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This is my #FridayFlash, and #3WW CCLIV, where the three words for this week are: Gasp, Mute and Viable. I do appreciate comments and hope you enjoy my offering for this week.


“It’s okay,” she said to him softly and took his hand. It felt soft and oddly cool, or was it his own hand that was cold?

He turned to look at her. “Penny? Penny Jo?”

She smiled at him, “Well, sure, silly. Did you think I’d not be here for you?”

He looked back over at the group in the center of the room. Medical, doctors, nurses, specialists, high tech medical equipment in a modern emergency room – if a life could be saved, this would be the place, Henry thought. He had watched some of those medical emergency TV programs, but still had no idea what all they were doing. There was so much activity in the room. He did not feel very good and Penny’s presence only made him feel worse. He moved to get a better look, to see if they were doing any of the stuff he’d seen the medics do on the TV. But she held him back. “It’s really better if you don’t look,” she told him.

He turned and looked at her again, “Penny Jo?”

She sighed, “Yes, Henry, it’s me – Penny Jo. Come on,” she pulled on his arm, “let’s go out here where it’s quieter.”

She led him out into a hallway. Henry shook her off, paced around, and came to stop in a doorway. The room he was looking into was a waiting room. He looked at the people. Along one wall he saw his two sons and other family members. His wife was also there. Seeing her, especially with Penny Jo right there, gave him very mixed emotions. Penny Jo was his first wife. Her sister was his current wife. He groaned inwardly, this could get real ugly here.

Henry started over to his family but Penny Jo cut him off. “No, Henry! Look, come on, let’s just leave.”

He stared at her as if she was the one that was crazy. “I am going home, Penny Jo. I suggest you go on to…well, wherever it is you go now.”

As he started to step past her, again she cut him off.  His aggravation rose and his temper flared. He grasped her shoulders to physically move her off to the side and out of his way. She held onto his arms, telling him they could just leave.

“You don’t have to come with me if you don’t want to, that’s okay. You can go anywhere you want to go, Henry.” Penny Jo’s voice grew more and more anxious as she spoke. “I always loved you, Henry, no matter what were the mistakes. You know that. I know you know that!”

Henry had enough of it. He pushed her off and away from him. Angrily he yelled at her, “Penny Jo, mistakes! Mistakes! What the hell, Penny Jo?”

She reached out trying to calm him, to stop his yelling, “It’s okay, Henry. Every thing’s okay now.”

Instead, he kept pushing her off, yelling, “Okay?!?! Penny! Damn it, Penny Jo! You should not be here! Now go on! Go where you go! Just go!”

“No, Henry, shhhh,” as tears gathered in Penny’s eyes.

“Penny!” Henry finally bellowed in fear and utter frustration, “Penny Jo, damn it, I killed you! Now, you’re dead, Penny Jo. Damn it! You should not be here! You have got to go!”

With a little gasp, Penny dropped her arms to her side and fell silent.  ‘There’s a blessing,’ Henry thought, trying to gather his wits and thoughts. He turned quickly to his family, realizing what he had just yelled out to the whole room. Quickly, Henry went to them and began trying to explain…something, anything that came to mind. He said he was rehearsing for a play, he thought maybe he wanted to try acting, he was only joking, bad taste, he knew, sorry, he wanted to write a book and was testing for reactions, he was drunk, ha-ha, imagine that, one too many beers… But no one laughed with him. Really, no one had much to say to him at all.

Feeling even more frustrated, Henry turned on his current wife, “You!” Her only response was to cast a cold glance in his direction. “What? Oh sure, now you’re the ice queen!”

She just stared, hard, straight ahead. His other family members and sons shifted about nervously, but Henry ignored them. He continued, “Hasn’t always been that way though, has it, Love?  Mrs. Icy-Now-I’m-Made-of-Ice-Queen. You were sure hot for me once. Hot for me even on our wedding day! Oh well, hell, not our wedding day. Mine and Penny Jo’s wedding day, you were hot enough for me that day, weren’t you?” He paused and considered her silence. “You were plenty hot too after we were married, she and I.” Her silence continued. “Not got anything to say at all, Mrs. Mute?” Henry loudly asked her, “Mrs. Mutey-mute-nothing-to-say-now, hummmm?”

Penny Jo came, stood next to Henry and looked up into this face. Henry glanced at her then turned to face her. He pointed to her sister, his now wife, “It was her, Penny. She kept asking me if I’d married you for the money, for the lottery money you’d won. She never let it rest.”

Henry stepped back so as to be able to address the rest of his family and everyone in the room.  He pointed toward his wife and proclaimed loudly, “It was her idea. She kept talking about all the fun we could have. She was the one who suggested I kill Penny Jo. Then I’d – we’d – have all that money and all the good times. That was what she promised, good times. All I had to do was kill Penny Joe, but it was her idea.” He turned to Penny and took her hand, “I’m really sorry, Penny. I know you really loved me, not like the mute-ice-cow,” he said softly with a toss of his head in the direction of his wife. “Can you ever forgive me?” Henry almost whispered the question to her.

Penny smiled at Henry, reached up and touched his cheek, “Of course I can Henry.”

He hugged her to him, “I can’t imagine how, Penny, how you can love me so much still and be so forgiving.”

She hugged him back, “Oh Henry, it’s not that hard.” Penny gave him an extra little squeeze, “It’s even pretty easy. She’s just killed you.”

Henry froze. Then stepped away from Penny Jo, away from his ice-queen wife and silent family members. He turned to run but there was the doctor coming to speak to them. Immediately he was relieved. Penny Jo, he decided, could just go to hell. “Hi Doc,” Henry greeted him.

The doctor glanced at all of them, but not at Penny Jo, Henry was very relieved and pleased to note. Maybe he’d be able to salvage something out of this yet. Then the doctor looked at Henry’s wife, shook his head and started saying stuff that Henry’s ears failed to relay with clarity to his brain. The doctor was saying something about being sorry, doing all they could, no viable signs of life, discontinued support as per the no-resuscitation request she said her husband had made in keeping with his living will for no unnecessary prolonged treatment.

Henry’s mouth dropped open in shock. He stared at his wife. That had been her idea too, the request thing and the living will! He turned and ran back down the hallway, back to the emergency room. Now it was almost empty. Now, he had no trouble seeing. It was him on the table, bed, whatever, thing. Did it really matter? How had she done it? How did she kill him?

There was movement next to him. He looked over at Penny Jo and watched her study his body laying on the gurney. Together they saw it prepared to go to the morgue. Again, Penny took Henry’s hand and began to lead him away. This time he silently went along with her.

“Don’t be so sad, Henry,” she said to him.

“Mmmmph,” Henry replied, very unhappy.

She continued more brightly, “You know those ghost hunting TV shows you like?”

“Yeah, so?” Henry mumbled.

“Well,” she said, taking on a mischievous tone, “there’s a group of them going to be at that Eastern State Penitentiary place. Remember that show?”

Henry perked up a little, “Yes, I sure do.”

Penny Jo pulled Henry along faster, “Well, we better hurry! Come on! You’re gonna love the guys that hang out there! They have new ideas on scaring those ghost hunting people all the time! You are gonna have the most fun!”

Their voices and laughter trailed off into the dark and distance.