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Thread: Body Count

  1. #1
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    Default Body Count

    Prologue


    We have created, our ancestors have created, the greatest nation on the face of the Earth. The greatest nation mankind, mankind, has ever established and we have these yahoo’s who embrace the importation of an ideology from Germany. And just keep pushing it, and pushing it, and pushing it and telling all people you can get all the candy you want, any kind of candy you want, and you should have it for free, and everybody should get the same amount. All we have to do is steal it from that guy over there. The 1%, that 1%, the 1%... always holding up the 1%. Why? Because that’s what Marx told them to do.
    Mark Levin – July 26, 2018

    Let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up. If you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd, and you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.
    Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) – June 23, 2018

    To the modern Democratic Party, Americans are an afterthought. Try to find a Democrat running this year on the opioid crisis, or high energy prices or the collapse of public schools or the decline of the middle class. They're bored by those topics ...That's why the Democratic Party suddenly supports open borders so fervently ...because packing the electorate is the only way they can regain control of the county.
    Tucker Carlson – July 26, 2018

    There are many that would have you believe that, as a nation, we are seemingly more divided now than at any point in our nation’s history since the Civil War. The included quotes are meant to illustrate that point. Some pundits stipulate that we have become a nation of professional protesters. When we aren’t protesting something, apparently we are calming ourselves with our crayons, play-doh, and therapy pets while we cower in our safe spaces.

    Politically, there is a vocal minority that desperately wants to implement socialistic principles. However, in the halls of government, there are two large mainstream parties that have maintained their collective grip on all facets of governance since the election of Thomas Jefferson in 1801.

    Seeing and hearing all of this supposed discord, given the rhetoric emanation from both Chambers and all associated seats of power, with tensions further stoked white hot by the 24/7 news cycles, my question is, how long until someone truly snaps and begins settling accounts… regardless of political affiliation?

    Would Americans boisterously or quietly cheer a reckoning? Would they be appalled? Could it trigger a second Civil War? How far would someone have to go, or be willing to go, in order to see a substantive change in behavior, and of direction?



    Chapter 1


    CJ and Cady Merriweather sat patiently, holding hands, while they waited for the doctor to enter. He’d been cancer free for over a year so it was beyond odd that CJ’s oncologist had personally called and requested that they both come to his next appointment. She wouldn’t say much of anything over the phone.

    This unnerved them.

    Given the cryptic nature of the doctor’s words, they were both dreading the visit. A hundred thoughts ran roughshod through their minds as the silent seconds passed.

    It’s not like it could get any worse.

    The couple had been rolling on a string of bad luck that went back years, and it was bankrupting them. The last thing they wanted to hear was that the cancer had come back.

    First, their twin children, son Prescott and daughter Sophie, had been killed in a head-on collision while riding in a car with friends after a high school football game. As if that weren’t a big enough kick in the balls, just a few months later came CJ’s cancer diagnosis.

    Then came the insurance nightmare.

    Cady’s employer based insurance policy only covered 60% of the medical expenses associated with his long term treatment and care. To even make the policy premiums affordable, they had to opt for a deductible that was more than their mortgage. The secondary insurance the couple received from CJ’s employer made things manageable in the beginning, but then those premiums skyrocketed and they had to cancel the policy. According to the trucking company’s insurance provider, because he didn’t opt for the insurance when he was hired more than a decade ago, his cancer was deemed a pre-existing condition. The carrier adamantly refused to retroactively cover the condition thereby refusing all payments for supplemental treatment costs.

    The Merriweather’s had neither the time nor the money to take the carrier to court.

    Never ones to ask for help from family, friends, and neighbors, the grieving couple did their best to cover the outstanding bills. As a result, their savings were gone and the house and credit cards were now leveraged to the hilt.

    The only thing they hadn’t refi’d or pulled money from was his two-year old Kenworth W900 long-haul rig. He’d bought the massive truck outright with the life insurance money they’d received after the twins’ death. In fact, it was the only reliable vehicle they had.

    That was, until a week ago, when they were punched in the throat twice more. Decisions were going to need to be made yet again.

    The trucking firm that CJ had been employed with for over a decade made an announcement that they were looking to start laying off employees due to high fuel costs and the recession.

    The Murphy’s Law cynic’s in them knew that it was only a matter of time before his number was called. On the same day CJ came home with that nugget, Cady received a letter from her employer’s HR department.

    As if the death of the children and the stress from the cancer and subsequent treatments weren’t enough, they were now being notified that they had reached the lifetime limit for CJ. He was now being removed from her policy. To her, it was like receiving a death notice from the grim reaper himself. CJ would now have to deal with the byzantine bureaucracy of the VA… if they could even treat him at all.

    Despite the uncertainty over his employment and health, their love for one another had never waned. They were as committed to one another today as the day they said their vows. The death of their children had taught them one immutable fact; time is a precious commodity. It wasn’t going to be frittered away wastefully.

    For the better part of the first year after the initial diagnosis, CJ spent most of his time in labs, chemo chairs, and bathrooms. If doctors and nurses weren’t pulling blood and fluids or submitting him to scans for testing, they were pumping his body full of the nastiest **** concocted to try and kill the thing that was killing him. The irony was that the chemo drugs were actually worse for him then the damn cancer. He stopped counting the number of times he vomited on himself, the floor, in the shower… whenever and wherever the urge struck. He’d soiled the bed so many times they had to burn the mattress. Sleeping on the bathroom floor in their home with only a blanket and a pillow became a common occurrence.

    Chemotherapy was an even more evil than the cancer itself as far as CJ was concerned.

    “Sorry, you had to wait so long,” the oncologist decried as she entered the room.

    “Everything OK?” Cady asked nervously as the doctor rounded her desk and took a seat.

    “Huh? Oh… yeah. Just took a little longer to walk through all of the available treatments for a new patient,” she explained.

    “So, how am I doing, Doc?” CJ inserted. “It can’t be good if you wanted both of us here.”

    The couple watched as the young diminutive Indian doctor’s expression turned somewhat sorrowful. As if rehearsed, her eyes were immediately downcast and she gently folded her hands in front of her on the desk.

    “****,” CJ muttered. “How long do I have?”

    Her eyes lifted to meet theirs.

    “A year… two tops.”

    “Options?”

    “Given the numbers I’m seeing in your latest batch of bloodwork, and I’d need a scan to confirm this, not only has the cancer returned, but I believe it’s metastasized,” she replied.

    “So, there’s nothing you can do?” Cady inserted.

    The doctor shrugged.

    “Chemo, even localized chemo, isn’t going to give us the results we want. There are some promising treatments in the pipeline. There is a treatment that is experimental, but nothing’s been approved for clinical trials. That’s still a few months off. Insurance wouldn’t cover it even if you managed to get a waiver… which takes twelve to fifteen months to get.”

    “Our insurance company dropped CJ last week. They said we reached our lifetime max.”

    “I’m sorry to hear that,” the doctor replied compassionately.

    Trying every door and every possible avenue for treatment, Cady asked quickly, “Could he get the treatment he needs at the VA?”

    “This is a research hospital, the VA isn’t, so his treatments would be handled here. Not that you’d want to go to the VA anyway. I have friends from medical school that tell me there’s a twelve month wait just for an initial consult at just about every VA in the state of Arizona. Regardless, each treatment would be about three-hundred.”

    Encouraged, Cady looked at CJ. The man hadn’t moved. He just had that thousand yard stare plastered on his face as he sat motionless just looking out the window behind the doctor.

    “We can afford that… we don’t even need a waiver,” she stated as upbeat as she could as she stroked his hand.

    “Three hundred thousand,” the doctor corrected.

    “What?!” Cady proclaimed. “That’s outrageous!”

    “Don’t look at me!” the doctor protested. “Blame Congress… they are the ones that enacted this crazy government run insurance scam and then failed to rescind it. Blame the drug manufacturers… they are the ones fleecing Americans at every turn with their exorbitant drug costs. Blame the insurance companies… they are the ones with the death panels declaring the value of human life. As a research hospital, we don’t have anything to do with the pricing. We don’t have anything to do with the cost of experimental treatments. Just be glad this is a research hospital though, because you pay what we pay. Other hospitals mark-up experimental treatments at a minimum of 50%. Some go to 100%! I’ve even heard of a 200% markup in the larger cities. If you had secondary insurance or perhaps if he hadn’t been dropped from your policy, maybe we could do something in terms of financing.”

    While Cady and the doctor went back and forth discussing costs and the possibility for treatment options, CJ’s mind took her words, filled in some things she implied, and began forming them into a singular focus.

    I could get the treatment if it weren’t for the FDA slow walking the approval, he thought. I could afford the treatment if it weren’t for the drug companies. I could still have insurance if it weren’t for the death panels. Our insurance was fine until Congress got involved. Everything government touches turns to ****.

    A sly grin began to form across CJ’s face. He finally could relate to a friend’s Facebook post he’d seen months earlier. Slowly, he reached into his pocket and accessed the app on his smartphone. Several clicks later he was scrolling through the friend’s feed until he found what he was looking for.

    It wasn’t your typical status update about how they hated their job or the obligatory batch of vacation photos. No. His friend had posted a meme of Gene Wilder dressed as Willy Wonka. The text above and below the image read: If I Lived Every Day as if it Were my Last, The Body Count Would be Staggering.

    He chuckled to himself.
    Last edited by theauthor; 08-16-2018 at 09:04 PM.
    Hannibal ad portas

  2. #2
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    Hmmmm, I like it.....

  3. #3
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    This was a hard read bud.
    Don't bring skittles to a gun fight.

  4. #4
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    That is a very hard read. But has definetly drawn me in. Looking forward to more.
    Greater love hath no man than this, That a man lay down his life for a friend.
    John 15:13

  5. #5
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    Sorry about that guys. I was in a hurry and skipped a step where I paste the text from Word into Notepad to strip out all of Microsoft Word's hidden formatting. Hopefully, I didn't hit too close to home for anyone with this scenario and you only found it hard to read because of the weird characters that were inadvertently inserted.

    I've edited the text I originally posted to do it correctly and I added the Prologue that I forgot.

    This is just something that has been kicking around in my noodle for sometime and, since we were slow at work today, I thought I'd try and get it out. Once I finish the series and the two non-fiction works, this will be my next stand-alone book. No more series' for me.

    Now that you've seen this text, can anyone think of a better title besides "Body Count"? Just curious.
    Hannibal ad portas

  6. #6
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    Given the nature of Gene Wilders meme, I think the title is perfect.
    Greater love hath no man than this, That a man lay down his life for a friend.
    John 15:13

  7. #7
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    For me it was the formatting that was difficult, and the title is perfect. Keep it up. I'll buy this book once published as well.
    Don't bring skittles to a gun fight.

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