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Making the Call

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It's more than surreal to hear the words. "We're sorry, he didn't make it," the doctor informs her. Frank Westen has been a part of her life for so long, that the concept of one without him baffles her more than a little. She goes through the motions, signing the forms where the administration assistant points, talking to the funeral home, and finally sitting in the cab the hospital calls for her.

She returns to a empty house. Mike's been gone for years now, Nate left last week for god knows where, and now, now she really is alone because even Frank is gone. She can honestly say that she never even contemplated the idea that he'd die before she would. Really, with the fights – she stops that train of thought before it starts. The man isn't even cold in his grave yet, no need to start denigrating his memory just yet.

Madeline heads to the bedroom and digs through her drawer of delicates until she reveals the false bottom that Mike had installed for her. He'd probably been fourteen. Just put a little in here every week, Mom. Just enough so that if he loses it all, you'll still be able to get the necessities. He probably hadn't meant cigarettes.

Still, it was her one hiding place that Frank never found. It holds all of the postcards that Michael has sent over the years (eight) and the few birthday cards. Also, the number that Michael had said could be used for emergencies.

She sits down on the bed and stares at the cards and the number. The fear hits her as sudden as one of Frank's sober punches. As much as she wants and needs her boys to be at the funeral, what if Michael doesn't come? He never came out and asked her anything about Frank, but she always saw the question in his eyes.

She puts the number and the cards back into the drawer. She'll call the number and inform whoever answers that Michael needs to come home for his father's funeral. She heads toward the kitchen and the liquor cabinet. She'll make the call, but first she needs to find the courage to face the likely answer.