For You, Annie-Lou

Franklin awoke feeling pretty perky, even for a just turned 80 year old, remembering what his momma taught him back in Missouri all those years ago:

"Eat what you want Frankle, but you must always eat your vegetables, and always stay busy!"

He did just that, Annie-Lou fried up some sausage and eggs, but she made sure he had a tall glass of fresh squeezed orange juice, and there was pan-sauteed apples, too! She'd have an even better lunch later, and tonight, the only thing better than Annie-Lou's suppers --- what all she could do with famous Florida fresh vegetable-- was being in Heaven with her. He even practiced running 10 miles a day and ran with the marathons when they came to Sarasota once a year. He was not going to let his idol, Jack LaLaine down. No, Sir! Now, he knew one big part of his happiness and longevity was his 60 year marriage to Annie-Lou, and she loved it when he sang his little made up song for her:

Annie-Lou, Annie-Lou,
There ain't nothing,
I won't do...
Fer my Annie-Lou.

But, yes sir, today, instead of his run, he was going to treat himself by buying for him, and dear Annie-Lou a computer. They were not quite saved up enough, what, with his pension only being 750 dollars a month to buy that pool they always wanted, and the only reason he and Annie-Lou were living healthy in Florida was because the little farm and house he was born and grew up in was bought for a good sum of 80,000 dollars by Con-Ag. He'd heard tell that you could buy and sell on this new contraption, and he finally had some other octogenarian at their Church of the Senior Saints convince him that the thing was useful, not evil.

Driving home, he and his wife went over everything the salesman told and showed him so's that he could get up 'n running in no time. The usual 10 minute ride home was doubled because of the snow birds coming to roost. And in they heard on the radio the tragic news about some Winnebago that had jackknifed right on the top of a honeymooning couple killing them like the zillion green bugs on his windshield. They listened to the mother's tearful interview where she at least admitted that she was glad their donated organs, especially the kidneys were going to be used. As a matter of fact the story had been in the news recently of a 9 year old boy in dire straights for one. They were finally glad when they made it home safe, as an 18 wheeler had cut them off at the last intersection before they pulled into their Piney Acres modular home development. It was good to be home in this area that boasted of miles of barren pine forest.

He got home, and without even taking off his shoes like most normal times around the house, took the two boxes containing his acquisition to the folding card table he'd pulled out of the storage above the carport. After opening the boxes and extricating the See-Pee-You, and Mon-it-tore, and all those plugs 'n wires from molded crumbly plastic things, he struggled the next three hours with trial and error, and finally called out to his less than enthusiastic spouse,

"Come here, Annie-Lou, Look I got it going!" She went over and peered over his shoulder, and inquired,

"You coming to bed, now?" Annie Lou, after discerning that Franklin was drawn to the kaleidoscopic colors and text like some rube in Dr. Mesmer's audience, tromped off down the hall.

Hours passed, Franklin hooked like the bass he caught over at Silver Swan Lake last year. He finally figured out how to type in the little rectangley thingy and using that thing called a mouse (looked more like a rat, to him) he clicked 'search.' He decided to try Kidney Pool. But instead of a pretty picture of a shapely curved swimming pool, he saw the link--

Got an extra kidney? Join the Kidney Pool, Make Millions!
So, he did a mouse-over, and scrolling slowly before him was described the opportunity he knew he could take, seeing how fit as a fiddle dee dee he was:
Sign up now, right online to see if you qualify to put your kidney up for auction. A guaranteed 250,000 US dollars, so what have you got to lose, (only 50% of your fluid filtering apparatus). Think of all those you will help. Not just the poor dying souls, crying for someone to save them, but your own household. Dreams that now can be appropriated, goals that will not be reprobated. Click here sign me up for a deal of a lifetime!

Ten minutes after he contracted himself and Annie-Lou to donate one kidney, while he was singing "Annie-Lou, Annie-Lou, Lookee what I'ma gonna do for you!" the phone rang,

"Mr. Williams?"
"Yes?" "Can you and your wife be ready to be picked up tomorrow by limousine at your front door?"
"Why sure!'
'Fine, see you at 10 AM."

A little perplexed, he hung the phone up, and with a strange feeling mixture of jubilation, fear, and fatigue, he went to join his troubled, but sleeping partner-for-life.

Morning broke hot and yellow like the fried eggs Annie-Lou cooked up for them, and they wasted an hour fussing over what clothes to wear and or pack, she being especially irritated since she was awakened earlier than she anticipated with this bizarre revelation of the day's adventure. They then waited-- nervously looking out the window-- whiling away the ten minutes, until, at last, there was a stretched dark blue Lincoln pulling up in their driveway like some ravenous Orca.

They had never been in a luxurious car like this before, let alone one without windows, and the driver was as anonymous as the black outfit he wore, while he politely, but furtively opened and closed the door for them. The ride was relaxing, smooth, and the music was some of that longhair, the old kind, with the guy waving a stick, not some punk waving his fist at the world, and they slept until the next thing they heard was the door opening in a concrete garage.

"Welcome!" Said a well dressed very tanned gentleman standing next to another swarthy looking fella in a doctor's lab coat. I am Mr. Smith, and Mr. Jones here will wheel you to your rooms.

At that, Franklin got a little miffed and interjected, "What, don't you know I can not only walk, but run!"

Stifling a laugh, Smith explained, "No, no, of course, but Jones needs to get you quickly prepped, he knows the way, that is all."

The complex was big, like some vast warehouse converted to a maze-like hospital, but nowhere were any patients walking about, and he only saw a few personnel albeit at a distance. They arrived at a nondescript door, and he and Annie were ushered into a modest sized room equipped with small bathroom, twin beds, end tables and a dresser.

"We'll be back in the morning, please each of you take one of those pills to insure your utmost immune system strengthening," Jones said after man-handling the two wheelchairs, one under each hammy arm, while closing the door with a foreboding metallic Phh--clack.

They did what they were told, and after putting their few clothes they brought in the dressers that looked secondhand, they turned in for the night, but not before he put forth this spontaneous refrain:

Annie-Lou, Annie Lou
Don't be afraid,
Because Me and You
Are never gonna be blue
Ain't that right, Annie-Lou?

For all the braggadocio that Franklin Williams put forth about his looking and feeling younger than his years, there was one little problem that he shared with men of his years: the nighttime trots to the potty. Extra groggy -- been there done that --the morning after a race, but nevertheless prodded awake by that nagging poking feeling in his lower abdomen, he sat up, but something was not right! Looking over at Annie in the other bunk, she didn't seem to be moving much, and with a strange painful tiredness he got up and went over and examined his dear wife up close. He shook her gently, at first, then a little more robustly, with no change. His eyes grown accustomed to the dark, aided by hall light seeping under the door, he could see that he had knocked her night gown up her back revealing two angry large scars. He had to get out and get help! Feeling panic welling up like an overheated radiator, he ran to the door, and was relieved to find that it wasn't locked. Entering the brightly lighted hallway jolted him for a couple of seconds, then like a deer in headlights he bolted down the hallway, bare feet slapping the concrete floors like a broken windshield wiper.

He ran, and ran, passing in a frenzy identical gray doors undulating as he ran, like the ceiling fan blades down at Frankie and Freddies' bar. Like a miracle he arrived at a dark part of the building which he could see was the garage. Having enough composure, all of a sudden, to look around, and indeed someone had just got up and exited noisily through one of the ubiquitous metal doors, and then he took his lunge across the expanse, and out under the gargantuan doors, into the dank obsidian night. He picked up speed across the sandy road, passing nothing but scraggly strands of Yellow Pine, his backache beginning to transform itself into a slamming bear paw of agony. And then, while he was out of eyesight of the facility he escaped he grabbed at the invisible vise-grip clamping on his body, and felt the horrid lines and protruding crude stitches on his skin back there! He immediately collapse, all energies totally expended.

Through the fog, he heard a plea:

"Please, Mr. Williams stay with us. You didn't have to run away, your wife told us not to wake you. Not to tell you until morning that she would give you her kidney to save you after we discovered she had only one good one, and both of yours were failing. Hang in there!"

He looked up and saw their smiling faces, so much concern, but, he knew if he would go to the light....he could join Annie-Lou, and he thought how fitting it would be to sing that song on his way across that Jordon, yes!

Annie-Lou, Annie-Lou,
Where are you?
What can I do?
What can I do?

Drifting, drifting, yes, it's getting brighter, brighter, oh, what's that? Tubes coming out of me? Going to a churning, turning machine, gurgling with blood, a bag at his side pumping up and down....a dialysis machine! What's that I hear. Laughter? And he strains against the straps and bandages, and the pain, and he hears talking in the hallway.

"Good thing you found him while he was still alive, the old lady, too weak, died too soon. This is a big contract, we extracted half his bone marrow this week, and if we keep him alive through the pain, all the rest will really bring in the client's bonus."

Too enervated to move any more, Franklin only could listen and endure while they jabbed the white hot needle into his hipbone, but what was more excruciating was hearing them laugh while they sung:

Annie-Lou, Annie-Lou,
Look what we do
He's doin' better'n you
But Boo! Hoo Hoo!
We ain't through.

Original story by Drownzsurf

   on All Hallow's Eve, eve;
    no pumpkins,
      no skeletons,
        no witches,
          but how those scars itches!

Note: not all longhairs are punks.

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