When Lives Collide
Nancy was still asleep in Frank’s spare bedroom when he saw a stranger walking around her house with a clipboard. Frank was out the door in a flash.
“May I help you?” Frank said.
“Are you the owner of this property?”
“Before you ask questions perhaps you should identify yourself.”
“Municipal Property Assessment Corporation!”
“Is that your name?” Frank said sarcastically.
He already didn’t like this guy.
“I don’t have to talk to you unless you are the owner of this property.”
“I am not the owner but I know for a fact you do not have an appointment and are trespassing you pretentious prick so do I call the cops or are you leaving.”
“I am doing the owner a favour by not wasting time for an appointment. I need to get inside to do the assessment.”
Frank took his phone out and took a picture of the guy with Nancy’s house in the background.
“Here is what you will do. You will leave. You will write a letter to this address requesting an appointment. When you get the appointment, you will arrange for someone else from your office to come and do the assessment.”
Frank had been slowly backing up and the little twit had followed him. Suddenly Frank took a few quick steps towards Nancy’s place, turned, and took a picture back toward his place with Mr. Power Man in the picture.
Frank said, “You are now standing on my property and you are trespassing, and I am the owner. I doubt it will impress your boss when I press charges. Leave now and never show your face around these two properties again.”
“I will report your lack of cooperation to my superiors,” he said over his shoulder as he walked toward his vehicle on the road.
“I don’t think you are stupid enough to do that but be my guest,” Frank said to the guy’s back.
When he returned to his kitchen, he found Nancy was up and had been watching the excitement.
“Oh Frank, I was so afraid for you. I thought it was my past coming to call.”
“That little power abusing twerp would never make the cut as a hit man.”
Frank explained about the property assessment business and said they would have to make an appointment. If they refused, then eventually the twit could legally come with the cops to back him up.
“Nancy, how much do you trust me?”
“Frank I have trusted you with my life. You have trusted me with your life and I hope you really understand that is what you have done by being my friend.”
“I would like to have my attorney draw up a power of attorney giving me the authority to act for you in any matters related to your house. That way you won’t have to deal with anybody regarding your home. That jerk was trying to do an end-run around me because I am not the owner. How do you feel about that?”
“Would I have to go to the lawyer’s office?”
“Yes, but there is good news in that. I have kept dealing with the same law firm I used when I was in business. I usually do everything online with them, but they don’t know you and you would have to sign papers in their office before a witness or two. They are straight shooters, so they will also want one of their attorneys to represent you since we aren’t related and you are giving me a lot of power. They are a five-hour drive away so anyone we deal with will see you one time only. It can all be at my expense because they are on a permanent retainer with me.”
“OK, but I think I should pay.”
“Money isn’t a problem and if you pay me it is one more link that could be used to track you so please accept my offer.”
Frank set up the appointment and a few days later they drove the five hours to the law firm. The lawyers weren’t happy that all Nancy had for ID was a driver’s license but because Frank vouched for her, and she seemed sane, they accepted that as ID.
What Frank and the lawyers didn’t know was that the driver’s license was a fake and that her real name was not Nancy. She hadn’t thought about ID and neither had Frank. He apologized for not having considered that and said it was a good thing she had her driver’s license with her. She took a deep breath. She hated deceiving Frank.
On the drive back Frank said he thought they should install a security system in her place. Rather than have the base and recorder for the system in her house he thought it should go in his. She told him she liked that, but she would only agree if they could put a system into his place with the base in her house.
“Nancy, are you afraid that I will cheat on you,” he said laughing.
“No, I am afraid that you will get hurt being my friend,” she said not laughing.
“Nancy, I am getting to spend a lot of time with a smart, beautiful, warm, caring, woman young enough to be my granddaughter. No matter what it may cost me, it has been worth every minute I have spent with you.”
She caught her breath, and the tears rolled silently down her cheeks. Frank wondered what he had done wrong now. He didn’t realize that what he had said was just so right for her to hear.
Frank researched security systems and blew the budget on two very sophisticated systems. They included sound systems so that anything that was said could be heard in the other house. He talked with her about where they would install the cameras in her home and said he thought everywhere except the bedroom she slept in and the bathroom would be appropriate. She asked that if it was put in her bedroom, would she be able to talk to him at night, and he said he could set the systems up so that with a remote control you could turn the sound on or off to the other house. If the sound was left on for both systems, they could talk to each other just as if they were in the same room.
“Frank, I am most afraid when I am alone at night in bed. It would be nice to know that if I wanted to talk, you could hear me.”
“What if I wanted to peek at you as you dressed for bed?”
“I know you wouldn’t do that.”
“I may be old, but I am still a man.”
“I still know that you wouldn’t do that.”
“If this is to work, I would have to trust you not to peek at me, Nancy.”
“Because I have to have the same set up in my bedroom.”
She suddenly laughed and couldn’t seem to stop. When she regained control she said,
“Do you not realize that we are both going to become voyeurs.” and she laughed again and this time Frank got it and joined in.
“We are being silly,” she said, “because I am sleeping in your spare bedroom two out of three nights already.”
The days grew cooler but Frank and Nancy spent a lot of time flying. She became proficient and after two months, Frank told her she was functioning at the level of a pilot with a newly minted license. He told her he would love to let her go solo since she had been capable for quite a while, but he didn’t think they should press their luck while trying to maintain secrecy. It would be very difficult to explain if someone came along and found Frank on the ground while his plane was in the air. She said that she was content and happy with things the way they were.
Over the months they spent a lot of time sitting on the couch in front of the fire just talking. The weather was getting cool and Frank told her that the snow was not that far away.
“I think you should move in with me for the snowy season. I rarely have visitors but perhaps twice during the winter someone may decide unexpectedly to drop by. The problem is that there would be a lot of tracks between our houses and it would be difficult for me to say with a straight face I hadn’t seen the new neighbour. How would you feel about that?”
“Wow, I hadn’t considered that. You are right. Frank tell me truthfully, do you mind?”
“Actually, I am looking forward to it. You still don’t understand how much our friendship does for me. However, there is one other thing. If someone shows up, it might be awkward with you using the bedroom down here. I think you would need to move into an upstairs bedroom. You have never been upstairs but there are four bedrooms and a large office, so we could move you into a bedroom and you could use the office. Would you be OK with that?”
“Sure we would be just like an old married couple sleeping in separate bedrooms.”
“Luella and I always slept together.”
“Oh, Frank I am so sorry for what I said, it was thoughtless of me.”
“It’s OK. A lot of young people think sex stops after thirty, but they are wrong.”
“Now you are taking a shot at me, Frank. You don’t have a good idea how old I am, do you?”
“Sure I do. I think you are in your early twenties.”
“Coming from any man except you I would think that was false flattery. I turned thirty last week.”
“You didn’t tell me it was your birthday.”
“I didn’t think about it until now.”
“Tomorrow, I will bake you a cake from scratch.”
“Do you know how to bake a cake from scratch?”
“Yep, my mother thought a young man should know how to cook.”
“The upstairs bedrooms don’t have locks on the doors. I will get one for the bedroom of your choice tomorrow when I go for groceries.”
“Frank, you need not put a lock on the door. I stopped locking the door on the downstairs bedroom quite a while ago. I have also been leaving the door open because I feel trapped when it is closed. If you were going to be a problem for me you would already have noticed the open door.”
“Damn,” he said, and they both laughed.
“Besides, we have been sleeping together ever since you installed the security systems. It feels like you are right there beside me and it is a good feeling.”
“Let’s pick a bedroom.”
After looking over the rooms she said,
“I like this one.”
“But that’s my room.”
“I know and I like it,” and she gave him a wink and swished her hips and said, “I recently heard that old people still know how to have sex.”
“Very funny,” he said. “I think you should take the room next to mine because it is right beside the office at the back and you can’t be seen from downstairs in moving from the bedroom to the office.”
Nancy chuckled to herself. Frank thought she was joking, but she wasn’t. She would have slept with him that night.
They spent the next few days getting her things moved in and soon she was settled. Two days later the first snow fell and fell and fell. Frank got out the snowblower and cleared the driveway to the road. They decided not to clear her driveway so it would look like there was no one living there.
Frank mentioned one of his friends he had seen while shopping a couple of months back had asked about the new neighbours, but he said he hadn’t seen them and was suspicious that the property had been bought on speculation. When he had gone to the post office after blowing the snow he ran into another friend who said he must enjoy the peace with no one living next door. So it seemed Nancy didn’t exist. Nancy thought that was fantastic.
Late one cold winter evening they were sitting on the couch watching TV when she suddenly laid down and put her head in his lap. It surprised him. She looked up at him and asked if he minded. He said no. He wasn’t sure it was a good direction for their relationship to be going.
Since she had moved in, they had both been leaving their bedroom doors open. Frank didn’t like the closed in feeling any more than Nancy. Frank awoke one night to hear Nancy thrashing in bed and when he rushed in realized that she was dreaming and talking in her sleep. More accurately, it was like listening to a medical program with the doctors trying to save someone’s life in an emergency department. He lay down beside her and put his arm around her. At first, she startled and then settled into the curve of his body and quieted down and slept.
He slipped out of her bed before she awoke but the same thing happened two more nights in a row. When they were sitting on the couch the next evening, and she laid her head in his lap, as had become her habit, he turned off the TV and said,
“Nancy, I want you to think about telling me everything. If you aren’t ready, I understand but you are having terrible nightmares. I think you are having PTSD.”
“I know that I have been having bad dreams, but it has also been good because when I have the bad dreams I have a good dream about my dad, and he comes into my bedroom and holds me until I go back to sleep. Besides, I would have to have been in a war zone to suffer from PTSD.”
“We have been seeing a lot of each other and you have let things slip that I have been putting together. I don’t know how close I am to the truth but I think you have been in a war zone and I think you know a lot more about caring for injured people than you let on.”
She got up without a word and was going up the stairs when Frank said,
“Please let me help you, Nancy.”
When he went to bed later, her door was closed.
He was sleeping lightly and worrying about Nancy when he heard her door open and her footsteps came into his bedroom. He was fully awake now as she pulled the covers back and crawled into bed with him.
“OK, I will tell you everything but I need you to hold me because I will cry a lot.”
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