking over to me.

“I hope I did not offend her or you,” Duke said. He looked up from the ground as his shook his head he added, “Women, can’t live with em and can not live without them.”

“You got that right,” I replied as I placed my arm around his shoulder walking him back to the office.

“How would you like to come to a BBQ tomorrow night?” I asked Duke as we walked into the office.

“I would love to John that is if I am not intruding,” Duke replied.

“Not at all son, not at all,” I replied.

I walked him into Kay’s office and turned him over to her to get his paperwork done. I informed Kay that Daniel would be joining us at the BBQ. I saw that Cathy and Sherri were talking in her office as I walked to her door.

“Sherri, I need to see you in my office right now,” I said before walking to mine.

I was sitting behind my desk when Sherri came into my office. I looked up at her as I told her to close the door. She did slowly as I saw Cathy staring at her as Sherri stared back at her.

“Take a seat young lady,” I said looking at her. Sherri sat down as I asked, “Now just how did you come to meet Duke?”

Sherri explained that last week Sheriff Gail had stopped by while I was in a meeting. She wanted to talk to you about talking to a young man seeking work. She asked me to give you that letter from Sheriff Steve. I knew you were busy so I decided to handle it instead. I read the letter and something just told me to call him. I did and I set up an interview with him over lunch daddy.

“He impressed me with being so polite and gentlemanly like during our lunch,” Sherri said.

She explained she felt there was something special about the man who sat across from her. She sent for his military jacket with Sheriff’s Gail help. She also told me she was surprised when she read it. His service to his county reminded her of someone else who had once served proudly.

“Daddy it was as if I was reading your military jacket,” “His bravery, his awards and even his medals daddy they were the same as yours,” Sherri said to me. “Daddy when he returned today as he shook my hand I closed my eyes and I listened as our two hearts beat as one,” Sherri added.

“Just what made you sure that I would hire him?” I asked.

Sherri smiled as she replied, “Daddy how could you refuse I believe you stilled owned Sheriff Steve his favor yet.”

“Princess what if…” I started to say.

Sherri’s finger came to my lips, as she said, “What if you had never met Carrie?” “What if you never fixed my skates?” “What if you would not have helped three from the darkness that surrounded them?” “What if the monster within you had not given me those bullets?”

Sherri smiled as she added, “If anything daddy I have learned from you that if it happens we will deal with it,” as she raised her hand to rub against my face.

I grabbed her hand before it touched my face as I asked, “What if I was to tell you that Duke is to be your date Saturday for the BBQ?”

Sherri held out her hand as she replied, “I have nothing to wear daddy,” smiling at me.

I reached into my wallet handing her my credit card as I said, “You take your mom and Cathy with you and you all get a new outfit for tomorrow night.” I sat back down behind my desk and reached for the phone as I added, “Now leave me as I have to call a dear old friend,” that being our old Sheriff Steve.

Steve and I talked about the good old days and about his stepson Duke. He told me how he had gotten the phone call shortly after Christmas 2001 about the wounds Duke had received in the line of duty in Afghanistan. The rocks that fell on him had broken his legs in many places. The doctors were not for sure he would even walk again.

“But like you he proved the doctors wrong,” Steve said to me on the phone.

Steve went on to tell me how Duke worked at building his legs back up as soon as he got home. By June 2002, he was walking with a cane. When July came around, he got rid of the cane as well. However, Steve could see the look in his eyes.

“He felt he was no longer a man because he could not serve his county,” Steve said to me on the phone. “He turned to alcohol and then to drugs.” “I knew I had to do something before they took his soul away and suddenly Sgt. J popped into my head,” Steve added.

Steve went on to tell me that he talked it over with Duke about coming here to see about working for me. Duke was a little worried about coming out of fear you would not understand his aguish. I told him you would understand that after all you both followed the same code. We talked some more and made some plans to get some fishing in together soon.

I had just gotten off the phone with him when Kay walked into my office. She closed the door behind her smiling. As she walked toward my desk, I saw she had Duke’s folder in her hand. She laid it on my desk.

“That man reminds me of someone,” Kay said as she walked behind my desk to me. She wrapped her arms around my neck as she added, “I just can’t seem to think of who,” as her lips went to mine.

I pulled Kay into my lap kissing her deeply as my hand groped at her tits. Kay kissed me deeply back slipping her tongue into my mouth. I felt her hand sliding down to my hardening cock. We kissed deeply swapping tongue as she felt my cock with her hand. A loud knock came from my door. I broke our kiss.

“Come in and it has better be important,” I yelled out with her still on my lap.

The door opened it was Duke and when he saw Kay on my lap he said, “Oh sorry sir,” as he started back out the door.

“What is it Duke my door is always opened?” I asked.

Duke came walking over to the desk as I saw Cathy and Sherri looking in from outside my office as he asked, “Sir I just wanted to ask if I may take your daughter out tonight?”

Sherri was damn near falling over Cathy trying to see and hear my reply as I replied, “Sorry son but the answer is NO,” as I looked up to him from my desk

“DADDY,” Sherri screamed out as she stormed into my office.

Kay got off my lap and joined Sherri in front of my desk. Cathy came running into my office as well. All three of them stood there looking down at me. Their eyes shot daggers at me as I sat behind my desk. I stood up glaring at all three of them then turning my attention to Duke.

“Son the answer is no because the girls are going shopping tonight and I was thinking maybe you and I would go kick a few back while dropping a line at the lake while swapping some war stories after all it is quitting time,” I said smiling to Duke as I looked to my watch.

Duke turned to Sherri as he said, “Sorry pretty lady I can’t refuse my new Boss,” as he smiled to her then to me.

“Fine daddy just remember us women might go on a spending spree to cover our emotional hurt knowing that you both chose to fish than to be with us,” Sherri replied. “Come on girls lets go shopping,” She added waving the credit card above her head.

Kay, Cathy and Sherri walked from my office as Duke and I looked to each other, and we both said in unison, “WOMEN,” as we both shook our heads.

Duke and I closed up the office as the girls had left leaving that up to us to do. We walked out to our vehicles mine being a truck and his being a truck as well. I told him he could ride with me and Sherri could bring him back for his truck later tonight. Duke and I talked on the way mostly about Sherri. I started too explained to him about what she had gone through during her life. How rough she had it during her early childhood and the horrors she had faced alone back then. As well as how her ex had treated her poorly so to speak.

“Sir I mean John, I do not blame you for what my daddy told me you once did to a fellow named Joe and I sure am not going to tell you that you were unjust in how you defended your daughter,” Duke said. He stared deeply into my eyes peering into my soul as he added, “When evil men do wrong they must pay even if it makes good men bad men that is the code men like us follow.”

We soon got to our house on the lake. I took Duke into the living room telling him I would be back with some beer. Pepper came running out from the back room and he went straight to Duke. That dog stopped a few feet in front of him as he gave a low growl before he came beside me looking up to me.

“Jealous already aren’t you boy,” I said to that dog as I rubbed between his ears.

I went to the basement grabbing a case of beer and returned upstairs. I placed the case into the refrigerator grabbing two bottles for us. I returned to find Duke standing at the fireplace.He stood there with a picture of Carrie when she was younger in his hand. His eyes scanned the other photos atop the mantle. I watched as he picked one up of Sherri at around the same age as Carrie. He had them side by side, as he stared at them both. I walked into the room and he turned toward me with that look on his face.

“Hard to tell them apart at that age,” I said smiling to him as I handed him a beer.

“They both are wonders of beauty,” Duke said. Then he raised his beer to me as he added, “To Carrie, too live in hearts we left behind is not to die,” as he bowed his head then clicked his beer into mine.

“To Carrie,” I replied drinking my beer as I looked to the heavens.

We sat down and Duke looked to the fireplace as he said, “So there really is a sign,” “I always thought dad had made that part up when he told us your story.”

I looked to him as I said, “You know my story son.” “Just what is your story?” I asked.

“Just a soldier fighting for what he believed to be right and just,” Duke replied. “I never wondered or questioned if it was right or not after all they were orders.” “I only ever wondered why there was so much evil in this world,” he added almost with a tear in his eye.

“New evils require new remedies - new sanctions to defend and vindicate the eternal principles of right and wrong,” “We do what is right not because they tell us too but because our hearts tell us we must,” I replied.

“Sir I mean John did you ever feel that the hardest part of the war,” Duke said. He paused for a few seconds before he added, “Was that you survived?”

“Every day son every single day,” I replied. “So what happened in those mountains of Afghanistan?” I asked.

Duke went on to tell me his story as we paused every now and then to get fresh beers. He explained how his squad was searching the many caves, which pocketed the mountains over there. How him and his four-man team had done their jobs many times without incidents. How he had awaken that day with a gut feeling that he would never see tomorrow.

“At least during the “Battle of Mogadishu” even with being surrounded and out numbered at least I was never alone,” Duke said.

He explained their days actually started at night. Because you were a pretty, good target what with being out on a side of a mountain range during daylight with the enemy below you. Night had just fallen as they repelled down to the entrance of a cave. He and four others approached the cave cautiously well aware of the dangers that might lie ahead.

“Night vision scopes on our helmets normally gave us the edge,” Duke said. “However one of us did not see the trip wire,” he added as he hung his head.

I heard the “Snap Click” in my own head as he went on with his story. He told me he awoke later in the silence of darkness. He found himself unable to move his legs as he lies buried beneath rocks from his waist down. His hands were free but he could not move nor feel his legs. He told me of seeing the moon light shining through a small opening in the cave. As his eyes adjusted, he saw but bits and pieces of his squad. He also saw an pair of boots sticking out from the rock pile where he lies buried.

“I called to my men but received no replies,” Duke said. “I felt no pain as I lie there only remorse for the souls of those brave men,” he added hanging his head once more.

He continued as he told me he drifted in and out of consciousness. He awoke once to dig his small light from his battle vest. He shined it around the cave only seeing death around him. His heart filled with sorrow over the lose of his men.

“I kept slipping in and out of consciousness, each time I awoke I was alone,” Duke said. “I lie there as I remembered a quote I once heard,” “Every man must do two things alone; he must do his own believing and his own dying,” Duke added before taking a long sip of beer.

I awoke in daylight only to pass out once more. Night was upon me when I came too again. I knew I would probably not see the morning daylight. As I was making my amends to god for my sins, a bright light suddenly shined through the opening at the cave. I thought at first that the almighty himself had come to collect my sins.

“The light twinkled almost flashing sometimes as I looked to it,” Duke said. “I lie there looking as the rays from the light filled the cave as it seemed to pulsate with each beat my heart took.” “I became fascinated with it and I had to find out what it was,” he added.

I started to dig myself out from beneath the rocks that buried me. When I did the boots next to me, move. I yelled out and I heard a loud moan in return. I started to push rocks and dirt from us both. I saw his legs move knowing that he was at least alive. I watched him crawling back wards toward me as his body became uncovered from the dirt and the rocks. I turned my light to his face and I saw it was specialist Guy our radioman and my friend as well. Dried harden blood covered his head and his left eye was swollen closed.

“Duke is that you?” Guy asked as he came to me. “What the hell happened?” Guy asked.

I explained to him that the cave must have been booby-trapped. He told me he remembered nothing other than his damn head hurts. I told him to check the others hoping as he did. However, the others were dead. Guy started to dig me out after checking the others.

“Stop, go see what that light is first,” I said to him pointing to the small hole at the entrance to the cave.

“What light?” Guy asked looking to where I was pointing.

I turned and the light was no longer there. Guy finished digging me out only to find my left leg smashed badly. He tied my upper thigh with a tourniquet to stop any more blood lose. He moved me leaning me up against the wall of the cave as he started to dig the opening bigger.

“I saw that light again as the opening in the cave got bigger,” “I saw that it was only a star shining brightly in the night sky,” Duke said. “I kept my eyes glued to that star as Guy dug us out from that hole in hell,” he added.

He explained that once Guy had the opening big enough he was able to use his undamaged radio to stick out and call for help. Guy made the hole even bigger so they could look out and up into the nights heaven. Guy asked me about the light I had seen. I told him of how the light would flicker and shine brightly each time I awoke.

“I pointed to the bright star in the sky,” “As we both turned and looked the star streaked across the night’s heaven,” Duke said. “What the hell was that I asked Guy?” he added.

“That was your guardian angel leaving you to help others now that you are safe,” Guy replied smiling to me.

“Sgt. J,” I mumbled under my breath to Guy.

Guy looked at me strangely as he asked, "Sargenant who?"

He wanted to know just who Sgt. J. was as we sat there in that cave I told him the story my daddy had told me and my mom many times. How the love of a woman helped a brave man survive in the dark jungles of Vietnam. How he had lost her to the heavens above. How that same woman’s love guided that man from beyond to help him as well as others he held close to his heart.

“That star and your story kept us both going filling not only our hearts with warmth but also our souls as we waited to be rescued,” Duke said as a tear rolled down his cheek.

“Welcome home son you will always be safe here with us for an angel walks and guards us all,” I replied turning from him quickly to wipe my own tears away.

We never did make it fishing that night. We sat there talking instead. I found out his daddy Sheriff Steve had indeed told him the full story not only about Vietnam and about my losing Carrie. In addition, the struggles I faced as well with Kay, Cathy and Sherri.

Duke, Pepper and I were sitting out back on the patio when the girls returned from shopping. The girls walked out onto the patio. Duke and I jumped to our feet as they did.

“Told you so now pay up,” Sherri said looking to Kay and Cathy who laughed and smiled.

“We stopped and got pizza,” Kay said as she walked back inside with Sherri asking her to give her a hand.

Cathy came over and she sat down into my lap. She wrapped her arms around me kissing me deeply and passionately. I saw the shocked look on Duke’s face as he tried not to stare. She started to squirm in my lap rubbing her lovely ass into my cock.

I broke our kiss as I said, “Cathy my dear not in front of our guest,” giving her a smile.

“Don’t mind us Duke we are just one big happy family,” Cathy said smiling at him.

Sherri and Kay returned with pizza for everyone except for Pepper that was. I rubbed between his ears then gave him a slice of mine. I gave him a few sips of beer from my bottle as well. I saw that Sherri was looking at me shaking her head.

“Daddy, you spoil that dog,” Sherri said.

I smiled at her as I asked, “And your point is?”

“No point daddy just an observation,” Sherri replied. Then she added, “Just like you spoil us all,” as she smiled to me then to Duke.

We all sat on the patio eating and talking for some time. I looked over to Sherri a few times and then down to our back swing. I had to do it three or four times before she realized what I was getting at.

Sherri stood up as she asked, “Duke, would you like to talk on our swing out back?”

“Only if you tell me the story as you know it,” Duke said standing up looking down at her. He took her hand into his as he added, “I have heard it from my dad and would love to hear it from you.” He looked to Kay and Cathy as he said, “If you ladies will excuse me.”

Kay and Cathy smiled at him as Sherri smiled at me. I winked and gave her a little nod of my head. We all watched them as they walked down to the swing. Pepper started to walk with them before I called him back telling him to come and stay beside me, which he did.

“Come on girls I don’t think they need us out here,” I said to Kay and Cathy as I stood up from my chair.

I walked over standing them both up from their chairs. I wrapped one arm around Kay and my other around Cathy. I took them inside and I told them to grab their bottle of wine and their box of tissues.

“Your going to need them as I have a little story to tell you about a brave soldier alone in the darkness until a shooting star showed him his way,” I said to them.

I stood by the fireplace as they sat down onto the sofa. Kay and Cathy were both in tears by the time I finished the story. Sherri and Duke walked in through the back patio doors.

“I see daddy told you the story as well,” Sherri said as she came over to Kay and Cathy reaching for a tissue.

I stood up and I looked at the clock it was almost eleven pm. I yawned as I looked to Kay and Cathy as I said, “Time for bed ladies,” I looked to Duke as I added, “If you don’t feel like going home tonight there the sofa or there are glowing stars in princess’s bedroom.”

“DADDY,” Sherri yelled out turning red.

“I’m just saying princess no need for him to rush off or anything,” I replied to her smiling.

Kay and Cathy walked over giving Sherri and Duke hugs as they said their good nights. I walked over to Duke and shook his hand as I told him we would get some fishing in tomorrow for sure. I turned to Sherri who wrapped her arms around my waist. She hugged me tightly then pulled herself away as she used her finger telling me to join her at her level. I bent over as she wrapped her arms around my neck. She kissed me lightly on my cheek then moved her mouth to my ear.

She whispered into my ear, “Thanks daddy and thank Angel Carrie for me.”

“She heard you princess for she is always with us,” I whispered back into her ear as we hugged.

Kay, Cathy and I went into our bedroom climbing into bed leaving them alone in the living room. The girls lie on either side of me toying at my chest with their fingers. They would look to each other then to me. I knew they had something on their minds.

“What is it girls?” I asked as I cuddled them both.

“John was it fate that brought him to Sherri?” Cathy asked.

“Or had Angel Carrie guided him to Sherri?” Kay asked.

“What ever your hearts tell you girls,” “Always believe in your heart, never question it and it will always show you your way,” I replied as I cuddled them both.

“What do you believe John?” Kay asked as Cathy looked at me with her.

“I believe you girls ask too many questions,” I replied as my hands groped at their tits.

The girls got the ides as they slipped down toward my cock. Their hands rubbed at my cock until they had it hard and throbbing. Cathy took my cock into her hand and she offered it to Kay.

“You go first,” said Kay smiling to Cathy.

“No your married to him you should always go first,” Cathy replied.

Kay smiled at me before she wrapped her lips around my cock. I reached over and I grabbed Cathy by her ankles. I pulled her up toward my face until I had her pussy over my face with her head toward my cock. I stabbed my tongue up into her pussy as she settled it down onto my cock.

Kay worked her mouth up and down on my cock using her tongue on just the head of my cock each time her head came up from the base of it. Cathy started to rock her pussy against my face as my hands pulled and parted her butt cheeks.

“Suck him Kay,” “Take all that lovely cock into your mouth,” Cathy said.

“Mmmmm I do love it when you tell me what to do,” Kay cooed out sexily.

Kay went to town on my cock taking it deeply in her mouth. I could feel her tongue rolling up and down my cock as it filled her mouth. I removed my tongue from Cathy’s pussy running it up to her asshole. I ran it around her puckered hole then stabbed at her asshole with my tongue.

Cathy pumped her butt onto my tongue as she said, “You keep that up John and you will have to fuck my ass as well.”

I licked and poked at her asshole wildly with my tongue. I pulled her butt cheeks apart giving my tongue more room to lick. Kay’s mouth came off my cock then I felt her tongue licking at the head of my cock.

“I saved some pre-cum for you,” Kay said to Cathy.

Cathy leaned down and took just the head of my cock into her mouth. She flicked her tongue across my dick head as she did. Cathy then sucked wildly and hard as I felt hands groping my balls.

“You better not do that, I might just cum,” I cried out as I pulled my tongue from Cathy’s butt.

Cathy’s mouth came off my cock as she said, “Squeeze his fucking balls Kay milk his cum into my mouth.”

Cathy’s mouth went back around my cock. I felt Kay’s hand grabbing at my balls. She took my balls into her hands as Cathy had told her. Her hand squeezed at my balls as I felt my cock start to throb. Cathy sucked at the head of my cock harder. I could not help it nor hold back any longer.

“AHhhhh fuck,” I screamed.

My cock twitched and it started to spill its load from the head of my cock. Cathy’s hand went to what cock she did not have in her mouth. She pumped at my cock as she sucked cum from my cock. Cathy slipped her pussy and ass from my face getting to the side of me without taking her mouth off my cock. She removed her mouth from my cock. She pulled Kay toward her as their lips met.

They kissed deeply as they shared cum from inside Cathy’s mouth. They would break their kiss and it stringed from their tongues. The girls played with cum on their tongue as I watched. They kissed deeply and passionately rolling their lips together for a few minutes. They broke their kiss and they both looked up at me. They gave me their puppy dog look as they did.

“Sorry girls I warned you,” “Best ten minutes worth of sex I ever had,” I said smiling to them. “Looks like you two will have to show me how it is suppose to be done,” I added giving them a bigger smile.

I got up and out of the bed. I grabbed a chair and placed it at the foot of the bed. I went to the nightstand beside the bed. I opened the drawer and I grabbed the big dildo, the double headed dildo, some anal beads and this little silver bullet looking thing tossing them onto the bed. I turned the chair with the back facing the bed and I straddled it placing my arms across the top and laying my head onto my arms.

“Kay, lie down on your back sideways across the bed.” “Now spread your lovely legs as wide as you can,” I said. “Cathy you do the same and grab that double headed dildo,” I added.

The girls smiled at me as they did what I told them. Kay had her legs spread wide ass apart as I lean in the chair a little bit looking at her open pussy surrounded by all her hair. Cathy worked herself up to where her thighs were resting on Kay’s thighs. They both looked to me.

“Slip just the head into Kay’s pussy,” I said to Cathy. “Now place the other head into your own wet pussy my dear,” I added.

I felt my cock starting to grow as the girls got the head of the double dildo up into their pussies. The girls looked to me however; I did not say anything as I was just staring at their pussies. Kay started to rock toward the dildo taking more of it up into her.

“STOP that I did not tell you to move Kay,” I yelled. “Pull it out of her Cathy,” I added.

“You are going to learn to follow my directions woman,” I said to Kay.

I looked to Cathy as I told her to get onto her hands and knees. Cathy did not hesitate as she got into position. She smiled at me as she did. I got up out of the chair and I walked over to her bending down kissing her deeply on her lips. I broke the kiss and went back to my chair.

“Kay you are to give Cathy five smacks of your hand on that lovely ass of hers,” I said to Kay.

“JOHN,” Cathy cried out looking at me.

I smiled back toward her as I replied, “Make that ten now.”

Kay moved up beside Cathy and she gave her ten smacks on her butt. They were playful light ones. However, her butt cheeks still glowed red. Kay looked to me when she had finished giving her the spanking. I told her to get on her back in front of Cathy’s face as I got onto the bed. I got behind Cathy as I ran my hands lightly across her red ass. I leaned forward taking my hand to the back of Cathy’s head. I pushed it down into Kay’s open hairy pussy.

“Make her cum and she has better squirt or else,” I said to Cathy tapping my hand on her butt.

Cathy looked back toward me giving me a smile as she asked, “Or else what MISTER?”

“OR ELSE you won’t,” I replied as I slipped two fingers up into her pussy from behind.

Cathy buried her face into Kay’s hairy pussy and she licked at it wildly. Kay’s hands went to Cathy’s head pulling it into her box. I slipped my fingers in and out of Cathy’s pussy until I could hear her wetness. I got behind her and I rubbed my now hard cock at her pussy. I teased her with my cock as she rocked back on it trying to get it to slip into her pussy.

“Careful it is might slip up into your asshole,” I said as I drove my finger up into her asshole.

Cathy left out a muffled scream as my finger buried itself into her asshole. She mumbled something else, which I could not understand as Kay, had her hands pulling her face into her pussy.

“Should I fuck her Kay?” I asked.

“Yes John fuck her fuck her hard please,” Kay screamed out looking at me.

I rubbed my cock at Cathy’s pussy once then I slipped it into her. I fucked her slowly working up to a steady pace. Cathy was soon bouncing her pussy back against my cock as I fucked her from behind.

“AHhh John fuck me you’re going to make me cum,” Cathy said. “You’re going to squirt now Kay,” Cathy added.

“AHhhhhh Shit,” Kay screamed out as her head rocked side to side.

I could see that Cathy had two fingers buried up inside Kay digging at her G spot. Kay’s pussy started to squirt mass amounts of liquid from her pussy. It was squirting everywhere some even squirting over Cathy’s head. I felt Cathy’s pussy convulsing around my cock as her orgasm came over her.

I pulled my cock from her pussy as I slipped two fingers up into her pussy. I rubbed them back and forth against that rough spot up in there. My fingers had no sooner touched it than she started to squirt juices from her pussy.

“AHhhhhh John,” Cathy moaned out as she rocked her pussy on my fingers.

The girls were squirting together just as if they have done everything else together. I removed my fingers from Cathy’s pussy as Kay left go of Cathy’s head between her legs. Cathy moved from between Kay’s legs as I moved in between them. I grabbed her legs and I placed them up onto my shoulders.

Kay smiled up at me as she said, “Fuck me John,” “Fuck me like the bad girl I am.”

I slipped my cock into her wet slimy hole. I fucked her like the bad girl she was. Cathy rubbed my back as she shouted words of encouragement to me. Cathy was rubbing my back as she kissed and licked at my ear. My ears are a sexual spot and it drives me nuts when the girls toy with them using their tongue. Cathy was licking at my ear with her tongue.

She pulled her tongue back as she whispered into my ear, “Give her your cum John fill her hot pussy full so I can lick it out for you,” in a light and very sexy tone.

Between Kay’s hot wet pussy and Cathy’s actions and talk I felt my cock started to throb and twitch. Cathy asked into my ear if I was going to cum in Kay. I nodded my head as I drove my cock deep into her pussy.

“AHHhhhh John,” Kay screamed out.

“AHHHHhhhhh FUCKING HELL,” I screamed.

Cathy had run her hand down to my ass. She shoved two fingers directly and deeply up into my asshole. Her fingers rubbed at my prostate gland as my cock danced inside Kay’s pussy coating her walls with cum from my cock.

“REMEMBER MISTER I am the boss when it comes to sex play in this household,” Cathy said firmly into my ear as her fingers dug into my asshole.

I dropped Kay’s legs from my shoulders as Cathy removed her fingers. Kay grabbed my face kissing me and telling me how much she had enjoyed feeling cum splashing into her. Cathy came up to me kissing me as well.

I broke our kiss as I said, “Damn woman tell a man when you are going to take his ass.”

“Next time I will use the strap on,” Cathy replied rubbing her hand to the side of my face.

Kay looked at us both as she asked, “Can the next time be now?”

I rolled between them pulling them into my arms as I cuddling them. There was not going to be no next time. At least not tonight, as it was late by now as I closed my eyes thinking damn that hurt but felt oh so good.

I slept peaceful and soundly that night. It might have been the girls just wore me out or maybe because my heart was happy which made my mind happy as well. I awoke early at around 6 am. I dressed and went into the kitchen. The sofa was empty except for Pepper who raised his head from the sofa as I walked into the kitchen. I noticed the coffee pot was already on when I got to it. I heard the patio doors opened and in walked Sherri and Duke.

“The boat is ready daddy and so are we,” Sherri said smiling at me.

“Got to have my morning coffee princess,” I replied as I looked to Duke to see he had a pair of my sweat pants on as well as one of my tank tops.

“Hope you don’t mind daddy he couldn’t fish in his other clothes,” Sherri said. “The thermos is already in the boat,” she added.

“The fish are not going anywhere princess,” I said.

“You’re just afraid that I will show you up in front of Duke,” Sherri replied.

“That sounds like a challenge to me young lady,” I said. “Biggest fish, the loser has to do what ever the winner says,” I added.

“Deal daddy,” Sherri replied.

“Not even going to shake on it?” I asked.

“I know you are a man of your word daddy, I trust you and I always will,” Sherri replied with a smile.

Well five hours later, I returned a beaten man to the dock. I had caught plenty of fish and I even had the biggest right off the bat. However, my luck did not hold out as Sherri’s final cast toward the dock as we were getting ready to stop for the day beat me. She started to reel her lure in when a fish hit and she reeled in a huge walleye.

I looked over to Duke in the boat and we both shook our heads as we said, “WOMEN.”

“You win princess what is it going to be dishes for a week, clean the office, clean your truck?” I asked as we docked the boat.

“You will see later,” replied Sherri smiling at me.

I really did not know what she had in mind for me. However it could not, be that bad I thought. Duke thanked me for taking him fishing again and told me he was looking forward to the BBQ tonight. I watched them walked to Sherri’s truck as she was taking him to his truck back at the office. They stopped and kissed about every two steps, which put a smile onto my face.

Our guest started to arrive at around five. The girls all looked lovely in their new outfits. They were little red numbers, which showed off their assets nicely. Duke had even made the comment that he had never seen three lovelier women than them. We BBQ and ate until about seven. Sherri came over to me and she took a hold of my hand.

“Come with me daddy it is time to pay up on our little bet,” Sherri said.

She led me through the house and to our bedroom door when I replied, “Princess,” thinking it was something else she wanted.

“Daddy, it’s not what you think,” Sherri said smiling as she opened the door.

I looked into the bedroom to see a dress green uniform lying neatly on my bed. My medals and ribbons hung where and as they should. My high polished boots stood beside the bed. I had not worn dress greens since I married Carrie in them. I turned looking to Sherri.

“Wear it when you ask mom and Cathy tonight,” Sherri said.

“Princess, I don’t know,” I replied.

“Please daddy for us all,” Sherri said with her head tilted to the side. “Mom thought it was a good idea as well,” she added.

I kissed her forehead as I told her OK. Sherri told me that it would fit as she had it specially made recently. She closed the door on her way out leaving me to get dressed. I slipped out of the clothes I had on and into the uniform. Sherri was right as it fit me like a glove.

I had wondered why she had to get my sizes at work last week as she told me that it was for new snowsuits. I slipped my boots on lacing them just as I would as if I was going on a mission. I looked into the mirror and as I did, I straightened the pocket flap. When I did, I felt something in my pocket. I pulled it from my pocket to see that it was a photo of Carrie. The one that I had carried through the war with a note attached to it that said.

“I thought you would like to renew your vows to her along with mom and Cathy,” Your loving and proud daughter Sherri.

I tucked the photo back into my pocket as I looked to the bed. I proudly picked up and removed the plastic from around my dress cap. I slipped it on adjusting it until it hung just right checking it in the mirror.

I walked down the hallway toward the patio doors. I slid opened the patio doors and stepped out onto the patio. The party grew silent as I stood there in my dressed green uniform, which I had not worn for so many years. I heard the cheering and clapping as I made my way to Kay and Cathy standing together away from everyone as Kay and I had planned. I walked up to them as each of them stared at me. I looked deeply into their eyes as they sparkled and shined brightly.

“My how handsome you do look in uniform,” Kay said smiling as her hand touched my face.

“How brave and fearless you were to have those medals placed upon your chest,” Cathy added as she smiled at me touching the medals on my chest.

I took one hand from each girl laying them palm up beside each other. I reached into my pocket pulling the photo of Carrie out and placing it in their hands. I reached into my pocket pulling out two rings. I dropped to one knee in front of them as I placed the rings into their hands. I closed my hand over top of theirs.

I looked up to Kay as I asked, “Kay will you marry me again so I might vow all my love and my heart to you once more?”

I looked to Cathy as I asked, “Cathy will you join Kay and I as our life partner by marrying us both with each of us holding the key to the others happiness as well as to our hearts?”

“Yes John,” Kay replied as tears rolled down her lovely face.

I turned to Cathy who wiped at her tears as she replied, “Yes John,” then she looked to Kay telling her “Yes Kay,” as well.

I placed the rings on their fingers. As I did, they reached down taking Carrie’s photo from between our hands. They each held a corner as I slipped the rings onto their fingers.

The girls looked to each other then to the photo as they said in unison, “You will forever be in our hearts Carrie,” as tears rolled down their cheeks.

The girls helped me up kissing me together on my cheeks. I felt Kay’s hand slipping the photo of Carrie back into my pocket as they did. I took Kay into my arms and kissed her deeply. Then I took Cathy into my arms kissing her deeply. I wrapped my arms around them both as our guest came forward giving us their best wishes.

Kay, Cathy and I wrote our own vows and told them to each other up on the big Lake at the happy place in front of a few friends, Duke and Sherri and hopeful Angel Carrie during October 2002.

Sherri had kept her word about getting our wedding rings. She showed me four of them just simple gold bands with the words “Always follow your heart,” inscribed inside the bands.

“Why four rings?” I asked her.

“One for on the branch frame daddy,” Sherri replied smiling.

Our lives filled with nothing but pure bliss. Kay, Cathy and I had each other while Sherri and Duke became an item as well. He stayed with us on most weekends. I finally told Sherri to have him move in with us as he made us happy because Sherri was happy.

I had taken Duke under my wing so to speak at work. I trained him while I made sure he did not carry demons with him. He carried only sorrow and grief for the friends he had lost during the war. However, I would meet him in the living room every now and then on the weekends after my stroll through nightmare valley. We would sit and talk until sunrise. After a few times of meeting like that he told me he has nightmares about being alone.

“How do you handle your nightmares?” he asked.

“I don’t,” “I have learned it is best just to forget them as in my case they will never go away,” I replied.

We sat there talking as the morning sun came up in the morning sky. A sparkle or flash of light caught both of our eyes. We both turned toward the fireplace where it had come from to see the sunlight reflecting off Carrie’s rings. Duke looked to me as I looked to him.

“You are never alone son for she will always be near,” I said to him smiling.

I also told him to talk with Sherri as she could probably help him as well. It ended up that he started to join us in our little weekly talks between Kay, Cathy, Sherri and I. The girls were shocked a bit to find out his nightmares was the same as mine.

“War always wears the same face in your nightmares no matter when or where you had fought,” I told them.

Duke seemed to be able to adjust quickly which I believe was in part because of Sherri. The two of them were very much in love. I could tell from the glows on their faces when they were together. Kay and Cathy were whether fascinated with him. They never believed there were men just like I. One who gave any women they met the respect they wanted and needed, men who followed the code and who did what was just and right.

We had a Halloween party at the lake that year on Saturday. Friday night Duke asked me to go have a couple beers with him. We went to a near by tavern and we talked about work over a few beers. Duke and Sherri made a good team both at work and in life together.

“Sir, John I mean there is something I have to ask you,” Duke said as he finished his beer.

“What is that?” I asked looking to him.

“I was wondering if I had your permission to ask Sherri to marry me,” Duke said. “I know we have only been together for a short time but I love her with all my heart,” he added.

I stared at him for a few seconds and he added, “I swear sir by our code that I will never let anything ever happen to her.”

I held out my hand as I replied, “Welcome to the family.”

Sherri and Duke were married in January of 2003. They were supposed to do it come June with a wedding at the lake. However, they both came to us wanting to do it right now at the first part of the New Year. It made no differences to me, as I was to walk my daughter down the aisle. She looked so lovely with her arm laced through mine. Duke and I were surprised that she had not made us wear our uniforms.

The happy couple did not want to take their honeymoon until the spring as the snow machine was kicking up at the lake. I told them to get out of here but neither of them wanted to leave because of it.

For their wedding present I had purchased some land up on the big Lake where come spring I told them that a construction company I knew of would build them a palace on the lake. I also had paperwork drawn up that gave them both a stake in our company. They did not realize it at first but they now owned it, as their shares together were larger than mine were.

“DADDY,” Sherri cried out when she found out about it.

I placed my fingers to her lips as I replied, “It was all going to go to you someday.”

February came and the snows worsened. We all were putting in long hours both day and nights. I took the girls out for dinner on Valentine’s Day. As we were leaving the restaurant, I looked to the sky to see a bright star that suddenly fell from the sky. I was going to say something to the girls about it when I felt a pain in my chest. It was like no pain I had ever felt or had before. I had to place my hand onto my truck to stay standing. I felt dizzy and weak as if I was going to pass out as my hand reached for the truck.

“JOHN, are you OK?” Kay asked.

“Yeah just something I ate I think,” I replied rubbing at my chest.

I took a few deep breaths and the pain seemed to go away. I left the girls into the truck then returned to my side of the truck. I went to reach for the truck door to close it.
However, it seemed as if I could not move my left arm. I thought maybe that it had gone to sleep or something. I reached over with my right arm closing the door.

The girls had me take them home so they could put me to bed. They seemed to believe that I was coming down with the flu as it had been going around. We were to have had went dancing but the girls would not hear of it. I drove us all home telling them I was OK. They put me to bed when I got home hell it was only 7 pm. I woke a little after midnight to the voices of Kay, Cathy and Sherri.

“Your father does not feel good we think he should not go out plowing tonight,” I heard Kay telling Sherri.

I jumped from the bed and slipped my clothes on heading for the living room where I said, “There is nothing wrong just a small case of the flu that’s all, I am Ok lets get going.”

“Daddy, we can handle it,” Sherri replied.

“Princess, I am OK,” “The longer you argue with me the longer it will take to finish the roads,” I said.

We had three trucks out that night Sherri, Duke and I. I even had a rider in my truck as Pepper had jumped into Sherri’s truck but then jumped out of it and climbed into mine. We talked on the radio through the night. At about two in the morning, I was working my way up to the back road against the lake. I called them both on the radio telling them I would get this piece of road then meet them back at the office.

“Daddy, I am done here I will come help you,” Sherri replied.

“No need for you to run up here,” “I got it covered,” I said as Pepper started to bark loudly and growl at me.

“Daddy was that Pepper?” Sherri asked on the radio.

“Yeah, I don’t know what got into him,” I replied as I glanced to Pepper who was now looking upward toward the night sky through the windshield of the truck.

“I am still going to come up Daddy and help,” Sherri said into the radio.

The snow was blinding once again coming off the lake. I needed to get out checking the salt spreader. I looked to Pepper who tilted his head to one side as he gave a low growl that sounded more like a moan. I told him no more sharing my snacks as I jumped out leaving the door open and I made my way to the back of the truck. I reached up to knock some ice from it as both my arms went numb. I felt a hot burning painful feeling in my chest.

The pain doubled in my chest as my head suddenly felt like it was going to explode. My chest felt as if a knife had been stuck into it. I grabbed at my chest with my right arm as I fell into the darkness. I opened my eyes to see this light as it rushed toward me. I closed my eyes again as it swept over me. Peacefulness filled my body as my eyes flickered then slowly opened.

When I opened them, they focused onto the ground beneath me where I was standing. I was standing in the greenest grass I had ever seen. I looked to the sky to see the clear blue sky taking shape overhead. Suddenly the sounds of waves breaking gently into the shoreline filled my ears.

I looked toward the sounds of the water. I saw a small orange slice of land rising in the eastern part of the lake. I watched as “Orange Island” arose until it sat upon the waters of the lake.

I saw a woman with lovely long blonde hair standing on the shoreline with her back to me. She had her arms folded in front of her as she looked out over the blue water. Her long blonde hair blew gently in the lake breeze as it started to blow. I breathed deeply as the smell of “White Diamond” filled my nostrils.

I stood there watching as the woman dropped her right hand down near her side. A wisp of smoke swirled out on the water turning into a small tornado. It raced from the water to along side of her touching her held down hand. It took on the form of a small child with long blonde hair. The child’s hand reached up into the woman’s hand. I stood there with my lips trembling as I watched them.

The little girl turned to me and she said, “Don’t be scared Daddy you are home where you belong,” as she smiled at me.

I started to walk toward them when I realized I was not walking with that slight limp from my ankle fusion. I looked to my foot to see that I could move it in all directions. The shirt I had on was unbuttoned and I looked to the X at the side of my chest it was gone. I saw that all the tube holes were gone from my chest as well. I ran to the little girl until I was standing over her looking down at her.

She took her finger and she motioned for me to bend down. I bent over coming down to her level. I stared into her lovely blue eyes as she smiled at me.

“Hold me daddy,” the little girl said.

“Melissa, is that you?” I asked as I picked her up taking her into my arms.

“Yes daddy,” she replied as she hugged me.

Suddenly and with out warning she vanished from my arms. It grew dark then light as a light does when it burns out. I felt something pressing against my chest. I looked to see handprints forming on my chest.

“Daddy don’t leave me please come back, please,” “Daddy don’t you dare stay there,” I heard Sherri’s voice say.

Her voice echoed in my ears until I felt a hand touch my face. The darkness became light again, as I felt the touch I so longed for. Carrie was standing in front of me with her hand lightly rubbing my face. She smiled as she wrapped her arms around my neck. She pulled my face down to hers. Our lips pressed together as I tasted those sweet loving lips of hers that I longed too. I squeezed her tightly against me as our lips rocked back and forth in a deep passionate kiss. I broke our kiss running my tongue up her neck to her ear.

I licked then kissed at her ear lobe as I whispered, “I have missed you so much yet it feels as if you never left me.”

Carrie pulled her head back from mine as she said, “I never left you John I was always right here in your heart,” as I felt her touching my chest.

“What is this place?” I asked as I looked around.

Carrie’s hand went to my face as she said, “This is our home John,” as she rubbed at my face. She smiled at me as she added, “It can be yours as well if you want it to be.”

I heard a dog barking and I turned toward the water of the lake. Melissa was at the water’s edge throwing a stick out into the lake. The dog barked then jumped into the water. When the dog came from the water, I saw that it was Coco returning to her with the stick.

The place started to go light to dark again flashing as if someone was turning the lights on and off. I suddenly felt cold and scared. I wrapped my arms around Carrie once more. However, I could not feel her body against mine as I hugged her. Carrie grabbed my face and I looked deeply into those lovely blue eyes.

As I stared into them, I saw myself as a young boy playing in the neighborhood. I saw my brother standing by his coffin smiling at me as he saluted me. I was at the neighborhood lake with Terri and Carrie. The Vietnam War flashed before me as I stared into her eyes. Carrie’s eyes turned glowing red then into railroad crossing lights as I stared into them. I tried to look away from her eyes.

However, Carrie would not let me. I saw Carrie lying on the steel table at the morgue. I saw myself sitting on a bed with a gun. I stared deeper into her eyes seeing Kay leaning against the wall in college. I saw Sherri as that sweet little girl as she held out her skates. Her eyes then filled with Kay, Cathy and Sherri and I sitting in our hot tub. I then saw myself lying motionless on the ground behind our plow truck. Pepper was beside me sitting as he looked up into the night sky. I saw snow falling into my eyes each shaped like a star at night. Carrie released my face as her eyes returned to blue.

“What is this all about?” I asked.

Carrie kissed me lightly on my lips then whispered into my ear, “Hush, Hush my love or the creatures of the night will get you.”

Carrie stepped back from me taking hold of both my hands. She stretched them out until our arms were out in front of us both. She left go of my arms as they feel limply to my side. Carrie smiled tilting her head to the side.

“You must choose John,” Carrie said. “Do you stay or wish to return?” she asked.

My life seemed to rush through my mind once more as I stood there. I relived my life from childhood up to walking behind the snowplow truck. Every one I had ever met flashed through my mind once more until I saw only Kay, Cathy and Sherri staring at me with sadness in their eyes.

They faded from my view as I felt someone tugging at my pants. I looked down to see it was Melissa. I looked down into her lovely blue eyes. She motioned for me to come down to her level.

I did and she wrapped her arms around my neck as she whispered into my ear, “It’s OK I understand daddy.” She kissed my cheek then said, “Until we meet again daddy,” as she slowly faded away.

I looked to Carrie as I said, “Sorry my love as much as I need you others need me,” as a tear ran down my cheek.

Carrie reached out and she caught the tear on the end of her finger as she replied, “You have chosen wisely John,” “For that is what you heart has told you to chose.”

“Forgive me my love,” I said.

“There is nothing to forgive as I know your heart could not bare to lose those four lovely girls that you hold so dearly in your heart,” Carrie replied smiling. “I would have been concerned if you had wanted to stay for then you would have only been thinking of yourself,” Carrie added.

“Four lovely girls but I only know of three,” I said to her.

Carrie smiled to me as she said, “Our time is short John and I fear I have kept you here longer than I should have.”

Carrie looked toward the lake as fog started to roll across the waters of the lake. She wrapped her arms around me kissing me deeply. I kissed her back running my hands through her long blonde hair.

Carrie broke our kiss as she said. “Your road back will be long and will fill you with despair.” Carrie looked to the fog, which was almost upon us, then she placed her hand to the side of my face as she added, “However John always remember never give up and always follow your heart.”

I heard her final words of “Until we met again” echoing in my ears as the fog came over me. It went from light to darkness around me. I felt cold as I felt the wind blowing around me.

“Daddy come back PLEASE I need you and your grand daughter needs you,” I heard Sherri cried out.

“Miss, you did good but now let us take over,” I heard another woman’s voice say.

I felt a needle as it plunged deep into my chest. I felt it but it not as pain. It felt as if something was running through every nerve in my body. The coldness started to take me as my ears heard one last word “CLEAR.”

I felt my chest fill with air that felt hot. I gasped as it did trying to catch my breath. My eyes flickered then closed as the cold returned.

“MISTER you return to that child or else,” Carrie’s voice echoed in my ears.

“We have him he is back,” a woman’s voice said.

My eyes flickered as I took a few deep breaths. I felt that damn breathing mask on my face. I tried to move my left hand to remove it. However, I could not lift my left arm. I finally managed to move my right hand to my face.

I pushed the mask away as I heard a woman say, “Sir you have to keep that on your face.”

My eyes started to focus as I heard another voice as it said, “Daddy, thanks for coming back,” as I felt Sherri wrapping her hand around mine.

I drifted in and out, however I gather enough information to know that I was in an ambulance on my way to the hospital. I awoke again laying in a bed with doctors and some other people standing near me. I listened as they talked.

“He was lifeless when we got there,” a man said. “His daughter was giving him CPR when we arrived,” “He had no pulse, he was cold and blue, I tried to explain to his daughter that he had passed,” the man added.

“His daughter turned to me and begged me not to give up on him,” a woman said. “She kept up with the CPR as we loaded him into the ambulance.” “I gave him an epinephrine shot then we juiced him with the shock paddles,” the woman added.

“His daughter saved his life with giving him CPR,” the doctor replied. “That or he has a guardian angel looking after him,” he added.

I closed my eyes again as I felt peace come over me. I know not how long I lie there asleep. No dreams or nightmares filled my mind. I felt hands rubbing at my head and at my arms. I also felt other hand in my hands however; my eyes would open to see. I lie there as I felt a set of hands rubbing at my face.

“John, wake up,” “Please John wake up,” I heard Kay’s voice saying.

“Jonathon you wake up right now MISTER or else,” I heard Cathy’s voice say.

I tried to open my eyes however, they would not move. All I could see was darkness. Their voices faded from my hearing as I lie there. I felt a hand taking mine into theirs.

“Daddy the darkness has lifted open your eyes and see the new morning light,” Sherri whispered into my ear.

My eyes flickered as I opened them to nothing but a blur. My eyes slowly adjusted as I saw Kay’s face, Cathy’s face and then Sherri as she kissed at my hand. I tried to speak however; my words came out as slurred speech. I tried to lift my left arm and my legs neither would move.

I went into a panic as alarms went off in my room and nurses came running into it. They told me to calm down or they would have to put me under again. I looked to Kay with help me eyes as I stared at her.

“Close your eyes John relax,” “let your mind take you to that happy place you have shared with others,” Kay said.

“Where the moon dances on the water,” “Where the night’s heaven is filled with to many stars for you to count,” Cathy added.

Sherri gripped my hand tightly as she said, “Let your ears fill with the sounds of the waves gently crashing against the shoreline.” Sherri smiled at me as she added, “Close your eyes daddy you may just see Angel Carrie while you are there.”

I closed my eyes as that vision filled my head. The alarms and bells all stopped as peacefulness returned to me. One of the nurses turned and stared at the girls.

“You three are the angels here to have such control of a devil like this man,” she said to them.

Some time later, a doctor came into the room and explained that I had a massive stroke. I lie there listening to him wondering how I could have had a stroke or a heart attack. I was probably in the best shape of my life. He told them that the left side of my body had suffered paralysis as well as my legs. I could only move my eye on my left side nothing else.

“He may never be able to move anything on his left side or walk again,” the doctor told Kay, Cathy and I as he walked from the room.

I screamed out if you could call it that. I sounded more like a wild animal than a human did. Kay and Cathy reached for my right hand and I pulled it from them as I turned my head away. I tried to cry but no tears even came to my eyes. I could not even cry to feel sorry for myself. I made a writing motion with my right hand telling them to get me something to write with so Cathy gave me a pencil and a notepad. I wrote on the paper handing it to them. It read, “GET OUT OF HERE Both of you, and Leave me alone.”

Their lips trembled as they stared at me. I just turned my face away from them as I pointed to the door with my one good arm. The girls ran crying from my room. I lie there thinking how I had given up being with Carrie and Melissa to return to a life like this. I lie there cussing and hating everyone even Carrie for returning me to a new hell on earth. A few minutes later I lie there thinking about pulling all the tubes and wires from myself hoping it would send me back to her.

“NICE MOVE DADDY and so fucking heartfelt,” “Those two did nothing to you except worry and care for you these last few days,” yelled Sherri. “They told me why you are upset,” “BIG FUCKING DEAL so you can’t move your left side or walk.” “So that gave you the right to rip their caring hearts from them,” “Shame on you DADDY,” Sherri added with her hands on her hips.

I sat up in bed and I scowled at her from my bed. It was her fault I was like this. If she would not have given me CPR and had just left me there to die, I would not be as I was.

“I see that look in your eyes Daddy.” “That I hate you look for saving me,” Sherri said as she came toward my bed. She placed her hand to my face as she added, “I had to daddy or otherwise I would have became a disappointment to myself and everyone else.”

“PpppRincess,” I managed to say as I looked to her.

“I know daddy,” “It was your choice,” Sherri replied as she pulled her hand from my face.

She tossed her drawing book onto my bed. She walked halfway across the room before she turned and she told me to look in the book once more for the answers I sought.

“I’m hungry I will be back after all I am eating for two,” Sherri said with a smile.

She was out the door before I realized what she had just said. My mind flashed me back to in the ride to the hospital. Sherri’s voice filled my head.
“Daddy come back PLEASE I need you and your grand daughter needs you,” Sherri had said to me during my time with Carrie.

I reached for her drawing book and I pulled it onto my lap. I flipped the cover up to the first drawing. It was of a snow cover road with the lake in the background. A plow truck with its door open a body lie on the ground with a dog staring blankly to the night’s heavens at the back of the truck. I followed on the paper to see that the dog was looking to the only star shining brightly in the night’s sky.

I flipped to the next drawing and I saw “Orange Island” rising over the water on the right side of the paper. There was a lake with waves gently breaking against the shoreline where a little girl was throwing a stick and a dog was running into the water. There was a man and a woman standing embracing with their lips locked together in the center of the paper. In the upper left corner were small drawings of Kay, Cathy and Sherri their faces in lovely white and blue clouds. Written below the drawing was “Daddy’s time to choose.”

I turned the page to another drawing one that was unfinished. It showed me lying in bed with despair and hate on my face as two women crying walked out the room. I saw she had written, “Daddy becomes the disappointment.”

I turned the page to find myself doing various exercises around spots on the page. In the middle of the page, I had a baby on my lap and a book in my hand reading it to the baby. Across the top of the page she had written, “NEVER GIVE UP.” While at the bottom was “Always follow your heart as it will never lead you wrongly.”

Drops of water fell onto that page as tears flowed freely from my eyes. I looked up from the drawing book to see Kay, Cathy and Sherri standing near the doorway looking toward me. I took my finger and I pointed to my eye. I then pointed to my heart before I pointed my finger once at each of them.

I closed Sherri’s drawing book as they came toward the bed. I motioned for something to write with from them. I wrote sorry in big letters as I showed it to the three of them. I then wrote, “Please forgive me as I know all of us together can get through this.”

I motioned for Sherri to come to me. I wrapped my one arm around her as I pulled her down to my level. I whispered, “Hank you,” which was suppose to be Thank you however that was how it came out.

Sherri knew what I meant as she replied, “Your welcome daddy.”

I pointed to her belly as I said, “BbaBY.”

Sherri smiled as she replied, “Yes you are to be a grandfather.”

I grabbed the paper and a pen and I wrote onto a piece of paper and handed it to Kay and Cathy. They both smiled as they shook their heads OK. Sherri looked to them as she asked them what I had written.

“He asked us if it was OK for him to spoil the child.” Kay replied.

“DADDY,” Sherri yelled as she wrapped her arms around me. “Thank you daddy and Angel Carrie told me to tell you, “Always remember never give up and always follow your heart,” as she hugged me tightly.

I felt my left arm give a slight bit of movement as my finger tapped twice onto the bed. I knew it was going to be battle maybe the worst one I had ever faced in my life. However I had three angels at home with one on the way and another special angel to guide me on the journey I was about to face.

Thank god, they were there when I needed them the most. I was to spend about a month in the hospital the doctors informed me that I had an ischemic stroke. An Ischemic (“is-skeem-ic”) stroke occurs when an artery to the brain is blocked. The brain depends on its arteries to bring fresh blood from the heart and lungs. The blood carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain, and takes away carbon dioxide and cellular waste. If an artery is blocked, the brain cells (neurons) cannot make enough energy and will eventually stop working.

The cause they found out was blood clots in my heart. They had loosened and travel to arteries near my brain. The formation of those clots had to do with me having an irregular heartbeat, which led me to having a full massive stroke. That and my cholesterol level were a little high.

I had been having mini strokes since the end of 2002. I just never realized that was what they were I had just thought it was too active of a sex life with Kay and Cathy. Plus the attack I had while we were out to dinner earlier that night had all led up to the event on the big lake that night.

It was mid March 2003 when I came home from the hospital. I was unable to walk, my left side paralyzed and my speech was horrible. It was the first time in my life that I did not want to leave the hospital. I worried about the others taking care of me. I felt I had become a burden to them.

They each told me in their own little way that I had been there for them when they needed my help. Now that I needed their help, they would not let me face it on my own. Kay, Cathy and Sherri took me home from the hospital. I tried to make excuses for why they should take me back to the hospital.

“It took two big orderlies to place me into this SUV so just how are you three getting me out?” I asked well I wrote down onto paper I should say.

“Don’t worry daddy we got it handled,” Sherri replied.

We soon arrived home and we pulled into the driveway. The girls got out and told me they would be right back. I took a hand across my face from Cathy as they left me in the SUV.

“IT IS not like I am going anywhere,” I had written down handing it to Cathy who gave me her hand across my face. (Anytime from here on in my story when I tell you I said or replied it was always written on paper due to my speech problem.)

“Don’t you even start JOHNATHON,” Cathy yelled. “You may get over on the others with your self pity however I will not play your little games,” She added standing there tilting her head at me.

“Understood Madame,” I replied as I saluted her.

The girls walked into the house and Pepper ran out to the SUV. He jumped up into the back seat with me damn near knocking me over. He licked my face and I rubbed between his ears as I told him thanks for watching over me up there by the lake that night.

“You ready to go into the house?” I heard Duke ask me.

Pepper jumped down and he ran into the house as I turned looking up at Duke. I told him to go get the wheel barrel and just toss me into it and take me into the house. He gave me a funny look. However, I was serious about it.

“I have a better idea,” Duke said as he swung my legs out the SUV.

Duke turned sideways to me grabbing my arm. He swung me up onto his shoulders draping my body over them. He stood up and started to walk to the house. A firefighter’s carry or firefighter’s lift is a technique allowing one person to carry another person without assistance, by placing the carried person across the shoulders of the carrier

“I did not think they taught the firemen carry to the troops anymore,” I said to him as I dangled from his upper body.

“Still the best way to move the wounded or a stubborn Sergeant like you,” Duke replied as he carried me into the house.

“Careful with him Duke,” Sherri yelled.

Duke smiled at her as he replied, “He is not breakable you know.”

Duke took me over to the sofa and placed me onto it as I said, “Thanks Duke, couldn‘t have got here without you.”

“No problem we take care of our own,” Duke replied giving me a little smile.

Duke had no sooner placed me onto the sofa than Pepper came running into the living room. He stopped looked at everyone then ran over and sat down on the floor in front of me. Kay came walking over with some pillows and Pepper left out a long low growl.

Kay stopped dead in her tracks as she said, “Sherri do something with your dog.”

Sherri came walking over and Pepper got up and growled at her. Pepper turned toward me and he licked at my face before he sat back down in front of me. I reached across my body to rub between his ears. Pepper moved and he jumped up onto the sofa lying at my legs with his face resting on my thighs. Kay came over and she placed the pillows behind my head. She fluffed the pillows up nicely and then made sure I was comfortable with them. She asked me if I needed anything.

“A beer would be nice,” I replied.

Kay looked to Sherri as she dug papers from her purse; she looked them over then said, “He can have two to three a day and that is it.”

“I will have as many as I want young lady,” I yelled. Everyone was giving me the evil eye so I added, “Two or three a day would be just fine after all it aids my kidneys,” giving a smile to them all.

Cathy came walking in handing me a beer with the twist off cap still on it. I looked to the cap on the bottle then to her. I handed the bottle up to her as she stood there looking down at me.

“If you can’t open it yourself then I guess you can’t drink it,” Cathy replied.

I saw Duke reaching to get my beer. Sherri grabbed his arm as he did. She gave him a look and he withdrew his hand from my beer. Kay, Cathy, Sherri and Duke stood there looking at me. I only had one hand that worked just how was I supposed to hold the damn beer bottle to twist the cap from it.

I thought for a while then came up with an idea. I placed the bottle between my thighs as I could still push part of them together. I only hoped it was enough to hold it so it did not turn or move. I twisted the cap from the beer and took the beer from between my legs.

I took a sip as I looked to all of them I said, “That’s OK people I got it.”

Cathy bent over and kissed my forehead as she replied, “That was the whole idea in the first place,” as she smiled to me.

I knew what she meant. They would only help me so much the rest I was going to have to do or at least try to do on my own. I had figured they all were going to be running over each other to wait on me however, that was not the case. Kay whispered something into Sherri’s ear. She grabbed Duke and they went outside.

Kay and Cathy came over to the sofa. Pepper gave out his low growl again as they neared me. I rubbed between his ears as I told him it was OK. The girls told me that they were going to sit me upright on the sofa. I told them I was comfortable like I was.

“Fine just more work for you then,” Cathy said as she grabbed Kay by her hand and walked to the fireplace as they whispered to each other.

“I wish you girls would stop that,” I said. “I am a big boy there is no need to hide stuff from me,” I added.

Kay looked to me as she replied, “We have a surprise for you that is all,” as she smiled to me.

I heard Sherri and Duke coming in the back door. Duke came in and he walked over to Kay and Cathy standing beside them. I heard a whirling like sound and I turned toward the kitchen. Sherri was coming out of the kitchen in a motorized cart like thing. It was not like a wheel chair as it was much cooler looking. Sherri drove it right up to the sofa.

“Duke and the guys at work built this just for you Daddy to help you get around until your legs work again,” Sherri said with a smile as she rose from the cart.

I looked at it without knowing what to say. All I could do was wipe the tears from my eyes as I did look at it. I looked to Pepper as I told him to get down, which he did running over to stand with the rest of them by the fireplace.

“Would you like one of us to help you get into it?” Kay asked.

“Let me try on my own first,” I replied.

I sat my beer down on the stand next to the sofa. I turned the cart so that the seat was facing the front of the sofa. I threw the latch on the wheel hoping that was the brake, which it was. I used my one good arm and my ass to scoot myself from the sofa into the cart. It took me a while however; I got into it on my own. The family made a big deal out of it. Which I guess maybe to them it was. To me it was just one of the challenges to face.

Duke and Sherri came over and explained all the gizmos on the cart. It had a seat belt as well as leg straps to get my legs and myself in the cart. There was a flip up tray that I could place things on to carry. The cart would function inside or out due to the tires on it.

“It has the biggest and most powerful electric motor that is available on the market today,” Duke said to me.

“Well open the patio doors and I will take it up the road for a spin,” I replied.

“DON”T even think about it MISTER,” Kay and Cathy said in unison.

Duke stooped down to me and he whispered into my ear, “We will hold off on that until the girls are not home.”

I shook his hand as I told him thanks and to make sure he thanked the crew at work. I reached up and I grabbed Sherri by her hand pulling her onto my lap. I turned the cart on and away we went bumping into just about everything as we did. She helped me by telling me how to steer the damn thing. After about twenty trips up and down the hallway and back into the living room, I had gotten the hang of it.

That simple cool cart made me feel like I was not so much of a burden to them. I was able to take myself to the bathroom, get myself in and out of bed as well as just pull myself up to the kitchen table for my meals. Which I was not too happy about as the doctors had taken away all the good food. Sherri was in charge of my meals and that girl never gave me any treats so to speak, of however Kay and Cathy spoiled me from time to time.

Our lives went back to somewhat normal. The girls all would take turns staying at home with me. Sometimes they rotated weekly other times it was day to day. They never left me alone for any period. I soon realized none of them trusted me. I tried to tell them I was OK with all of this. I was really I had came to accept the fact that I would walk again it was just going to take time and hard work. Something I had none all my life anyways.

I wanted our company to build that palace on the big lake for Sherri and Duke. However, they would not allow me too. I bitched and moaned about it for around a month.

“Daddy, you forget you no longer control the company,” “Now if you, mom and Cathy want a house built up there fine,” Sherri said to me. “Duke and I are happy right here with you at least for now,” as she rubbed her hand on my face.

Sherri and Duke were also in charge of my therapy for my paralyzed legs and left arm. They each would move my legs and my left arm daily for me. It seemed strange as I could see the muscle working however; my mind just could not tell them to move no matter how hard I tried. They hired speech therapists to help me with that. She worked with me as well as Kay. By May, my speech had improved greatly to where they at least understood me. That was all that mattered because I did not go anywhere. I was afraid people would stare at me.

Sherri’s belly had grown huge come May as well. I finally found out why they had wanted to get married in January instead of come summer. Sherri’s baby was due in July it seems that our little Halloween party last year had ended with a bang so to speak.

When June came, Sherri stayed at home from work daily, as she was uncomfortable at work. She took care of me as well. Pepper was no longer Sherri’s dog he would not listen to anything she told him. That dog just stayed beside me at all times. He even took to sleeping in our bed where he would place his head on my thigh during the night. Kay and Cathy were not thrilled with the idea. However, it gave me an excuse for not having sex with them. I was not for sure, I could even perform and at that time, I did not want to find out anyways.

With Sherri being home with me all the time it gave us time to talk again. We had rather stopped as she had Duke to confine in now. I only wanted to know that she was happy that was all. However, Sherri hounded me to tell her just what happened that night I had my stroke. I told her nothing; that I could not remember anything from that night. She would ask me that same question every day. I gave her the same answer until one day when she replied.

“Daddy, your eyes tell me that you are not being truthful with me,” Sherri said with a smile. “I will tell you my story if you tell me yours,” She added as her hand rubbed at my face.

I took her out onto the patio and as she sat in a chair and I in my cart. I told her the events that took place that night up by the lake. How I had came face to face with Carrie and Melissa once more. How I had to choose which path to take.

“Princess I heard your words, “Daddy don’t leave me please come back, please,” “Daddy don’t you dare stay there,” when I was with Carrie,” I said to her. “I also heard you say “Daddy come back PLEASE I need you and your grand daughter needs you,” I added as I took her hand into mine.

“I did not think you heard me daddy and I knew if you were not still with us you were with Carrie,” Sherri replied. Sherri then asked, “Why did you come back?”

“As much as I love and missed Carrie and Melissa my heart would not let me leave you nor Kay and Cathy,” “I had no choice Princess as I have to follow my heart,” I replied. “Now the drawing you gave me in the hospital how did you know?” I asked.

“I didn’t daddy,” Sherri replied. “I only drew what Duke told me he had seen in his dream.”

Sherri went on to tell me that she tried to get me on the radio. She told me that when I had not answered she became worried. She headed up to the big Lake in a hurry.

“As I drove Daddy I saw this bright star hanging over the lake as I drove toward it.” “I had a feeling that you needed help,” Sherri said. “When I got there daddy Pepper was looking up into the nights sky at that star and I saw you lying on the ground,” “I called for an ambulance then checked on you,” Sherri added.

That dog never took his eyes from that star as I jumped from my truck. It was as if he was frozen or something just looking toward that star. I checked and you were not breathing so I cleared your airway and I gave you mouth to mouth. I checked for your pulse and you had none.

“You felt cold to my touch Daddy as I started to give you CPR,” Sherri said. “I gave you CPR the whole time as I waited for help to come,” she added.

Sherri went on to explain that she had called Duke on the radio before she had got out of her truck. Duke told her he was on his way to me as well. He showed up just as the ambulance did. He told me to ride with you in the ambulance and he would see to our trucks as well as Pepper. As they loaded you into the ambulance, Pepper came running over to me. I had to tell him no, as he wanted to jump in with you.

“I looked up to the star daddy and it was gone,” Sherri said as tears ran down her face.

They worked on you before placing you into the ambulance but they told me you were gone. I begged them to check again and they finally found a faint pulse. They brought you back all the way on the way to the hospital. They took you from me once there all I could do was sign papers that allowed them to work on you more. I called mom, Cathy to tell them what was going on, and they rushed to the hospital.

The three of us sat in the waiting room waiting to hear how you were doing. Duke showed up later and he told us all that you would be OK. I told him I was worried, as you had been gone for so long. Mom, Cathy and I all started to cry fearing that if you did come back you would not be the John we all loved and cared so much for.

Duke sat us all down onto the sofa in the waiting room as he told us he wanted to tell us of his dream last night. He told us how he saw you, Carrie and some little girl who appeared out of a tornado together up at that special spot on the lake. He told us of how you and Carrie stood where two paths forked outward. He explained that Carrie went into one path as you walked to the other.

“I am not for sure girls but I believed that to meant that his plans are to return to you all,” Duke said to us. “Also girls his Angel looked after him until she streaked across the sky earlier tonight and she would never leave him unless he was safe,” Duke added smiling to us.

Whether we believed him or not it did not matter as it calmed us down at least. I asked Duke if indeed that star had fallen from the sky tonight. He told me it had and that Pepper finally moved when it did. Duke told me I should have that dog checked out in the near future.

I sat there with Duke drawing as he told me what he could remember. How the grass was greener than any he had ever seen. How blue the water was and how lovely Carrie was. He explained about seeing the little girl playing with a dog near the water. Together we figured out what the two paths meant.

“We knew you had to choose daddy,” Sherri said.

I reached for her with my right arm to hug her as I said, “I made the right choice princess,” as I did my left arm moved more of a jerk then anything.

“Daddy your arm just moved,” yelled Sherri.

“So it did princess so it did,” I replied smiling to her.

That same month Duke and I were alone one Sunday. The girls were shopping so we both took turns running that cart up and down the highway in front of our house. We had ourselves a good old time. Thank god, he was on when he flew past the girls as they came home from shopping. We both ended up in the doghouse over it but it was worth it.

I got out of the doghouse myself by having sex with Kay and Cathy as that night I awoke with a raging hard on which I put to good use. They had to do most of the work. However, the girls did not seem to mind.

July rolled around and on July 12, Sherri gave birth to a lovely baby girl. They had asked me if it was OK if they named her Melissa. However, the name Michelle came to my mind. The reason was the meaning of Michelle which is who is like god.

Sherri had two babies to take care of now. By the time her first birthday had rounded around I was able to move my left arm however some times I lost control of it. I learned to crawl along side of my granddaughter. When she was two and had taken her first steps, I was not walking but had feeling and could move my legs. I was walking with the cane by Christmas of 2005. I had full use of my left arm and was in total control of it as well. It had been a long hard journey for me to get to that point in my life as well.

I did not do it on my own as without the help of my family I never would have over came what fate and death had dealt me. I never blamed “Fate or Death's” little card games or anyone else as it was I who had chosen. I had no regrets then nor do I hold any today. I lived by my code as well as “Never Give UP” and “Always follow your heart.”

I even went back to work during the spring of 2006. The first project I took on was building a house on the eleven acres of land that our house sat on by the lake. Sherri and Duke made a big fuss over it, as they did not want me to use my money on them. Sherri had not even realized the house was from plans she had thought she was drawing up for a client. I had told her one of our regular clients wanted to see what a dream house would look like to her. When she finally did realize it, I already had the ball rolling on the project at the end of April. We had their new house finished by the end of July in 2006.

“Daddy, you shouldn’t have tricked me,” Sherri said.

“Would you have really drawn a dream house or cut corners knowing it was for Duke, Michelle and you?” I asked.

“Daddy you really shouldn’t be doing this,” Sherri replied.

“Just my way of telling you both thanks for being there when I needed you the most,” I said.

Sadly, I lost a good friend come the summer of 2006 as well. In late August, I awoke to find that Pepper had passed in his sleep. He was only ten years old and his last three years had been always at my side. It started the day I came home from the hospital and continued until the day he passed away. During the time, I could not walk that dog was on constant guard over me.

He watched everyone closely when anyone came near me. He would always give them a look and a low growl as they approached me even Sherri. We all thought it was his way of warning them not to mess with me. I buried him beside Coco down at the boathouse knowing that I would see him again someday.

When I went back to work, Sherri returned as well. Kay and Cathy stayed home with Michelle while the rest of us worked. I spoiled her right from the start I would bring her a toy home everyday from work. Sherri bitched at me every day for stopping to get her something telling me her toy box was full.

“Maybe you two need a bigger house then,” I replied.

“NO daddy our house is just fine,” Sherri replied with a smile.

Duke and Sherri would spend the weekdays at their house. However, on the weekends they would stay with us. They told us that they missed us all being one big happy family. In October of that year I sent them both to Hawaii for their long over due honeymoon for three weeks. The girls watched Michelle while I went to work. That little girl would be waiting for me each night I returned home from work.

“When is PA PA coming?” She would ask Kay and Cathy when four or 5 o’clock in the afternoon rounded around.

I would play with her giving her horsy rides on my back through the house or outside. We all would have dinner then Michelle would get a book and I would read it to her. She never wanted Kay or Cathy to read to her only me. Most of the time she would fall asleep on my lap and I would carry her back and put her in her bed. Every night I put her to bed I would look to the heavens as I asked Angel Carrie to look over her as well as the rest of us.

I no longer dreamed of Angel Carrie nor did I ever see any signs that she was still with me. The girls had cornered me in the house one day. They all wanted to know if Angel Carrie had told me anything about what was to come next.

“If we all follow our hearts then we need no guidance,” I said to them.

“One day after Duke and Sherri returned from their trip Sherri asked me at work, “Angel Carrie is no longer with you is she daddy?”

“Princess she is always with us all in our hearts,” I replied.

“Yes she is and she always will be,” Sherri replied touching her hand to my face.

Duke, Sherri and I returned to work. It was good to have them back as I was tired. I longed to be at home with Kay and Cathy not running a company. I spent two more years working and running the company. I was more of just a figurehead meeting with clients than anything else. I went to talk to my lawyers to find out how my little nest egg I would send to them each month for the last 25 years had been doing. I also went home and had a talk with Kay and Cathy.

Thanksgiving came in November 2008. During our Thanksgiving dinner together, I made an announcement. I stood up and beat my knife against the glass in front of me. Kay, Cathy, Sherri, Michelle and Duke looked to me.

“Family there is something I need to tell you all,” I said as their faces got concerned looks on them as they looked to me.

“This winter season will be my last at plowing snow and come spring of 2009 I am going to retire from the company,” I said. I looked to Duke and Sherri as I added, “The Company is to be turned over to you both.” “It will belong entirely to you with me holding no interest or shares in it.” “Keep it and run it or sell it,” “It makes no differences to me,” I added.

“DADDY your only 56 you can’t retire,” Sherri replied giving me a concerned look.

I looked to Kay and Cathy smiling at them as I said, “The three of us have all been saving for when this day would come.” “It is time to sit back and enjoy our time together finally.”

“BUT Daddy,” Sherri replied.

“Sherri my dear do not question your dad’s reasoning,” Kay said to her.

“Yes mom,” Sherri replied. She then looked to me as she added, “We sure in the hell are not going to sell it,” “I only hope we can run it as well as you have daddy.”

“You will be fine princess you have a good man beside you,” “One who is brave, loyal, trustworthy.” “One who follows the code as well as one who follows what his heart tells him is just and right,” I said to her looking at Duke.

Sherri smiled at me then turned to Duke as she said, “You must have gotten some dirt or dust in your eye,” as she wiped away a tear that had formed.

March 21, 2009 I turned the company over to them. Kay, Cathy and I spent our time together fishing, shopping, having sex. The three of us went to Mexico, Hawaii and island hopping the Caribbean. When school was out, we returned home to watch Michelle while Duke and Sherri worked.

That was how our little happy family has run for the last three years. When school starts in September Kay, Cathy and I would go to three places we had always wanted to go too. I would give Sherri and Duke a hand with the snow plowing from time to time over the years just to do it. As to C & J Construction, I played no part in it since I retired and turned it over to them. I did tell them they should change the name to S & D Construction however, neither of them would hear of that.

I was helping Sherri and Duke in February of 2012 with snow removal. They had two new men working for them as well. While plowing we all chatted over our radios.

One of their new men asked into his radio, “Hey boss Duke how about telling us one of your war stories?”

“Yeah Duke give us one,” The other new man added.

Duke said nothing for a few seconds then he replied, “The big boss (who was Sherri) has a story I don’t think neither of you had heard.”

Sherri keyed her radio as she asked, “Daddy, May I tell them your story?”

“I suppose if you have too,” I replied to her over the radio.

I turned onto that road up by the big lake. The big lake was frozen and the snow had stopped about a half hour ago. There was no wind blowing in off the lake. The night skies cleared as I looked to the heavens. I saw a star streaking across the sky as I heard Sherri come onto the radio.

“This story is about a brave young man who went to fight in the Vietnam War because his heart had been broken.” “He would face many trials and tribulations during his life.” “Some parts of this story you may not believe but believe me they are all true for the man’s life I am going to tell you about is plowing up at the big lake for that man is who I call daddy,” Sherri said.

Sherri went on to tell them my story from my birth to the present time. Those new men shook my hand and patted me on the back when we returned to put the trucks away. I told them I was just a man and I knew of others like me as I smiled to Duke. On the way home, back to the house that night it was rather quiet on the drive home until.

“Daddy you should write a book about your life,” Sherri said with a smile on her face.

“Princess it is just one man’s journey as he followed his heart,” I replied.

Duke looked over to me as he said, “One man’s journey that has helped others from their darkness while living with his own.” “I know of two soldiers who only knew of him and yet his story helped them while trapped and alone in the darkness in a land far from their home.”

“Hush, Hush you two or the creatures of the night will get you,” I replied smiling at them.

The five of us live a very normal and wonderful live together. No darkness has threatened or came to any of us for a while. Other than one small incident that happened this spring. We had all just returned home from work. Sherri, Duke and Michelle went to their home on the lake as Kay, Cathy and I sat down for dinner. We had just gotten finished with dinner when the phone rang. Cathy answered it and she told me it was Sherri.

“She seems upset John,” Cathy said as she handed me the phone.

Cathy went to Kay and they stood there as I took the phone. “DADDY, we need you could you come over here?” Sherri asked with worry in her tone.

I hung up and was out the door as Kay and Cathy asked, “What is it John?”

“I will be back girls,” I yelled as I ran out the door.

I ran over to Sherri’s house and I walked into their living room to find Duke and Sherri sitting on their sofa. They both smiled at me as I rushed over to them. I asked them what was wrong and why call me?

They both stood up as Sherri replied, “Someone in the kitchen needs your help,” as they both pointed to the kitchen.

I walked into the kitchen to find Michelle at the kitchen table. She had her face buried into her arms as they lie on the table. I walked over to her and I ran my hand through her long blonde hair. She looked back at me with tears in her eyes.

“What is wrong princess?” I asked.

Michelle stood up and she reached under the table and turned holding out a pair of skates as she said, “The wheel does not move anymore.” “I can’t go skating tonight becomes my skates are broken.” “Mommy and daddy told me that they knew someone who could fix them, I did not know they meant you Papa,” as she handed the skate to me.

I turned to see Duke and Sherri standing arm in arm as they looked on from the hallway leading into the kitchen. I asked Duke for a screwdriver and a pair of pliers. He got them for me and gave them to me. I took her skate to the counter and worked on it as she stood beside me with her arms wrapped around my legs. I took the wheel off to find a small rock jammed in the wheels bearing. I removed it and placed the wheel back on her skate.

I said, “Here you go princess good as new,” as I spun the wheel handing her the skate.

Michelle smiled and her lovely blue eyes shined brightly as she replied, “Mommy told me not to cry and she promised me that the man coming over would make everything right,” as she curled her finger motioning me down to her level.

I bent down to her size as she wrapped her arms around my neck kissing me on my cheek then she added, “Thanks Papa you’re the best,” before she ran off to her room.

I looked to Sherri and Duke as I stood back up and I asked, “Now why didn’t one of you fix her skate?”

They both smiled as they replied in unison, “And miss that look on your face when that sweet little girl of nine asked you to fix her skate.”

“No way daddy we were not touching her skate,” Sherri said with a smile.

I just recently came out of retirement at Sherri’s request. I believe she thinks I have become restless once more what with writing my story. I tried telling her I was just fine with doing nothing however she has that same stubborn streak that I have.

THE END or “Until we met again”
Sgt. J

An epilogue will be out in the next day or two to wrap up some loose ends to my story as well as a few other bits and parts.

Anonymous readerReport

2015-08-08 11:20:42
You really should consider publishing it.

Anonymous readerReport

2015-07-18 21:57:38
I have to agree with Sherri. You need to publish these as your autobiography.

Anonymous readerReport

2015-01-09 04:51:13
Loving spouse not living slower

Anonymous readerReport

2015-01-09 02:19:02
I'm not a vet, though I tried for Dessert Storm and was turned down. At that time I was going through a very rough patch in my life. I got though it and in reading your story it had come time for me to face my demons. My creatures of the night are upon me as I wright this, and while I might not have Angle Carrie to watch over me, I do have a living slower that is trying to. I thank all our vets and my we all find our angle to guide and help us.

Anonymous readerReport

2014-11-12 21:32:52
I too am a Army vet although I can not tell you about what I did I can relate very well. I while reading your story it sounds a lot like mine in some ways. My wife has stuck by me for better and worse. I made it thru my hard times and dark times because of her love as well as my brothers in arms. Again thank you for reminding me I was never alone. It would have been a real honor to shake your hand.

You are not logged in.
Characters count: