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    Carlos Hazday
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Over The Rainbow - Georgetown Book II - 8. Over The Rainbow • Part VIII

Alarm bells rang in CJ’s head. He felt his stomach churn. “What’s wrong with Ozzie? What do you mean you forced him to take a sleeping pill?”

“He’s fine, he’s fine. But”Brett hesitated for a moment“shit, there’s no way to make this easy. He got a call from his family yesterday. His sister’s cancer came back worse than before. She’s in the hospital right now and it doesn’t look good.”

“FUCK! No! That can’t happen. She was fine when we saw her over Christmas. Damn it… Okay, I’m flying back home today. Tell Ozzie I’ll be in DC as soon as I can.”

“That won’t do much good, CJ. We got him booked on a flight to Sydney later today.”

“Fine, then that’s where I’m going. I need to hang up so I can check flights. Shit. I have to call Levi and Ezra and tell them I’m bailing on them.”

“Wait, don’t hang up. Your dad called it. He said you’d want to go to Australia so he already did the work. You have reservations on an El Al flight to Hong Kong leaving Ben Gurion International Airport tonight. You’re on Cathay Pacific to Sydney after. You and Ozzie should arrive within thirty minutes of each other.”

The remainder of the day CJ spent in a fog. He swapped the shorts he donned after showering for jeans, traded the tank top for a polo shirt, and fished his hoodie out of the bottom of the backpack. It was the middle of winter in the Southern Hemisphere but this was as warm as he could dress. He figured he could borrow or buy anything he might need.

Ezra and Levi were understanding and commiserated with him. They spent the day going through the motions. CJ returned to the suk for a bit to pick up trinkets as presents and made it a point of buying a beautiful silk scarf for Liz. If she went through chemo again and lost her hair, it would come in handy.

The visit to Yad Vashem the previous day left him in a somber mood and news from home did nothing to lift his spirits. By the time they reached the airporthours before his departure because CJ did not feel like risking an overbooked flight and getting bumpedthe bandana in his back pocket was soaked with tears and snot. He lost track of how many times he wiped his eyes and blew his nose. When he hugged his friends goodbye, he was a slobbering mess. He could deal with illness and he could deal with death; both were facts of life. But knowing how much this would hurt Owen was killing him.

CJ left Tel Aviv late in the evening and arrived in Hong Kong the afternoon of the next day; he had a five-hour wait for his connecting flight. When he texted Owen, there was no response and CJ assumed his plane did not have Wi-Fi or his phone was turned off. He did reply to messages from Ritchie and Patrick, both of whom sent missives expressing their love and asking him to convey the same to Liz.

Stuck at the airport with time to waste, he browsed through the duty-free shops, stopping at one selling jade jewelry. An item in their window caught his eye. He did not bother looking at the price when he purchased the gold brooch with the jade bunch of grapes surrounded by gold leaves. The low cost came as a surprise. He thought it would go well with the silk scarf and an appropriate token for the wine-country girl he thought of as his sister.

“Welcome to Australia, Mr. Abelló. What is the purpose of your visit, business or pleasure?”

He stared as the woman paged through his passport until she found an empty page; her words woke him up from his daydream. “I’m sorry. I spaced out for a moment. Business or pleasure? Neither, unfortunately. I’m here to visit an ill relative.”

“So sorry to hear that. I hope they recover.”

“Thank you.” He strapped his backpack on, shouldered the leather duffle bag, and strode out of the customs and immigration area. She did not even bother to ask him if he had anything to declare. Since Owen’s Qantas flight from Dallas would be arriving at the same terminal, CJ looked around for either his boyfriend or his brother-in-law. He smiled when he realized he had thought of Spencer as his relative too. Not seeing either, he made his way towards a row of benches, dropped his luggage to the floor, and was about to sit when he saw Spencer Liston walking towards him.

The muscular young man walking his way still had the family’s good looks but seemed a little lost. His face was drawn and there were dark circles under his eyes. “Mate, thank you so much for coming.”

CJ was unable to answer. The men wrapped their arms around each other and CJ lost it. He started snuffling. They rocked for a few moments until CJ pulled away and reached into his back pocket for the bandana. “I’m so, so, sorry, Spence. How bad is it? I haven’t been able to talk to Ozzie. All I know is what my dad told me when he called.”

“Not good, CJ. She kept it from all of us this time. And she refuses treatment. Cancer spread and attacked several organs. In the end, the pain got so bad she had to tell us. She was in hospital for a couple of days but she’s back at the house now. She says she wants to die at home.”

“Shit, shit, shit. This is so fucking unfair. I haven’t talked to Liz in a while. Last time we skyped was after Ozzie and I got engaged. She was so excited. She made me promise she’d have a part in the ceremony.”

Spencer chuckled and took a seat, motioning for CJ to do the same. They both kept their eyes fixed on the Customs and Immigration exit. “Yeah, that’s just like Liz. Something good was happening and she had to be in on it. She told us there was no way she wasn’t going to be included. If your brother and I were to be the best men, she demanded to be something too.”

Owen looked lost when he walked through the security barrier; CJ shot out of his chair and ran towards his boyfriend when he saw him. He slammed into the man with such force they almost tumbled to the ground. Owen did drop his luggage and embraced CJ.

The three men huddled in the middle of the terminal not paying attention to anyone or anything around them. There was a comforting feel to hugging the two Australians and CJ did not want to let go. It was Owen who extricated himself from the clutches of the other two and used the back of his hand to wipe his nose. “Let’s head out, okay? I want to get home and see Liz.”

The two-hour drive from Sydney seemed to go by in the blink of an eye. CJ was so used to it he paid little attention to the landscape rushing past them. Spencer spoke about new duties he had been assigned at the family business and Owen talked about the bar exam experience while CJ answered questions about Israel. They danced around Liz and her condition until they were on the outskirts of Pokolbin and Spencer stopped the car outside a grocery store. “Owen, I’m going to run in for a minute. There’s an eski in the boot, could you get it out?”

“What are you getting, mate?”

“A box of Bubble O’Bills. Liz’s been having cravings for them.”

“What are those?” CJ stepped out of the car to stretch his legs while waiting for Spencer to return.

“Ice cream on a stick. They’re shaped and colored to look like the face of a cowboy. And they have a bubblegum nose. I don’t think they’re available in the states. At least I’ve never seen them.”

Liz was asleep when they arrived. CJ and Owen were told her use of pain medication was increasing and she spent most of the day dozing on and off. Spencer left them to get settled and headed towards his office to deal with pending work items. When Liz awoke, they talked to her for a short period while she ate one of the ice cream bars. But she was tired and promised the next day they would sit for a real conversation in the morning.

It was long, complicated, and heartbreaking. CJ kept his composure but Owen could not stop sobbing. The girl had planned ahead, she had notes and sealed envelopes for them which she asked they not open until she was gone. She dismissed their protestations she would recover. “It’s not going to happen. This is the end for me and I’m fine with it. Well, as fine as I can be. I’m just sorry I’ll miss your wedding. You guys are the best and I’m so happy you’re together. Please don’t forget me.”

Liz did not wake up the next day.

Mournful skies presaged a putrid day. CJ stared at the graphite clouds lost in thought. Tears flowed without restrain as he thought of Liz. She would be put to rest later this morning. Their final conversation played in an endless loop in his head. He and Owen stared at each other, surprised and uncertain what to do after reading her final request. They did not share it with anybody else. They agreed they needed to think about it with clear heads since any decision would have an immense effect on both their families.

The weather took a turn for the worse the day she died. The cool winter days became downright chilly and the constant drizzle kept everyone pretty much inside. CJ and Owen ventured out often, walking in silence through the vineyards the Liston children had run through for generations. When they did talk, the disjointed conversations left them exhausted.

They did agree the young woman’s request she be cremated was logical. Neither could understand the fascination of visiting rotting flesh, bones, or ashes at a cemetery. Both shed plenty of tears. It was so unfair she was gone. Young and full of joy, Liz should have been around for their wedding and lived long enough to spoil her nieces and nephews when they came around.

“Let’s head back inside, CJ. We need to shower and get dressed.”

Her ashes were stored in a brass urn Owen carried into the church; they would be spread over the ground in those vineyards she grew up playing in. CJ and Owen sat holding hands in the front pew with the immediate family. Liz had planned the service with her mother, who stoically carried out her daughter’s final wishes. There were no long adulations from those who spoke. Liz had requested her brothers say a few words recalling their childhood but asked they treat the event as a celebration of life and the future.

She even selected the song to play at the end of the service. As the haunting ukulele strains of “Somewhere over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole played over the sound system, Spencer was entrusted with carrying the metal vessel out of the sanctuary. Amidst the sadness, CJ found himself smiling when he held the door open for mourners to exit. The rain had stopped, and when he looked up at the sky, puffy white clouds on a bluing background had replaced the darkness. He imagined one looked like a man with a top hat. Another one resembled a skinny dragon in flight. However, what astounded him was the rainbow he could see when looking towards the horizon.

The End

Thank you, Mann Ramblings, Kitt, and Reader 1810 for your hard work.

This story would not be possible without your assistance.

 

CJ, Owen, and the rest of the cast will return in "Georgetown: As Time Goes By"

C A Hazday
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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1 hour ago, flamingo136 said:

I feel ALL of it.....your words have yet again connected me to this wonderful group of people.....My sincerest thanks, Carlos..........Mike

 

Thanks, Mike. It's been a long journey since I started writing four years ago. Putting words to paper (screen) has been satisfying but reactions from readers like you who've been with me from the start even more so. I think most of us have become attached to the characters.

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1 hour ago, JayT said:

I didn't want to wake up and cry this morning...but oh well.....thanks Carlos....great job bub...looking forward to more

 

There's a chapter or two in the works. Don't be surprised if your editor gets a little slower returning things to you. I'm about ready to start cracking the whip. :P

 

Join the crying group. I've read the chapter a gazillion times and each time end up with moist eyes.

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1 hour ago, tesao said:

Heartbreaking and deeply moving.

 

Lindo, Carlitos.  Você me fez chorar.

❤️

Desculpe pelas lágrimas. (Hope I got that right, my Portuguese's kinda rusty.) 

I struggle with highly emotional scenes so I'm happy to hear this chapter moved you. 

Obrigado
Edited by Carlos Hazday
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52 minutes ago, avidreadr said:

A very strong chapter.   While it ended on a sad note, the last paragraph kept it from being a total cryfest.   Liz was a great character and will be sorely missed.   I am strongly curious about her last request and look forward to the next story.  

 

Thanks, AR!

 

I'm glad you found a little solace in the last paragraph. It's what I was trying to accomplish. I disliked ending Liz before the wedding but I thought it was the right time to do so. Endings are sometimes beginnings...

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On 3/23/2018 at 7:31 AM, Defiance19 said:

You made me feel like I lost Liz too. That was heartbreaking enough, then you added the skinny dragon in flight cloud.. :,(

It was an excellently written chapter, Carlos. Looking forward to the next book and finding out about Liz’s request.. 

 

 

Thanks, Def!

My usual approach would have been to dispose of the body (I know, tasteless joke. I can't help it.) in a short scene, maybe a couple of paragraphs, but I felt that would be cheating Liz. She didn't play a huge role in the story but she was a character everyone liked. Kind of the same way everyone liked SD.

The writing owes a lot to the support team as usual. It's a better story because of them and people like you who've helped when I've asked questions.

Edited by Carlos Hazday
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