Idea by Tom Austin Written by Tom Austin
After everyone was seated at the table Tyler said “I know there are probably a thousand questions but this is a meal of Thanksgiving. We’ve finally found our daughter, and we’re meeting the man who helped her become so very happy. Let’s leave the questions till after dinner shall we. And now I’d like to propose a toast”. He raised a glass of wine.
“To newly found friends and family. After so long we’re back together”.
Tyler dabbed any remaining gravy from the corners of his mouth with his napkin. He was about to compliment his wife on a delicious meal. But Brad beat him to it.
“Mrs. Shine, it’s been some time since I had a meal like that. It truly was terrific. On behalf of your Milly, your husband, and myself we thank you”.
Tilly blushed a bit at the unexpected praise.
“Why thank you, Bradley. Tyler hasn’t said anything like that in some time. But please call me Tilly and I won’t call you Bradley. Tyler told me quietly of your dislike for the name Bradley, and to a certain degree, I don’t blame you. I had a cousin named Bradley who was a perfect little horror”.
“You have a deal, Tilly. Now that we’ve finished dinner there is a question that I’d really appreciate an answer to.”
Milly turned to Brad and held his hand. She talked in hushed tones.
“Brad, please don’t ask. I don’t care what the answer is. They’re here and that’s all that counts”
“You used to be a doctor. Aren’t you the least bit curious?”.
“I’m pleading with you. I don’t want to know. Please don’t do this.” She squeezed his hand to show her desire not to know.
Tyler cleared his throat and spoke up. “I suspect you’re curious as to why we’re not dead. The answer is we don’t know why. All I remember is that Tilly” he touched her hand and continued. “Tilly and I were headed down a hill in a car when our brakes gave. We were about to go over a cliff. There is no way this accident should have been survivable, yet here we are”.
Brad interrupted. “But that doesn’t explain why -”
Milly looked very uncomfortable like she knew what was about to happen.
Tyler pointed his index finger straight at Brad.
“Look, I’ve been a teacher longer than you’ve been alive. You asked a question. Kindly allow me to continue giving you the full answer without interruption”.
“I apologize, sir. Please continue”.
“Much better. Now as I was saying here we are. All I remember is that Messenger suddenly appeared in the windshield. Then whoosh…we’re here. Apparently in the few seconds after the car left the cliff time slowed down and we had a very lengthy conversation with him. He asked us if we wanted to continue living. Then he asked if we wanted to live here. We both wanted to live, and by our estimate, we didn’t have any choice but to say yes to us living in The Second Realm. His first question was really a very stupid one. Our car was about to become the size of a tuna fish can, and he asks us if we want to live. He’s really a nice fellow once you get to know him. Still, a damn strange question if you ask me”.
“Milly and I had a similarly awkward first encounter with him. I was about to lose my apart-”
Tyler held up his hand and motioned to Brad to stop.
Milly had moved her chair closer to her mother. The two were talking very quietly. Girl talk had begun. The kind of girl talk only a mother and daughter could have. And to Tyler that meant just one thing: Retreat.
“Brad, it would seem our respective ladies are having a little pow-wow. Why don’t we don’t we go for a walk and stretch our legs. Shoot the breeze, or whatever they call it now”.
“That sounds like a good idea. I think I’ll join you”
Tyler excused himself from the table, leaned over to his living room chair and grabbed a pouch of pipe tobacco. Brad was surprised to see a doctor who still smoked.
“It’s my only vise if you don’t count the Scotch”. Brad smiled.
“Don’t worry Dr. Shine. You’re forgiven. I used to have an uncle who smoked a pipe. The aroma from the pipe is quite pleasing”.
The two men exited the house without Tilly or Milly batting an eye.
They walked in silence toward a dirt road and picket fence. Tyler banged the bowl of the pipe on a fence post to knock the old, cold tobacco out. He then filled the bowl with fresh tobacco and lit it.
“That feels better. Now let’s down to brass tacks. You can stop blowing smoke up my ass. Start by being honest. So cut the bull”.
“I am being honest”.
“Look Brad. Being super polite goes only so far. The name is Tyler. I suggest you start using it. Now what’s going on between you and my daughter?
“Dr. – I mean Tyler. I first met Milly when her group was rotated to my department. There was something special about her. We had a patient we couldn’t do anything on but most basic tests. For some reason, I still don’t understand, Milly volunteered to watch the patient over an entire weekend. She even brought a DVD player to the hospital to watch a really old film. Sometimes -”
“Watch it, Brad. What’s “really old” to you isn’t “old” to me at all. Get my drift?”.
“Something in this film caused this person to react orally and physically. He started bowing at the TV set”.
As the sun set Tyler pulled out some glasses and plunked them on his nose. Brad noticed this.
“I’ve got crappy night vision. Can barely see anything at night. Go on”.
“Well, this fellow literally vanished, and Milly too”.
“Vanished? Don’t you mean you just couldn’t find him?”
“Nope. Vanished as into thin air. Milly initially rented an apartment near the hospital, but she disappeared. No one could find her. The police stopped looking after a few months. There was no trace of her”.
“Cops. Never cared for them. Couldn’t find their ass with a map. But you did find her. What’s so different about you?”
“Maybe it’s because I cared about her. I gave a damn. I found her living in a seedy part of the city. After I got evicted -”
“What for,” he said gruffly biting the stem of his pipe.
“My apartment was being converted into a condo”.
“Those damn things still around?”
“Look, the city you knew is now three times as big. The selection was really bad and Milly offered to let me stay for a while at her place”.
Tyler grunted. “So she made the first move. Good”
“Look Tyler. I’ve answered all your damn questions, so let’s stop the hostility festival. All I want from you is your permission to marry Milly”
“And if I said no. What would you do?
“Well I’d go back to living with her, but things wouldn’t be the same. I wouldn’t tell her you were the one who screwed her chance at happiness if that’s what you’re worried about. But like I said things wouldn’t be the same. And eventually, I’d move out. There’s no way on Gods green earth I would stay there forever if you said no”.
Brad wanted Tyler’s approval really badly.
“So let me see if I’ve got this right. You’d actually sacrifice your own happiness so she could be happy?”.
“Yes, sir. I love her that much. And I’m sorry if asking permission is old or quaint. That’s just the way I was brought up, and that’s the kind of man I am”.
The two had been walking side by side. Suddenly Tyler put his hand on Brad’s chest and walked in front of Brad. The two were face to face, and there was a tear in his eye. Tyler placed a hand on his shoulder.
“Brad, you’re one special fellow. Sorry for the Attila The Hun imitation. I needed to know what kind of man my daughter had fallen in love with. It’s one of the things a father has to do”.
“So this was that good cop-bad cop stuff?”.
“Tyler, did anybody ever say you should have been a cop?
“Not till you suggested it. But you do have my permission“.
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