PERSONAL BAGGAGE
A Tale of Marriage, Medicine and Murder

Johnny

This is a list of how often and where the term 'Johnny' appears in the book PERSONAL BAGGAGE.


Search result for 'Johnny' in PERSONAL BAGGAGE

Chapter 1: Chapter One
"...Penny had assumed that when the need arose she would be the one who would take care of her parents in the same way in which her mother had cared for her grandparents, but it had turned out that she and her husband, Johnny, a high school coach and history teacher, depended on the income from her job at Dixiana’s River Park Hospital where she had worked for nineteen years. ..."
50.
"... Let’s hope she’ll start on Monday.” Later that afternoon, Penny was slicing Roma tomatoes with a steak knife when Johnny arrived. Her husband crowded their small kitchen like a boulder, exuding an earthy odor of dirt and grass. His deep voice filled the quiet house. “Sorry ..."
"...While Johnny shaved, showered, and dressed for an Investment Club meeting, Penny, who was worried about passing Jacksonville Hospital’s qualification tests for RNs, worked on a practice sheet of drug calculations at the kitchen table. For some reason, math was harder for her than it used to be, and it ..."
"...When Johnny came to the table his face was crimson; sunburn had erased his freckles. He patted down his damp, sandy-grey hair, pulled out a chair, and sat in front of his plate, pressing a finger against the wireframe nosepiece of his eye glasses. “Thanks for waiting supper. ..."
"...“Did you finish?” Penny asked, not listening to his reply. Johnny knew Mr. Puckett, the hospital’s administrator, better than she did. Her husband could say something chummy to anybody, and he knew everybody because he volunteered for everything; he volunteered out of sheer habit! He was a serial do-gooder who could chop down all the telephone poles in ..."
"...One could say there was nothing wrong with taking an interest in people, but Johnny, a Dixiana native, not only wanted to know their names and who their relatives were, but also he wanted to help them. He said he must repay the debt he owed his stepfather, a gentle man who had been his “Pop” since Johnny was ten years old. ..."
58.
"... illness, the agonizing six weeks before leukemia killed him, and the lost little boy he became at the age of seven. “And hickory dickory dock,” Johnny said. Penny looked at him. “You’re not listening. Why did you ask me if you didn’t want to know? You don’t give a flip ..."
"...Getting up from the table, Johnny stood at the refrigerator with his glass of iced tea. He looked like he was puzzled about something, and the solution was written on the linoleum. “I thought you liked sports when I married you.” He glanced at Penny with an amused smile. “We went ..."
64.
"... we were dating then. I loved you, not sports.” Johnny settled into his chair and stared at her with alligator eyes, his mouth a tight seam. He started to speak, but Penny needed to make her point before she forgot what it was. “You came to my choral performances, and I didn’t ..."
66.
"... head ache—not until we went to Handel’s Messiah and you threw up in the church!” Not blinking, Johnny said, “I guess I should have figured it out when you didn’t come to our boys’ games...” Penny interrupted. “But when the boys played you were always there and I was at work ..."
"...She closed her eyes, lowered her head, and pinched her nose. Almost inevitably, she recalled an evening when she had compiled lists of age-appropriate chores and presented one to each child at supper. The children complained and Johnny said the lists were a bad idea. She suffered again the desperation of that rock-bottom moment when he didn’t support her, and she walked out of the house, got into her car, and drove all the way to Louisiana. Finally, she turned around at an ..."
71.
"... as she folded laundry before returning to the hospital to work again. Johnny restored the subject. “Anyway, we’ve got that field the best it’s ever been. Man, it’s going to be fun to play on! Big Time!” Penny ran cold fingers through her faded-blond hair, inhaled, gripped the ..."
"...Penny ran cold fingers through her faded-blond hair, inhaled, gripped the edge of the table, and shifted in her chair. Her bare toe touched his shoe, and she jerked her foot back as though it had been burned. She felt so upset she couldn’t sit while Johnny explained the hot stock tip he planned to present to his club. She marveled at the way he kept his emotions under control and wondered whether he masked them or never even experienced them in the first place. Johnny’s disinterest in her was stunning. She felt ..."
73.
"... on. She doubted that her husband would notice the tears standing in her eyes when he told her goodbye: Johnny was gifted with not noticing. Too busy to need her, he didn’t see her, not really. Her life was unraveling, and she was grasping at the threads; all the good times were over. ..."
"...the kitchen, Penny fed Callie and Zac and retired to her room. She needed rest to be at her best the next day, but her thoughts returned to the week during which she had agonized over whether to apply for the job in Jacksonville. She had asked Johnny’s opinion, since he always had one, and the ability to see through a problem to the choices and to calculate the consequences. Fittingly enough, he had pointed out the extra driving time involved and the increased cost of operating her Chevette and then he said, “It’s your call, ..."
"...Although starting work with an Associate Degree in nursing bore no resemblance to the experiences of her childhood literary heroine, Cherry Ames, Penny stuck with it because there was no other choice: they had no money for music lessons, no money for braces, no money for clothes. On Johnny’s salary, their family of five had met the ­requirements for reduced prices on school lunches. ..."

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Chapter 2: Chapter Two
0.
"... weekends, starting tomorrow. Awakened by soft music from her Bose clock/radio, Penny shut off the alarm and dressed quietly to avoid disturbing Johnny, who slept in another bedroom. Because of her work schedule, they had stopped sleeping together years ago. Each time Penny looked at her ..."
8.
"... and a wooded area behind the house. She drank the last of her coffee as Johnny shuffled to the table. He blinked with surprise at his dolled-up wife, then inhaled and blew his breath up into his face. “You’re determined to do this!” Penny gazed into her lap and shook her ..."
17.
"... hospital where they do advanced procedures.” Her voice rose. “I thought this would be a good thing to try.” Johnny removed his eyeglasses and inspected them for smudges. Penny changed the subject because the discussion was futile. As a child she had listened to her father’s mockery ..."
"...Johnny put on his glasses and scrutinized his wife of thirty years, then centered his glass of iced tea on its coaster. “How was my meeting? Well, uh, real tedious would be the best way to describe it. Everybody wanted to express an opinion, and one man ..."
"...Once Johnny started telling something he took a while to wind down. He recounted details of his meeting, gesturing with arms made muscular by years of throwing baseballs. His movements gave the impression of controlled strength. Penny inspected his un-parted hair tousled from sleep, his heavy overnight growth ..."
"...air blew warm and fresh on her skin and brought with it a fragrant richness. She had plenty of extra time in case there was a delay on the interstate. She hoped that if she had an accident she would die so she wouldn’t have to tell Johnny about it. ..."
"...As she approached the city, Penny worried about taking the wrong exit and losing her way, although she had traveled this route many times with Johnny at the wheel. Beside the interstate, Jacksonville Medical Center’s billboard advising EXPECT EXCELLENCE was a welcome sight. She flicked on her blinker and slowed as she turned into the exit lane. Ahead lay her destination: a blue, flat-roofed building, its four-story center section flanked by two ..."
"...weight. It appeared to be watching traffic, its profile black against a buttermilk sky. Penny remembered reading that hawks’ eyes had five times as many cones as the human eye, making it possible for them to see a sharper image and to distinguish shades of color. Johnny, on the other hand, was nearsighted and color blind; he could tell true, clear colors but he said that shaded tones appeared grey and he sometimes asked Penny to help him select his clothes. ..."
53.
"... had originally occupied the whole block. Penny turned into her own driveway as the sun set behind puffy pink clouds. She could see that Johnny’s light blue Mercury Marquis was missing and remembered that he had gone to a Summer League baseball game. The unmistakable odor of snake defecation ..."
"...Presently, Penny dined in the den on graham crackers spread with peanut butter and washed down with vodka-spiked orange juice. She curled up on the couch, purchased with Johnny’s investment gains, and tuned her television to the Jacksonville news station and her favorite TV personality, Elijah Storm, who was wearing an avocado three-button Italian suit, a green shirt with orange stripes, and an orange tie. Until tonight, watching him had brought Penny pleasure. ..."
"...Later, running water as hot as she could stand, she showered until her thoughts were fuzzy and her feet were red. She found ­sanctuary in her queen-sized four poster, remembering shopping trips with Johnny in search of their perfect bed, and her anticipation of ­lying ­beside him every night for the rest of her life. Although low on ­finances, Johnny had encouraged her to find high quality furniture, generously using the money his mother had saved for him from his father’s insurance. ..."
65.
"... him from his father’s insurance. Thinking about finances upset Penny’s nerves. She didn’t understand the risks Johnny took playing the stock market, but since she had never understood their financial position, she trusted him to take care of their money. Setting her alarm, she looked ..."

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Chapter 3: Chapter Three
4.
"... herself look better, but maybe it would help her feel better. Two hours later, she was finishing her toast as Johnny sauntered into the kitchen clearing his throat. “So, how was it yesterday? How did your first day go?” “Fine.” “Huh?” “It was okay. How did your team ..."
"...“Well, we’ve still got weak places in the outfield but I can fix them. These boys try big time, you know? They swing for the fence.” Standing in front of the refrigerator, grapefruit in hand, Johnny launched into a discourse on last night’s game. “I finally convinced my second baseman he won’t get yelled at if he boots a slow-roller on a barehanded pickup, so now, you know, he never misses. And at bat—man, he got three hits! Their best pitcher was ..."
"...Mirroring his enthusiasm, Johnny’s hazel eyes sparkled with green flecks, reminding Penny of the loving looks he used to give her and his intimate, simmering gazes that had seduced her. Now, when he did look at her, his eyes were cold. She excused herself to brush her teeth and to apply ..."
14.
"... to brush her teeth and to apply lipstick. From his bowl of Grape-nuts and that day’s paper, Johnny rose to kiss her goodbye. He gave her a cursory glance, then removed his glasses so that their frames wouldn’t tangle. “You look nice.” Her eyes downcast, she smiled. “I hope you ..."
15.
"... wouldn’t tangle. “You look nice.” Her eyes downcast, she smiled. “I hope you have a good day,” she said, pulling the kitchen door closed behind her. To Penny’s way of thinking, what Johnny meant was, “You usually look bad.” Enroute to meet Maureen, the musical phrase ..."

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Chapter 4: Chapter Four
"...Johnny had set the table and piled up a plate with KFC to accompany cartons of slaw and mashed potatoes. Penny gave him a thank-you kiss before going to the bathroom, where the mirror above her sink revealed dark shadows had reappeared under her eyes. She returned to ..."
"...Johnny joined her at the table. “Well, this morning I worked on the ballfield until lunchtime, grabbed a hotdog at Sonic, and got our yard mowed before practice, which went better today. They were in the mood to listen, you know, after their win.... Yesterday, I called ..."
"...Penny gobbled while her husband talked. She nodded and smiled and shook her head at appropriate times. She contemplated the large painting she and Johnny had struggled to buy when they had no money for frivolous things. It was an impressionist rendering of a red house on a green hillside. Immersed in her daydream, she remembered the excitement of picking it out at the exhibit of an artist who lived in their ..."
66.
"... happened before Johnny lost interest in her... Suddenly Penny noticed silence and came to with a start. Johnny had stopped talking and was looking at her. “So, tell me about your day.” “Oh, okay. We had a thirty-year-old male go bad. He was in with complaints of chest pain—probably a ..."
68.
"... valve. We got him off to Jacksonville fast and we were pretty busy the whole rest of the day.” “That’s not too good for business,” Johnny said, referring to the hospital’s low census. “Well, Maureen and I caught the problem fast, and Dr. Lawrence sent the guy for emergency ..."
70.
"... Exhaustion overwhelmed Penny and she leaned down, slumped out of her chair, and stretched out on the floor. “Are you okay?” Johnny looked down at her, over the top of his glasses. “I’m just tired, in my mind and in my body. From my nose to my toes—I’m too tired to live. ..."
72.
"... There’s too much to do, and I don’t want to do any of it.” Every feature shifted as Johnny’s skepticism squeezed his entire face in on itself. “You feel you have too much to do and you’re too tired to live?” Anger surged into Penny’s stomach and she sat up. “I learned ..."
78.
"... to be a navel gazer.” Penny struggled to her feet. “So you think I’m a navel gazer!” “I like your navel.” Johnny stood beside her, stretching his arm toward her jeans’ zipper. Penny stepped back, her hands raised to keep him away. “But you think I dwell on how I ..."
80.
"... back, her hands raised to keep him away. “But you think I dwell on how I feel.” “I think you feel unhappy, and I feel pretty helpless to do anything about it.” Johnny reached out and pulled her to him. She lowered her hands and allowed him to hug her, then leaned back, “But I have to ..."
82.
"... hurt from these stupid glasses...” She paused for breath and ripped off her glasses with one hand. “Anything else?” Johnny looked straight into her eyes, not smiling, not blinking. She rested her head against his shoulder. “I shouldn’t be so cross after you fixed supper for me.” ..."
"...When their youngest child left home, Penny had asked Johnny to stop some of his activities so that they would have time for each other. When asking didn’t work, she wrote a letter to him explaining how she felt. After reading it, Johnny said he loved her, but he was doing the best he could, and he ..."
"...That was when Penny had stopped trying. There was nothing she could do to make Johnny love her: if she worked more and brought home more money, he wouldn’t care; if she cooked fancy meals and dressed up every day, it still wouldn’t change how he looked at her with those apathetic eyes that told her she was dull as dust. ..."

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Chapter 5: Chapter Five
33.
"... That CCU is more intense; each patient has three or four specialists and the work up there is hard work, all of it.” “What’s Johnny say about all this?” Maureen’s husband, Carl, had died almost a year ago, and Penny usually avoided talking about her own husband. “I don’t ..."
"...Maureen’s husband, Carl, had died almost a year ago, and Penny usually avoided talking about her own husband. “I don’t think Johnny really cares; he’s busy all the time.... Tonight he’s got a committee meeting for Investment Club–-he’s the one who buys and sells stocks and keeps the club records. He’s been working for the park commission all summer, and when school starts...” Penny paused for a long ..."
36.
"... is then.” “My grandson says your husband’s been helping him extra with his throw.” Penny remembered that Maureen’s grandson played second base. “Johnny’s proud of his infield players.” “And... What did he say?” Maureen doted on her grandson. “I don’t ..."
40.
"... “I guess Johnny would say it’s because I’m too busy thinking about myself. We had an argument about that last night, anyway.” What Penny didn’t say was that for her, the techniques involved in playing baseball were about as interesting a topic as un-labored respiration. “But ..."
42.
"... he loves you. I’ve seen the way he studies you.” “People I don’t even know stare at me because I have freaky eyes. Johnny and I live together, but we’re about as compatible as pickles and strawberries.” Maureen laid down the telemetry strip she was interpreting and ..."

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Chapter 6: Chapter Six
2.
"... on her opinion? Drawing her robe closer against the cold in her air-conditioned house, she warmed a cup of Johnny’s leftover coffee in the microwave. Too tense to feel hunger, she gathered dirty clothes from the bathroom hamper, stripped their beds, and started the washer. She pulled on ..."
"...front of her damp shirt away from her body and flapped it back and forth to move air beneath it, but the heat clung to her like moist wool. She flipped through the envelopes trying to pick out bills so she could throw away the junk mail, but Johnny had paid the bills for so long that she couldn’t recognize what was important. ..."
20.
"... she would still have pushed to send Mrs. Spoonhouse to Jacksonville. She slipped on a new purple tee shirt along with black jeans. If she hurried she could get back from buying groceries in time to fix Johnny’s lunch. At the square, members of the high school band were selling doughnuts ..."
32.
"... uniformed teenagers through her closed window as she crept past. Johnny had just arrived home and helped her carry groceries into the kitchen. “That’s a nice shirt,” he said, then looked bewildered when Penny laughed. “I received a compliment from an ex-patient at the store. She ..."
34.
"... shrouds she had seen on corpses at funerals, and she said purple would make anybody look good.” “Well, you do look good,” Johnny gave a half-smile and a dimple cut into his left cheek. “And then, on the square, the band was holding everybody up selling doughnuts. We should put ..."
41.
"... thought it was this past Thursday, but I was up there on Friday and nobody said anything about it.” “I picked up a paper on the way home. It should be in there,” Johnny said. Penny cleaned up from lunch and stashed away the new canned goods while Johnny rustled and snapped the local ..."
42.
"... it.” “I picked up a paper on the way home. It should be in there,” Johnny said. Penny cleaned up from lunch and stashed away the new canned goods while Johnny rustled and snapped the local paper. “Here’s her obituary, but I can’t find any write-up about her.” Johnny laid the ..."
"...“Here’s her obituary, but I can’t find any write-up about her.” Johnny laid the paper on the table. “I’d better hurry or I’ll be late for my haircut.” In a few minutes he hustled back from the bathroom, smiling. “I like it when you laugh.” He gave Penny a quick kiss, his mind already out the door. ..."

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Chapter 7: Chapter Seven
"...Eventually, Penny boarded her plane. Always before, Johnny had taken her to the airport and picked her up or they had traveled together in the car to Charleston. This was the first time she had tried to go there on her own, and, to Penny’s surprise, everything was working out. She relaxed and her thoughts ..."
"...While Faye and Alice set places at the picnic table on the porch, Penny held her mother’s small cold hand and chattered about Johnny and the children. Instead of thinking what she would say in reply, Mrs. Nichols gave the gift of her undivided attention. Her gaze was on Penny as she smiled and nodded, recognizing the names of her grandchildren. ..."

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Chapter 10: Chapter Ten
"...After all, they had expected to live the rest of their lives together in their cottage beside the river, and Penny had helped to uproot them. At least her parents were still together and they still loved each other! By his absorption in everything and everyone else, Johnny had drawn Penny a picture and she read it loud and clear: he no longer loved her. ..."
"...After feeding Callie and Zac, Penny took a shower and dressed quickly. It was an open Friday night for the football team, and Johnny would soon be home for supper so she broiled hamburgers, one of his favorite foods. After supper, he remained at the table calculating something on a legal pad beside a stack of investment magazines, and Penny opened the box that UPS had delivered. “These are the things ..."
28.
"... out an ancient newspaper wound onto a wooden rod. Johnny looked up and laid down his pencil. “Be careful with that, it’s brittle.” He rose, hitching his trousers, and walked around the table. “Your mother showed it to me one time.” Penny had not enjoyed her mother’s stories of ..."
29.
"... trousers, and walked around the table. “Your mother showed it to me one time.” Penny had not enjoyed her mother’s stories of their ancestors’ lives, but Johnny, the history teacher, had listened. “You know what you’re holding, don’t you?” Penny offered him a sheepish grin ..."
33.
"... let me read some of it to you.” Penny watched the muscles in Johnny’s thick arms working beneath his freckled skin as he unrolled the large sheets of paper, then her gaze wandered out the window as details disappeared and the trees merged into darkness. “On the eastern bank of the ..."
39.
"... Northern and Southern soldiers were alike strewn with flowers.” Johnny laid down the newspaper. “That’s the part I thought was interesting. It continues with the poem, “The Blue and the Gray,” written in 1867.” Penny fetched her glasses and leaned over the sheets. The paper was ..."
"...Penny fetched her glasses and leaned over the sheets. The paper was The Columbus Mississippi Tri-Weekly Index, dated Tuesday Morning, July 23, 1888. The part Johnny had read was on another page under the heading “A Peep Into The Past.” It was an article about the reunion of Confederate veterans, which had been held in Columbus, Mississippi during the preceding week. ..."

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Chapter 12: Chapter Twelve
"...River Park Hospital, Penny drove home Saturday evening beneath a fading sunset that resembled a strep throat. Lights shone from her neighbors’ houses on Oakwood Street but her own house was dark, and when she turned into her driveway a wave of acute disappointment swept over her. Johnny’s Mercury was gone, and she had been counting on telling him her troubles. ..."
23.
"... had marked it on the calendar but she would have to check the date. Snake care was definitely her least favorite task. Johnny had left a note on the kitchen counter: “Don’t wait up, I’ll be late. Tod had extra tickets for the Ole Miss game so I’m gone to Oxford. Hope you had a ..."
25.
"... task. Johnny had left a note on the kitchen counter: “Don’t wait up, I’ll be late. Tod had extra tickets for the Ole Miss game so I’m gone to Oxford. Hope you had a good day. Johnny In addition to teaching high school history, Johnny assisted Tod Burke, the football coach, ..."
"...In addition to teaching high school history, Johnny assisted Tod Burke, the football coach, who, in turn, assisted Johnny with the baseball team in the spring. Tod’s wife, Betty, taught grammar school, and the four of them were friends. Craving companionship, Penny dialed their number, but no one answered. Betty must have gone to ..."
43.
"... all right. We’re both gonna get through this. Goodnight now.” After a restless night, Penny left her house Sunday morning comforted by the fact that Johnny was asleep in his bed, even though she hadn’t talked to him. Flossie Mae had arrived early and waited for Penny at the time clock. ..."
"...carrying a trace of wood smoke. Exhilarated by unexpected free time, she changed into jeans and running shoes and unhooked the gate to Zac’s pen. He could not be still while she tried to snap the leash onto his collar, but the connector finally clicked, just as Johnny’s blue car pulled into the driveway. ..."
110.
"... hard against his throat that his respirations were noisy. “I was at a Salvation Army meeting,” Johnny said. “We’re trying to get a jump on the Christmas party this year so there won’t be such a mad scramble to pull it off.” Penny remembered frantic shopping trips with Johnny, ..."
111.
"... such a mad scramble to pull it off.” Penny remembered frantic shopping trips with Johnny, trying to find toys and clothes for the angels still left on the tree when the deadline was past. “Will the bank let you put the tree in their lobby again?” “Sure, and if the teachers get the ..."
113.
"... it before want to do it again. I think timing was our problem.” At the top of the hill Penny pulled back on Zac’s leash. “Johnny, I shouldn’t tell you about this, but something terrible happened at work yesterday.” They turned around and he took her hand as they started toward ..."
"...Johnny slowed his pace and listened to Penny’s account of her telemetry mistake and the death of Dr. Scales’s patient. He asked questions, then summarized the facts to be sure he understood. “Nobody’s perfect,” he said. “You know that, don’t you? Everybody makes mistakes, but it ..."
121.
"... fingers through unruly hair, pushing it back from his glasses. “Hello.” Penny tried to remember his last name. “Buck, this is my husband, Johnny...Buck works at the hospital.” It finally came to her. “Buck Dalton.” Johnny shook Buck’s hand. “How’re you doing? We’re ..."
122.
"... hospital.” It finally came to her. “Buck Dalton.” Johnny shook Buck’s hand. “How’re you doing? We’re inspecting. You know—checking out these new houses going up in the neighborhood. Man, this is a nice one.” “It’s gonna be mine if I can swing it. Doc says he’ll ..."
127.
"... you know cats have thirty-two muscles in each ear?” “Really!” Johnny called. “I wonder how many dogs have!” They stood at the curb while a car made a U-turn at the dead end and drove back by them. Johnny waved to the driver. The temperature was dropping and Penny shivered in the ..."
"...“You work with right interesting people, you know it?” Johnny said. “It sounds to me like Buck’s got cerebral arrhythmias and paranoia in the left aorta.” From years of hearing hospital jargon, Johnny could string together a bunch of authentic sounding medical phrases that made no sense at all. ..."
"...Penny had never told Johnny about Mrs. Spoonhouse: how Dr. Scales admitted her to Dixiana’s CCU when she should have been sent straight to Jacksonville. As they walked, she struggled within herself: confidentiality never used to be such a big issue, and Johnny wouldn’t tell anybody. Penny decided to tell him. ..."
132.
"... within herself: confidentiality never used to be such a big issue, and Johnny wouldn’t tell anybody. Penny decided to tell him. Johnny, you must not...” But Johnny stepped ahead of her and paused at the side of their neighbor’s driveway while Misty rolled down her window. “How are ..."
133.
"... you must not...” But Johnny stepped ahead of her and paused at the side of their neighbor’s driveway while Misty rolled down her window. “How are you today?” Johnny said. “Your grandson really tried himself in the game last week.” Obviously pleased, Misty talked ..."
"...to the bowl. The cat was a picky eater. Purina Cat Chow, made in little star shapes, was all she ate and she preferred only the tips of the stars, leaving her bowl full of the middles, to be discarded. She used to greet Penny and Johnny at the back door, but now she stayed to herself, usually at the top of the stairs to the attic. Penny looked up and called her name, and Callie’s head appeared. Hoping to tempt her, Penny set a bowl of StarKist tuna on a step halfway up. ..."
137.
"... tempt her, Penny set a bowl of StarKist tuna on a step halfway up. Later Sunday night, Johnny entered Penny’s bedroom and handed her a stack of papers. “If you don’t mind, sign these for me before you go to sleep.” Accustomed to the request because Johnny managed their finances, ..."
"...Accustomed to the request because Johnny managed their finances, Penny signed whatever he put in front of her, grateful that he took care of it. As a child overhearing tense, whispered conversations about money, she had been afraid her parents would not be able to pay for food—an unfounded fear—but thinking about money still ..."
139.
"... for food—an unfounded fear—but thinking about money still unnerved her. She slipped on her glasses, accepted the pen from Johnny, pulled a nursing magazine from her bedside table, and laid the papers on top of it. “Don’t you want to know what you’re signing?” he asked. “What is ..."
143.
"... it?” “I’m putting these stock certificates in both our names. They’ve been in mine only.” “Okay.” Penny signed her name on the forms as Johnny pointed to the signature lines. “When you started working,” he said, “I thought you might leave me, and I kept these separate so ..."
146.
"... sense of his words. Johnny continued. “You left once when you weren’t happy, and I wasn’t sure you would stay with me. I thought you might be getting ready to leave when you changed hospitals, but now things seem better. At least, I hope they’re better for you.” Penny felt as though ..."
148.
"... like a croak. “I didn’t know what would happen.” Johnny spoke casually, as though talking about the weather. Removing Penny’s glasses, he placed them on the night table, then cupped his fingers under her chin and kissed her. “Goodnight.” He turned and left the room. Penny, ..."
"...Penny, suddenly shot into the ozone, tried to understand what had just happened. Her neurons were churning. It sounded like honest, trustworthy Johnny had been protecting himself against her! She stepped into her slippers and padded to his room as he stuffed the certificates into a Manila envelope. ..."
"...Johnny.” Penny’s voice was strangely hollow. “I know you take risks in the stock market, and I trust you to do the best you can for us, but...” She couldn’t verbalize her thoughts: All the time I was trusting you, you didn’t trust me! “I wasn’t ..."
152.
"... you wanted me to work because we needed money to educate our children.” Johnny closed his eyes and shook his head. “You were unhappy and I figured you’d leave.... Believe me, I know what it’s like to be left!” “I was unhappy because I couldn’t do it all. I tried to tell you I ..."
"...“Maybe it seemed that way to you, but I was doing the best I could. You don’t remember all the times when you were at work, and I had to get the kids to the doctor, and take them places, and pick them back up.” Johnny chopped the air with vertical hands to emphasize each word: “I-COULD-NOT-DO-ANY-MORE!” ..."
156.
"... stay together?” Penny spoke in a small voice. “I think we’ve got a shot at it. We’re a better team than we were. I love you.” Johnny smiled as he made his announcement. His eyes were soft and he curved his arms around her. Penny held herself away from him. “I’ve been on ..."
157.
"... soft and he curved his arms around her. Penny held herself away from him. “I’ve been on your team all along.” She stepped back. “Johnny, are you talking about that night about ten years ago when I got mad and drove around for a while?” Johnny nodded. “That went all through ..."
158.
"... around for a while?” Johnny nodded. “That went all through me. That’s when I knew you would go, and I figured it was just a matter of time.... You’ve never had a loss like I did, so you don’t know what it does to you.” His eyes filled with tears. “But I came back that same ..."
161.
"... Johnny had said that he married her because she loved him so much. Actually, she had been a clinging vine, trying too hard to please him. She was a lot more needy back then...now it seemed like the less needy she was, the more he trusted her. She sat up, then walked out into the hall. ..."
162.
"... She sat up, then walked out into the hall. “Are you okay?” Johnny called from his dark bedroom in which every horizontal surface held evidence of his interests: tiny baseball players, autographed balls, die-cast race cars, and coin books. Penny slid her bare feet forward on his rug, ..."
164.
"... with money, but I need to know about our finances. If you’ll teach me, I want to learn to pay our bills.” “I’m a good teacher,” Johnny said, pulling her down into his arms. On Monday morning, Penny woke with a sense of urgency on her day off. She was worried about Callie. Still ..."
"...down and inhaled the damp air, fragrant with pine and wet soil. Her mind cleared. The area was weirdly beautiful, rich with vegetation and full of deep gullies.... Finally, she turned the car around, stopping as she drove back through town to pick up KFC. Johnny should be home from football practice and he would be hungry. ..."
184.
"... into the house, she was amazed to find him ironing. Johnny looked up, unsmiling. “Most of this is my stuff; I used to do my own ironing when Mother was working. By the way, Virgil called about Callie. He said you can call him tomorrow.” “I couldn’t do it today.” Penny spread their ..."
186.
"... Mother and Daddy this weekend. I’ll fly back home on Monday so I won’t miss any work.” Johnny folded up the ironing board. “I can take you. I’ll find substitutes and drive you there.” “Thank you, but I’ve already charged the plane tickets. I should have told you before I ..."
192.
"... she sobbed, “I’ll miss her.” “You’ll miss her the way she used to be, not the way she is now.” Coming to the table, Johnny pulled out the chair at his place. “How about a date tonight? Would you like for me to hold you after a while?” “I need you to hold me ..."
194.
"... Would you like for me to hold you after a while?” “I need you to hold me now.” Johnny grinned as he sat down. “Tonight is yours. Right now I have an appointment with The Colonel.” Penny picked up a wing. “I drove to the Trace today and thought about how it used to be a ..."
"...“It actually started out as a series of buffalo trails and Indian tribes joined them together,” Johnny said. “My students don’t appreciate the history all around us—our dirt grew the cotton that revolutionized North American agriculture! Every day we’re looking at evidence of the wealth that came to this area from the invention of the cotton gin and the steamboat...don’t you just love getting ..."
197.
"... the invention of the cotton gin and the steamboat...don’t you just love getting a history lecture with supper?” Johnny continued eating as Penny carried her dishes to the sink. “I’m about finished,” he said. “Let’s leave all this.” “I need to shower before we make love.” ..."
202.
"... In the bathroom she brushed her teeth, then stripped and stepped into the shower. The warm water felt good on her back. She made it hot and let it beat down on her tired muscles, relaxing her. After toweling off, she slathered on lotion, and waited in the four poster for Johnny to bathe. ..."
203.
"... off, she slathered on lotion, and waited in the four poster for Johnny to bathe. When Johnny came to the bed, he threw back the covers. “You look clean enough to lick!” He laughed and crawled in beside her. His skin was still damp when Penny kissed him in areas to which he responded. She ..."
205.
"... she could move no more. Twice she thought the end was near but he didn’t ejaculate. Finally, Johnny rolled to his side. “Thanks for trying. I guess we were too tired to pull it off tonight.” “Didn’t it feel good?” Penny asked. “Sure, but I was trying to hold off so you ..."

-------------------------------------------
Chapter 14: Chapter Fourteen
"...Even if Penny worked harder and made more money so that she could hire help and move her parents to Dixiana, and even if she and Johnny suddenly became wealthy and she could quit work—even then she could not take care of her mother because she would not be able to deal with her father. An all knowing God would surely know that! ..."

-------------------------------------------
Chapter 15: Chapter Fifteen
140.
"... to come through this time. Johnny had already left for school so Penny undressed and crawled into bed without eating. When she awoke and looked at the clock, it was noon and she had slept four hours. She poured herself a bowl of cereal and called the hospital. “Jacksonville Oncology, ..."

-------------------------------------------
Chapter 16: Chapter Sixteen
"...but found it farther away than she had thought. She flailed about and knocked a Kleenex box to the floor. Every muscle was sore and it took her body a moment to unlock, but her mind raced. Was it morning or evening? Across the hall Johnny’s bed was empty. She had forgotten to take the receiver off the hook when she went to bed. She pressed a warm foot onto the cool carpet and stood up shivering. “Hello?” ..."
"...In a nervous state since David’s call, Penny cleaned house with a vengeance. She was stripping the sheets from Johnny’s bed when he arrived to change clothes between teaching his classes and the high school football game. Fridays were hectic for him; sometimes he didn’t make it home until late at night. ..."
52.
"... didn’t make it home until late at night. Johnny, David called about Daddy—he’s really sick—and in the hospital in a lot of pain. I’m sorry to tell you when you’re rushing, but I’ll go to work in CCU before you wake up tomorrow.” Johnny stopped shedding clothes and slid an ..."
53.
"... work in CCU before you wake up tomorrow.” Johnny stopped shedding clothes and slid an arm around her. “This may be it, you know...big time! Will you be all right by yourself? I’ll tell Tod we have an emergency if you need me to stay home.” The furious tempo in her mind slowed as ..."
"...The furious tempo in her mind slowed as Penny crumpled into Johnny, and he held her until the ice that was freezing every cell of her body melted and she pulled away. “No, go on. Thank you, but I’m really okay. There’s no reason for you to stay here...or for me not to work tomorrow. With Maureen ..."
55.
"... sick, I don’t know who would work anyway.” At 9 p.m., Penny sat on her bed folding the wash when the phone rang. She followed the white, intestine-like chord as it traveled under the crumpled sheets, ending beside a pile of Johnny’s socks. Faye spoke from Roanoke. “I don’t think Dad ..."
"...Saturday night over a bowl of chili, Penny listened to Johnny’s account of winning Friday’s homecoming football game, which the whole town was celebrating. Then, after a hot shower and fortifying herself with Tylenol, she fell into bed trying not to think, listening to Music From Scotland on her Bose. ..."
141.
"... herself with Tylenol, she fell into bed trying not to think, listening to Music From Scotland on her Bose. Seating himself on the bed, Johnny asked, “How was your day?” “It was pretty rough until Flossie Mae came to help me. I had a ­thousand-year-old fossil-patient straight out ..."
143.
"... with feathers. His sister said the feather mattress had come undone.” “Do you remember his name?” Johnny asked. Penny always knew which bed a patient occupied, but names were hard for her to remember. “His sister’s name is Jane...Head. Richard Head’s his name.” Johnny ..."
145.
"... were hard for her to remember. “His sister’s name is Jane...Head. Richard Head’s his name.” Johnny sat on the side of Penny’s bed, smiling. “Does he have a nickname?” Penny pulled herself back from the edge of sleep. “Dr. Ghent told me to ask about his nickname. Do you ..."
149.
"... Oh, I see: Dick and Jane, like in first grade readers.” Penny smiled. Johnny leaned closer, kissed Penny’s lips, then placed his mouth close to her ear and whispered, “Dick Head.” Penny giggled, then erupted into laughter as Johnny hugged her, and somehow her emotions ..."
150.
"... Penny’s lips, then placed his mouth close to her ear and whispered, “Dick Head.” Penny giggled, then erupted into laughter as Johnny hugged her, and somehow her emotions tangled and she wept. Johnny pulled back. “What is it? Have you heard from David again?” “No,” Penny ..."
151.
"... giggled, then erupted into laughter as Johnny hugged her, and somehow her emotions tangled and she wept. Johnny pulled back. “What is it? Have you heard from David again?” “No,” Penny said. All day she had been able to keep from thinking about her parents, but it was easier ..."
152.
"... from David again?” “No,” Penny said. All day she had been able to keep from thinking about her parents, but it was easier when she was busy. Now it hit her with full force, and she wallowed in her guilt. She shook with great sobs, soaking Johnny’s shoulder. He held her until she ..."
156.
"... and put you to bed. You can feel guilty again in the morning, if you want to.” Johnny stood and Penny, wanting to monitor the alcohol in her drink, sat on the side of the bed testing her foot against the floor. “Is something wrong with your foot?” he asked, watching Penny limp in front of ..."
"...Johnny set the bottle of vodka on the counter, then filled two glasses with ice and Diet Coke. Into one, he dumped a jigger of vodka, stirred, and handed it to Penny. He placed his hands on the counter and leaned on them, his shoulders rounded like a ..."

-------------------------------------------
Chapter 17: Chapter Seventeen
99.
"... It was time for Penny to clock out. When she reached home, Penny found that Johnny had prepared a supper of soup and sandwiches and was waiting to eat with her. “David called a while ago,” he said. “Do you want to call him back before you eat?” “No—I’m starving!” Penny sat ..."
107.
"... Alice said. “We’ll call you when we know anything.” At 12:30 a.m., the jangling phone woke Penny. She heard Johnny say, “Hold on just a minute.” He opened her door, picked up the bedside receiver, and extended it to her. David said, “I asked Dad to squeeze my hand if he knew I ..."
115.
"... until mid-morning. Monday’s November sky was electric blue. A brilliant sun peered through leafless trees casting a giant shadow fence across the back yard as Penny poured coffee and cereal and sat down to read the note Johnny had left on the kitchen counter: “The Charleston ..."
119.
"... thought you could alter this any way you want and call it to her. I love you.” The need for an obituary had not occurred to Penny. She dialed her sister’s number and read Johnny’s typed draft to her. “Yes, that’s exactly what I need,” Faye said. “Tell Johnny thanks. And ..."
120.
"... typed draft to her. “Yes, that’s exactly what I need,” Faye said. “Tell Johnny thanks. And Penny, the minister at Dad’s church says he wants to have a memorial service for ‘celebration and closure.’ He wants to know when we can all come.” “I don’t want to come; ..."

-------------------------------------------
Chapter 18: Chapter Eighteen
96.
"... the weekend. Because of her work schedule, the children were coming for Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday. When she entered the kitchen, Johnny was on the phone. He held up one hand. Penny poured a mug of coffee, wondering if she dared eat cereal on top of all that candy and popcorn. “I ..."
98.
"... all that candy and popcorn. “I understand. Now if you don’t mind, I want you to tell all of this to Penny. She’s just come home, and I know she’d rather hear it straight from you.” Johnny held out the receiver. “It’s Alice, about your mother.” Penny’s stomach lurched as ..."
101.
"... lies in bed, all curled up. They told me this morning that she hasn’t had anything to eat or drink for three days.” Penny cast a despairing look in Johnny’s direction. Alice continued, “I took David to the airport because he has a meeting in Washington this afternoon and I feel uneasy ..."
111.
"... I get home.” “Alice, you’re doing exactly right. Thank you for being there—I’m sorry you’re all alone.” Penny motioned to Johnny and handed him the receiver, then listened as Johnny talked with Alice, unable to concentrate on his words until he said goodbye. “Why don’t you ..."
112.
"... he said goodbye. “Why don’t you go to bed for a while,” Johnny suggested, watching Penny stare at her coffee. “I’ve got to go finish up a few things, then I’ll be home for the rest of the day. We’re supposed to go to the teachers’ party tonight, remember?” “I can’t go to ..."
129.
"... dining room and the den for the Pewitt family’s Thanksgiving meal tomorrow, and it was time to dress for the high school party. “I should stay at home, Johnny.” “Do what you want, but it might make you feel better to dress up and go out. We won’t be there long, but I have to put in an ..."
132.
"... it?” In the passenger seat of Johnny’s blue Mercury, Penny leaned back and rolled down her window to gaze up at a black-velvet sky hung low with diamonds, each star surrounded by a tiny halo due to her vision. She would soon be motherless. Who would she be with no parents? The ..."

-------------------------------------------
Chapter 19: Chapter Nineteen
73.
"... you feel better. Here are your clothes; I went up and got ‘em while they were checking you out.” “May I use your telephone to call Johnny? He’ll expect me in a few minutes.” “I’ll be at the hospital in an hour and follow you home,” Johnny told her over the phone. “I ..."
75.
"... use your telephone to call Johnny? He’ll expect me in a few minutes.” “I’ll be at the hospital in an hour and follow you home,” Johnny told her over the phone. “I can leave here in fifteen minutes.” “I’m okay, Johnny. I’m going to eat breakfast with Flossie Mae and then ..."
76.
"... Johnny told her over the phone. “I can leave here in fifteen minutes.” “I’m okay, Johnny. I’m going to eat breakfast with Flossie Mae and then I’ll drive myself; I’ll see you at lunchtime.” There was silence while Johnny thought. “No,” he said. “I’ll be at the ..."
77.
"... myself; I’ll see you at lunchtime.” There was silence while Johnny thought. “No,” he said. “I’ll be at the staff parking lot at ten and follow you home when you’re ready.” Then, he softened his pronouncement with “I love you.” Tantalizing odors reached Penny as she ..."
97.
"... Mae. “Merry Christmas!” It was nine Christmas evening when the children left, and Penny, who had slept for two hours before they came, said, “Let’s take Zac for a walk, Johnny. It’s fifty-five degrees outside. I can clean this up when we get back.” They took the usual route up ..."
103.
"... have allowed that; I must have been at work!” “A lot was happening back then, but they’ve turned out just fine,” Johnny said. “I like each one of them.... How was your breakfast with pistol-packing Flossie Mae this morning?” “She’s a strong woman, and she’s been through ..."
108.
"... in a haunted hospital with an evil doctor; how lucky can you get? With your imagination, you should write a book!” “I swear on my mother’s grave, Johnny, Dr. Scales...” Johnny hugged Penny, pulling her off balance. “Have you forgotten? Your mother doesn’t have a grave.” Caught ..."
109.
"... you should write a book!” “I swear on my mother’s grave, Johnny, Dr. Scales...” Johnny hugged Penny, pulling her off balance. “Have you forgotten? Your mother doesn’t have a grave.” Caught off-guard, the pain of remembering ambushed Penny. She walked faster, rounding the ..."
"...Caught off-guard, the pain of remembering ambushed Penny. She walked faster, rounding the corner onto Oakwood with Zac prancing. Johnny sped up to catch them, then stopped while Penny bent to unsnap Zac’s leash from his collar. After giving her a questioning look, Zac ran in front of them, crossed the street, and jumped into the flower bed beside the Vanlandinghams’ driveway, barking. ..."
"...filled with tall ornamental grasses and nandina bushes. Near the middle of the bed an electric pole jutted upward. It’s base was hidden by shrubbery, and it was at the bottom of the pole that Zac continued to lunge and bark in spite of Penny’s calls and Johnny’s whistles. ..."
113.
"... whistles. Johnny walked to the edge of the pavement and peered into the vegetation in the half-light. “Penny! There’s a man in here!” he yelled. “Something terrible has happened!” Johnny hit the driveway on a dead run toward their garage. “I’m going to call 911!” Penny ..."
"...Johnny returned, and Penny handed him the leash. “Put this on Zac and pull him away from here! If this man bends his neck with a fractured cervical spine he could damage his spinal cord, maybe become paralyzed.” The man moaned. “Lie still!” Penny commanded, gripping ..."
116.
"... “You must lie still! The ambulance is coming.” Johnny stood in the street and directed the ambulance toward them, and Penny supported Buck’s cervical spine until the paramedic positioned a C-collar and fastened its velcro straps. The police arrived next, illuminating the area with ..."
"...Maureen’s death, and the excitement of having their children at home for Christmas, topped off by Buck’s motorcycle wreck kept Penny awake far into the night. If she had not worried about waking Johnny, she would have gotten out of bed and started cleaning their wrecked house. Sometime after four, she fell into a sound sleep. ..."
122.
"... Sometime after four, she fell into a sound sleep. The sun was out, morning almost over, when Penny entered the kitchen and Johnny said, “I’m glad you could sleep late on your day off.” He had cooked a feast of eggs, barbeque, and toast. “This looks good,” she said. “Well, sit down ..."
125.
"... sit down and I’ll serve you; then I’ll tell you what the policemen told me this morning.” Penny picked up her fork even before Johnny, grinning his approval, joined her at the table. “When I went out front to get the paper, they were out there taking pictures and measuring tracks. ..."
130.
"... him.” Penny surprised herself with what she imagined. Johnny’s voice exploded across the table, “Jesus H. Christ! If you seriously think such a thing might have happened, you’ve been reading too many murder mysteries!” Penny gaped at him in stunned silence. He scrutinized his ..."
133.
"... heard the motorcycle coming and took off too fast.” Penny laid down her fork and slouched in her chair. She couldn’t tell him what Flossie Mae had told her. “What does the H stand for, Johnny? I’ve never heard anyone say that!” Johnny’s expression changed to a wide grin and his ..."
134.
"... told her. “What does the H stand for, Johnny? I’ve never heard anyone say that!” Johnny’s expression changed to a wide grin and his eyes twinkled. “Hernandez. He was my catcher last summer.” Penny’s face was serious, but the corners of her mouth twitched. “The Jesus I know ..."
136.
"... face was serious, but the corners of her mouth twitched. “The Jesus I know didn’t have a middle name.” “No,” Johnny agreed, “and I think you’d know about it if He did!” ..."

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Chapter 20: Chapter Twenty
6.
"... and tossed sleet against her window. That afternoon, Penny dragged herself out of bed and into the kitchen where Johnny worked over a table covered with bills and receipts. “Welcome to the world,” he said. “Have you looked outside?” She plodded to the living room window. The ..."
9.
"... wonderland chilled her, although the house was warm. “It rained all day with the temperature around thirty,” Johnny said. “They should have canceled school—I’ve lost count of how many buses wrecked carrying the students home.” Penny opened a large can of chili, but the lights ..."
13.
"... p.m. Johnny entered the dark kitchen from the garage. “This is more lousy than the forecast, you know it? I brought some wood from the woodpile into the garage so it can dry out; the little bit we had in there will burn fast.... I need a shower; where do you keep candles?” Penny ..."
17.
"... she could almost hear the sounds of children in the room. Johnny shut the doors from the living area into the rest of the house. “Don’t pile on too much wood, okay? No telling how long this storm is going to last.” Penny stabbed four frozen hot dogs with shish-kebab skewers and ..."
20.
"... drops of water bubbled and hissed on the logs. The saucepan of chili came to lukewarm on the hearth. “Gourmet,” Johnny declared when they finished eating. “You did good.” As the house cooled, heat from the fireplace barely affected the temperature in the den. Standing close ..."
24.
"... Johnny yawned and rubbed the back of his neck. “It’s almost nine. We should get in bed and cover up; maybe they’ll get the electricity back on while we’re asleep. I’ll set the alarm for five in the morning and build a fire so you’ll have some heat to get dressed by.” ..."
"...“Forget anything you’ve ever heard about ice storms,” Johnny said, stomping in through the back door. “This storm’s worse! I can’t drive you to work; you’d better call the hospital. The garage is blocked. I mean, even if I could get the car out, big limbs have fallen across the driveway and they’re stuck ..."
58.
"... hold a bed for him.” It was dark when Johnny picked Penny up and demonstrated his expertise at driving on ice by deliberately skidding the car as they stopped at Sack and Pack. When they slid onto Oakwood, Oakden’s lights illuminated the Vanlandingham’s lawn. “Is the electricity back ..."
"...Penny turned on the television. With the roaring of chain saws as background noise, she and Johnny watched scene after scene of people trying to clear their driveways, pulling broken and sawed limbs to the street for collection. It looked like a war zone with brush barricades. Johnny picked up the remote control and changed to The Weather Channel. ..."
65.
"... and he turned away from the camera to cough just before the picture shifted to ice-coated trees and bushes. “Looks like our weather’s too severe for the experts,” Johnny said. “I hope it stays bad,” Penny said. “If the interstate’s clear enough tomorrow, Dr. Scales is going to ..."
104.
"... She abandoned the car and struggled toward the garage, slipping and sliding in her Reebocks. Johnny met her in the kitchen. “I was getting worried; I thought maybe you had car trouble.” “I did have car trouble, out in our driveway. But that’s not why I’m late—they transferred ..."
105.
"... worried; I thought maybe you had car trouble.” “I did have car trouble, out in our driveway. But that’s not why I’m late—they transferred Buck back and he...” Penny stopped talking because Johnny was putting on his coat. “I’ll be back in a minute. I want to ..."
108.
"... I want to see...” “It’s just a scratch! I hit the mailbox but you can stand it back up,” Penny said. “I’ll be right back,” Johnny said, opening the door. Penny continued through the house to the bathroom, where she stripped and showered in water so hot it stung her back. ..."
109.
"... Penny continued through the house to the bathroom, where she stripped and showered in water so hot it stung her back. She applied lotion to her itchy skin and petroleum jelly to her peeling lips, then pulled on pajamas and a robe and returned to the family room where Johnny watched TV. ..."
112.
"... mug and carried it and her sandwich to the couch. Johnny moved over to give her room. “I worked outside most of the day trying to get up the big limbs, then I helped over at Oakden. How was your day?” He laughed, “Until you came home!” “My day was awful. They brought Buck back from ..."
114.
"... came to the edge of Penny’s memory and dropped back. “We resuscitated him, but...” “I’m wiped too,” Johnny said. “If you want to go on to bed, I’ll clean up the kitchen.” Penny awakened with a jolt at 2 a.m. Her thoughts fuzzy, she thought she was in the nurses’ ..."
124.
"... families visit in CCU up there, don’t they?” Penny drank coffee as daylight seeped through the windows and the sun reddened the sky. Johnny, still half asleep, stumbled into the kitchen. “I saw your light on at three. Bad night?” Penny shoved what she had written across the table. ..."
126.
"... advice and turning in my notice at Dixiana. I’ll have to work one more weekend, but maybe I’ll be sick.” Johnny filled his cup and picked up Penny’s notice of resignation. “Johnny....” He looked up from reading, waiting for her to continue. “Buck died last night, and I think ..."
127.
"... I’ll have to work one more weekend, but maybe I’ll be sick.” Johnny filled his cup and picked up Penny’s notice of resignation. Johnny....” He looked up from reading, waiting for her to continue. “Buck died last night, and I think he was murdered.” Her already-fast pulse ..."
130.
"... injected anything into that IV line! Night shift worked on Buck for a long time after I left, but he died.” Johnny looked down, reading her resignation, his jaw muscles flexing. Penny spread her arms and gripped the edge of the table. “I think Dr. Scales kept Buck on a ventilator until ..."
132.
"... telling who ran his motorcycle off the road.” “Okay, calm down.” Johnny said. “You don’t have any proof, and unless you want us to be sued and lose our home, you’d better not say anything like that. Don’t even think like that!” Johnny set a bowl in front of Penny and one at ..."
"...Johnny set a bowl in front of Penny and one at his place. He brought two spoons from the silverware drawer and placed one beside each bowl, then he set a box of Grape-nuts and a carton of milk between them. Sitting opposite Penny, he jiggled his leg, ..."
134.
"... Need Time Off!” Johnny squinted and inhaled; he exhaled and studied his bowl. Looking up, he replaced his glasses and lifted the cereal box. “We talked about going to Columbus to see if we could find your great-grandmother’s house. Would you still like to do that?” Penny propped her ..."
136.
"... table. “Yes, are you serious?” Johnny nodded. “Baseball practice begins at the end of this month. We could go before it starts.” He pushed the sheet of paper back to Penny. “This sounds fine to me. I’m glad you’ve decided to do it.” Buck’s face, grey against white ..."

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Chapter 21: Chapter Twenty-One
"...Johnny had said that they would leave for a mini-vacation in Columbus around four this afternoon, spend two nights in a motel, and have two days to explore. Penny phoned the veterinarian’s office, then invited Zac into the car. The dog could have his yearly checkup and vaccinations ..."
"...In a suspended state between sleep and wakefulness, Penny heard again the closing sound of the back door to CCU and turned over. No, it was actually Johnny coming in from the garage. She reached the kitchen before he could remove his coat. “I met Flossie Mae in the cafeteria for breakfast this morning.” ..."
107.
"... cafeteria for breakfast this morning.” Johnny got that oh-no-not-again look in his eyes and Penny continued with a little less enthusiasm, holding out a sheet of paper. “She gave me this copy of an article about Buck’s motorcycle accident.” Johnny raised one eyebrow in a questioning ..."
108.
"... Johnny raised one eyebrow in a questioning slant, “Let me get my coat off.” Placing the news story on the counter, he leaned over it and Penny watched a flush rise up the back of his neck. He laid down his jacket and gripped the edge of the counter, his knuckles turning white. Penny ..."
110.
"... She asked me if I would be a character witness for her in court, if she needs one.” Johnny turned to look at Penny. His cheeks were scarlet, his eyes blazed. “And you want to know what I think. Right?” Penny nodded, less sure that she really wanted to know, because Johnny looked ..."
111.
"... at Penny. His cheeks were scarlet, his eyes blazed. “And you want to know what I think. Right?” Penny nodded, less sure that she really wanted to know, because Johnny looked furious. “Stay-Away-From-Flossie-Mae.” His words were deliberately ­distinct. “This clipping is about ..."
"...you to be a character witness, but you only know her from work.... What would you say? You don’t know anything about Buck or the doctor either, for that matter. And she thinks the doctor hired somebody to kill Buck’s family to KEEP HIM QUIET!” Johnny shouted, then paused and lowered his voice. “How would that keep him quiet? If somebody killed you or any one of our children, I wouldn’t care what happened to me. I’d get them back if it was the last thing I ever did!” ..."
118.
"... Johnny pulled Penny to her feet. He slid his right arm around her waist and elevated her chin with his left hand. “Now, we’re going to forget it. Erase hospitals from your mind.” He kissed her lips, then pulled away. “Have you forgotten our trip? We’re driving to Columbus today.” ..."

-------------------------------------------
Chapter 22: Chapter Twenty-Two
0.
"... the rest of the house.” In the late afternoon, the Pewitts locked their house and loaded suitcases into the trunk of Johnny’s blue Mercury. He adjusted the rearview mirror and turned to Penny, sitting beside him in the passenger seat. “Did you pack your camera?” “I’ve got it; and ..."
4.
"... bought a map of Columbus.” “Sounds like we’re all set, then.” Johnny activated the headlights as they turned onto Oakwood. “I think it’s strange that your parents never took you to see the old house or to visit the graves of your ancestors.” “We didn’t travel for fun; ..."
6.
"... “We didn’t travel for fun; money was tight.” Penny pictured Buck sitting on the desk in CCU telling her of his financial problems and his pregnant wife. “Johnny, Buck was trying to buy a house so his wife and his baby could come and live with him–-he loved them!” The ..."
"...Johnny gripped the steering wheel. “Now listen to me, all right? We don’t know the facts! You’ve connected a few dots but you’re coloring way outside the lines. Whatever happened is not our business!” He sighed and slowed the car. “Try to think about ..."
13.
"... Augusta Murdock (1841-1921).” She examined the picture of a young woman, her own great-grandmother. “You’re prettier than she was.” Johnny’s voice was gentle. Penny placed her hand on his thigh and he covered it, holding it with a firm grip. Feeling pretty, she looked ..."
"...old white farm house encircled by porches, and whiffs of wood smoke eased her tension. On either side of the road leafless trees reached up, their branches blending into a wash of grey and blue as details vanished in the fading light. Aware of the pressure of Johnny’s hand, a thought occurred to Penny, as it had not occurred to her for years: my husband loves me. ..."
17.
"... occurred to her for years: my husband loves me. It was nearly 10 o’clock when they checked into the Holiday Inn in Columbus. Penny, propped up with pillows, attempted to read while Johnny studied the map, but both of them were worn out. “Let’s stop at the library in the morning and ..."
22.
"... Saturday, don’t you think?” “I’m game.” Laying the book aside, she leaned against Johnny, her head in the hollow between his chest and his shoulder. “I would never have come here by myself. Thank you for bringing me.” “Do you have your necklace? I want to take a ..."
"...She awakened to the sound of Johnny snoring in irregular snorts and puffs. Turning onto her stomach, she pulled a pillow over her exposed ear and tried to relax, but her bladder was full. She crept out of bed into a dark, unfamiliar room, felt her way to the wall, and followed it ..."
30.
"... located her robe and returned to the bathroom. Seated on the commode lid, she opened the book. It was still dark outside when Johnny knocked on the door. “Have you been in here all night?” “I couldn’t sleep any more so I read the book. How much of it have you read?” “All of ..."
35.
"... she came here with her mother to spend summers with her grandmother.” Johnny leaned forward to pull the blanket up over his legs. “Elizabeth Augusta was twenty-four when her first husband was killed in the Civil War.” “Which is why she was decorating graves in 1866,” Penny said as she ..."
40.
"... most dangerous part of the trip was across states like Mississippi, where there wasn’t much organized help.” Penny selected clothes from her suitcase while Johnny continued. “Anyway, what I’m getting at is that Elizabeth Augusta’s father, Abram Murdock, was from New England, so he ..."
44.
"... think that it’s entirely possible.” After breakfast, Johnny dropped Penny at the Columbus Library while he filled the car with gas. She carried The Seven Siblings to the desk and opened it to display the picture of the old house. “It’s only a few blocks from here,” the ..."
51.
"... “I don’t hear well; you’ll have to talk louder.” Johnny took over explaining and pointed to the picture, but the man didn’t see well, either. His glasses, thick as paperweights, made his deep-set eyes appear larger than normal. “My name is Larry Lilly. Come on in and sit down.” ..."
"...Johnny halted, watching their host stumble and then recover his balance and flop down next to a stack of papers on one end of an old Chippendale sofa. Beside the sofa stood a floor lamp, the only island of brightness in a room of dark wood floors and old ..."
57.
"... illuminated thousands of dust mites dancing in its yellow glare. Johnny spread the book under the magnifier. “Mr. Lilly, this is a picture of your house, taken in the late 1800s when my wife’s great-grandparents lived here.” “You don’t say!” He motioned for Johnny to sit down. ..."
"...“You don’t say!” He motioned for Johnny to sit down. “People around here call me Uncle Buddy—you can call me that too.” Larry Lilly bent over the blown-up image, looking at it out of his enlarged eyes. He was dressed in a worn gray suit and vest, too much clothing for the stifling ..."
"...Johnny placed his hand on Penny’s shoulder and compressed his fingers. “Uh, we need to go back to our motel and rest for a while.” When Penny turned to look at him, he avoided eye contact and continued. “We’ll come back this afternoon, after we rest, if ..."

-------------------------------------------
0.
"... she had known how heinous her last Dixiana shift would be, she would have refused to work it. Six blocks from the old mansion, Johnny drove onto a new four-lane bridge and they crossed the Tombigbee River. “Look.” Penny pointed to a small restaurant on the bank. “If we eat here, we’ll ..."
"...After lunch, they returned to the other side of the river and explored the neighborhood. There were no streets between the Cox house and the water, so Johnny veered into the nearest cross street, bumped downhill, and parked beside an old one-lane bridge, closed to traffic. Leaving the car, they strolled down the pavement to the river’s edge, where a paved boat ramp extended into the water. ..."
10.
"... once. “What a perfect day,” she said, “not too hot and not too cold.” Johnny put up his hand, “Yeah. Goldilocks would have flat-out loved it.” A fisherman on the bridge returned Johnny’s wave. Penny gave Johnny an affected smile, then let her gaze wander out over the ..."
"...Penny gave Johnny an affected smile, then let her gaze wander out over the sunlit water. “This river probably looks about the same today as it did in the 1800s, but I’ll bet runaway slaves missed seeing its beauty. They were risking their lives, hiding and waiting for dark to ..."
14.
"... risking their lives, hiding and waiting for dark to come so they could escape along the bank.” Johnny gestured for Penny to precede him along the narrow path beside the water. “After you.” Penny turned to face him. “Wait, Johnny, I have something to say.... If the upstairs bedrooms ..."
15.
"... the water. “After you.” Penny turned to face him. “Wait, Johnny, I have something to say.... If the upstairs bedrooms look decent, let’s spend the night in the house. Please! I want...its almost a compulsion to stay in my great-grandparents’ house.” “You want to sleep there? ..."
21.
"... A vein in Johnny’s neck pulsed. He pressed the nose piece of his glasses and frowned at his wife. He glanced at his watch, and then tugged at his ear lobe. “It’s after two o’clock so we can’t cancel the motel room.” His voice was strained. “You’re sure about this?” ..."
"...Lily waited downstairs while Uncle Buddy led the way up the wooden treads using the banister like a towrope, but near the top he lost his grip and lurched. Johnny nudged him from behind until he grabbed the railing and steadied himself, and when Uncle Buddy resumed his unsteady climb, Johnny shot Penny a long-suffering look. ..."
32.
"... front of the hall. Under a layer of dust, the bedrooms were elegant. Johnny inspected a circular metal staircase that provided access to the cupola. Even with the trap door closed, a strong draft pulled the air upward. “It’s for ventilation.” Uncle Buddy pointed skyward. “Heat ..."
37.
"... go down and see what Lily is up to,” Uncle Buddy said. “Bring in your suitcases whenever you like.” Trailing Uncle Buddy, Penny steepled her hands and her eyes pleaded with Johnny. He sent her a scorching glance. At the bottom of the staircase, he cleared his throat. “Uh, Uncle ..."
"...“You’re awfully quiet,” Johnny later said as he watched Penny re-pack her suitcase in the motel room. His frustration more than he could hide, he turned toward the window, placed his palms on the sill, and leaned heavily on his hands. “I’d think someone so thankful to me for giving up ..."
42.
"... how many on down to the bottom.” Johnny scrutinized her over his glasses’ frame. “You counted them on the way up. What about the dentures in that Fleischmann’s Margarine container in the bathroom? Did you know there would be two uppers in there?” After supper they returned to ..."
45.
"... After supper they returned to the house, where Uncle Buddy poured sherry and drew Johnny into a bull session on college football. The timbre of Johnny’s voice changed when he talked about sports. Lily sat in the rocker, moving it slowly back and forth until she fell asleep. Penny ..."
48.
"... And pay no attention to the night noises; Lily and I don’t even hear them anymore.” Penny reseated herself. “Johnny, would you please bring in our flashlight from the glove compartment?” Uncle Buddy heaved himself up from his chair. “Let me show you how to unstick the back ..."
"...At the top of the stairway, Penny turned left into the room in which Johnny had stacked their suitcases. Against the far wall stood a magnificent old bed whose half tester towered six feet above the mattress and extended three-fourths of the way down the length of the bedframe. Against the wall to the left was the monstrous matching armoire: ten feet ..."
52.
"... Johnny entered the room and tossed a red flashlight onto the bed. “There you go. I’m going back down and talk to Uncle Buddy a little longer, it’s only nine-thirty.” He raised his eyebrows and grinned at her. “Sherry tastes better after you drink a couple of glasses, you know it?” ..."
54.
"... and grinned at her. “Sherry tastes better after you drink a couple of glasses, you know it?” Sometime later, Penny heard Johnny bid Uncle Buddy goodnight and start up the creaky steps. “It’s cold up here,” he said, joining her in the bedroom. “I think I’ll sleep in my ..."
57.
"... Johnny dropped his shoes and stretched out beside her. Resting on his back, his head and his feet jammed into both ends of the bed. He sat up immediately, his movement causing the tester to joggle. “This bed’s too short. You can stay here, but I’m going over to the other room.” ..."
59.
"... the flashlight beside his bed. “Thank you for staying here with me; I owe you one.” “You owe me big time!” Johnny said, taking a look at the ceiling. He nodded, adding emphasis to his words. Back in her room, Penny examined the bed. Carved into the footboard was a hawk, whose ..."
"...“Give me just a second,” Penny said, pulling on her shoes. She walked across the hall and shook Johnny’s shoulder. He turned over, still sound asleep, so she picked up the flashlight and strode into the hall with a strange confidence. The figure reached out to her from the top step and Penny took the small cool hand of a lady whose touch was as gentle ..."
74.
"... the passageway. Blinking in the brilliance, she squinted through kudzu vines at the river in front of her. “Penny! Wake up! They’ve got breakfast ready for us,” Johnny said. Raising her hands, she shielded her eyes against beams of sunlight streaming across her bed. “I was ..."
76.
"... eyes against beams of sunlight streaming across her bed. “I was dreaming...so real that...” Johnny interrupted, “Lily’s cooked us a hot breakfast, so come on down as soon as you can.” Johnny descended the stairs and Penny sat up debriefing her mind, returning to reality. Stepping ..."
77.
"... so come on down as soon as you can.” Johnny descended the stairs and Penny sat up debriefing her mind, returning to reality. Stepping into the bathroom, her feet numb inside her shoes, she splashed water on her face and brushed her teeth. “It’s always too cold upstairs,” Uncle ..."
86.
"... Johnny looked up from his plate of eggs, bacon, grits, and toast. “I thought you were going to sleep all day.” Refilling coffee cups, he circled the table, brushing the top of Penny’s hair with his fingers as he moved behind her. “Just knocking out some spider webs,” he said. ..."
88.
"... back from the table. “I want to walk down to the river. Go ahead and eat. I’ll be back in a few minutes.” “If you can wait, I’ll go with you,” Johnny said. “Catch up with me if you want to. I’m going to run to the old bridge and walk back this way along the river ..."
93.
"... making her way through the undergrowth, trying to invent a path perpendicular to the river. “Penny! What are you doing?” Johnny called from the riverside. “You’re standing in poison ivy!” Turning back, she retraced her steps. “I thought maybe I could find where the tunnel ..."
95.
"... guess you think I’m cracking up.” Johnny kicked at the ground and scratched his head as he waited. “I think you’ve been working too hard, under too much stress, for too long...and now you’re going to have poison ivy on top of everything else.” Penny reached his side. “Last night ..."
"... “Last night I dreamed that an old lady led me though a tunnel from the basement to a hole in this hill. Her smile was like Mother’s.... And the bed I slept in—I think it might be the one Mother and Grandmother were born in. Johnny—the medallion on the ceiling is just like my necklace!” ..."
"...Johnny raised his arms, placed his fingertips behind his neck, and massaged his shoulders. “Are you ready to go back? I thought this trip would help you—give you something new to think about, so I went the whole nine yards, but now you’re out here in left field, ..."
100.
"... Penny led the way back in uncomfortable silence. As they approached the house Johnny said, “You want to see the cemetery, don’t you? Why don’t we go ride around before we eat lunch? I saw a Waffle House as we came into town.” “That’ll be fine.” Penny walked through the ..."
106.
"... I can’t explain. There’s...” Penny interrupted, “It’s a big metal cage, isn’t it!” Johnny stepped onto the porch. “What’s in the basement that you can’t explain?” “I’ll show you if you want,” Uncle Buddy said. “But it’s dark as a dungeon down there, and ..."
108.
"... get dirty.” Uncle Buddy carried a battery torch and Johnny followed him, crawling through a window well into the space under the house. Penny squatted and peered through the opening. Across the dirt floor was a huge cage, its door dangling crooked from one hinge. Penny returned to the ..."
"...Uncle Buddy returned with Johnny behind him. “A while back I wrote to the history department at the university and asked the librarian to research it for me, but he couldn’t come up with what that rusty cage might have been used for. Then last year I met a chap who told ..."
118.
"... Johnny called Penny to the kitchen. “We’d better start gathering up our things if we’re going to visit the cemetery,” he said, patting Lily’s shoulder and shaking hands with Uncle Buddy. “You folks have been great to have us in your home and we’d like to pay you for it.” ..."
120.
"... we’d like to pay you for it.” “I’m glad you insisted on paying for our rooms.” Penny stood in the street in front of the house helping Johnny lift suitcases into their trunk. “The only thing I didn’t get to do was climb up into the cupola.” They turned for a last look above ..."
122.
"... look above the second floor, at the box shaped tower crowning the house. “Hey! Lily’s up there.” Johnny waved to a figure in the front window of the cupola, then slammed the trunk and slid behind the wheel. Penny raised her hand to wave and watched as the black-clad figure faded away ..."
129.
"... sun ignited the world. Its colors intensified in front of them until the heavens glowed, like a promise. As they neared Dixiana, Johnny rubbed the back of his neck and yawned. “How’s your throat?” Penny asked. “It doesn’t hurt now, but I try not to get cold when I have a sore ..."
"...This was news to Penny, and she turned to face him. “That couldn’t cause leukemia, Johnny. Everybody has cancer cells. Most people control them with their immune systems, but sometimes something— a carcinogen like asbestos or tobacco—makes the bad cells multiply so fast that the immune system can’t keep up.” ..."
135.
"... the immune system can’t keep up.” Johnny continued. “Daddy was the school principle so they bused all the kids to our house and walked them by the casket. I couldn’t hardly stand to sit on our front porch and watch them come up the steps.” Penny leaned back in her seat. “They ..."
136.
"... the steps.” Penny leaned back in her seat. “They didn’t have chemotherapy drugs back then. Your father had acute leukemia before that camping trip; he just didn’t know why he felt so bad.... Johnny, you don’t really believe it was your fault that he died, do you?” Johnny glared ..."
137.
"... trip; he just didn’t know why he felt so bad.... Johnny, you don’t really believe it was your fault that he died, do you?” Johnny glared at the road. “No, of course you don’t; you had nothing to do with it.” Several minutes passed in silence. Penny located station WEZY on the ..."

-------------------------------------------
"...Sunday night as she unpacked their suitcases, Penny separated clean clothing from a pile to be washed. She hung a pair of slacks in Johnny’s closet and opened his underwear drawer to replace the unused Jockeys. From beneath a stack of t-shirts the corner of an old cigar box caught her attention, and she folded back its cover to discover a mass of silver dollars. ..."
"...When their children were young, Johnny had added one of these coins to each of their Christmas stockings every year until the little spenders rebelled against saving and traded them to him for paper money. Penny examined one of the tiny white rocks among the coins: a baby’s tooth! Johnny must have kept ..."
"...Monday morning Penny napped until nearly noon. On the counter she found a note from Johnny: “Look at this!” Beneath it was the “Issues” section of Jacksonville’s Sunday paper and as she scanned the headline, “DIXIANA HOSPITAL TARGETED IN LAWSUIT,” a sudden empty space opened in Penny’s chest. ..."
"...She reached home as Johnny arrived to eat an early supper before his game. He parked behind her and hopped out of the Mercury carrying an identical bag. “We must be on the same wave length,” he said. “I’ve been thinking about barbeque all afternoon!” He helped carry Penny’s purchases ..."
45.
"... Penny filled two glasses with iced tea and set the table before Johnny reappeared wearing a new baseball uniform. He sat at his place and laid his cap on the table, and Penny stopped unwrapping a new roll of paper towels to admire her husband’s body in the snug outfit. “Wow.” ..."
46.
"... of paper towels to admire her husband’s body in the snug outfit. “Wow.” “We’ll look like a team; we’ve just got to play like one. How did the rest of your week go?” Johnny picked up his sandwich. “Watt Weeks died yesterday. It seemed like the sicker he got, the more bizarre ..."
48.
"... he got, the more bizarre his friend acted. It was amazing we came through it as well as we did.” Johnny stirred sugar into his tea. “You want to tell me about it while we eat?” Penny joined him at the table. “Prader Philpot was Watt Weeks’s old Army buddy, and he was still ..."
"...Penny hesitated, remembering the times she and Johnny enjoyed going to college football games using the hospital’s passes for box seats because of Puckett’s generosity and his friendship with her husband. “I can’t pull medicines; I don’t know where they keep the drugs anymore. I can do the nursing part, but you’ll have to get ..."
73.
"... called Dr. Scales three times but he wouldn’t come.” Time to get out of here right now! In Penny’s imagination she saw herself entering her kitchen from the garage, the half-full coffee pot still warm from Johnny’s breakfast. Redirecting her mind, she picked up the patient’s chart. ..."
129.
"... Red Cross! Bolting up from his recliner, Johnny switched off the television when Penny entered the den. He gave her a smile and hunkered down beside her on the couch, draping an arm across her shoulders. “So tell me about it. Were you sad to leave your old hospital?” “No, I am not ..."
131.
"... It started early this morning...” Johnny asked questions, making sure he understood the medical details. He listened until Penny stopped talking and disengaged herself from under his arm. She twisted around to face him, her legs curled on the couch. His lips were pinched, his eyes ..."
134.
"... “This is unreal!” Johnny sputtered. “You’re right on target! You know that, don’t you? He’s lower than the underside of a snake.” He nodded for emphasis. “The man’s mean and he’s crazy! Thank God you won’t have to be around him at the other hospital!” Penny ..."
136.
"... hospital, too.” Johnny placed his hands on Penny’s shoulders and held her back from him, his eyes boring into her. “Stay away from him! Go to the bathroom, hang up the phone, don’t listen to him! I’m not around, stay the hell away from him!” Exhaustion claimed her and ..."
137.
"... I’m not around, stay the hell away from him!” Exhaustion claimed her and Penny’s head found the hollow of Johnny’s neck, its resting place for so long. “Johnny,” she whispered. “What do you think they actually did in Gomorrah?” ..."

-------------------------------------------
"...In mid-afternoon, the sun appeared and Penny walked Zac around the yard on his leash, afraid to let him run free because the street in front of their house was full of out-of-towners. She then locked the unhappy dog in his pen. Johnny would be late returning from practice, so there was plenty of time to try out the city’s new walking trail before she started supper. ..."
"...At suppertime, Penny set out a salad bar of chopped vegetables and lettuce, and when Johnny arrived he served himself from the kitchen counter. “It looked like a bad day for practice,” he said, “but when time came for baseball the sun popped out: a good omen, right? The guys really put their hearts into it today! You know?” ..."
30.
"... fortifying breath. “A hawk flew with me, and when it looked at me, it was just unbelievable.” “That is remarkable.” Johnny cast an oblique peek at his wife and rubbed his nose. “Have you forgotten that I want you to teach me to pay bills when you have time?” “I’ve ..."

-------------------------------------------
Chapter 26: Chapter Twenty-Six
0.
"... patients. On Thursday morning her fatigue forgotten in the anticipation of reading Flossie Mae’s news, Penny hurried into the house. Scanning the kitchen for newspapers, she shed her jacket and spotted Johnny’s note on the counter. She leaned over it, the Formica cold on her elbows. ..."
5.
"... in the refrigerator. Please swing by The Athlete’s Store on your way to work tonight and pick up my seven bats, charged to the school. Thanks, Johnny. P.S. You’d better eat before you read the paper.” Wednesday’s Jacksonville paper rested on the table and the words exploded in ..."
"...Johnnystood in the inner part of the bathroom, which contained the shower and the toilet. It was a windowless room near the center of the house. She leapt out into the sink area of the bathroom and locked the outer door, then ran back into the inner room, ..."
"...A warm breeze carried the grape-like scent of sprouting kudzu and a mockingbird called, “Wha-cha-need, wha-cha-need, pretty, pretty, pretty.” Recovered from her fright, Penny embraced the day like a morning glory reaching for the sun. She had shopping to do before she picked up Johnny’s bats, and today’s weather was fine for moving Dick’s snake outside. She would release it into the woods behind the Jacksonville hospital, a great home for the reptile. She showered and dressed, loaded the snake and its water dispenser into a cardboard box, placed the box on ..."
39.
"... thong panties. Next she drove past ne’er-do-wells, who stared at her from the downtown street corners, and parked beside the Hyatt Hotel. Her business there consumed more time than she had expected, and she dashed on to The Athlete’s Store for Johnny’s bats. Entering the JMC ..."

-------------------------------------------
"...Johnny’s birthday would be this weekend, and she had made reservations for them to spend Sunday night at the Hyatt. As she rounded the stairs on Third and looked up, Dr. Scales was a half floor above her, coming down from Fourth. She experienced a surge of panic ..."
"...up at a blue sky, highlighted by fluffy pillow-shaped clouds. She flexed her elbows and observed her hands, covered with blood. She felt no pain and no fear; she must be dead.... Dr. Scales was dead too. Blood was running out of his hair onto Johnny’s Louisville Slugger. Johnny would be upset. Penny closed her eyes to shield them from the blinding brightness of the sun. ..."

-------------------------------------------
"...She started coffee, pulling on her sweats while it perked. Trying not to wake Johnny, she poured herself a cup and eased open the door to the patio. Lilacs and azaleas spread soft pinks around the perimeter of the yard and unopened wisteria blossoms hung on their vines like grapes. Penny stepped outside breathing sweet air into her lungs while an early ..."
"...church with him when she was young and he was not yet old, holding his hand and skipping to keep up with his long strides. When she woke again the sun was over the house and light poured through her window. She padded into the den, where Johnny was completely absorbed in a muted NASCAR race on television, stood behind his chair, and touched his shoulder. “Happy Birthday.” ..."
18.
"... Dick’s snake. The last time she saw it, it was plummeting toward the concrete parking lot. Johnny opened the door. “Are you sure you’re up to this? We can always go some other time.” “I want to celebrate your birthday and start your next year right.” Johnny crossed the ..."
22.
"... We can always go some other time.” “I want to celebrate your birthday and start your next year right.” Johnny crossed the sun-splashed concrete and sat beside her. Penny rocked back and forth, hugging herself. “I keep thinking something else is going to happen.” “What? ..."
26.
"... it up the hill this morning—it was like gravity had increased, pulling me down.” Johnny’s voice was deep, with a threat of laughter. “If the world didn’t suck, we’d all fall off. You know?” Penny searched her husband’s face. He smiled but his eyes were sad, and he spoke so ..."
"...Johnny breathed deeply, as though absorbing springtime into his body. Then he said with reasoning deliberateness, “You grew up feeling responsible for other people’s happiness, so I think it’s probably natural that you feel a lot of guilt. But Penny, Dr. Scales defrauded the government and he injured ..."
"...Johnny grabbed her with both his arms, and she put her feet down to avoid falling. “Neither one of us knew how to have a marriage—we had to live it and learn how. There’s no telling what will happen tomorrow or the next day, but we’re alive and ..."
"...Johnny grinned. “You got him where it counts, though. I think the saying goes, ‘Heroes are made, not born.’ They’re just regular people who rise to meet the circumstances at hand, and you do that on a regular basis. Your mother told me her grandmother had ..."
"...Removing the chain with its hawk’s eye medallion from her neck, she replaced it with the string of cultured pearls Johnny had given her on their wedding day and installed the pearl ear studs she inherited from her mother. “Pearls become more beautiful when you wear them,” her mother once told her. ..."
37.
"... when you wear them,” her mother once told her. She wondered what her life would have been if she had not married Johnny. So much happened by chance—if either of them had chosen a different college she would not have met him. After extensive effort with her make-up, she tackled her ..."
40.
"... seductive ways of unbuttoning it to expose the lace bra, the garter belt, and the fish-net stockings. Johnny was still watching the NASCAR race, so she sat beside him with the Sunday paper. “You smell good.” Johnny gave her a predatory once-over. “When should we leave and where are we ..."
41.
"... was still watching the NASCAR race, so she sat beside him with the Sunday paper. “You smell good.” Johnny gave her a predatory once-over. “When should we leave and where are we going?” “We have six o’clock reservations at the Hyatt, but it’s your night—we can be late ..."
"...The temperature in the garage had cooled when Johnny finished checking his tires and unlocked the Mercury’s doors. “I need to check the oil; it’ll just take a minute.” He glanced at Penny’s short-sleeved dress with its sweetheart neckline. “We’re probably in for dogwood winter—you might want a sweater.” ..."
45.
"... with its sweetheart neckline. “We’re probably in for dogwood winter—you might want a sweater.” She reentered the house and Johnny called. “Be sure we turned off all the lights.” When Penny returned with a white sweater over her arm, Johnny was already behind the wheel. Her high ..."
"...When Penny returned with a white sweater over her arm, Johnny was already behind the wheel. Her high heels clicked against the concrete, and she opened the door on the passenger side to lay her sweater on the seat. Standing in the garage, framed by the wide-open car door, she unbuttoned her dress from neckline to hem. ..."
47.
"... by the wide-open car door, she unbuttoned her dress from neckline to hem. “On second thought, maybe we should stay here!” Johnny watched his wife re-fasten her dress. “I liked it better the other way.” He backed the car out of the garage and into the driveway, then turned off the ..."
"...“You have made our yard beautiful,” Johnny said, observing yellow forsythia and white spirea in the center of the driveway. He laid his arm along the back of the seat and pulled Penny closer. “I’ve been thinking of putting a concrete bench in this circle and, when I die, having you sprinkle my ashes ..."
55.
"... your body was still nearby. Would it bother you to have me out here if I die first?” “It wouldn’t bother me, but it might bother my next wife.” Johnny laughed and released her to start the car. “Well, I can tell you that would be the very least of her problems.” Penny slid away ..."
58.
"... would be the very least of her problems.” Penny slid away from him and folded her arms across her chest. “What has become of my shy, sweet wife?” Johnny asked the car ceiling. “Being married to somebody as good as you for so long, I have to be bad whenever I can, to balance things ..."
"...to somebody as good as you for so long, I have to be bad whenever I can, to balance things out.” Penny inserted a tape of Aaron Copeland’s Appalachian Spring and turned the volume low. Shifting to the middle of the seat, she laid her hand on Johnny’s thigh and breathed in the scent of him: he must be wearing Robert Redford cologne! Johnny’s fingers gripped the steering wheel with confidence, and Penny could feel his leg muscles grow hard against her hand as he pressed the accelerator. She leaned her head back, experiencing the ..."
62.
"... him and taste his skin, to breathe his breath. With every mile, she was more attracted to her husband. “Man, that’s beautiful!” Johnny said as they sped toward Jacksonville. Penny looked out his window, searching for some beauty to share. “Didn’t you see it? That black ..."

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