He Ran Out of Days

One morning, I sat in bed drinking my first cup of coffee. Matt Lauer of the Today Show was interviewing Bill O’Reilly from the Fox Network. They were kvetching and laughing at each other.

My wife walked into the room, glanced at the tube, and said, “I wonder if anyone’s told him he’s lost his biggest fan?”

We both knew who she meant. One of the worst things anyone could do was to call her parents during the O’Reilly Hour. If she wanted to talk to her mother, that was fine, but my wife had better call during a commercial break. Heaven forbid if the ringing telephone and the monumental physical effort of reaching for the receiver broke Dave’s concentration of hanging on O’Reilly’s every word. The mantle of conservative dogma had settled firmly on my father-in-law’s shoulders.

Months back, I was listening with one ear to a conversation my wife was having with her mother. Bobbi held the receiver to her chest and asked, “What is roe-goo?”

“The stuff that holds fish eggs together?” I shrugged my shoulders. “Or spaghetti sauce. Spell it.”

“R-O-G-U-E. They’re reading a new book, going roe-goo.”

Now I knew we were in trouble. They were reading Sarah Palin’s new book. “That’s pronounced, roe-ga, as in rogue elephant or roguish good looks.”

Bobbi looked at me and raised her eyebrows. “She doesn’t know what that means.” She turned back to the phone, “Ma–!”

“It means going it alone or outside of the mainstream.” I muttered to no one listening. I remembered watching video of Palin wading out into a stream and blowing away a salmon with buckshot. If she used dynamite it would do less damage to the fish. My father-in-law loved fishing and hunting. The vision of a little slip of a woman in hip waders and a shotgun killing really big fish must have really got his juices flowing.

I went back to my paper. I’ve only known Dave for twenty years. He hasn’t liked any President in that time. Clinton was a cigar philanderer. Bush plunged us into a war, and Obama, well, I can’t imagine Dave thought there was any connection to him other than they were both male. If it wasn’t for Michelle, he probably would have wondered about that also.

Dave took a tumble a week or two back. He was life-flighted to Metro General because he sustained head trauma and resultant multiple brain bleeds. He hit the mark with the cognitive tests of name, date, year, and so forth until the doctors asked him, “Who is the President?” He thrust out his chin and pursed his lips. “George Bush,” he answered shaking his head.

Bobbi said from his bed side, “Dad, tell the truth.”

I can only hope I have as much grace in the end as my father-in-law had.


Martinus Publishing has come out with a new anthology. I’m somewhere in the middle. I shortened the lives of all my characters.

Available on Amazon

A science-fictional look at the deadly departed!

Amidst frightening tales of terror, there lie hidden questions: What does it feel like to be dead? What motivates undead beings to do what they do? What is the scientific rationale behind their existence? Why do they always seem so hungry, and seek the flesh of the living?

Explore the lesser-told stories of zombies and other undead individuals. Go beyond the horror and discover the true nature of people risen from the grave!

Stories by:
Emily Swaim, Edmund Wells, Ken MacGregor and Kerry G.S. Lipp, L. Rigdon, Mark Olivares, Joseph Conat, James S. Dorr, Karl G. Rich, Jay Wilburn, Tim Mucci, Neal Wooten, Ross Baxter, JL Mo, David Greske, Larry Hinkle, Barry Rosenberg, Lauren A. Forry, and Dan Gainor


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