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OVER THE HORIZON

by Nivek Grub

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PAGE UPDATED FEB-15-2019

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OVER THE HORIZON

Sam was sitting on the bar stool next to the kitchen counter in his home. He had been drinking all afternoon since getting off work. He worked the night shift at a 24 hour gas station. He was looking at the photo of his ex-wife and two children, James and JoAnn. They had been gone three years now, JoAnn was twelve now and James was ten. Sam’s ex left him when the Las Vegas housing bubble burst and he lost everything in the crash. Sam opened another beer and drained the can in only a few seconds. Sam was going to get totally shit faced and then blow his brains out. The 45 was on the counter next to him.
Sam wallowed in his deepening depression thinking about his life. Thirteen years before, he was asked by his parents to quit college for a couple of years and jump into the real estate game with them. His parents at that time had really hit a winning streak in the housing market. The money just poured in. It was Sam’s dad that really convinced him to skip engineering school for a while and make some serious money. Come and join his brother and sister in the real estate game. Sam’s parents were at the front of the game when Las Vegas really took off and it was a family affair. Right away Sam was in the money, he had the looks, clothes, car and lots of cash for bait to grab a hottie. Alice, a girl he knew from high school caught up with him. In high school she never gave Sam a second look let alone a first look. She was a gold digger with a knockout body. She followed in her mother’s footsteps who was a vegas showgirl. Alice was absolutely gorgeous and could get anything she wanted by leaning over, shaking her tail or simply smiling. Sam couldn’t believe his luck. Of course she was knocked up soon after they met. Alice’s mother made sure Alice got her hooks into Sam right away. Sam didn’t complain though, he had it all.
Sam picked up the photo and got a sharpie out of the pen tray. He marked up the photo of Alice with very crude detail, finally blotting her completely out of the photo leaving only his two children. Sam grabbed another beer and drained it. Not long now he thought.
Sam went back to his thoughts of how his life turned to shit. Sam remembered coming over to his parent’s house after an evening with Alice, his brother Burt
and sister Jess. They had a wild time downtown on the strip gambling and drinking. They were celebrating Sam’s new subdivision of homes for sale. Sam was making a leap into the world of being a developer. When they got to their parent’s house there was a sea of police cars out front with the lights flashing. The police kept them outside and finally one of the homicide detectives informed them that their parents had been killed in a home invasion robbery. Burt and Jess took it the hardest and both of them went down the path of heavy drinking and then drugs. Sam picked up the slack and kept things running on the families’ real estate ventures, he rarely was at home. That’s when their business lawyer Dave swooped in. Dave came from a very rich east coast family and was cherry picking housing lawsuits in the Vegas valley. While Sam was busy, Dave and Alice became a thing. At that time both children, James and JoAnn were looked after by a nanny. Alice started to stray. The next shock to happen to Sam was the bursting of the housing bubble. Almost overnight the market dropped 70%. The homes they owned were so far under water that there was no hope of salvaging anything. Of course the mortgages were still the same. That’s when Burt and Jess were killed in a traffic accident. They simply didn’t come home from Lake Mead one night and the 40 foot boat was still tied up at the marina. Their bodies were not found until a couple of hikers were drawn to a gathering of scavenger birds. Burt and Jess were at the bottom of a steep canyon wash, the SUV had burned but it couldn’t be seen from the roadway at night. By the time morning came the smoke had cleared and you could not have seen the
wreckage unless you stopped on the road and looked down into the wash.
Sam tossed another empty beer can into the corner of the room. He popped the top of another and went back to his dark memories.
Once the full housing crash was on, the banks and mortgage companies were after Sam. Dave was Sam’s lawyer but unknown to Sam, Dave was working against Sam. It wasn’t long until Sam emerged from the entire mess with nothing to his name except for some gold coins he managed to hide from the audits. He had to give up everything else, even his house which ended up being collateral for other homes. The courts let Sam have an old vehicle and enough money to get an
apartment for a few months. The collection agencies watched him closely to have a chance to get anything else of value from Sam.
That’s when the other shoe dropped. Alice filed for divorce and custody of the kids. Sam tried to fight it in court but lost to the word twisting lawyers. It wasn’t Dave’s firm that fought Sam in court but later on Sam found out it was Dave’s money that was used against Sam. Sam wasn’t even surprised when Alice and Dave got married. Sam had nothing left to fight with and watched as everything he loved vanish. Alice and Dave took the kids and moved back to New York. Sam tried for a while to contact them but was soon served with a restraining order to stop all contact. Again the high money lawyers twisted all of Sam’s words and Sam lost again in court.
Beaten, with his tail between his legs, Sam moved to the smaller town of Pahrump outside of the Vegas valley. It was a much cheaper place to live and Sam found he could drink more beer this way. One break he did get was as a result of the housing crash, he was able to buy a small modular home in Pahrump. It was about two steps above living in a trailer with wheels.
Sam tossed another can into the corner and picked up the 45. Not yet he thought; he needed more beer to do this. Sam thought about James and JoAnn. He couldn’t even remember when he last was able to talk to them; it had been a couple of years. He knew they were living well in some fancy area of New York. Sam never expected to see them again. He remembered the bitter words that Alice spoke to him once. Alice called Sam weak and that she would tell James and JoAnn that he was dead, so stop trying to contact them. Sam held his head low and beer tears started flowing. Sam shook his head to try and shake the thoughts out. He reached for another beer and dropped it. The can hit the floor and sprung a leak, beer sprayed all over the wall and floor. Sam said to himself, I guess it’s time. He picked up the 45 and after a few attempts managed to pull the slide back to put a round into the chamber. He raised his trembling hand to do it and he became very dizzy thinking about what would come next. His world spun around him and he was having trouble sitting on the bar stool. He was ready, closer the
gun came to his head and then the next thing he felt was searing pain and then blackness.
Sam woke the next morning. He was lying on the floor in vomit and he was in extreme pain. He lay there trying to think what happened. His head had a large gash on it and he was covered in blood along with the worst headache he ever had. But there was something else also. He let his mind sort through all of the pain and he realized his foot felt like it had been hit with a sledge hammer. He tried to sit up but the room was still spinning. After a few attempts he propped himself up against the wall. He then saw his foot. His left foot was a bloody mess and there was a large hole by his pinky toe. The 45 lay off to the side and he saw an empty shell case nearby. He tried to put the pieces together. He looked around the room, his house was a mess with garbage and beer cans in one corner, dishes
in the sink and clothes scattered about. Sam figured that he must have dropped the gun when he passed out. He hit his head on the table and the 45 fired into his foot. Sam looked at the gun and shouted to himself, ‘either finish the job or straighten out your life’. He just sat there for a long time trying to come up with a reason to keep on living or just get it over with. Sam was staring out the window, not really looking at anything and he saw the postal vehicle stop and put a letter in his mailbox. He thought that was very odd because all of his mail went to his post office box. Curiosity won out and Sam got up from the floor and slowly made it to the door. He opened the door and the bright sunlight blinded him. After taking a few moments to adjust he limped out to the mailbox. Sam saw a letter that was addressed to him; it was handwritten with no return address. Sam limped back inside with the letter. He sat down on the couch after pushing things out of the way and opened the letter. Sam couldn’t believe it when he read it. The letter was from his son James.
The letter read;
‘Dad, I hope you get this letter. Mom said you were dead but I didn’t believe her. I found my friend, Freddi at his school web page in LV. His dad the policeman located you for me. Careful when you write back. Mom doesn’t know I am trying to find you. Use Freddi to send a message.
Bye, I love you.
James
Sam couldn’t believe it and started to cry when he thought about what he tried to do last night. He looked around the house and then at the soiled mess his clothes were in. Sam shouted out ‘I died last night and this morning I start a new life’.
Sam picked up the spent 45 case and placed it on the bookshelf next to the letter from James along with an
empty can of beer. It would be there to remind him every day of how close he came to the end.
Sam got up and made a list in his mind of what to do. First, fix up the toe. It will be painful but you don’t take a thing like this to the hospital if you can avoid it. The doctors would easily see it as a gunshot wound and he didn’t want that information on any record. Sam gathered some alcohol, iodine and bandage material. In the bathroom he found a bottle with some unused antibiotic pills. He remembered these from an infected cut a year or so ago. He took the pill to the kitchen and crushed the pill in a bowel with a spoon. Then he mixed in a little water to make a paste. Next he picked up some thread and a needle before going back to the bathroom. Sam took a hot shower and washed up as clean as he could. The open wound stung real bad but he knew the worst was yet to come. After drying off, he raised his foot over the sink and twisted his leg to be able to get at the wound. He didn’t see any bone fragments, just a bunch of chewed up tissue. He poured the alcohol over the mangled toe and had to bite down on the towel he put in his mouth. White and blue lights flashed in his mind. He repeated this until it didn’t hurt too much. He hoped the nerve endings got tired of sending pain signals to his brain. Next he applied the iodine all over and around his injury. He picked up the needle and thread he had soaking in a bowl of alcohol. Slowly he closed up the wound and then put on the antibiotic paste he made up. Sam finished by wrapping a clean dressing over the wound. He knew he would have to repeat this process many times and if an infection took hold he would have to see a doctor.
Sam next found some clean clothes and put on some loose shoes to protect the injury. He went out to the kitchen and got out some black garbage bags and started to clean up his house. Sam didn’t have to go back to work for the next two days. Hopefully he could make a dent in the massive mess.
With sacks of garbage placed out in the garage and his third load of clothes going in the washer he needed to go downtown to Walmart to get more cleaning supplies. He checked himself in the mirror to see if he could pass as human to venture outside with decent people. Sam rethought his idea when he was still a little unsteady, no need to get a DUI. He pulled out some frozen food and stayed home to eat. He could go the next day and went back to cleaning what he could.
While eating his frozen dinner he thought about how to send a message back to James. He would definitely need to dry out before seeing Freddi’s dad. He remembered Officer Daniels (Dan), from the housing days. James and Freddi were good school friends and Sam’s parents got Dan a good deal on a house. Sam found his old customer log book from the real estate days. He copied down Dan’s number. If Sam could speak clearly he would call him tomorrow to say thanks.
The next morning Sam got out of his sweaty bed. The house really smelled and he opened the windows to air out the rooms. The rest of the morning he continued to clean and wash sheets and towels. After lunch Sam made a shopping list and headed off to Walmart. He walked very steady and tested himself by walking along a 2x4 on the ground. Sort of a do it yourself sobriety test. He passed. His ten year old Toyota truck started up fine and he drove downtown. Pulling into the Walmart lot he walked inside and waived to one of the regular greeters. He was an old army vet name Hank that enjoyed being there to say ‘hi’ to everyone. He had lost a leg in Nam and then Sam realized that this Walmart had a few disabled vets working as greeters. With the cart loaded up with some new clothes, cleaning supplies and even some food, Sam headed out the door. As per the usual routine, Hank looked at the receipts as customers left the store. Hank took Sam’s receipt and made a joke, ‘Sam you forgot your beer’! Sam told Hank that he was done with that.
Hank shook Sam’s hand and said ‘congratulations, it’s about time. If you need someone to have a coffee with let me know. I’ve been there and it’s tough’.
Sam said ‘thanks Hank, I just might take you up on that offer’. They waived bye to each other as Sam headed out to his truck.