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Entry date: 9-2-2022 - The Trees part 15 - Things I made up

9 2 22

Dear Friends,

All I can say is that things are going to get a little wacky after this installment. I hope that’s not giving too much away. Enticing would be what I am striving for here, actually. Episodic novels might become a thing….

Happy Friday!


By the end of dinner on Sunday night, the entire Lewis and Rawl’s clan were ready to talk about anything other than Dan’s cancer. As expected, Allie took it the hardest and she and Dan had to go for a walk to talk. He was her mentor, in addition to being a surrogate uncle and a fixture in her life.

Allie had always looked up to Dan. When her own father was not able to be there for her, Dan always was. After she started at Evolve in 2004, she was like a sponge when it came to any information, tips, advice, Dan had to offer and it was Dan who figured out that she and her future husband, Ron, were perfect for each other before she did.

As they rounded their way back up Hettie and John’s street, Dan told Allie, “You’re the reason I don’t worry about what will happen at Evolve after I’m gone at all.”

Allie didn’t respond but hooked her arm into his and they walked back to the house in silence.

Hettie was the next one to corner Dan as he and Allie slipped into the side door off the kitchen. After Allie walked out to call Ron to share the news and check on how he and the kids were fairing, Hettie placed both hands on either side of Dan’s face and gave him a sisterly kiss.

“You know,” she started to say before he stopped her.

“I do know, Hettie. Thank you.”

“Are you having much pain?”

“No, not really. It’s bad sometimes, but I’m getting used to it. My doc wants me to start smoking pot.”

Dan felt immediately guilty because he hadn’t even talked to John about this development yet.

“You know you can eat it, too, right? That might be easier for you, big guy.”

Hettie grabbed a couple of glasses from the cupboard and poured them each two fingers of Glenlivet. While John liked a good IPA and hit of weed, Hettie preferred a nice 18-year-old Scotch.

“I’m supposed to be cutting down on this stuff,” Dan said as he took the scotch from her.

“To cutting down but not giving up,” Hettie replied and the two took a swig of the good stuff.

Hettie walked back out to the den where Jan and John were talking on one couch and J.R. and Brynn were sitting on the other which was on the far side of the room. Dan loved that J.R. and Brynn were close, and he took a moment to watch them talk.

So many good times in this room over the years.

John had been so excited when told Dan about the plans to remodel this side of their house, doubling the size of the den. Dan was almost as giddy as John had been when he heard that they were installing an entire wall of large glass windows to take advantage of their view of Piestewa Peak. The mountain loomed over them and at sunset it would often turn yellow, then orange, pink, and purple.

On a night like this one, you could sometimes even make out the flashlights of nighttime hikers going up to the top, which took about half an hour for someone in decent shape moving at a brisk pace. On previous evenings at the Rawls’ house, Dan would have gotten lost in watching them and possibly dropped entirely out of the conversation, secretly wishing he had one of the head lamps like the spelunkers used. Tonight, though, Dan could have cared less about watching for hikers.

He sat down next to Jan.

“What are you guys talking about,” he asked.

“John was telling me how you guys are going out to see Rob this week. Did that slip your mind?” Jan replied.

John shot Dan a quick “Sorry, man” look that Hettie picked up on.

“He needs to know. I think we are just going for the day. We’ll be home for dinner,” said Dan.

“Are you sure Rob isn’t going to kidnap you guys?” Hettie asked.

There had been plenty of day trips to see Rob that ended up being more like two or three days. Sometimes Hettie or Jan or both would join in, but usually it was just the guys when it came to business discussions. Rob had a way of turning business into pleasure by coaxing the guys into seeing a band play or heading out on his boat.

“How is Rob doing?” Jan asked.

She had not seen Rob since Vivian had died and as she asked the question, she was reminded of the events of the year before. Lately all her emotions had been on a hair trigger. Luckily, John broke the short silence.

“He’s healing, I think.”

“I don’t want to bring him down,” Dan said before continuing, “but he’s our partner in so many thing…”

“He’s also your friend,” said Brynn.

No one had realized that she and J.R. had joined the conversation. They seemed like they were only paying attention to each other, as was typical.

Brynn was always very matter of fact. If it was on her mind, she would usually say it and her statement made the older members of the group pause for a second.

“You’re right, Brynn,” Dan replied.

“She’s usually right, Dad,” J.R. added.

Dan gave J.R. a wink that made his blood go cold for a split second.

“Does he know?” J.R. thought but his father’s next comment allowed the air to go back into his body.

“Someday she’ll have a nice fella to boss around,” Dan said, smiling at Brynn.

Brynn took a nervous step backward and shoved J.R. playfully.

“C’mon, dude. Let’s go see what the others are doing,” before leading him out of the room.

For a second, Dan wished that J.R. would be that fella that Brynn got to boss around, but he dismissed the thought quickly. A year from now, J.R. would be in San Diego working his fingers to the bone and Brynn would be off to Tufts in Boston to start her own path.


See you tomorrow.

It's coming.

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