They say having perspective in life is everything. It colors the way we look at the past, how we experience the present, and what we do in the future. One person's take on an everyday event can be turned on its ear depending on who's watching it happen. But only if they are willing to see someone else's point of view. Because everyone thinks only they know what life's all about, and that's pretty far from the truth. Even when through some weird act of fate you're used to getting tomorrow's news a day early for most of your life, you really don't know it all.
Because you really can't.
* * *
A chilly, grey day colored the view outside the commons room, typical Illinois in November. Leaning against the window frame, Gary knew the wind outside was a given, even though the trees and hedges on the facility's rolling grounds barely swayed, instead making little swishing motions as if being slowly rocked from close to the ground. Weak morning light filtered through the clouds enough to make the impersonal halogens in the hallway less noticeable; and starting a day without a headache rated well in Gary's book. Curtain rings scratched their ritual openings down the rest of the perimeter of the room as Dorey opened the stale air to the outside world for one more day.
"All alone this morning, Mr. Hobson."
The aide's voice carried sing-song away from him as he watched her pace herself through daily duties, the pink and blue teddy bears on her scrubs dancing around with every motion. A light finger dusted here, adjusted the lampshade there, caught a waylaid magazine and placed it just so on the table next to the uninspiringly tan corner seating group.
Gary grunted in response, shifting his cane.
"Both your girlfriends left you high and dry, hm? Or are we doing post-breakfast rounds today?"
The lack of Paula Vernon this morning was no loss to Gary. Ever since he'd been deposited here for post-stroke recuperation, the woman had latched onto him as if he was the last eligible bachelor on earth and she meant to have him. Joy. Good boy scout that he was, and had always been, he always patiently listened to her chatter away about her life before Manor Care Assisted Living, seventeen-and-a-half months ago at last count, and her daughter and grandchildren and her successful career in Elizabeth Arden before she retired and how her family assured her they were coming to visit, only they were busy or sick or on vacation in the Bahamas and it was so far for them to travel but next month, for certain.
He tired even thinking about her daily stream of chit-chat, choosing instead to focus on the fat squirrel dangling by one foot -- now three toes, even -- in an acrobatic attempt to reach the suet on the birdfeeder. Dorey's whisper behind him caught him flat surprised.
"I think she's got a crush on you, to be honest." A slight pat on Gary's arm brought a half-smile to his face, and he craned his head over his shoulder, an action that took more coordination than he liked.
"Who, the cat?"
Dorey chuckled. "Hm. Handsome man like you should be used to the ladies falling out around you, you know." she flipped through her clipboard, pen busy checking off her to-do list. "A few years younger and I'd be waiting in line."
"Yeah well, those days are long gone." Gary suppressed a smile and knocked the tip of his cane against the baseboard. "I'm not hard to catch anymore, so have at it."
"I think Mrs. Vernon has figured that out."
He tried not to roll his eyes, without success. Thank god only the squirrel could witness it, and he could have sworn it glared for a moment.
A half-sigh cleared his throat. "She's a nice lady. A bit my senior, so I think I'll pass."
Dorey laughed as she moved on, checking the thermostat with an eagle eye. "You let me know how that turns out for you, Mr. Hobson."
"I'll do that." Gary bounced a little in response, tilting a little too much to one side and catching himself with the cane again.
He really just wanted to see the birds, watch the trees, think about where Marissa would take him in a few days, anything that would make things seem a little more normal. Even just a walk across the drab fall lawn with two feet working easily, not having to think about every second step and how his body wasn't working quite the way it used to. Better, now, but still not like before. A few more months, they said, and he'd go home. He'd be fine on his own, the therapy would bring his life back. Except it wouldn't really be back. It would be different.
Instead, he found himself staring at the cane's rubber tip, which wasn't all that inspiring. He began wondering when he'd become so maudlin when a shrill voice sounded from down the hall.
Oh, nice. He could see her waving in his mind's eye as she always did. Always. Always.
"Gary dear! Oh Gary!" The words picked at him even from fifty feet away. "No, no," he heard her instruct the aide pushing her along. "Over there, I need to say hello to Gaaaryyy...!" Cornered in the commons room, there was nothing else he could do but politely pretend to study the glass in front of him as if he hadn't heard. Which was pretty much impossible for anyone in the place.
"Who's the broad?"
Gary jumped more than a little at the unexpected voice beside him, breaking his ruse enough to force a glance in the direction of his admirer, but instead at the familiar figure between them. "That's Paula, a desperate woman, and I've told you before, Chuck, I wish you wouldn't do that," he whispered, averting his eyes. "They're gonna think I'm having a relapse."
"What, talking to yourself is a sign of a stroke?" Chuck leaned back, leaving Gary in her direct line of sight. He smiled and nodded, continuing under his breath.
"No, it's a sign of senility. I wanna get out of here eventually and every time you just pop in it makes things just that more difficult."
Digging into a bag, Chuck popped something in his mouth. "I thought you liked getting visitors."
Gary stepped to the side and rubbed his neck, temporarily avoiding the woman still calling his name. "Marissa is a visitor on Tuesdays. You are an apparition."
Chuck paused, frowning. "Great way to talk about your best friend."
"You've been dead twenty years, truth hurts." Gary fidgeted before riveting his gaze on Chuck's hand. "You're eating? You can do that?"
A shrug from his friend distracted him before Paula's voice was suddenly on almost on top of him.
"Gary!" The woman's bejeweled hand came down hard on her wheelchair's brake, her aide sliding to a stop behind her with a loud protest that she'd be late. "Oh bother, I need to see my young man. Gary, dear, will you be at lunch?"
Chuck's smirk was unavoidable but ignorable.
"Uh, yeah, sure. I never miss it." It wasn't a lie, at least.
"Oh, I know, I just wanted to make sure we didn't miss each other... I can't meet you for breakfast this morning, some doctor wanted a test, at this hour, can you imagine?"
She kept her grip clamped on the brake even as the aide turned her around the corner. "Yes, it's awful. Routine, you know, it's important to me, keeps me going!"
"I've heard, yes."
"Sounds like you get her going," Chuck interjected. Gary stared him down as the aide physically moved her hand. She huffed.
"Well, I'm not getting a moment's peace this morning, so I'd better toddle along."
"I know what you mean," Gary muttered, then waved a little with a forced smile.
She craned her neck without moving a hair on her carefully coiffed head, keeping an eye on him as she was whisked down the hallway. "Don't forget about lunch!"
"Yes, don't forget about your date, Gar," said Chuck.
"You know," Gary said, glancing around at the finally empty room. "You're just as annoying now as you were when you were alive." He hobbled around Chuck, gaining a little speed as he headed toward his room.
"Hey, you're walking better," Chuck said as he followed.
Gary stayed quiet for a moment. "Sometimes. Therapist says I'm improving, but I don't see it." He sidestepped a food cart and its dietary tech sitting to one side of the hall.
"Well I do, you're kicking up a little dust even."
Gary turned, the action throwing him off balance for a moment.
"Maybe trying to escape has something to do with it."
Chuck's grin returned. "You should have lots of practice with that. She's persistent, isn't she?"
"Look, I don't wanna talk about it. Her. I just wanted a little peace before breakfast, is that too much to ask?" The rattling of dishes sounded behind them, making that prospect less and less likely.
"Coming through!" The tech breezed by them, more intent on her rounds than on anyone in her way. Gary barely shuffled over in time, adding another quick step forward at the swish of paper as the cart rolled past his door.
"Ooo! You're still getting it?" Chuck's voice had very obviously brightened at the sight of the scattering newsprint.
Poking at the pieces with his cane, Gary shook his head. "Not mine."
Chuck looked at the plaque beside the door.
"This is your room."
"Yeah. But not my paper."
"But it's in front of your room."
Gary glared. "Not. My. Paper. It just... ends up there."
"I suppose that's not your cat, either," Chuck said, peering in the open door.
"As a matter of fact, no, it's not." He pushed the open sections together, bending down slowly and with great effort to keep his balance. "It's Manor Care's cat."
Chuck paused before snacking again. "In... your room."
Gary looked up. "Yes. In my room." The orange-and-white tabby sauntered toward them, watching as Gary gathered the paper in an unorganized pile.
"I dunno, Gar. Cat, paper, morning. Just like old times."
Gary leaned his shoulder into the wall for support as he stood again, his stomach tightening along with his lips. Old times. He pulled his shoulders back.
"There aren't any more 'old times,' Chuck, don't you get it? They're gone, in the past, just like you." He whipped the papers in Chuck's direction, thoroughly unsatisfied when they hit the wall behind him instead of his chest. Turning slower than he would have liked, he walked into his room, the cat fleeing past him through the door with a growl.
"Ya know, you're getting grumpy in your old age, Gar."
Gary sniffed, moving around the room with no particular aim, more to just be moving at all. "Yeah, well, that's what happens when you live a while." He absently sorted through mail on the table. "You do all the great things early in life, then you get to sit around and remember how things used to be, how you used to be able to, you know, run, or, or even just walk, or sit or do jumping jacks or whatever you wanted. Not to mention things like saving a life, or changing a verdict, or stopping a crime, or... stuff. Just... stuff."
Chuck leaned against the table, eyebrows raised. "Ah."
"What? What 'ah'?"
"That's what you're venting about."
"What? I'm not venting, I'm...." Gary let out a deep breath, letting the moment wash over him. "I used to be able to...nevermind."
"... make a difference?"
Gary looked up sharply, eyeing Chuck. "Yeah. A difference. You know, wake up in the morning with a sense of meaning, purpose. Look at the paper, fix something, get satisfaction. Now it's all just... making a doctor happy that you moved your toes right on command..." Gary's eyes narrowed. "And what could you possibly be eating in the... wherever you stay when you aren't hanging around me?"
"Where? Vegas?" Chuck studied the bag in his hand as if he'd never seen it before.
"The afterlife is in Vegas?"
"That's where I go. I think. Lots of showgirls, at least, it's great. I dunno, maybe these are... peanuts."
"'Maybe' they're peanuts? You don't know?"
Shrugging, Chuck ate another one. "Or pretzels. I never really thought about--"
A knock at the door interrupted them both. "Mr. Hobson?" Dorey's face appeared. "You okay?"
Gary smiled. "Fine. I'm good."
"The nurse said you dropped these." She held out the papers. Great.
"Oh. I did, yeah," he replied, stepping close enough to take the disorderly pile from her. "Sorry."
"It's okay. You seemed to be.... " Dorey looked past Gary's shoulder, scanning the room. If he didn't know better, he'd have sworn she knew someone was there. "Preoccupied."
Sighing, Gary nodded. "I've got a lot on my mind. I'll keep it down."
She studied him carefully. "You let me know if you need anything, okay?"
"I promise." He turned, papers precariously clutched with one arm as she watched. "I got it, thanks." He gently sloughed them onto the table and waited for her to leave before looking pointedly at Chuck. "See?" he whispered.
"This one was kind of... fruity," Chuck replied, deep in his own thoughts.
"...What?" Gary blinked, sorting the paper into a neater pile. Frowning, he fingered the pages apart.
"My snacks, it was lemon. Or maybe grape, I can't tell--"
"No, I mean... what...?" He yanked out a section, letting his cane lean on the table's edge as he fumbled with the papers. "That's... wow, that looks like...."
"Isn't that your girlfriend?" Chuck was over Gary's shoulder now, pointing.
"She's not... my.... " Gary trailed off. It wasn't so much that the small black-and-white picture bore a striking resemblance to Mrs. Paula Vernon, or that the caption actually listed her last name. No, that wasn't what captured Gary's attention.
"Naw, can't be," Chuck continued. "That's the obits."
"Yeah. It's.... " Gary blinked his eyes hard. "It's the fourteenth."
"The date, today's Friday the fourteenth. Not Sat--" He flipped the paper over, searching for the front page, his words coming quicker. "Not Saturday, November fifteenth...."
There it was, under the familiar Chicago Sun-Times header: Saturday, November 15th.
For the first time since Gary could remember, Chuck was gawking.
"Are you sure? You got a calendar??"
"I'm sure... Marissa was here on Tuesday, three days ago." He shuffled through the pages again. "Wednesday was bingo, last night was the book club, today's Friday." He stopped, meeting Chuck's stare before continuing his search. "Hey, I told you my life left a lot to be desired."
"Yeah, but I had no idea."
"Thanks for your sympathy...." He became more frantic. "Wait. It's not here. She's not... Chuck, you saw it, right? You saw the obit?"
"Yes I did. Of course, I'm a ghost from Las Vegas, so what do I know?"
Gary held the paper open, shaking it as if the picture would magically reappear. "This is the page. It was right--" He froze. "The date is wrong. It's wrong. It's not Friday."
"You said it was Friday."
"Today is Friday, and the paper was... it was Saturday, you saw it, I saw it... now it's today!" Gary jumped a little as he felt something press against his leg, grabbing the table for balance before looking down. As if he didn't already know.
The cat purred loudly, yellow eyes meeting Gary's.
"What did you do?" he demanded. "What's going on, that was Paula!"
"Don't meow me, you haven't given me the paper in months and now this?"
"Gar." Chuck cleared his throat. "I thought you said it wasn't 'your' cat."
"It's--" He shook his head. "Does it matter? For a few seconds this was tomorrow's paper again, Chuck. And I saw it. And I can...." Gary's eyes widened as his arms dropped slightly. "I can do something about it."
Cane in one hand, paper in the other, it was all Gary could do to not bolt to the door. Behind him, Chuck was sputtering.
"Do? Do what, you don't even know what happened, or would-- will-- could-- oh here we go again!"
"I don't have to know... Dorey?" he yelled, spotting her. "Dorey!"
The brown-haired woman looked up from the nurses station, excusing herself with a quiet word. "Mr. Hobson...?"
"Where's Paula? Er, Mrs. Vernon?"
It struck Gary that he'd never quite seen that particular look on Dorey's face before -- she clearly thought he was someone impersonating himself at the very least.
"She's... in radiology, I believe... "
"Can you check on her? I mean, she's not, she's not sick right now, right?" He was babbling, he knew it, and he couldn't stop himself. "It's not serious, right?"
Now he was sure she suspected he'd slid into dementia. But her outer manner remained as calm as always as she took his arm, steering him back toward his room.
"Now Mr. Hobson, I'm sure Mrs. Vernon will be back very soon. You'll see her at lunch, at least. Are you sure you're all right?"
"Gary, she's got that early Crumb face, get a grip, pal," Chuck warned behind him.
"But I-- " He looked at the paper quivering in his hand. Friday's paper. November 14th. There wasn't anything he could say that would make Dorey believe he hadn't lost his mind. Or, there was always the distinct possibility that maybe he had. Maybe it had happened years ago.
He deflated, holding back a torrent of questions that would take him nowhere. He wasn't young anymore, heck, he wasn't even well. And Chuck, even being more than likely a figment of Gary's imagination, Chuck was probably right. He wasn't standing that far from people who sounded just as insane as someone who had seen tomorrow's paper a day early.
Friday. Today. Not tomorrow.
"I'm... okay. Sorry, I just worried for a moment," he covered. "It was unexpected and... and I'm tired. I think I'll probably rest a little before therapy."
"That sounds like a pretty good idea," she said in a very nursey voice. He expected her to check his meds later on.
"Yeah. I'll just... sit for a bit."
"You do that."
She wasn't letting go. "In my room."
Gary finally stepped back through the door and her grip loosened.
"Thanks, Dorey." She released him slowly, as if he'd fall over when she let go. When he remained standing she seemed satisfied at last.
"-- if I need you, yeah. I will."
With a fixing stare, Dorey nodded and walked away, leaving Gary to slump a little.
"Maybe you should rest," Chuck said, circling Gary on his way into the room.
"And what?" Gary shook the paper at him. "Wait for tomorrow's news, tomorrow? Uh-uh. This happened for a reason. Today. You know as well as I do it wasn't a fluke, me and this paper. Snow passed it on to me because I was supposed to do something about what I read, and I did."
"'Did' being the operative word here," Chuck repeated. "Need I remind you about this little stroke you had a while ago? Need I remind you also about what happens when people get a little sloppy in their common sense? Here I am, a reminder, such as I am, even though, you know, it wasn't my fault really, it was an accident."
"No, of course not, that woman's husband didn't mean to chase you out in front of a bus."
"Actually he did, but that's not my point." Chuck paused. "My point... I've lost my point. No, wait, I got it... you need to consider that at your age you can't go in swinging from the chandeliers and save the day anymore."
"I never did that!" For someone that most probably didn't really exist, Chuck's glare certainly could burn. "Okay, once, but it wasn't a chandelier, and besides, I wasn't planning on anything remotely like that." Gary stared at the floor. "I don't even... have a plan."
Chuck took a breath to respond but stopped as a fairly familiar shrill voice sounded in the distance. Exchanging glances with him, Gary was first into the corridor, pulling up short and slowing to a nonchalant stroll past the nurse's station. "Little... fresh air," he said, nodding reassuringly to the woman watching him cautiously from behind the desk. After rounding the corner, his pace became a full-out three-step waddle with his cane leading the way.
The voice grew louder as he got closer to the lobby. Only... it wasn't exactly Paula Vernon's voice, but something like it, a similar cadence, a phrase or two that she would use, but not hers. The visitor's desk came into view and Gary realized it wasn't Paula.
But it was a darn close copy.
"I don't understand, my mother is where again?" The younger woman's myriad bracelets shook on her wrist. "Getting x-rayed? What on earth for?"
"I'm sorry ma'am," the receptionist replied, obviously thin on patience. "As I said, we can't give out medical information."
She huffed. "I don't see why not, I'm her daughter."
Her husband, Gary supposed, interrupted. "Cheryl, maybe it's for the best, she wasn't expecting us."
"Well, we didn't expect to have free time between meetings. Then traffic was horrible and now we'll be missing her altogether." Her sigh was quite audible as she checked her watch, then her mobile. "I suppose you're right, David, we'll just have to make it another time."
"Wait, what?" Gary said to himself. They were leaving?
"It's a mini-her, isn't that cute," Chuck said, suddenly speaking to nobody with Gary heading full-tilt toward the departing couple. "Gar? What're you doing?"
"Excuse me," said Gary, placing himself between them and the front door. "Would you happen to be Ms. Vernon?"
The woman looked at her husband as if Gary was panhandling, bringing a manicured hand to her chest. "I'm... my maiden name was Vernon, yes... do I know you?"
Gary used his best persuasive smile. "No, but I know your mom. Your mother. Paula. I heard you here in the lobby and just had to come see for myself what kind of daughter she had." He carefully nodded to the husband, no sense in stepping on toes even inadvertently. "And a lovely one at that."
Husband David frowned a little. "I'm sorry, Mister..."
"Hobson, I'm Gary Hobson. And this is--" Gary caught himself before he made the mistake of introducing Chuck, his imaginary friend. "This... is... a gloomy day out there, maybe you should have a seat and wait... for... the sun...." Oh god, this was a pile of crap and getting deeper all the time. He winced inside but pressed on. "You know, the grounds here are really pretty every few days. You could get lucky."
Husband David's hands were now firmly on wife Cheryl's shoulders, guiding her a little to the side. "Mr. Hobson, I'm afraid we must be going."
"Yes, we really must," Cheryl restated, looking more and more like Gary had two heads. It was deja vu, all over again.
"... 'wait for the sun'? Oh, Gar, the bingo is getting to your brain."
"Do you have a better idea?" he snapped back toward Chuck, then recovered the moment. "I mean, I have a better idea, the lobby is pretty comfortable and I'm sure you would be fine waiting for Paula-- your mother, right there. See? There's fish."
"Fish...?" It wasn't so much a question as a statement of confusion.
"'Fish'?" Chuck echoed. "You've lost your touch, my friend. This is truly a sad day."
Husband David made sure to move closer to his wife, stepping them both toward the door. "We really have to leave."
"No!" That was louder than Gary had intended, but suddenly it didn't matter.
The couple stopped abruptly. "No?"
"No," Gary repeated for good measure, just as quickly bridging his cane across the open space and wedging it in the doorframe. From the corner of his eye he saw the receptionist hurriedly whispering on the phone. "You have to stay. I mean, just for a little bit, really. Just long enough for your mother to get out of radiology -- you have no idea what it might mean for her to see you." For that matter, neither did Gary, but at this point it was all a crap shoot and he wasn't about to take chances. "You can't go."
"This is outrageous, you can't stop us like this!" Husband David was turning redder by the moment, and funny enough, Gary found that immensely satisfying. He straightened proudly.
"I already did."
"Cheryl?" Paula's clear pitch pierced the air with short-lived uncertainty. The rubber wheels of her chair squealed on the waxed floor; Gary could see the aide stumbling again in his mind's eye. "Oh, Cheryl! Oh my, it is you!"
"... Mother?" Cheryl turned, ignoring her spouse's grip on her shoulders as she separated from him. "Oh David, look, we can't leave now... mother dear, you look wonderful!"
Gary and Husband David locked eyes for a few moments longer before Gary gave a triumphant push on his cane, lowering it to the floor. Clearly torn, Husband David eventually followed his wife as the two women exchanged little pats on the back and carefully-placed kisses on the cheek
"Huh, guess he's more afraid of his mother-in-law than you and a big stick," said Chuck.
"Well... wouldn't you be?" Gary allowed himself to relax a little, observing the reunion.
"Point. Still, the fish aren't that big of an attraction-- uh-oh, incoming at ten o'clock." Chuck turned, trying needlessly to blend in as Dorey rounded the corner into the lobby, her hands on her hips.
"Mister Hobson," she began.
"Gary, you doll!" Paula interrupted, stopping Dorey as she passed. "What a dear he is, he was entertaining my family while I was at that dreary appointment!"
Dorey nodded, looking Gary over. "'Entertaining?' Is that what you call it?"
"I'd say it was closer to assault," Chuck added.
"You know," Gary replied through a smile. "Sometimes I'm almost glad you aren't real."
"Me too." Chuck stepped away from his friend as Dorey came closer with a determined look on her face. "I'll be, uh, right over here."
"Mr. Hobson, I think we need to have a little chat..."
* * *
Sun streamed through the tree fingers outside the window where Gary sat, making their west sides dark against the crisp electric blue sky. The last wisps of a freezing fog hung, lazy, waiting to be taken away by the warming morning and coating everything else in a sparkle of white hoarfrost. The grounds really were beautiful sometimes, even if he couldn't wander through them alone, or beyond them at all without permission. At least not yet.
But Gary wasn't seeing any of it, really, his attention wandering instead to the paper in his lap and the small picture in the middle of a sea of small pictures on the page. And the date: Saturday, November 15.
He blinked as the room brightened around him, and warm hands squeezed his shoulders from behind the chair before he noticed Dorey's presence.
"I'm sorry about the lecture yesterday," she whispered. "And, I'm sorry. I just found out when I came on."
Gary shrugged slowly. "I didn't know. I thought she'd be okay," he said, obviously more to himself but at this point he really wasn't caring what other people thought of his sanity.
"She was fine. And happy, mmm-hm, you did her a big favor, there, she hadn't seen her daughter in a couple of years. But you know, Mrs. Vernon had a DNR and that means, legally, no heroics, no matter what."
He shrugged again and looked away from the paper, watching flakes of frost tumbling down like snow from a cloudless sky as one particular branch shook violently then swayed as a squirrel leaped to the trunk.
"I wanted to do something."
"We all do. Sometimes... we just can't." Dorey leaned beside Gary's chair and deposited a purring warmth on the empty part of his lap. "You can do something with this one, though. Girlfriends just won't be put off."
He barely felt the departing kiss on the top of his head, instead studying the tabby under his hand. The animal hadn't been near the paper this morning; not that she'd ever done that before, either, since he'd arrived. But she did hang around Gary despite his ability to ignore her. She was soft, especially under the chin...
"That really looks like your cat, you know."
Gary didn't respond as Chuck plopped against the windowsill in whatever manner worked for him. And he wasn't about to stop petting the cat, because, well, she was enjoying the attention. For once. Just this once.
The long quiet moment stretched on far enough for Chuck to break it.
"You did a good thing, Gar. You did the right thing."
"She's still dead."
Chuck spread his hands a little. "Not really that bad, you know. Not to belittle the whole mortal thing, but one thing I've learned from my time in Vegas, you can't stop it when it's your time. Take Chuck Fishman, a jealous husband -- who I knew nothing about, I swear -- and a bus, and bammo. Fate."
"You could very well be a figment of my whole overactive imagination." The cat leaned into his hand. "My entire life could be one long strange dream."
"Believe what you want, my friend." An uncharacteristic sigh flowed from Chuck. "All I know is, for one brief shining moment yesterday, you were a hero for a very lonely old woman. One moment in life is usually enough for most people. You've had hundreds. And you aren't dead yet."
Sometimes it was downright scary when Chuck made sense. Especially following that Vegas comment.
"Marissa still coming on Tuesday?" he continued.
"Yeah, every Tuesday."
"Maybe I'll hang around a little longer. It'd be good to see her."
Gary shook his head. "It'll be nice to have company in the looney bin when they commit us both, then."
"No problem. Glad to be of service from the afterlife." Chuck leaned back in the window, and for a moment, Gary could have sworn the cat in his lap winked. Then she proceeded to scratch vigorously behind her ear.
"You gonna be around when it's my time, Chuck?"
"I wouldn't miss it for the world, Gar." He paused. "I may even keep my mouth shut."
Gary felt the sun as it began to peek through the pane, and a small smile built on his lips.
* * *
Perspective is a funny thing.
It's not something you can study in a book, or learn from a teacher, or read on the internet. You can take other people's examples and say to yourself, "Yeah, they're onto something" and think you believe it, but until you're the one to get hit square between the eyes with a great big reality check, it won't become a part of you. It takes time. Sometimes an entire lifetime.
Perspective is plain old everyday history felt through a human heart. It's what you see when you look behind yourself at where you've been. And it's what you take with you over the rocky path ahead.
Into that great unknown, all the way to Vegas.