Ronnie Coleinger FOUND I am an author and my office is located on the second floor of a very old Colonial style home, built around ninety years ago with six huge south facing windows. My wife and I have dedicated the entire second floor to a library, offices, and a full bathroom. There is only one wall other than the bathroom walls and that wall is located between my office and my wife’s. The reason for that one wall is to keep my clutter from infiltrating into my wife’s incredibly clean and perfectly organized area. I decided once that a desk as incredibly clean as my wife’s is only good for one thing, putting my stuff on. I saw no problem putting my stuff on her desk as it was the only clean flat surface on the second floor. However, I soon discovered that she was not very tolerant of me placing my belongings in her workspace. I also discovered that she would move the stuff I had just piled on her desk onto the floor of my office. Since there is a tiny bit of clutter on the floor of my office area, I did not fully realize she was stacking my stuff on the floor until weeks later. Ronnie Coleinger/ Found 2 I had been gone from home for two weeks on a book- signing tour. When I returned, I discovered a freshly dry walled and painted wall separating our work areas. I said nothing to the woman about the wall, but did feel a little unloved for a few days after the discovery. The first floor of the house contains our living area, a three-car garage and a screened-in pavilion in the back yard. The home also has a full basement that we use for storage, along with a mechanical room and an exercise area. We had air conditioning put in a few years ago, but mostly we leave the windows open on the second floor, and the cool Minnesota breeze quickly removes the heat. If it does get to warm during a hot summer day, I put a fan in the window of the second floor but carefully adjust the direction of its airflow. Too much air blowing around in my office would quickly defeat the organizational methods I use for quick recovery of my documents, and book pages. My wife calls my office organizational skills, “The most incredible thing she has ever seen.” She tiptoes carefully in-between the papers and books I have organized on the floor so as not to disturb my handiwork. However, she never seems to smile as she attempts to locate a book on the shelves of the library. I am now convinced the woman I call wife, is mocking me. If the mocking continues, she may find her Ronnie Coleinger/ Found 3 office under the pavilion in the backyard. I have often had a notion to move her tidy tight ass to the basement, or out to the pavilion, as she seems to need very little room to do her work anyways. I could then knock that new partition wall to hell out of my way. However, as I sit her writing this story, I might have to reconsider that thought if Katherine’s next real estate commission check comes with a larger dollar amount on it than my royalty check, as it did last month. I will wait and see. A tree trimming crew was trimming branches out of the power lines in our town, and I was fascinated watching them place the bucket truck up into trees without touching the power lines and then trimming the trees with an air operated power saw. I watched as they raked and cleaned my yard of the branches and leaves that now littered the grass. The crew made quick work out of the cleanup operation, and then moved their bucket truck and grinder down the street to the next tree that required the same trimming as mine. I was typing away on a novel facing the window, so catching an occasional glimpse of them working was very easy. One of the crew was a young blond headed woman with her hair pulled back into a ponytail. She wore heavy work gloves and a fluorescent orange long sleeve shirt with reflective tape creating a letter-X on her back. Ronnie Coleinger/ Found 4 On the front of her shirt, she had placed the reflective tape to form a letter-T. The top of the letter was directly under her boobs as if it was a support post to hold up the very large breasts under that orange shirt. The bottom on the letter-T touched on her pubic area and the thought of her creating that pattern on her shirt to draw attention, made me smile. At my advanced age of fifty, the thought of where that letter tee was resting seemed to put a smile on my face. I needed printer paper from the basement and as I walked past my wife’s work out sweat pants, the intoxicating aroma of female pheromones instantly stirred my male psyche and I laughed aloud at the effect the woman in my yard had on me. When I returned to my office with the printer paper, I noticed that the work crew, including my newly discovered lover had left the neighborhood. I decided that I would mow the lawn later, maybe after lunch. The mower would take care of the last remaining bits of twigs and leaves the crew had missed and certainly could not have easily picked up with their rakes. The upcoming weekend was the Memorial Day holiday so I needed to mow and trim the yard anyways. When I finally got up the energy to mow the yard, I started on the side that the tree trimming crew had left the leaves and twigs lying Ronnie Coleinger/ Found 5 around on. As I pushed the mower, a shiny gold color flash caught my eye. I decided someone had thrown some trash in my yard, possibly a pop-top tab from a soda can. As I mowed and moved farther and farther away from the object, my eye kept catching a sparkle from the object with each pass of the mower. Finally, I could stand it no longer. Whatever was in the grass was drawing my attention, trying to signal me to return, to investigate its presence. As I stood over the object looking down, it sparkled again into my eyes as if it was again signaling me. Finally, I kneeled down to see what the object was before touching it, and then realized it was a very nice man’s gold wedding band. I picked it up and wrapped my fingers around it, trapping it in my fist. I felt it grow very warm against my skin. I opened my hand and looked at the ring, and the sunlight flashed off it again. I think it sparkled at me, thanking me for saving it from certain doom if left in the grass. I carefully put the ring down deep into my pocket for safekeeping. As I started to walk back to the lawn mower, I felt the ring warm inside my pocket as if once again thanking me for its salvation. The owner would be looking for this ring if they had lost it. If someone had thrown it away, I probably would never find its owner. There was an inscription engraved inside the ring that I Ronnie Coleinger/ Found 6 had read before putting the ring into my pocket. It had read, “In Loving Memory - Karen.” After I finished mowing the yard and trimming, I went inside to help my wife prepare supper. I thought we might go out to supper tonight, but Katherine had a customer that might call her later tonight and we did not want to chance missing the call if it came in. As we ate supper at the kitchen table, we giggled over the story I told her about the young girl in the shirt with the letter-T on the front. After we both stopped giggling about getting an erection after smelling her sweaty workout clothes hanging in the basement, I pulled the ring from my pants pocket and showed it to her. She did not laugh at the ring; instead, she said she was certain that someone would be looking for the tiny treasure now lying on the kitchen table. She asked if the ring could belong to one of the members of the tree trimming crew, possibly the girl with the shirt with the letter-T on it. I said that I would get the phone number for the tree trimming company when the trucks came into town in the morning and talk to the owner or manager about the ring. Katherine took my hand, said I must need a woman’s love or I would not be getting erections from girls working in the yard and sweaty workout clothes. She took my hand and escorted me to the bedroom. She was correct Ronnie Coleinger/ Found 7 again. When I returned to the kitchen to wash the dishes, I felt much better. It turns out I really was horny; fancy that concept and woman’s intuition. The ring was still lying on the kitchen table, so I picked it up and placed it inside an antique china coffee cup. The ring jiggled around inside its temporary home with excitement as I carefully placed the cup on top of the saucer and started to close the china cabinet door. As I shut the door, I saw a sparkle of light from inside the china cabinet but decided it was a reflection from the glass in the door as I closed it. However, some uncertainty must have resided in my mind, because I stood there thinking about the sparkle I had seen; wondering, then smiled as I questioned my own sanity. When Katherine and I woke in the morning, we both watched carefully for the tree trimming trucks to pass by, hoping to catch the company name or a phone number. We both sat on the same side of the kitchen table that faced the street where the trucks would pass by. Katherine did not have to work today; she had taken the day off to begin the Memorial Day holiday a little early. We had planned to stay close to home this holiday to entertain our neighbors with a cookout and swim party. We had two couples that lived close, one on each side of us, and we always enjoyed Ronnie Coleinger/ Found 8 spending time with them. As we ate our breakfast and planned the menu for the cookout, one of the trucks traveled slowly down the road past our kitchen window. Katherine and I both wrote down the eight-hundred-phone number. I found my cell phone on my desk, dialed the number and waited for an answer. A lady answered my call and quietly listened to my story. She wrote down my name, address, cell phone number, and then said that she would check to see if anyone from her trimming crews had lost the ring. She promised she would call me back one way or the other. It was three days after the Memorial Day weekend, before I heard back from the tree trimming company. The same lady that I had talked to earlier returned my call and she was very excited. She said that one of her men had lost his wedding ring, probably when he had taken off his work gloves. The man had confessed to her about wearing the ring inside his work gloves during working hours. He had been attending a safety meeting held at the main office when his confession fell upon his fellow workers ears. The man had discussed the loss of the ring with one of his friends and the friend had convinced him to tell the boss. He needed to clear his conscious about his lack of judgment by getting the error out into the open so the search for Ronnie Coleinger/ Found 9 the ring could begin. The man had been afraid to admit to wearing the ring at work, as that was a Cardinal Sin and could cost him a pay grade, or worse yet, his job. This company took safety violations very seriously and the employees watched out for each other’s safety continuously. The lady on the phone (Sandy) said she had taken the man into her office and chewed him out for the safety violation, then towards the end of the meeting remembered receiving the call about someone finding a lost ring. As we talked, Sandy told me that the man would be losing about forty dollars a week in wages for three months for his safety violation. Sandy said she felt the loss of wages was punishment enough and she hoped the ring was his. Sandy said that the inscription inside the ring surely proved it was his. Sandy also told me that she had not said anything about the inscription on the ring to the man, so I could have him identify the ring by the inscription if I wanted confirmation of ownership. As Sandy and I talked, I mentioned that the company seemed very strict about safety. Sandy said that around electrical power lines, things like metal rings or any metal jewelry could easily determine if a victim lived or died after receiving a high voltage shock. Sandy told me a story about how she had terminated a female employee for the wearing of a metal Ronnie Coleinger/ Found 10 piercing in her anatomy, which another employee spotted while the girls were in the showers. Sandy said, “That is how serious my employees take their safety.” I asked if the employee would remain fired for the infraction, or if she could apply and be rehired later. Sandy said she might have rehired the girl because she was a very hard worker, but she had started a fistfight in the showers after the confrontation so she would remain fired. As the conversation wound down, Sandy asked me if the employee could stop by my house in the morning and identify the ring. I said I would be home all day, and explained that the man should ring the doorbell and not to give up until he found me, since I sometimes zoned out while writing. If the doorbell did not find me, he could call my cell phone number and I would certainly answer that. Sandy said she would pass the information along to the man. As I hung up the phone, I smiled and began thinking about the girl in the shirt again. My wife would be very unhappy, knowing my brain had again wondered to the girl with the letter-T on the front of her shirt. However, I had just remembered that the girl wearing that shirt had a black patch under her right eye and a bruise on her cheek. The girl had looked as if she had been in a fight, or hit by a tree branch. At the time I first saw her, I had assumed she Ronnie Coleinger/ Found 11 probably had a run in with a tree branch; now my mind wandered into the girls shower room with two naked women punching each other and rolling around on the tiled floor. I decided that I should find another subject to focus my thoughts on, before Katherine began questioning the bulge in the front of my shorts. I would certainly have to lie to her if she spotted my swollen anatomy. I always had a tough time trying to lie to her. She always seem to weasel the information out of me when I was least expecting it, or she would turn the conversation around and then back into the story I had told, trapping me speaking the lie. Katherine had told me once that I could not possibly hide my lies from a professional liar, so not to even try. I often wondered what Katherine had meant with that statement, it certainly seemed to hold true more often than not. Maybe I just looked guilty, maybe I was just an insecure guilt ridden person who always looked as if I had just eaten the canary right out of its cage. That afternoon, I sat back down at the desk and wrote another thirty pages for my latest novel. Something had inspired me to write. I was not certain what had inspired me, but I had an idea that the girl with the letter-T on her shirt had something to do with it. Ronnie Coleinger/ Found 12 The following morning I got a call on my cell phone from a number I did not recognize, but figured it might be the man looking to see the ring. The man introduced himself as Scott, and said he and a fellow worker named Andrea would stop in around ten o’clock to look at the ring, if that was ok with me. I carefully explained the location of my house and the address, then agreed with the time he proposed and hung up the phone. When Scott arrived and rang the doorbell, I invited him and Andrea inside to the kitchen. As we talked, he introduced me to Andrea. I had already recognized her as the girl wearing the shirt with the letter-T on the front. I asked Scott if he was wearing the ring while he worked and his eyes turned to the floor, then he looked back into my eyes and said, “Yes, I had it on under my gloves and when I took my gloves off, the ring must have fallen to the ground. I was afraid my boss Sandy would fire me for the safety violation as she did another employee a few days earlier. Andrea spoke in Sandy’s defense and said that Sandy had fired the woman only because she had punched another employee in the face. I looked carefully at Sandy’s eye and cheek, and she blushed as she said, “Yes, she punched me when I confronted her over wearing the metal barbell in her….” I smiled, and Andrea realized she had said quite enough on the location Ronnie Coleinger/ Found 13 of the barbell. Scott said, “Anyways, I lost the ring and I am desperate to find it. I am hoping the one you found might me mine since I was working in your yard about the time I lost it.” I asked Scott to describe the ring to me. He said it was a plain gold wedding band, with an inscription engraved on the inside, and that his wife had given him the ring when they were married and he would hate to lose it. I asked him if he could tell me what the engraving on the inside of the ring said, and he told me, “In loving memory – Karen.” I nodded, and then stepped to the china cupboard to retrieve the stored ring. As I reached into the cup to grasp the ring, and had secured it in-between my fingers and thumb, the ring turned very warm to the touch, not hot or anything, but very warm. Then I saw a tiny flash of light from the area of my fingers, and this time I knew the flash was not from any reflection of the china cabinet’s glass doors. The ring had in fact signaled me, flashed at me, had gotten warm to my touch. I moved the ring into the palm of my hand, felt it jiggle around, felt it become very warm, and then saw a tiny flash of light seep from between my fingers. Maybe I was going insane. I would not be the first novelist that had gone insane while attempting to express their deepest thoughts and emotions by putting pen to paper. As I walked towards Ronnie Coleinger/ Found 14 Scott with the ring, I think he already knew that the ring I found was his ring, as if the ring had spoken to him. Scotts eyes were beginning to tear, and he just simply knew; knew that the precious ring in my palm that represented the love he felt for his wife, his lover, his very best friend, was about to be reunited with his body and soul. Scott reached out, turned his hand palm up, forming a cup for me to place the talisman, the object of his heart’s desire. When I placed the ring into Scott’s open palm, it was not he that gasped at the flash of light emitted from the ring, it was Andrea. She was not certain what she had just seen, but her fingers immediately went to her mouth to stifle any more noises her mind might see fit to evoke from her lips. As we watched Scott’s fingers slowly begin folding over the ring, all three of us saw the ring sparkle or flash five or six times as if excited, as if it recognized its owner’s hand. Scott’s hand quickly finished closing around the ring, and then he looked deep into my eyes. As Scott stared into my eyes, I watched him close his eyes, then I felt a voice; no, I think it was a whisper; no, it was a presence in my mind, and my eyes closed. I saw a picture in my mind, a picture that I knew was of Scott’s now dead wife, Karen. I realized somehow that Ronnie Coleinger/ Found 15 Andrea was also seeing the same pictures as I was, I felt her presence in my mind, felt her panic quickly build and then felt her relax and begin to trust Scott, to trust him as a friend, to understand he would not hurt her. The picture of Scott’s wife Karen was of her leaning over a bright red sports car in a very skimpy white bikini. She had a huge yellow glove type sponge dripping with soapsuds and I realized the sponge was that of SpongeBob Square Pants. Karen was standing on her tiptoes, leaning out over the center of the car’s hood, with her cute butt pushed out and her very large breasts straining the tiny straps of the bikini top. She was obviously posing for the photographer, and I realized that Scott was showing that picture to me so I would understand how beautiful and full of life Karen had been before she was stricken with cancer. The still photograph of Karen changed to a streaming video of her life from her early childhood days, through her high school cheerleading years and then to her marriage. The video changed gears and showed Karen in a hospital bed, she had obviously just given birth to a tiny child that was screaming as it lay on her belly. Karen had a look on her face of pure joy and love for the life she and Scott had chosen. As the video advanced, Andrea and I watched as Karen’s smile drained from her face and her body began to Ronnie Coleinger/ Found 16 wither. I began to understand her pain and suffering as I watched her in her hospital bed with no hair left on her body, and the black puffy eyes that told of her impending death. I watched the once beautiful woman in the hospital bed shrink, shrivel and finally die, as Scott held her tiny hand and prayed with her. I watched Scott speaking at her funeral, standing over Karen’s open casket, tears running down his cheeks. I saw their daughter, now a teenager, lean over the casket and kiss her mother’s cheek. I watched as the undertaker placed the casket inside an underground vault, sealed it, and covered it with Earth. I watched Scott place a dozen red roses on the fresh earth now neatly raked over his wife’s grave. I watched Karen’s daughter Kim, fall onto the grave and cry hysterically as her father tried to comfort his daughter’s broken heart. When the presence left my mind, I opened my eyes and saw Andrea with tears running down her cheeks. She quickly wiped the tears away and looked at me as if she could use a good hug right about now, but the eye contact between us calmed us both. When I looked at Scott, he shook my hand and thanked me for returning the ring. As Scott took Andrea’s hand and turned to return to their truck, I felt the tears begin to run down my own cheeks and quickly stepped inside and shut the door. I felt that I probably Ronnie Coleinger/ Found 17 would never see Scott or Andrea ever again, but I felt as if they were suddenly my friends. I did not completely understand what had just happened here in my kitchen, but was afraid to think more on the subject. As it turned out, my conversations with Andrea were not finished. As my wife Katherine and I were fixing supper together that night, I got a call on my cell phone. The caller did not come up on my caller I.D., but I answered the call anyway. The first words out of my mouth were, “Andrea, how are you doing tonight?” Katherine quickly prickled at the name I spoke and I felt the heat from her jealous rage coming across the kitchen and warming the side of my face. My wife was instantly, I mean instantly pissed over this phone call. Katherine had no idea why Andrea was calling me, but right now, it made little difference. I quickly put the cell phone into speaker mode so Katherine could hear the conversation, hoping the girl would not say anything that would further piss off Katherine. As Andrea talked to me about how wonderful it was that Scott had his wedding ring back, she began explaining a little more about Scott’s wife Karen. She said that before her death, Karen had asked Scott to allow her to have his wedding ring for a day and that she would return it the following afternoon. Scott was a Ronnie Coleinger/ Found 18 little concerned with the request, but honored his dying wife’s last wishes. Karen had given Scott’s wedding ring to her daughter Kim to have the inscription engraved on the inside. The words were, “In Loving Memory – Karen,” which I had heard Scott recite to me while we talked about ownership of the ring. Then after Karen’s death, Scott had taken his wife’s wedding ring, had the same inscription engraved inside and then given the ring to his daughter, Kim. Andrea explained as much about Scott and Karen as she could remember, then asked me one question, “Did you understand how you and I saw the pictures and movie of Karen as we talked to Scott this afternoon?” I told her that I certainly did not understand and hoped she could explain it to me. I heard Andrea take a deep breath and then let it out. She did not speak for a moment, and then said, “I was just hoping you could explain it to me. I was so very confused, maybe even a little scared. Anyways, I was just hoping you had figured it out and could explain it to me.” I asked Andrea if she was close enough to Scott that she could ask that question to him next time she talked to him. Andrea said, “I worked up the courage in the truck as we headed back to the jobsite after getting the ring from you, but Scott just told me that sometimes our minds let us imagine all sorts of things when we are Ronnie Coleinger/ Found 19 under stress.” Scott ignored any further questioning, so I decided to call you and see if you could answer my questions. Andrea said, “I will let you go and I thank you for returning the ring to Scott. I have never seen him so happy in all the years I have worked with him.” Andrea said, “Good bye, sir.” As I laid the cell phone down on the table, Katherine stood looking at me but I could tell that the anger was draining from her eyes. I could tell my wife had already forgiven me for answering a call from the woman that I had fantasized over two days ago. As Katherine continued to fix supper, she said nothing and I felt I owed her an explanation about the question that Andrea had asked me. I slowly worked the conversation around to Scott had Andrea’s visit this afternoon and how Andrea and I had both seen pictures and a video played in our minds as we listened to Scott’s story. Katherine just kept working, not wanting to interrupt his incredible story she was hearing from her husband, the fiction author, the teller of tales. I felt Katherine would like nothing better than to place her hands firmly around Andrea’s throat and have a woman-to-woman discussion with her instead of discussing anything with me right now. As I talked, Katherine finally sat down with me and ate her supper; the silence was intense and I felt my face getting Ronnie Coleinger/ Found 20 warm a couple of times when Katherine looked at me. I believe the woman was jealous and I did not know exactly why, but she must know by now that I would never do anything intentionally to make her feel that way. When supper was over, I said I would do the dishes, but Katherine took my hand and said, “You have got more explaining to do about this Andrea girl, and I would like you to do it on your back so I have your complete attention.” I locked the outside door as we walked past it on our way to the bedroom. I believe I must have done a very good job of answering Katherine’s questions and calming her emotions since she said no more about Andrea after that evening. I am now certain that Katherine was jealous of this young woman named Andrea. I did not intend to make her feel that way. Three days passed since my meeting with Scott and Andrea. I was setting in my office finishing the very last paragraph of my latest novel when the phone rang. Katherine was just about to run the vacuum cleaner in the hallway, but waited so not to disturb my phone call. Katherine heard my voice change pitch as I talked to the woman named Sandy from the tree trimming company I had spoken to a few days ago about Scott’s lost wedding ring. Katherine also heard the pain in my voice as I tried to Ronnie Coleinger/ Found 21 stay composed while I talked to Sandy. As the phone conversation ended and I hung up the cell phone, I laid the instrument that had just caused my heart to break on the top of my desk. I sat at the desk staring out the huge south facing windows, trying to conceal my face from Katherine’s view. Katherine did not need to see my face to understand that the phone conversation was not one I had enjoyed receiving. She walked up to my desk and put her hands on my shoulders. She felt the pain I was feeling, leaned down and said, “You will feel better if you tell me about it.” I tried to speak to her, but the words would not come out of my mouth without betraying my emotional state. I took a deep breath and slowly spoke the words that Sandy had told me. Sandy’s own emotions had betrayed her and I had felt the pain in her voice as she spoke to me. “Scott had been trimming a tree and had cut a live line with the pneumatic saw. The primary line had killed Scott instantly. Andrea had tried to rescue Scott from the still live power line by moving the truck away. When Andrea had touched the truck, she was severely shocked and knocked to the ground. As she lay on the ground, the electricity had continued to arc to the ground around her legs and had badly burned her body where it touched the ground. Andrea’s burns were very serious, and she might Ronnie Coleinger/ Found 22 not live through the night.” As the final words left my lips, I put my head on my desk and cried. Katherine tried to comfort me, but only time would heal the hurt I felt in my heart. As Katherine walked out of my office, she picked up my cell phone and carried it with her. I finally regained my composure and went to find Katherine to discuss trying to find the hospital that Andrea was at and visiting her and her family. As I stepped into the kitchen, Katherine was just hanging up my cell phone and she wrote a note on the pad on the counter. She said to me, “If you will put your shoes on, I will drive you to the hospital so you can say goodbye to Andrea. My husband, Andrea surely will not live to see the light of another day.” When we arrived at the hospital, Katherine and I walked to the critical care area and stood at the desk talking to the head nurse. The nurse had no intentions of letting two strangers get near Andrea unless the doctor said it was ok. As we talked to the nurse while waiting for the doctor to come out of Andrea’s room, I felt a presence in my mind, just as I had felt when Scott showed me pictures and movies of his wife Karen. The presence was behind me and thought to me, “If you are the man who found my father’s ring and returned it to him, you certainly also heard my father mind speak to you. If you are that author, Ronnie Coleinger/ Found 23 that friend, then turn yourself around and hear my words. I turned and instantly made eye contact with a very beautiful woman that was speaking to me telepathically. She was not a stranger, I knew her, I had seen her face somewhere before. Then I remembered that Scott had showed me her picture, a picture of her leaning over her mother’s casket and kissing her on the cheek. I took Katherine’s hand in mine and walked her to the seated woman, then introduce myself to her; I then introduced my wife Katherine to this person, this person named Kim. I explained to Katherine that Scott had showed me Kim’s picture in the video clip he had played in my mind. Katherine sat down beside Kim, talked to her about her father, wished her well and offered any assistance she could render to help her cope with her father’s sudden death. I was very proud of Katherine. She could have instantly bolted from the room, or screamed at the beautiful woman that had suddenly appeared in her husband’s life. As we sat and talked, I asked her why she was here with Andrea. I asked how she knew Andrea, if Scott had talked much about Andrea. How was Andrea doing, would she live through the night? Suddenly, I looked at Kim and said, “I am sorry, I am a fool, I am asking too many questions.” Kim reached out, touched my hand and said I Ronnie Coleinger/ Found 24 could ask as many questions as I wished. Kim said she did not mind and would like to talk about Andrea. Kim said, “My father Scott had found Andrea to be a very good friend, and he had recently spoken to me that he enjoyed Andrea’s company, but had smiled and blushed when he said he was not falling in love with another woman.” Kim smiled as she said, “I do not know why my father felt embarrassed or that he needed to explain to his daughter that he had falling in love with another woman. I expected my father to hold my mother’s memories close to his heart, but I also expected him to fall in love and remarry at some point.” Kim then explained that Andrea had no living family and had only moved here in the last couple of years. Kim’s tears began to run down her cheeks as she explained how Andrea had tried to save her father from certain death, and now may die for her efforts. Kim said, “Andrea is severely burned and if she lives the night, she most certainly will lose both legs.” Kim said, “I will stay with Andrea and hold her hand until she heals, or until her passing. No human should suffer or die alone with no one to hold their hand and comfort them in their time of need.” The doctor stepped out of Andrea’s room and Kim stood up to talk to her. Kim introduced Katherine and me to the doctor and said that we were the ones that would care for Andrea, in Ronnie Coleinger/ Found 25 her long recuperation, or in her passing. The female doctor said, “I will enter your names into the charts so the nurses will allow you to stay with Andrea constantly. Only her God can decide if she lives or dies this night, but her will to fight will come from you three, so talk to her constantly, hold her hands. Talk about her work, talk about her friends, talk about Scott.” The doctor looked at me and said, “You are the author that lives here I town are you not?” I told her I was one of them, and the doctor said, “Read to her, tell her funny stories, tell her how much you need her alive. Tell her you will write a book about her if you want, but keep her mind constantly occupied with friendly voices.” Do whatever you must do to hold her mental attention.” Then the head nurse stepped up and the doctor said, “One more thing, you will all need to wash your hands very carefully when entering her room or any time you touch anything that might contaminate her burns. We cannot allow an infection to destroy God’s healing miracles.” Katherine asked the doctor if we could touch Andrea as much as we needed, to allow Andrea to feel the touch of her friends, a human touch, a touch of love. We all saw a tiny tear run down the corner of the doctors eye as she realized how important the touch of another humans hands were to Andrea right now, to give her strength Ronnie Coleinger/ Found 26 to fight this battle for her life. The doctor said, “Touch her often, but touch her with very clean hands.” As we all entered Andrea’s room, we all began carefully washing. The head nurse brought in another chair, and we began what we hoped would be an all night vigil. As we sat, talked and held Andrea’s hand, Kim suddenly held up her hand to us and said that we needed to sit quietly for a few minutes. Kim held Andrea’s hand, I held the other one, (though heavily bandaged it was) while Andrea wiggled around in her bed and talked in her drug induced sleep. Suddenly the doctor and nurse walked in and stood beside the bed. They had already realized that Andrea’s heart was failing and she would not survive. It was then that Kim leaned very close to Andrea’s ear and said, “Andrea, thank you for trying to save my father Scott. I love you and I am sorry that you must leave us now, please remember that we all love you and will miss your more than you could ever know.” Andrea took one more deep breath, her last breath as she grew still and the machines around us began to clamor their protest. The doctor silenced the screaming machines. As Kim, Katherine and I sat quietly talking to Andrea, the medical staff that had rushed to Andrea’s side each walked past Andrea, slowly Ronnie Coleinger/ Found 27 leaned over, kissed her forehead and left the room in silence. As we sat beside our friend, a Chaplin that was visiting patients in the hospital joined us in Andrea’s room and sat with us. He began to speak and quietly prayed Andrea’s soul unto her God. As the coroner came into the room and talked to us, he checked Andrea’s heart one last time, listened to its silence, and then signed the doctor’s chart with the time of Andrea’s death. As we were preparing to leave the hospital room, Kim reached into her pocket and found the ring that Scott had worn. The ring Scott’s wife had engraved for him to wear in her remembrance, the symbol of their love. Kim placed the ring in the palm of my hand and used her fingers to close the fingers of my hand around the ring. I stood and stared at Kim; I could not speak at first, but finally asked her why she had given me the ring. Kim put her fingers on my lips and said, “Scott would have wanted to you to have it, Karen would have wanted you to have it, I would thank you if you would keep it as a talisman of human kindness and friendship. I talked to Kim one more time at the dual funeral for Scott and Andrea. Kim had Andrea’s body buried with Scott and Karen in the family plot, and the headstone read, “Andrea Kingston – A loving friend.” I never saw Kim again, but I Ronnie Coleinger/ Found 28 dedicated my next novel to her, Scott, Karen and Andrea. I also include in the dedication, the most important person in my life, the one that helped me cope with my friend’s deaths, my loving wife Katherine. Without her support, I might have not been able to finish that novel. Scott’s ring still resides in the china cup in our china cabinet. If you walk up the cabinet and speak Scott’s name, you might see the tiny flashes of light and hear the sounds of its jiggling around in the cup, as the ring remembers Scott and Karen’s love.