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Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda

copyright 2002, by Dr. Peter

Disclaimer:    These characters were created by Thomas Harris.  They are used herein without permission, but in the spirit of admiration and respect.  No infringement of copyright is intended, and no profit, of any kind, is made by the creator, maintainer or contributors to this site.

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Jack Crawford sits in his office and thumbs through the pages of his high school yearbook. He has brought it today for no particular reason.

He had been captain of his debate team, a member of the pep club, belonged to the chess club and put his name down to join the Latin club, though he had never actually attended a meeting. He smiles when he remembers how good he thought all of those extracurricular activities would look on his college applications.

Bella had remarked about it, too. “They’ll think you’re actually smart”, she would tease as they necked in the backseat of his LaSalle.

“There’s that egg white again”, she’d whisper to him in the velvety dark. “This the kind of thing you were thinking of?” he’d respond. Even after all those years, they’d always chuckle at the schoolgirl joke often made during the most intimate of moments.

It was all over now. The laughter and the tears. The pleasure and the pain.

He was numb.

Bella was dead. And he was dying.

He has no confirmation of this fact and no legitimate cause for concern, if you could call it that. So far, it’s only a hunch. His heart is weak, but he is on medication and being treated by one of the world’s most renowned Cardiologists. He is due to retire soon and for the first time since the word had been uttered aloud by his colleagues in his presence he thinks he may actually enjoy it. He has occasional moments of regret, but they are ever so fleeting.

There goes that twang again. He reaches for the nitro glycerin tablets, but they act much like a band-aid would on a gaping wound.

He smiles when he thinks of her. If only things were different. If only she were older. If only he were younger. If only……..

Jack Crawford begins to wince. The pain is back, stronger this time. It’s persistent.

As he rides it out, he suddenly realizes he knows very little about himself and even less about others. How ironic it all is. The head of Behavioral Science clutching his chest and breaking wind. ‘If they could see me now’, he thinks to himself. “I’m so fucking clueless”, he says aloud. He doesn’t care who hears. And who agrees.

His face begins to flush as he stumbles to the water cooler and gulps down four small cup-fulls.

“What a day” he says after he sits back down and wipes his mouth. He looks at the clock. Almost time to go back to his large and empty home. His large and empty bed.

If only he had someone to share it with. If only she were……if only.

It’s the end of another day. A very long day but not just any day. A day he’ll never forget, though he doesn’t realize it at the moment.

This will be the day that will haunt him for the rest of his remaining life. The day when regret would lead to obsession and haunt him like a specter.

The head of Behavioral Science makes his way to his BMW.

He begins to think of her again. He smiles when he realizes he has an erection.

“Well, at least I’m not dead yet”, he says to himself and laughs heartily. He’s feeling a bit better.

He starts the ignition, tunes into the oldies station and begins to sing along to Fats Domino,

“I found my thrill…on (substitutes ‘Blueberry’ in favor of) ‘Capitol’ hill……”

As he makes his way home he decides. ‘Fuck it. Who cares what anyone says? So what if she’s younger than me? Bella wouldn’t mind. Hell, she’d encourage it.’

He realizes he’s not getting any younger and thankfully, neither is she.

He’ll do it. He’ll ask her on a ‘date’, though ‘that word has such a juvenile ring to it’, he thinks.

Little does he know. Regret. Doubt. Shame. Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda.

“Shit or get off the pot”, Bella was often fond of saying.

“What if she says no?” he asks himself. “There’s only one way to find out.”

Too late. He’ll never know.

Why?

Because today was the day he saw Clarice for the very last time.



FIN

copyright 2002, by Dr. Peter

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