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"How could he say that about you, when it isn't true?" argued Charlie. "Surely, he would be afraid of you exposing the lie in public!"

"Not from a musician who's never made a public appearance in over twenty years," reasoned Adam. "Johnston must have figured he was playing it safe to make that claim!"

"At least," said Vera, "he didn't blacken your name."

"It's not the lie that I mind the most," stated Adam, "but the fact someone was taking advantage of my silence! If I only happened to witness this lie, what else is being sanctioned in my name?"

The drive home was quiet and without incident. Adam even forgot to be nervous about Charlie's driving. He hardly said a word until Charlie pulled up in front of Mullen-Overholt to drop off Jerome's car and pick up Chuck.

"Thank you for inviting me to the concert, Charlie," said Adam, as he prepared to walk home.

"I'm sorry Edward Johnston spoiled the evening for you," apologized Charlie.

"Nothing was spoiled. I just have a lot of thinking to do," replied Adam, solemnly.

As Charlie watched Adam's form disappear into the night, she had a premonition that he was contemplating a big change in his life.

The days flew by, and before Mike knew it, the California Journeyman Plumber License exam was upon him. It was no surprise to his family when he passed. Shirley threw a party in honor of Mike, and invited so many people that the spacious adobe house on the outskirts of Twin Yucca could barely contain them all.

A few days after this celebration, Adam and Mike were called upon to fix a leaking water pipe at the local Twin Yucca hardware store. Ever since the night of the concert, Adam had been unusually quiet, not even speaking to Charlie of what was weighing on his mind and soul.

Mike hadn't noticed this change in his uncle, for he and Sandra were too busy with plans to finally move out of his parents' house and into an apartment of their own. Mike had wanted to move sooner, but Sandra wanted to wait until after Mike had his license. It was a decision based on practicality more than sentimentality, for Shirley was not a hands-off mother-in-law. The newlyweds would have had much more privacy and freedom if they had moved when they were first married.

"This new apartment is only temporary," Mike was telling his uncle as they finished repairing the water pipe. "In the future, Sandra and I are planning to make the big plunge and buy a house."

"That's good," replied Adam.

"I sure will be glad for the privacy," added Mike. "Chad just had a hard time remembering to knock before entering. After the first time, Sandra started locking the door! Once in a while, we would hear footsteps, and then someone trying to turn the door handle. One of us should really explain to him about married people," added Mike.

"Have you tried?" asked Adam, curiously.

"In a very limited way," laughed Mike.

"Well, that's a job for your Dad and Mom," replied Adam.

As the two were talking, Adam's cell phone rang.

"Clark Plumbing Service and Supply, Adam speaking," said Adam, answering the call.

"Adam, it's Shirley!" frantically cried his younger sister. "The hospital just called! They said Mom had a blood clot that traveled to her heart. It was over before anyone could do anything to help her!"

"Wait a minute!" said Adam, fighting back the tumult of grief that was welling up in his breast. "What do you mean? I saw her just this morning! She was FINE!"

Shirley collapsed into tears and could no longer speak coherently.

"What is it, Uncle Adam?" asked Mike, very concerned by the look on Adam's face.

"Leave the rest of the tools," replied Adam, still in shock. "We're going to the hospital."
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