Sacred Vows

“I really wish you would have brought Bill along for this.”

Edith sighed and pursed her lips.  “No, I need to be able to tell him in my own way.  She straightened up in her chair.  “Besides, when you’ve been together as long as we have its hard to keep much of anything a secret.”  The doctor steadied her with his hand as she struggled to her feet.

Edith cried softly as the cab wove its way through the noise and congestion of the city.  How long had it been, she thought, since they had had one of their special dates?  She smiled slightly as she thought about how she and Bill would  take such pains to primp for each other, as if they were going out for the first time again.  They would start in the kitchen by making each other’s favorite drink, move to the dining room where they would serve each other a catered dinner, then finish in the bedroom.

In the beginning, when money was tight, those special date nights had been filled with beer, pizza, and lovemaking that was driven by the energy and laughter that flowed from their youth.  As the years went by and the clothing, drinks, and meals took on a more polished air, so too did the lovemaking.  What they lost in flair and endurance, she thought, had more than been replaced by a pleasure of greater elegance and sophistication.  Since the illness, though, their dates had been put on hold.

Edith dabbed at a tear drop that trickled down her cheek.  And now, she thought, we’ll never be like that again.

When the cab came to a stop Edith paid the driver, then gingerly walked up the steps to her brownstone apartment.  Bill was sitting in his recliner as she opened the door.  Without saying a word, he looked up at her like a child filled with an anticipation of the unknown.  Edith walked over to the chair and reached down to take his hand.  She stared down at the wedding ring on his finger, then looked up at him with a trembling smile.  “It’s time for our last date”, she whispered.


“What have you got for me on this one, Sam?”

The medical examiner peered over the top of his reading glasses at the man standing on the other side of the table and half feigned a scowl.  “You could at least give me time enough to get cleaned up.”

The detective pulled the toothpick out of his mouth, then chuckled.  “Hey, you don’t get to be a lieutenant by being patient.  Crime don’t wait for nice written reports, you know.”

The ME pulled off his rubber gloves and apron then plodded to the sink.  He turned on the water and began scrubbing.  “I’m gonna call it a suicide,” he yelled over the splash of the water.  “Pretty cut and dried from what you told me.”

The detective flipped open his notebook and leafed through the last few pages of entries.  “Yeah, no forced entry and no signs of struggle.”  He paused at a spot in his notes.  “The lab boys tell me that there were traces of alcohol and Phenobarbital in the glass on the night stand.  Any sign of it in the deceased?”

The ME shut off the water and shook his hands into the sink before grabbing a towel.  “Yeah.  That was the cause of death, all right.  Not an extremely high level of it, but at that age and with the cancer and all….”

The detective’s head snapped up.  “Cancer?”

“Yeah, I found a nasty tumor in the brain.  Inoperable, of course.”

The detective lowered his eyes to the floor and shook his head slowly.  “Pretty tough choice to make.  Guess I don’t know how I’d handle it myself.”

He stood silently  for a moment then looked up at the ME.  “Give me a call, will you, when you get done with the other one.  I’ve got a hunch it’s not a murder/suicide thing.”  He stuffed his notebook into his coat pocket then turned toward the door.  “I think she probably just decided to go with him.”