“Quite by Accident” Chapter 16

The Paperback Edition…

“WHY AREN’T YOU GONE?” I screamed as I sat bolt upright in bed and leaned towards him, hands waving in the air as if to make him go away.

“I never leave,” Fred said very calmly.   “You are my job until you die.  That’s the rule.  I don’t make the rules.  I just do what I am told.  I am an excellent obeyer of rules.”

I sighed, completely and utterly exasperated.

“But…but…I can’t have you just watching me,” I persisted.  “All…the…time.  It’s already bothering me…”

I decided to try the sympathy approach.  I’m sure a little wheedling will go a long way…  I’ve been told I can wheedle with the best of them.

“Stop wheedling.  It won’t work.  I have to watch you.  Watch OVER you is the correct term..to be precise.”

“You are going to drive me to drink!!”  I shouted at him and then thought…hey…what a great idea!

I slipped out of bed, being careful not to disturb the now very sound asleep Emma, flipped the hall overhead light switch on and trudged slowly toward my kitchen.

I knew there was an almost full bottle of Jim Beam in the cupboard that I occasionally used if I was having trouble getting to sleep.

It didn’t happen very often…but still…I had the bourbon just in case…and now seemed like a very appropriate time…very.

I reached up and took the bottle down from the shelf over the sink and then turned to open another cabinet to get a glass.

“JESUS CHRIST!!!!” I yelled and almost dropped the bottle of whiskey.

Fred was hovering right behind the breakfast bar…not two feet away from me!

“I’m sure He heard that…by the way.” Fred said with a hint of reproach in his voice.

 

“Quite by Accident” Chapter 19

The Paperback Edition…

Here’s a Snapchat cartoon of my brain at work…let’s make it animated…perhaps 3D…if that is possible…telling me what to do.  I, of course, am the main character.

I am to follow my guardian angel down my apartment hallway to my bedroom where I will get into my bed with my now ‘not so normal’ cat, Emma,.

I am to fall asleep and said guardian angel…now named Fred…will watch over me until I wake up tomorrow morning…

AND…he will continue to watch over me for the rest of my entire life.

AND…I will see him in action…or inaction…and no one else will.

AND…if I tell anyone, they will either lock me up…or send me somewhere with…you know…padded walls and there will be lots of very friendly people there smiling at me .

AND…FRED WILL BE THERE WITH ME!!!  WATCHING.  OVER.  ME…….FOR FUCKING EVER!!!!

OMG!!!!  I will never ever sleep again…

And yet…and yet…I suddenly feel strangely peaceful and calm as I climb into bed and  begin my normal “go to sleep” ritual.

First lying on my right side and then turning over to my left side where I fall asleep instantly…as I have done for 24 years.

“Tobey!!!  Wake up!!!  The fire alarm is going to go off in a couple of minutes.  You have to leave now.”

“Quite by Accident” Chapter 20

The Paperback Edition…

My eyes flew open and I could hear Fred talking to me.  What did he mean?  The room wasn’t even smoky and there was no alarm…

      BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP 

Oh…there it was…my sleep-fogged brain was slow to function.  Gosh that’s loud, I thought.

I’m always shocked how loud the fire alarm is…we must have at least 2 false alarms a month…some people never learn how to cook…

But…now there was a smokey smell in my room!  No false alarm this time.

I shrugged on my slippers as I walked after Fred who was floating down my hallway and I followed him out the door into the apartment hall.  It was super smoky.  I’d never seen anything like this before…it was scary…

No one else was out there…just Fred wafting down the hall…almost blending into the smoke.

“This way,” said Fred.  He was leading me toward a foggy light at the end of the hallway.  WTF!…had I really died?  Was this the “light” that everyone keeps talking about when they die?  Was everything that had happened tonight just a ruse?

No, no of course not, I told myself.  It’s just the apartment emergency light.  WAKE UP TOBEY!!! I shouted to myself and shook my head and blinked my eyes.  There was a lot more smoke now.

Then I stopped short…

“Wait!  Where is Emma?  Do you have her?”  I hollered ahead to Fred.  Now I couldn’t see him very well.  He was hard to see with all the smoke.  But then I sensed he was right  beside me…seemingly touching my elbow.

The alarm was so much louder in the hallway…I could hardly hear my own voice…but Fred’s voice was unmistakable in my ear…

“She’ll be fine, Tobey.  You have to leave now!”  His presence was more insistent but he wasn’t actually grabbing me.

“No! Wait!  I can’t leave Emma.  I’m going back Fred!”

I turned away and felt his touch on my arm disappear.

I quickly made my way back down the now smoke-filled hallway until the dim glow  from the EXIT sign showed I was at my door.  It hadn’t locked when I had closed it.

“Thanks God!!” I said out loud.

I pushed the door open and then quickly closed it, making sure that Emma did not run out into the apartment hall.

I knew exactly where that little squirt would be…under my bed…where she always went when that damn alarm went off.

The smoke was creeping into my apartment and getting thicker.  I ran into my room coughing loudly.  I shut the door in case Emma tried to slip out.

I clapped for my light to go on.  It did.  But then all the lights went out!

 

“Quite by Accident” Chapter 21

The Paperback Edition…

I ran over to my bed and dropped to my knees.  I started pulling out all the under-the-bed bins I used for storage…calling Emma’s name…but only hearing the deafening and increasingly irritating blare of the fire alarm.

Tears were streaming down my cheeks…my heart felt like it was literally breaking.

I sobbed, “Dammit Emma, where are you?  I’m not leaving you!   You’re my best friend, Emma!!   You’re my…my only friend.”

Oh God, I thought…where in the holy hell is she???

I laid full out on my stomach so I could reach farther under my bed and then suddenly I felt that soft fur, so familiar to my touch, and I grabbed a bunch of it and held on tight.  I scooted backwards and dragged Emma out from under the bed.

Her little blue eyes popped open and she looked at me and coughed.

“Did you burn dinner again, Tobey?”

“C’mon you little rascal, we’re blowing this pop stand.”

I sat up and put Emma under my tee-shirt and tucked it into my sleep pants and then pulled the drawstring tight underneath her.

I was only taking little breaths but they all felt like pure  smoke.  The only light in the room was from my laptop on my desk…thank God for battery mode….

With my left hand firmly under Emma, I pulled up the window blinds, climbed up on my desk chair and then onto my desk.  Crouching low, I slid open the window and cold, fresh air rushed in.

I took a couple of deep breaths, backed up to the edge of my desk and then I ran…head and right shoulder down… full force through the screen!

There was so little resistance…I flew through the air!   My butt landed with a smack on a snow-covered bush.

I looked up and there was Fred…shimmering on a snowbank…about three feet away.

“Well…I see you two made it.”

“Quite by Accident” Chapter 16

The Paperback Edition…

“WHY AREN’T YOU GONE?” I screamed as I sat bolt upright in bed and leaned towards him, hands waving in the air as if to make him go away.

“I never leave,” Fred said very calmly.   “You are my job until you die.  That’s the rule.  I don’t make the rules.  I just do what I am told.  I am an excellent obeyer of rules.”

I sighed, completely and utterly exasperated.

“But…but…I can’t have you just watching me,” I persisted.  “All…the…time.  It’s already bothering me…”

I decided to try the sympathy approach.  I’m sure a little wheedling will go a long way…  I’ve been told I can wheedle with the best of them.

“Stop wheedling.  It won’t work.  I have to watch you.  Watch OVER you is the correct term..to be precise.”

“You are going to drive me to drink!!”  I shouted at him and then thought…hey…what a great idea!

I slipped out of bed, being careful not to disturb the now very sound asleep Emma, flipped the hall overhead light switch on and trudged slowly toward my kitchen.

I knew there was an almost full bottle of Jim Beam in the cupboard that I occasionally used if I was having trouble getting to sleep.

It didn’t happen very often…but still…I had the bourbon just in case…and now seemed like a very appropriate time…very.

I reached up and took the bottle down from the shelf over the sink and then turned to open another cabinet to get a glass.

“JESUS CHRIST!!!!” I yelled and almost dropped the bottle of whiskey.

Fred was hovering right behind the breakfast bar…not two feet away from me!

“I’m sure He heard that…by the way.” Fred said with a hint of reproach in his voice.

 

“Quite by Accident” Chapter 19

The Paperback Edition…

Here’s a Snapchat cartoon of my brain at work…let’s make it animated…perhaps 3D…if that is possible…telling me what to do.  I, of course, am the main character.

I am to follow my guardian angel down my apartment hallway to my bedroom where I will get into my bed with my now ‘not so normal’ cat, Emma,.

I am to fall asleep and said guardian angel…now named Fred…will watch over me until I wake up tomorrow morning…

AND…he will continue to watch over me for the rest of my entire life.

AND…I will see him in action…or inaction…and no one else will.

AND…if I tell anyone, they will either lock me up…or send me somewhere with…you know…padded walls and there will be lots of very friendly people there smiling at me .

AND…FRED WILL BE THERE WITH ME!!!  WATCHING.  OVER.  ME…….FOR FUCKING EVER!!!!

OMG!!!!  I will never ever sleep again…

And yet…and yet…I suddenly feel strangely peaceful and calm as I climb into bed and  begin my normal “go to sleep” ritual.

First lying on my right side and then turning over to my left side where I fall asleep instantly…as I have done for 24 years.

“Tobey!!!  Wake up!!!  The fire alarm is going to go off in a couple of minutes.  You have to leave now.”

“Quite by Accident” Chapter 20

The Paperback Edition…

My eyes flew open and I could hear Fred talking to me.  What did he mean?  The room wasn’t even smoky and there was no alarm…

      BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP 

Oh…there it was…my sleep-fogged brain was slow to function.  Gosh that’s loud, I thought.

I’m always shocked how loud the fire alarm is…we must have at least 2 false alarms a month…some people never learn how to cook…

But…now there was a smokey smell in my room!  No false alarm this time.

I shrugged on my slippers as I walked after Fred who was floating down my hallway and I followed him out the door into the apartment hall.  It was super smoky.  I’d never seen anything like this before…it was scary…

No one else was out there…just Fred wafting down the hall…almost blending into the smoke.

“This way,” said Fred.  He was leading me toward a foggy light at the end of the hallway.  WTF!…had I really died?  Was this the “light” that everyone keeps talking about when they die?  Was everything that had happened tonight just a ruse?

No, no of course not, I told myself.  It’s just the apartment emergency light.  WAKE UP TOBEY!!! I shouted to myself and shook my head and blinked my eyes.  There was a lot more smoke now.

Then I stopped short…

“Wait!  Where is Emma?  Do you have her?”  I hollered ahead to Fred.  Now I couldn’t see him very well.  He was hard to see with all the smoke.  But then I sensed he was right  beside me…seemingly touching my elbow.

The alarm was so much louder in the hallway…I could hardly hear my own voice…but Fred’s voice was unmistakable in my ear…

“She’ll be fine, Tobey.  You have to leave now!”  His presence was more insistent but he wasn’t actually grabbing me.

“No! Wait!  I can’t leave Emma.  I’m going back Fred!”

I turned away and felt his touch on my arm disappear.

I quickly made my way back down the now smoke-filled hallway until the dim glow  from the EXIT sign showed I was at my door.  It hadn’t locked when I had closed it.

“Thanks God!!” I said out loud.

I pushed the door open and then quickly closed it, making sure that Emma did not run out into the apartment hall.

I knew exactly where that little squirt would be…under my bed…where she always went when that damn alarm went off.

The smoke was creeping into my apartment and getting thicker.  I ran into my room coughing loudly.  I shut the door in case Emma tried to slip out.

I clapped for my light to go on.  It did.  But then all the lights went out!

 

“Quite by Accident” Chapter 21

The Paperback Edition…

I ran over to my bed and dropped to my knees.  I started pulling out all the under-the-bed bins I used for storage…calling Emma’s name…but only hearing the deafening and increasingly irritating blare of the fire alarm.

Tears were streaming down my cheeks…my heart felt like it was literally breaking.

I sobbed, “Dammit Emma, where are you?  I’m not leaving you!   You’re my best friend, Emma!!   You’re my…my only friend.”

Oh God, I thought…where in the holy hell is she???

I laid full out on my stomach so I could reach farther under my bed and then suddenly I felt that soft fur, so familiar to my touch, and I grabbed a bunch of it and held on tight.  I scooted backwards and dragged Emma out from under the bed.

Her little blue eyes popped open and she looked at me and coughed.

“Did you burn dinner again, Tobey?”

“C’mon you little rascal, we’re blowing this pop stand.”

I sat up and put Emma under my tee-shirt and tucked it into my sleep pants and then pulled the drawstring tight underneath her.

I was only taking little breaths but they all felt like pure  smoke.  The only light in the room was from my laptop on my desk…thank God for battery mode….

With my left hand firmly under Emma, I pulled up the window blinds, climbed up on my desk chair and then onto my desk.  Crouching low, I slid open the window and cold, fresh air rushed in.

I took a couple of deep breaths, backed up to the edge of my desk and then I ran…head and right shoulder down… full force through the screen!

There was so little resistance…I flew through the air!   My butt landed with a smack on a snow-covered bush.

I looked up and there was Fred…shimmering on a snowbank…about three feet away.

“Well…I see you two made it.”