evening, “So I think he’ll be back to his usual self in no time.” She attempted a happy expression and hoped she both looked and sounded convincing. “That’s great, Mom,” said Judy. “Can we maybe go see him tomorrow?” “Yes, of course. Visiting hours end at eight o’clock, so why don’t we head there after work? Maybe you can all pile into Michael’s car and meet me there?” Marty looked around the room and her eyes rested on Michael. He looked uneasy, but she was waiting for his response. It was time he stopped being a coward and went to see his father. Enough was enough. She knew it hadn’t been more than a day and a half, but she had hoped he would have taken the initiative and gone there today on his own. Granted, she knew he had done a lot around the house and had all sorts of plans for repairs to the place—which she appreciated, of course—but it was time. It was time for Michael to face his father, and maybe it was exactly the kind of boost James needed to get him motivated to work harder to get better. Marty was counting on it as she looked more intently at her son. Michael felt like she was boring holes through him. No getting out of this one, he thought. “Sounds good, Mom, and maybe we can pick up some burgers or something from the Dairy Barn on our way home and maybe even a movie.” Michael took a pause and then said, “Not that I don’t love broadcast television but I bet we can find something fun to watch while we’re hanging out after we see Dad tomorrow? What do you guys think?” Judy nodded, and Jonah said, “Yeah, cool, and maybe we can rent the new Call of Duty video game? It’s supposed to be awesome!” “Sounds good,” Michael said with forced enthusiasm. Marty tried to relax, settling in on the couch next to Judy and staring blankly at the television. All of the stress was weighing on her. She had had a sense that James was hiding stressful news, but she couldn’t be sure. Maybe with Michael here, she’d get down to the bottom of it and James could come home and not be so stressed anymore. She hoped. She let out a sigh and shut her eyes. She was trying to control her feelings of anger. Maybe this would all work out after all? She was at least hopeful now and she had to admit the house did look a lot better today, and she was grateful that Michael had taken a look at all those bills. James had always handled all of those things in the past and with him in the hospital these past few weeks, she had no idea how to make heads or tails out of their finances. And with James being in the hospital she was sure that the bills would just keep piling up. Same thing at the store. Marty looked stressed. He didn’t blame her, of course. This was a stressful time. But he felt like she was hiding something. And he was worried that he didn’t know the extent of the problems going on here. Something was up and he wasn’t even sure his mother knew the whole story. Now that he’d taken a look at the house books, he knew it was time to do what he promised Annie. He’d head over to Malone’s Market tomorrow and see what he could do. With that second mortgage out on the home, he knew something was up, and he didn’t like the feeling he had. He had avoided it today, but he just knew Malone’s Market needed help. He just didn’t know why it was in the position it was, or how exactly to fix it.
Michael couldn’t sleep all night. He kept thinking of his father and replaying their argument over and over again in his head. He tossed and turned. He kept thinking about his father’s heart attack a few years before, and his stroke now. What if it was too late to patch things up? What if his father didn’t want anything to do with him? His father was a stubborn man, but then again, so was Michael. He hadn’t come back in all this time. With so many heavy thoughts weighing on his mind, Michael finally managed to fall asleep in the wee hours of the