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Carol Kilgore has published several short mysteries, including "Just a Man on the Sidewalk," the Derringer Award winner for Best Short-Short Mystery of 1999. She has also had several articles and essays published in various magazines and has recently completed a novel titled THIS HEAT IS MURDER. This features Houston homicide investigator Toni Adams, and Carol is currently at work on the second novel in the series titled A HOT AFFAIR WITH MURDER. She is a member of 'Sisters in Crime'.

Here is a touching piece Carol wrote about her father. Titled 'Gotcha!', it was first published in Futures Magazine, in the Dec. 1999 issue.

Carol Kilgore

Daddy hadn't been out of bed in almost five years. He received loving care at his home, including a live-in caregiver. But my sister and I shared the ultimate responsibility for his well-being. As exasperating as he could be, we both knew his time with us was limited.

One day, he simply stopped eating . . . not even one bite of his favorite foods. His body had wasted away, but his spirit still sparkled. Because of that, it was easy to remember happier times of camping on the beach, barbecues, and family card games.

Daddy had been in the Army Air Corps in World War II, serving in Guam. He had worked in the oil patch in his adult life, and had traveled all over the country. But his final trip on this earth was to the hospital in an ambulance, a distance of less than ten miles. I still remember his face when the EMT's wheeled him through the living room and out the front door. Both he and I knew he wouldn't be back. I cried for a long time before leaving for the hospital.

After he was settled, the nurses all treated him like a fragile work of art. And he was that. He declined a feeding tube, and we knew the consequences of the decision. Daddy would be gone before the month was over. I was sad, and I didn't want him to go, but we all knew that was what he wanted. He knew his time here with us was up. He was ready to move on, and we honored his wishes.

We were reminiscing one night, when a nurse entered his room. She took his vital signs and asked what we had been laughing about. Daddy gave me a stern look, but it didn't work. I had to tell her.

When I was a teenager, I came home from a date one night, locked the front door, and turned off the porch light. I went to my room and began to prepare for bed. The house was quiet, and I heard the front door open, then shut. My heart skipped a beat, then the screen door banged shut--the screen door that locked automatically unless someone pushed the button in the opposite direction, like Mom did for me when I went on a date or out with my girlfriends. I had pushed it back to the lock side when I came in. I knew who was causing the noise, because Mom slept like a log. Daddy was a notorious sleepwalker.

So I sat back and waited, snickering to myself. As things turned out, it didn't take long for Daddy to wake up, probably as soon as the cool grass tickled the bottoms of his feet. I doubt he even got out of our yard. In a few minutes, I heard a knock at the front door. I knew it was Daddy, and I knew he wanted in. I got my robe out of the closet and put it on, and as I took my own sweet time shuffling down the hall to the living room, I heard the knock again, this time a little louder. I figured I'd better not take too much longer, or he'd ring the doorbell, which would wake my mother and little sister and set the dog off.

I flicked on the porch light and said, "Who is it?" just loudly enough to be heard through the wooden door. It was difficult for me to say this without a smile in my voice. I wanted to burst out laughing.

My dad's grumbled reply came back, "Turn that damn light off."

So, I did as he requested. Then I opened the wooden door and reached around to release the lock on the screen door before turning and hightailing it back to my room. As it was, I giggled into my pillow for a long time that night, while I tried to think of how to escape getting in trouble.

The next morning, Daddy accused me of knowing it was him all along and of purposely turning on the porch light. Of course, I denied it. My account of the infamous incident was that I didn't know who in the world would be knocking on our front door at midnight, so I turned on the light. How could he fault me for being careful? And I stuck to my story.

After that, his nurses gave him a hard time about his high jinks, despite his frail condition. And he loved every single minute of their extra attention. Tears filled my eyes, and I was proud that he was my father and that I was his daughter.

Daddy died a few days before his eightieth birthday, in June, 1997. Wherever Daddy is now, I'm sure that as I write this he's muttering a few choice words and thinking, What a way to be remembered. You see, Daddy slept in the nude.


For more information about Carol, visit her Website

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