The Homestead: Part Forty-Eight

This is the final part of a fiction serial, in 795 words.

By the time the doctor arrived, Phin had stopped rambling and we had managed to get him onto his bed. After a brief examination, the doctor walked out with us, speaking quietly.

“Given his age, there is not a great deal to be done. I suspect a stroke, or larger bleed on the brain. No telling how long he might last. It could be one day, or a year, depending. I can arrange for him to be moved into a care facility, a good clinic I know”. I shook my head. “I don’t think so. He will stay here with us, and die here when his time comes. Perhaps you could arrange for some home nurses to come in and help? We will need them on a permanent basis, night and day”.

Assuring us that he would get that sorted out by nightfall, the doctor shook our hands and left. I helped Mrs Mallory get Phin out of his clothes and into bed, and could see how upset she was, though she held it in.

The nurses were reliable and kind. Older women used to caring for people like Phin, they would chat to him in a conversational tone as they tended to him, even though he never replied, and rarely even opened his eyes. They were compassionate, and made him comfortable.

After six weeks of that, with the weather improving day by day, I took Ann Mallory into Wichita to give her a break by looking around the shops. I had to arrange a literary agent anyway, and I went to see Brad James after sending my telegrams to New York. He apologised for not coming out to see Phin, but I told him there was no point. I also checked with him about local funeral homes to supply a good coffin eventually, and asked him to recommend a company to dig the grave in the space next to Susan. He said he would also check with the authorities that Phin could actually be buried on the homestead. But I told him to forget that, as it was going to happen whatever anyone said.

Ann looked refreshed when I met her outside the department store. She had bought some new summer clothes, as well as stockings and new shoes. She had also made an appointment with a good hairdresser for the following week. We drove home in bright sunshine, with her telling me what she planned to cook for us that evening.

The nurse called Nancy was waiting outside when we got back, smoking a cigarette in front of the porch. As soon as I saw her face, I knew. So did Ann Mallory, who gasped “Oh, my” and began to cry.

He had slipped away quietly not long after we left for town. Nancy had telephoned the doctor, and he was going to come out after his visits to do the formal necessities.

I felt strangely calm, and not at all upset. Phin had led an amazing life, lived to a considerable age, and ended up rich and comfortable. Whether or not he had been happy in later life was debatable, but he had certainly made the best of his situation. And close to the end, he had reconnected with the only family he had left.

He was buried next to his beloved Susan, close to his good friends, and the daddy he admired so much. I painted some stones white to outline the grave, just like the rest. Then I had a carpenter in Wichita make a wooden marker with his name and dates on it. As they set it in place, I thought that it would be nice for me to be buried alongside them. But who would be around to do that? And who would I leave everything to?

Not for the first time in my life, I wished I had married and had children.

The book became my child. Here it is, if you are reading it. Not only the story of the Fullers, but my story too, right up to date.

I was surprised how long it took to arrange. Phin died in fifty-four, and now it is the late summer of fifty-seven, and the publisher has just announced a release date. They asked me what sort of cover I wanted, so I used the Leica to take some photos of the house, and sent them the one I liked best. It will be called The Homestead, as you know if you have bought it. My agent threw me, when he asked what pen name I wanted. I hadn’t thought to use one, but an idea came to me immediately, using my father’s first name, and Phin’s last.

That combination seemed very appropriate.

“Jack Fuller”.

The End.

41 thoughts on “The Homestead: Part Forty-Eight

  1. (1) “Phin had stopped rambling and we had managed to get him onto his bed.” At least his ramblings didn’t take him far away from the homestead.
    (2) “Given his age, there is not a great deal to be done.” Although a visit to the local brothel might have livened him up a bit.
    (3) “He will stay here with us, and die here when his time comes.” Of course, the Grim Reaper in Kansas doesn’t bother with a scythe. He carries a loaded six-shooter.
    (4) As Phin’s health deteriorated, the weather improved day by day. Julian would have preferred it be the other way around.
    (5a) Phin had spent his life in carpentry, so I’m shocked he never got around to making his own coffin and wooden marker. Especially considering that he once said, “I’m going to make me a casket and grave marker if it’s the last thing I do!”
    (5b) Julian asked Phiin if he wanted to take his Hawken to the grave, and Phin replied, “Shootfire, yes!”
    (6) Bad citation: “The nurse was waiting outside when we got back, smoking a cigarette in front of the porch. As soon as I saw her face, I knew Nancy had made love to Phin. It was a stroke of bad luck that it was frolicking with a sexy nurse that ultimately killed him.”
    (7) I read “The Homestead” because I Leica good story.

    NOTE: “Jack William Fuller (October 21, 1946 – June 21, 2016) was an American journalist who spent nearly forty years working in newspapers and was the author of seven novels and two books on journalism.” (Source: Wikipedia)

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  2. If I could stand independently, then I would give you a standing ovation for this serial, Pete. Such a beautiful and captivating story. You are an outstanding storyteller and I’m forever in awe of your talent.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Julian seems to have noticed Mrs. Mallory’s fresh look and even think of her first name. Though the story ends here, it goes on in my mind. Thanks for a great refresher course of Midwestern U.S. history.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Aah! Nice! Nice! I would like to suggest to any of your followers who did not read this in it’s serial form, to be sure and read it in the complete form. It is entertaining with great characters, and informative and truer to fact than most of the fiction written about this era in US history. Thanks, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This must be your longest to date? An amazingly well researched and well written serial Pete, with relatable characters who I felt I knew. I am sad it’s over, but will look forward to your next literary work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it was the longest. If I had not introduced the ‘time jump’, it might have run to 75 episodes, and that’s too many.
      Glad to hear how much you liked it, and I really appreciate all your comments.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Bravo, Pete, that was a story well worth staying with right up to the end; which wasn’t difficult, because the bite-size chunks made it very easy to follow. In a way, I’m sad that it’s finished, because I have looked forward to my daily instalment of Phin & his doings. Cheers, Jon.

    Liked by 1 person

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