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Jerome's biggest shock came, however, upon learning that Chuck had absolutely no life insurance. His medication and other needs would have to be paid for out-of-pocket. And from what little money Chuck had, it was clear that it must come from Jerome's pocket.

After a few hours of disbelief, Jerome phoned his lawyer. He presented, in detail, his family's precarious situation. The two men talked for hours. Legalities had to be explained, California laws interpreted, and advice given. It was a long and drawn out conversation. By the time Jerome hung up the phone, he felt unfairly trapped. He didn't mind the responsibilities that came with running a facility like Mullen-Overholt-- it was his job. But the overseeing of his brother's life, was decidedly not. However, Chuck was his brother, and, as Jerome grudgingly reminded himself, blood is thicker than water.

It was in this dismal state of mind that Vera found her son, later that afternoon.

"You spend too much time in here, Pumpkin," observed Vera, walking into Jerome's gloomy office.

"What do you want, Mom?" asked Jerome, impatiently. He was in no humor to make small talk.

"Chuck and Charlie will be here in a few moments to visit your father," replied Vera, dusting her son's desk with her right hand.

"That's nice," came Jerome's grim reply.

"I thought it would be nice if you could be there," continued Vera, starting in on Jerome's bookshelf. "It's the first time in fifteen years that the family would be together in the same room."

"Here we are," Chuck announced, standing in Jerome's office doorway, Charlie close behind him. Chuck looked pale. This time, it wasn't the fault of his medication. The very thought of visiting his father was depressing. Chuck feared the feelings and thoughts that would invariably assail him with such a meeting. Arnold's condition was a reminder of what he should expect his future to look like.

"I know your father would love to see his two sons, together," Vera coaxed, spotting a dusty filing cabinet. Before she had time to assail the dust, Jerome stopped her.

"I'll come, if you'll stop messing up my office," complained Jerome, getting up from his chair.

There was an unmistakable look of apprehension on everyone's faces.

Ever since she first heard the news of Chuck's diagnosis, Vera began to have an awful sense of deja vu. It made her feel extremely burned-out and old.

Jerome's mouth was pulled into an even tighter line than usual, for he was feeling the full weight of the legal responsibilities and financial burdens of his younger brother.

Chuck was wondering if the faintness he was feeling was coming from his AD pill, or from the fact he was about to the see his future. He felt weak.

Charlie was confused and frightened. She could barely recognize her life; things were changing so rapidly. Other than keeping an eye on her Daddy, what was going to be expected of her? What did all this mean? Why was this happening to THEM? Was this some kind of punishment from God?

Vera, Jerome, Chuck, and Charlie, silently walked down the main hall to Arnold's room, their minds occupied with the future. The future lived in Bed 2, Room 3.

"Look who's here to see you!" exclaimed Vera, as she led the small group into the room Arnold Overholt shared with four other residents. "It's Chucky, see?" said Vera taking Chuck by the hand and leading her son to his father's bedside.

As Chuck bent over and said, "Hi, Dad," to his father, there was no spark of recognition on the old man's face. Everything about Arnold was foreign to Chuck. The dark eyes which once commanded fear from his sons, were now dimmed with emptiness. They stared ahead, blankly. Indeed, Chuck had never seen his father so subdued-- so altered. The only thing that told Chuck this was his father was the familiar form of his eyes, mouth, and nose, which even the Alzheimer's could not entirely erase. It was like recognizing the house you once lived in by its outside shell, only to find upon entering, the unfamiliar blank spaces where life once took place.
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