DW, an Army vet, has published 7 novels. His day job is teaching elementary school. In his spare time, he camps with his wife of 30+ years.
Reunion at the Pizza Parlor
Not a week after Mort moved back into his house he’d been down at the local pizza shop picking up dinner when a familiar voice stopped him in his tracks.
“Mort Talley, is that you?” the female voice asked.
Mort turned around slowly, his eyes wide with disbelief. “Lori Barnes?”
“Wow, Mort, you’re the last person I expected to run into at Vincenzo’s on a Friday night. When did you get home?”
“About a week ago. When did you get back?”
“I’ve been back for a while, Mort. Didn’t you know? After I graduated from Dartmouth, I came back here and got a job teaching at our old middle school.”
“I didn’t know,” Mort said. “My folks never said anything.”
“Well, you were gone a long time. When was the last time you were home?”
Mort’s eyes squinted as he tried to remember. “I guess the last time I came home was for the funeral.”
A sad look came over Lori’s face. “I was so sorry to hear about what happened to your parents, Mort. I wish I could have come home for the funeral.”
“Yeah, well, thanks for that.”
Desperate to change the subject, Lori asked, “So, are you home on leave?”
Mort shook his head. “No, I got out of the Army. After the war, I decided it was time to come home.”
“You were in the Gulf?”
“I spent some time over there, yeah. It’s not something I like to think about a whole lot.”
“So, where are you staying?”
“The folk's old place. I hung onto it; been renting it out while I was away.”
“I always liked that house, especially the gazebo out back. Lots of good memories there.”
Mort smiled. Yes, he thought. Lots of good memories there. Our first kiss, the first time we went all the way. And one not so great memory, the night you broke up with me because I joined the Army instead of going off to college like you.
An Offer They Can't Refuse
Rather than rehashing the past, Mort asked, “So what’s new with you? The last I heard you were getting married.”
Lori frowned. “I was, but I didn’t. It turns out Callen wasn’t quite ready for the keep yourself only to her part of the wedding vows.”
“I’m sorry. That must have hurt.”
“It did, but I’ve moved on. Staying single gave me time to finish my Master’s Degree. I’m working as a Guidance Counselor now at our old high school.”
“No kidding. I’ll bet that’s a challenging job.”
“There’s a lot more to it than I imagined when I first decided to apply for the job. Things are a lot different in the school now than they were ten years ago, Mort. And not for the better.”
Mort reached the counter. Mr. Appolus cocked his head to one side and suddenly smiled. “Mortimer Talley, is that you? Boy, you’ve grown some. When did you get home?”
“Just a few days ago, Mr. Appolus.”
“You been home a few days and you’re just now coming by to say hello to your old boss? And look who’s with you. How are you doing, Lori? How’s things at the high school?”
“Hello, Mr. Appolus. You know how it is with high school, it's high school.”
“I know it isn’t like it used to be. I have a hard time finding kids who want to work these days. They don’t mind getting paid, but to do the work to earn the pay that they don’t want so much to do. Mort, if you’re going to be sticking around you can come back to work for me anytime.
“Now, what can I get for you kids?”
“Oh, we’re not together,” Lori said. “I’m here to pick up a calzone.”
“I ordered a medium pizza,” Mort chimed in.
Mr. Appolus frowned. “That doesn’t seem right.” Then he shrugged, and called over his shoulder, “Vesta, find these two a table. They’re eating on Mr. Appolus tonight.”
Mort started to protest. “Mr. Appolus, that’s not necessary. I’ll just take my pizza and get on home. I’ve got some paperwork I’ve got to fill out for school.”
“And I’ve got papers to grade, and lesson plans to work on,” added Lori.
Mr. Appolus put his hands on his hips and stared the two of them down. “You will be guests of Mr. Appolus tonight or, Lori, should I call your momma and tell her you turned down my hospitality. And you, Mort, what would your papa say if I sent you out of my restaurant with a pizza in a box to eat all alone in that big house when you’ve just got home from the Army. Bless his memory; he wouldn’t be happy with me.”
One Date, More Dates, Engagement, Marriage - Seems Like a Fairy Tale
Mort smiled at Lori and said, “I guess we’re having dinner together. I don’t mind if you don’t.”
Lori put her hand on Mort’s arm and smiled. “I don’t mind. It’ll give us a chance to catch up and, who knows? If you behave, I might even let you ask me out on a second date.”
Their first date led to a second, a third, and then some. Eventually, it led to a proposal, a marriage, and Lori moving in with Mort.
While they were dating, Mort completed basic law enforcement officer training, graduating at the top of his class. He got a job with the Campus Police at the community college he enrolled in to earn his Associates in Criminal Justice. Two years later, he graduated with honors.
The wedding was held soon after Mort graduated with his Associate of Science in Criminal Justice degree from the local community college. That degree, his certificate from basic law enforcement training, his Army background, and a word to the right people from his mother’s brother Bill, who retired from the State Police, was enough to get Mort a job on the Boston Police Department. Two months after his probationary period ended, he and Lori welcomed their daughter into the world.
Shannon Allison Talley had Mort wrapped around her little finger from the moment he first laid eyes on her. Shannon’s arrival in the world followed a troubled pregnancy. She became especially precious to Mort and Lori when Lori’s doctor gave them the news that Lori probably wouldn’t be able to have any more children.
When he had enough time on the force, Mort took and passed the detectives exam and was transferred to work auto theft and burglary cases. Most of his first three months as a detective were spent collecting vehicle identification numbers from abandoned cars, most of which had been stripped of anything that could be taken. It was dull, but necessary, work.
When he’d paid his dues in larceny, Mort moved up to vice and narcotics. By then, Lori had finished her Educational Doctorate and was working as an assistant principal in an inner-city middle school. Shannon was starting Kindergarten.
Mort turned out to be an outstanding narcotics detective. His biggest bust came from a tip he got from one of the teachers at Lori’s school that some of the eighth graders there were dealing drugs to the other students. Mort’s biggest bust turned into his worst nightmare.
What happens next?! Part 3 - Waking up to a Nightmare is just a click away.
- Waking up to a Nightmare
There was a shot, burning pain and then Mort wakes up in a hospital to learn his life has been ripped from him.