HOLLOW HAVENS

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Hadley and Meredith Williams struggle with the illusions of life, friends and marriage.

Submitted: November 14, 2016

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Submitted: November 14, 2016

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 HOLLOW HAVENS

A  Short Story

Nicholas Cochran

 

Every month on the day closest to the fifteenth, I have the pleasure of meeting my old school chum, Doctor Aubrey Hart, a renowned brain surgeon.

Apparently, I was not alone in kidding Big Al about shunning the obvious specialty.

Nevertheless, despite the non-existence of any rational reason for him not becoming a heart surgeon, for his own reasons, he did not

Instead, his career resides in the front ranks of those special people who have both the skill and the mental toughness to operate on the brains of their fellow man.

It came as no surprise to the world of Aubrey Hart that he volunteered for the Naval Air Corps solely to land jets on those bobbing postage stamp-sized objects in the limitless and cruel sea, called aircraft carriers.  

Today, as always, I tried to arrive early at the Vermilion Room in order to down a couple of glasses of Johnnie Walker Blue. 

This habit had never failed to deposit me in the perfect state of both body and mind to fully absorb—as well as appreciate to the utmost—the stories that unerringly found their way into my friend’s ken.

“Nicholas,” hailing me upon first seeing my lanky frame crouched over the main bar, “here you are my friend; and how have you fared this past month?”

Perhaps, in an attempt to relax his mind in order to better focus upon his task at hand within the cranium of some lucky soul, Aubrey had taken up the study of words as well a the virtual memorization of several thesauri.

As a result of these mental labors, he found it ludicrously simple to apply all his learning and wit to his phraseology used while conversing with me or with others. 

I suppose he abhorred the possibility that some people would consider him simply a ‘smith’ of some sort; like a blacksmith, who just happened to do his ‘smithing’ in peoples brains. 

Or, perhaps he thought that his flying and dangerous landings (as well as take-offs) would classify him as foolhardy—perhaps even reckless; not the attributes one desires in one’s brain surgeon, certainly.

Therefore, Aubrey Hart, M. D. etc, etc, increasingly enlarged his horizons as well as his learning. 

I would start thinking about our lunch and talk on the fifteenth shortly after the month began. My interest grew as the day approached and now, after some twenty-six years of luncheons with Aubrey, I continue to feel a rush of enthusiasm for our repast on an even earlier date in the month.

“Today, Nicholas, I have a tale that you may find disturbing on any number of levels.

“However, I am not the initial teller of this tale. In a very real sense, I am simply the messenger.”

 

For about half an hour, we dropped all the bullshit and had any number of laughs about things current as well as stories about the old folks at home or the classmates abroad.

Soon, our lunch arrived and after some sampling of the initial fare, my friend began.

 

Hadley Williams and his wife Meredith lived in a large house in the best section of the city.

Although they had decided to forego the rigors of childbearing and rearing, Hadley—and particularly Meredith—chose to adopt a dozen or more cats of both genders from various breed groups, sizes, ages, and temperaments.

They and their herd of felines roam the three floors and twelve rooms of their four bedrooms; three bath house.

Their sublime residence includes an all-weather sun porch; a rectangular area on the side of the house inhabited by most of the cats at one time or another, where they sit or lay on the swing or on one of the five rocking chairs.

Occasionally, a cat would curl up on the top of one of the three white wicker tables, which stood at various points along the rectangle, where they blended very nicely with the superbly applied white paint that covered all three walls as well as all the wood separating the large pieces of glass along the front of the porch.

In summer, the porch area opened at either end by outer doors, while leaving the screen doors closed as barriers to the onset of the Midwestern pest of pests; the black fly; a nasty number with a slashing bite that penetrates your skin from which they suck your blood. These tiny flying vampires can arrive in swarms that often render any defense useless. Fly to immediate cover ASAP.

.

Hadley Williams is a tallish, grayish man of fifty who appears to limp on occasion from some undiagnosed psychological problem. 

He shuffles about as though ninety of his one hundred and ninety pounds reside in his lower legs and feet. 

Hadley has his version of Steve Jobs’ aversion to anyone or anything touching, or in any way messing around with his physical body.

In Hadley’s case, his points of resistance are his eyes. In spite of pleas from Meredith, in addition to strong suggestions from his lawyer brother and pediatric surgeon sister, as well as a hundred percent guarantee Lasik surgery by his next-door neighbor, Hadley insisted on wearing the most unbecoming glasses available on the net. 

They would slide down his nose when he sweated, which was easily eighty percent of the time, and they would fall and break any number of times while he bent over, pulled, or hauled at the nursery.

In addition, Hadley presents a rather odd view of himself to the world. 

He is what is described as angular. In fact, if you were to see Hadley from somewhat to one side and above him; say from half-way down a staircase, Hadley would appear to be simply one angle; nothing round. His entire body would appear to be like the cutting edge of an axe. You would swear that he had lost his other half. That would be Meredith. 

We laughed, sighed, and took up our drinks. Aubrey continued.

Yes, Meredith is the ‘other half’ of our dynamic duo. 

Meredith recently celebrated her forty-fifth birthday. In her very comely youth, she was svelte, with an excellent figure. Over the next thirty years, she acquired stoutness but retained hints of her former charms. Today she is simply short and round. However, her rich dark eyes have widened and now appear to contain the accumulated experiences and disappointments of her life with Hadley. 

With the increase in weight, her mouth seemed to acquire a curl. This produced an unfortunate result. When she smiled, you were never quite sure if she was happy or happily sneering. This off-putting visual made you forget the remainder of her still-attractive face as well as her substantial chest. 

Hadley attended a school for boys; Meredith, a school for girls. They then attended Universities in the East before moving back to attend the local U. for a number of specialty courses.

Hadley and Meredith were involved in a nursery business that developed and produced new types of seeds and plants which they sold by mail order all over the world as well as locally.

Hadley acquired many annoying habits’ over his fifty years and he carefully transmitted them to both Meredith and the cats.

At times, the entire population of the Williams household struck one as being a product of the same egg or cocoon. 

Hadley was given to obsessions. Although the range of his obsessions was commendable, they wore down—and out—everyone he insisted on obsessing with. Movies, books, TV programs, cats, home repairs, jazz, genealogy—and on and on; relentless; without mercy. 

His brother and sister would occasionally band together to insist that Hadley leave them alone. Hadley would be terribly hurt, as well as feeling superior.

However, Hadley Williams is a good man. He, his family, and his ancestors have been members of the same Episcopal Church for a century or more. Hadley is a warden as well as a volunteer gym instructor for the girls’ volleyball activities. 

He has a row every so often with Meredith, a staunch but non-church-going Roman Catholic, about donating ten percent of their income to the Episcopal Church for good works. 

Meredith always gives in, sulks, and never forgives.

Meredith was without friends; mainly because she had no time for them. 

Between Hadley and her cats, as well as her full participation in their business, Meredith possessed only a couple of hours at most each evening in which to read or study.

She did neither. 

Instead, she preferred to work alone on the third floor accompanied by any cats who felt the urge to climb to the top of the house, and then be ignored.

Nevertheless, a few of the feline persuasion did just that, but rarely more than once a week. 

Up there on the third floor, Meredith unfolded all her ideas for creating curtains. She then proceeded to invent the most unusual hanging curtains anywhere in the world or on the net. 

Her creations were backordered for almost three years. The relentless process of working long hours appeared to strengthen Meredith.

On those rare occasions when they either held or attended a social event, she would invariably make a sale or two. 

Dinners were prepared by both. This joint enterprise generally took hours while they moved around and about the kitchen island, their Wolf Range, and several lolling lumps of fur.

After the endless cooking but rapid consumption of dinner, Hadley repaired to the basement where he hit the alto sax.  He did a very good impression of Kenny G.

Unfortunately, he hated Kenny G as well as his music. 

Hadley was hoping to capture a sound like that of Johnny Hodges, Charlie Parker or Cannonball Adderley, with a hope that he was closer to Charlie Parker than to the other two.

 

“Well, Nicholas, as you can imagine, there was not a big social life bouncing around the Williams household, at least not a human one. However, the cats managed to meet new cats every day. Even in the winter they would daintily tip toe through the snow to a bare spot under a frozen tree and say hi to the cat from next door or to the new one from up the block.”

Over the years, the Williams cultivated any number of acquaintances but very few friends; and most of them were located somewhere in the Midwest or on the East Coast.

One year Hadley and Meredith decided to rent a lakeside cottage. They carefully checked Airbnb as well as VRBO and Homelidays for their most luxurious offerings. 

After many hours of talk, as well as even more hours scanning the net, they sent out their invitations to six couples who they had hosted at their mini-mansion over the past three decades. Both Hadley and Meredith considered them close friends. 

They also sent invitations to their other college friends and a few of their close acquaintances cultivated in their four years of prep school as well as during their post-grad years at the U., where they took supplemental specialty courses to help them in their nursery enterprise.

Dates for the get-together with their guests were set: Two weeks in July beginning on the sixteenth, when the lake was considered to be at its zenith of both beauty and stillness.

The friendly breezes off the water once night fell were balmy; breezes, which could warm the soul and help boost the mind to new levels of perception and understanding.

Hadley and Meredith considered their final pick of cottage accommodations to be the best on the lake.

Gull Lake is a large lake, more than five mile across and indented around its circumference with both large and small bays as well as inlets as narrow as four feet in width, ideal for those who would avail themselves of the five kayaks that the Williams rented to be delivered on the first day of their two-week sojourn.

Of course, a major impediment to all of this planning was what to do with a baker’s dozen of cats. 

Meredith was all for taking them to the commodious cottage; Hadley pleaded for a respite from the daily grind of feeding and watering the herd. 

Also included on the daily feline to-do list, skulked the absolute necessity of grooming three or four litter boxes.

This signal scutwork usually affected the breathable air supply in the basement to that of a detached astronaut. 

Missing two days, and it was mask and helmet time—and probably demanded a few new fifty-pound bags of litter.

Finally, the two Williams compromised. They put all the names of their expanding herd of grimalkins into Meredith’s Sorority Cap and drew out six names. These favored half-dozen would be wandering the floors and halls, rooms and porches of the immense white frame cottage mansion on the lake.

By the end of April, all plans were complete. 

They paid for the rent of the cottage from July 16th to July 30th . The mousers were chosen, and invitations were sent by mail as well as over the net.

For the latter mode of delivery, Hadley and Meredith chose the cutest of the invitation sites, a selection that severely disrupted the finances of the couple.

More than a few nights vanished from their lives; plugged with arguing over whose budget to slash in order to accommodate the outrageous costs of the internet invitations. 

Again, they reached a compromise.

Each grumbled endlessly about their respective ‘cuts’ and at one point there were recriminations concerning words or events from years and decades past.

A serious hiatus in conjugal relations occurred.

Nevertheless, once more love won out. The two decided that they would continue to cling to one another like the lost sheep that they were—and had always been, despite their cockeyed view of the kaleidoscope of their lives.

 

Weather reports for the two weeks were initially very favorable. The Farmers Almanac predicted fair weather with very little rain and temperatures in the high seventies during the sunlight hours and the middle sixties under the starry dome of night.

Supplies were ordered and delivery dates confirmed.

Their nursery business experienced a tremendous upward spike as a result of the sales of a couple of new seeds which they had started work on over twenty years before. 

New Zealanders bought the seeds by the pounds; then by the ton.

 

Because of their burgeoning business, Hadley and Meredith went way over their budget on the planned activities arranged for their guests.

Golfing dates and tee times were confirmed and paid for. Sailing boats were rented and their slip-rental receipts at the local marina were sent to Meredith and Hadley. 

Upon their receipt, Meredith filed them in a giant brown three-ring binder that she had carefully divided into sections, subsections, and single item sections.

The Big Brown Binder became the first item they viewed upon arriving home after work; even before they fed the yowling herd of pissed-off furballs, all of whom were in no mood to have their tucker delayed by these tall baboons who seemed to ignore their plaintive cries—which soon became screeches.

 

By the time the first of June arrived on the stoop of the Williamsresidence, both Hadley and Meredith fell into each others arms and kissed for a long time. 

The Big Brown Binder was complete

Every item in the Table of Contents page that followed the two pages of introduction, was checked, rechecked, and double-checked off.

By way of a celebration of this milestone, Hadley and Meredith quickly fed the herd and rushed off to the best Italian restaurant where they complained all the way through each course that they could have cooked the particular item much better on their Wolf Range—and kept it hotter longer.

As a result of their critique-laden repast, they once again swore to each other that they would never take a chance on someone else’s cooking. 

Their restaurant life would be comprised solely of those occasions when their acquaintances invited them to a restaurant for dinner or when their staff at the nursery insisted on taking them out to partake of some Thai, or Korean, or any number of other enticing gastronomic treats. 

However, even on those occasions they were disappointed with the cuisine and later, at home, they dissected all the flaws in the cooking as well as the service, the skimpy number of offerings, as well as the tacky design of the menus.

The last two weeks of May were days for personally calling the invitees as well as sending them a form ‘how are you doing?’ email with the address and the reminder of the dates of both the accommodations as well as the kayaks, the golf tee times, and the sailing boat rental availability dates and times.

Hadley had never liked to fish. Despite his brother’s obsession with the scaly swimming creatures of the deep, Hadley thought the whole fishing enterprise a total waste of time. 

He considered his brother crazy once he learned that Ralph spent hours sitting in a hut with a hole in the ice waiting for some poor passerby with gills to chomp on the hook or the fly or the bait. 

It was all too boring and confusing for Hadley. For this reason, he avoided his brother more than he normally would whenever some peculiar season began for hooking a certain genus of fish, sending thousands of anglers into the forests and streams in search of a goddamned fish.

Of course, Meredith joined Hadley in the complete rejection of anything fishy. 

Nevertheless, a few of the invitees were fisherpersons. 

As a result, Hadley, enduring buckets of upsetting bile, reluctantly arranged for the rental of the latest in rod and flies in addition to some fishing boats for those who would certainly disappear at dawn and not return until after a glorious sunset on the lake. 

These peculiar folk would arrive back from their hours of waiting just as the mosquitoes joined forces with the dread black fly to render the unprepared a bleeding-faced ghoul.

The bloody-faced ghouls would then loom out of the gathering gloom to scare the hell out of the normal folks. The latter were those who rejected the pursuit of the elusive fish in favor of golf, kayaking, sailing, or just sitting in the warmth of the summer sun with a not particularly demanding book; preferably a mystery; or a thriller set in Europe.

The Big Brown Binder Table of Contents was revised and updated, as was the introduction. Meredith mumbled some mild curses almost under her breath while she rearranged and renumbered all the pages.

 

On the second of June, a couple of invitees answered both the regular mail invitations as well as the cute but horribly expensive net ones.

Both couples wrote gushing words of thanks but they declined the very kind and generous invitations based on the fact that at least one in the couple was allergic to cat fur. 

The written invitations had not mentioned felines, however the cute net invite featured a number of cats swimming, some playing tennis, and a golfing mouser swinging a golf club while the other three in the feline foursome smoked cigars and drank from large mugs with ‘Cat Nip’ printed on them.

For a few moments after receiving these extremely polite rejections of the Williams’ hospitality, including free recreation equipment and three sumptuous squares hand-made and served up by the talented foodie couple, Hadley and Meredith dug deep for any reasons why the other was responsible for that stupid evite.

For the continuing mental health and harmony of both of them, they hugged and laughed and were only mildly disappointed. 

After some scotch and a homemade pizza, they each gave several reasons why they had never liked either couple and wondered why they had included them on the list of guests in the first place. 

That list still contained eighteen names.

Their mansion-by-the-lake offered eight bedrooms, four divans, six cots and three Queen-size Jennifer convertibles. Hadley and Meredith decided that the first-come first-served rule was the egalitarian way of handling the sleeping arrangements.

 

Over the following two weeks, six more couples sent polite replies declining the “outstanding  and generous offerings” of the Williams for an entire two weeks of free food and lodging, as well as the spectacular array of free scheduled daily entertainments and activities.

Several of the excuses for politely declining the Williams’ invitation were odd.

The list included allergies to bees, mosquitoes, black flies, and water,

The ailments of either the couple or their close relatives included hives, lumbago, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Illnesses consisted of a dying mother-in-law, a crazy aunt who had to be confined to the attic and watched 24/7, and mother and father injured by a tornado in Oklahoma.  

Hadley and Meredith consoled one another on a daily basis as the rejections flowed in. 

Here they came: through the letter box, along the phone wires, relayed by the cell towers, and over the net in emphasized emails.

All of the aforementioned modes of communication contained long rambling lists of reasons for passing on the two-week freebie at Gull Lake.

 

When the Fourth of July popped up on the Williams’ calendar, the disappointed couple felt the bitter taste of tears upon their tongues. 

Only eleven days remained before they would be packing up and setting off for their wonderful vacation with friends from all over.

However, now there were only two couples on the list.

 

Aubrey paused at this point and a shadow of sadness slipped across his usually cheerful face. 

When he began the last part of his chronicle of unforeseen fate, his tone was that of a brain surgeon who thinks he may lose a patient.

 

Hadley and Meredith spent long nights over eight of those eleven days discussing whether to continue with their plans on Gull Lake, now that only they and four others would be alone in the immense castle near the sand.

“I think we should go. We certainly can’t call these last four and tell them not to come. That would defeat the whole purpose; our purpose.” 

Meredith stopped while her severely fatigued brain lost her thought and forgot her—their purpose.

Hadley sighed and agreed with his bride—again. “Well Meddy, I don’t see a whole lot of enjoyment in walking through a vacant mansion; even in the daytime. Christ; the nights will be,” shaking his head full of ghostly and ghoulish images from some watery tale by H.P. Lovecraft, “long.”

Both final declinations arrived on the same day. It was the tenth of July, another sleepy, dusty, Delta dayayayay—in the Williams home. 

The excuses were remarkable. 

The first was from the brother of the male invitee who said with great candor that his brother was in the hospital dying of a heart attack, although he was only forty years old. 

His brother, Chet, had recently separated from his wife because he had found out that she was banging her psychiatrist. On the same day, a runaway bulldozer knocked over half his house.

He had begun to drink when he suffered the first signs of a heart attack. Shortly thereafter, Chet found himself naked under a gown in the cardiac ICU of the city’s main hospital. He was failing.

Hadley pondered this excuse for some time. A peculiar bell was ringing somewhere in his memory belfry. He was sure he had heard this exact excuse given for something or other. 

He decided to drink another scotch.

 

The final excuse from the last of the couples was sobering.

A neighbor called and emailed that the couple would not be attending the lakeside frolic over the last two weeks in July, mainly because there was no longer a couple.

The former couple had a spat that led to a scuffle that led to the departure of the wife. Apparently, husband Edmund had begun smoking in bed again. His wife, Charlotte warned him that he would die in a fire set by his own cigarette. 

Well, she was right. 

Two days after she went home to mother, Edmund died in a fire just as his wife had warned him he would.

Hadley was now positive that he had seen or heard this excuse somewhere—and not that long ago. 

He had another scotch. 

Meredith passed out after six Coronas. 

Hadley left her on the floor in the TV room where the cats congregated to fight over who would get the warmest spot of Meredith to curl up on.

Hadley had another scotch, looked at Meredith, and went to bed.

 

The next day was a Saturday. Hadley and Meredith fed the cats at six am and then slept until noon. Both claimed their hangover to be worse than the other’s.

Some form of wrangling went on over the next few days. 

Between the snide remarks, innuendos, and blatant cursing, the beleaguered couple decided to go to Gull Lake—alone, if necessary. They each had their own transportation; a Volvo and a Subaru.

By the evening of the fifteenth of July, a truce was declared, hugs and kisses all around and a final act of love to release the tensions each had accumulated over the past month or so.

Hadley and Meredith decided to take the Subaru, packed up all the items on the thirty pages of the Big Brown Binder and set off for the lake.

After passing through the private security post, they spied their new home and smiled for the first time since last night.

The six favored felines yowled and screeched over every mile of the hundred miles to their summer home. 

Hadley was wondering if they sounded that annoying at home; and would they bugger up any chance for peace and quiet at the cottage? Meredith simply gritted her teeth but refused to admit to her husband that bringing six yowling cats to a quiet retreat was very close to an oxymoron, with heavy stress on the ‘moron’.

 

Then they were there. For a few miutes, all their cares went underground to their sub subconscious.

The cats ran wild on both floors and in every room. Several of them had a good pee here and there to mark some feline territory. 

Hadley caught the first whiff of their territorial markings and wished they’d all just run into the lake and drown. 

It was a very long time before he rebuked himself for such a selfish and whatever thought.

Meredith just came right out and said it. 

“I think the cats were a mistake. I apologize, Haddy.”

“Not to worry, mate, Meddy.” He salted his speech with an Australian phrase or colloquialism whenever  he could manage. 

They were souvenirs of a week-end in Sydney several years ago, before marrying Meredith. His mother, father, brother and sister had heard all of them soooooooooooo many times that they pretended that their least favorite relative hadn’t said a word.

Meredith suggested that they sleep in a different room every night. That way they would feel as though they were getting their money back. 

Hadley agreed and once the idea of getting money back sunk in, he got on the phone and began to plead for refunds of all the money they had paid for tee times, boats, and fishing equipment that they would not be using.

The golf course had a crush of stand-by players and immediately offered a ten percent refund. Considering that Hadley and Meredith paid over a thousand dollars for all the tee times, as well as clubs and accessories they would not be needing, a hundred dollar refund infuriated Hadley and distressed Meredith.

Every day over the first week of their perfectly planned vacation in the sun and sand, Hadley drove around to all the vendors who had pocketed several thousand dollars for providing nothing. 

Each visit raised Hadley’s hackles—and his blood pressure. 

His drinking began at breakfast with vodka in his orange juice.

He did not tell Meredith. However, as with most wives of long marriages, she knew the very first morning that her husband was on the road to a couple of weeks of “Lost Weekend”s.

After hours of wrangling over several days, Hadley managed to get ten percent back from all but one, the supplier of the kayaks, who had a high demand for his watercraft and felt very generous. He offered fifteen percent.

Meredith was livid. Robbery; theft; chiseling; one percenters; bloodsuckers were among another dozen or two terms that she flung at the wall of the kitchen while they labored over the preparation of another dinner.

On the second day of their holiday, Meredith gave up. She wanted to go home. The cats were restless; she missed the other six—or seven.

Earlier in the day, she and Hadley were rowing one of their rented boats. Several of the cats insisted on joining them. 

Unfortunately, they all panicked once the shore was left behind and jumped into the water.

While the Williams were trying to catch and land each one of the frantic swimming wet furs, a couple in a passing Chris Craft believed the Williams were trying to drown the cats and immediately used their ship-to-shore phone as well as their cell phones to call the SPCA.

When all the mousers had been gathered into the boat, returned to shore, and dried off, the Williams were visited by three immense officials from the SPCA office, fifty miles away in Farnham.

Hours later, following calls to their neighbors and a lawyer, the SPCA officials grumped and sighed their way out, still believing they were leaving some ‘dead cats walking’.

 

After the fifth day alone with the now homesick and constantly yowling cats, Hadley and Meredith decided to go home. 

They walked hand in hand through all the empty bedrooms, porches, living rooms, game rooms, and the barbecue area. 

Soft breezes—as promised—touched their disappointed bodies. Two early stars emphasized their loneliness. 

 

They drew up on the side of their house and used the side door. 

Meredith slowly eased out of the passenger seat, as she turned the key to the house and let in the desperate cats.Hadley was coming around the back of the car when he heard the first shriek. 

He picked up his pace and arrived in the open doorway to see Joanna, the cat sitter, rolling naked on Meredith’s fur coat.

Stripper music was playing, boyfriend Jerry was up and at full salute as he eyed his target, and Joanna gyrated on the fur while she threw catnip balls at seven already stoned, staggering mousers.

Meredith was at the bottom of the third floor steps by now, taking the stairs two at a time while she continued to shriek in a piercing tone that almost broke through the music.

Jerry looked up as Hadley entered and immediately lowered the flag, motioned to Joanna, and began to nod his apologies to Hadley. Hadley returned the nodding while stealing a few peeps at Joanna’s charms. 

Suddenly, Joanna understood the situation, dropped the catnip balls, and rolled to a squatting position from which she stood up, gaping at Hadley while she covered herself in Meredith mink.

Joanna was their best cat sitter by far and so Hadley mumbled some words of apology and shrank up the stairs.

Almost immediately, the stripper music was turned off and an uneasy calm shuddered over the Williams household. 

Meredith continued to shriek now and then until four am. She slept on the floor of her curtain-creations work area. 

All the cats were busy getting reacquainted or sobering up and left her alone.

Hadley followed their example.

 

The next day, after Hadley got up, Meredith crept down from the third floor and stayed in their bed until noon.

Hadley came home early form the nursery.

When Meredith could bear the sight of him she gasped.

He was a sickly pinkish-white color and his teeth were chattering. 

Meredith grabbed a phone and asked their doctor neighbor to come over right away. 

She did, and gave Hadley pills to swallow as well as an injection of a sedative. 

He soon drifted off without telling Meredith the reason for his condition. 

She assumed that he caught something at the lake and was now being felled by some weird stomach fluke or worm.

However, the truth was crushing.

On Yelp New Zealand, a mentally disturbed customer of a local nursery who had bought some of the Williams’ seeds, claimed that they had killed her chickens and parrots, and put her three children in the ICU of the local hospital for six weeks. 

All her claims eventually proved false and she spent a year of weekends picking up litter off the highways for making false accusations as well as false police reports.

 

Regrettably, readers of the complaining Yelper were taken as gospel. The pounds, kilos and tonnes of the Williams’ ‘SuperSeeds’ were confiscated and burned. 

There were lawsuits, as well s demands for refunds. 

The Williams' nursery was put in Chapter 11. The grand Williams house was seized, their bank accounts frozen, and the local SPCA  gathered up all their cats.

 

Hadley and Meredith now live in the renovated basement of his parents' house in the best neighborhood in the city.

They can be seen any day, walking hand in hand around the nearest park. 

They do not talk or sing. 

Their lament is an inner dirge that they hope will heal the scars on their souls. 


© Copyright 2017 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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