Rusty, the dog sat patiently at the foot end of the bed. The only time he moved was to eat
and go outdoors for relief. It did not matter if there were visitors or not. He never moved.
John was his master. They had been together for nine years. Every day when John went to work, Rusty would sit by the door waiting for his master to come home. They would eat supper together, sometimes Rusty would watch while John worked in the yard. It was always the two of them when John had to go to town.
Now John was sick and Rusty knew it. He guarded the bed, listening for sounds coming from his master, hoping he could help. Every day John’s sister would go to his room and attend to his needs. She bathed him, changed his sheets and fixed him a cup of soup and brought it to him.
Before she left, she would always lean over John and tell him how much she loved him and leave snacks on his bed side table. He didn’t eat much anymore, but she didn’t want the table to be empty in case he had a change of mind.
The minister came from the church down the road. John didn’t go regularly, but the minister wanted to make sure John was straight in his heart and knew where he was going to go.
When the nights drew near, and the shadows took over the sunshine, Rusty would jump on the bed and lie at the foot of his master. When Rusty could hear the breathing slow down, he would go to his master’s side and give his master a kiss. John always smiled.
John had been a lawyer in his working days. He was strong-willed, and worked hard. He hardly ever lost any cases. He became rich in monies but poor with family and friends. He didn’t care whether he was going to hurt someone’s feelings. He didn’t care if he drained a person’s bank account. He cared about winning.
He married only once. He was past the prime age of marrying, but he couldn’t stop thinking about the lady with the big green eyes and the gentle smile. She worked for him as part of the cleaning crew.
At first when he was working late, she would knock on his door getting permission to come in and start on his room. He seemed a little irritated with her presence, but with her gentle nudging, the two of them found conversations to become easier.
One time a few months after she had been cleaning, she knocked on the door and when she heard the familiar ring of his voice she walked in to see a two red roses waiting for her. From then on it was instant love. Love poured out of their eyes. Talk made more sense, and soon he found himself asking, ” Joan, would you care to have dinner with me tomorrow night? It it will be Friday and I should be wrapped up with most of my work”.
Her eyes glistened as her voice shook out the words, ” Yes John, I would love to go to dinner with you”. He got up from his desk and walked over to her. He embraced her and told her, ” Good. I will pick you up around seven since you don’t work on Fridays”.
From the moment Friday night ended, the two of them could be found dining every Friday after. As it became a regular date night, Joan’s family stepped in to remind her of how mean John was. He thinks of no one they said. He is just not the proper man for you. Their voices went unheard as she knew in her heart she was already in love with him.
It was nearing Christmas Eve and John had asked Joan if she would consider having dinner at his house and she had said yes. He picked her up at their regular time and when they entered the front doors, the smell of food could make you dizzy.
John’s sister Kara who lived with him taking care of the house had made a delightful meal. After helping Joan take off her coat, he guided her to the dining room table where two candles were lit, and sitting on the plates were two steaming bowls of home-made chicken soup. He seated her and the two of them exchanged glances and conversations of the holidays coming.
When the bowls were removed, a plate of prime rib decorated by baby potatoes and glazed carrots appeared. Joan said, ” This food is so delicious. You should not have gone to so much bother John”. He replied, ” Don’t worry, Kara fixed it all, and she has cooked for me for so long, that placing another plate on the table was no bother”. She smiled at him.
When the dessert came, two dishes of orange sherbert were placed in front of them, and a box also came out of John’s pocket. He laid it gently at her finger tips and said, ” Open it Joan, open it now”. Her eyes began to water as she opened the box and saw a beautiful diamond ring. She looked up at John and he said, ” Yes, it is for you. I want you to have it”. John got up from his seat and knelt at her side, and taking her hands in his, asked her to be his wife.
Joan put her hand to her heart and then grasped the box and gave it back to John. ” You put the ring on my finger John. I have always envisioned this scene in my head. You put your heart on my finger”. He took the ring out of the box and placed it on her left third finger and then standing up he helped her out of her chair and they hugged and kissed.
For the first time John felt something other than his work. Love had touched his heart. His eyes danced and his walk became lighter. Each day was filled with sunshine. He never saw gray skies again.
A couple of weeks later the two were married by the judge. He took her to Paris for their honeymoon, and the two wished they never had to return to the everyday routine. John and Joan were so happy for the next year. Each day was like a brand new day. Except for work, the two shared a wonderful life. John even gave up a few hours of work to be with his darling wife.
One morning John woke but Joan didn’t. She had passed a way through the night. She had suffered an aneurism and she was gone. John’s heart broke in several pieces. He went through the motions of the next few days. His lips became dry and his voice choked when he spoke.
After a week had passed by, John buried himself back in his work. He stayed late nights and sometimes slept on the office couch. His sister tried to coax him into seeking some help, but he brushed her off. The only comfort he ever found was in his dog Rusty.
Rusty didn’t scold him. Rusty accepted and loved him. Every nite it was Rusty and John at the dinner table. He had no friends. There had been too many misunderstandings from the past. All he had left was Karla, and he realized that he treated her more like a servant instead of a sister.
Now John lie in his bed, getting ready to meet his maker. Alone except for Rusty and Karla. Days and nights turned into one. Karla took on another job, so she was only at home in the early mornings and evenings.
John was dying of cancer alone. He was living out his last days in the same manner he had treated people in the past. The world became cold and his heart became weary. He lay there remembering the eyes of his beloved Joan, and a smile stretched over his face and then faded a way as his last breath left his body with Rusty lying at his side.