The day my dad’s caregiver called and told me my dad couldn’t remember how to button his shirt was the day I had to make one of the hardest decisions.
He’d developed Alzheimer’s gradually and over the past three years had been able to live in his home with a caregiver. The disease was too great now and he needed to be moved into a Memory Care facility. Locked doors, twenty-four-hour care.
This meant he’d be abandoning the home in Bakersfield that I’d grown up in, the home that my dad built for his family, my mother and me. I moved away better than a decade ago, heading for law school and a career in San Francisco, shaking the dust of the Central Valley off my shoes and not looking back. As much as I loved him, I couldn’t give up my life in the Bay Area, particularly now that I’d met Jennifer.
Alzheimer’s, the concern for my father and the gnawing fear that I may be headed for the same diagnosis, terrified me. When I heard about a memory chip that could augment your memory, maybe bring back forgotten parts of your life, I jumped at it. Now, I’m thinking it may have unintended consequences.
The other night, I was out in a North Beach bar with some friends when a woman smiled at me. I smiled back and asked the waitress to bring her a drink. As I went over to talk to her, another guy, a drunk from the end of the bar came over. I said, “Leave the lady alone. She’s not interested.”
“And who are you? Her guardian?” The guy took a step towards me and raised his hand.
I pushed the hand away and twisted the guy’s arm up behind him. “What part of leave her alone didn’t you understand?” I poked him in the ribs. Not a hard punch, just enough that he whooshed out a breath and staggered.
Now Brian, Stan and Artie were up, surrounding me to keep the other drinkers and the bartender from seeing anything. “Come on, pal, let’s get some air.” Artie put an arm around the guy’s shoulder and he and Stan walked him to the door, talking all the time about how he’d had too much to drink.
“What was that all about?” Brian watched me, an odd expression on his face. “I’ve never seen you make any moves like that. You’re a lover, not a fighter.”
“I don’t know, man. I had this feeling, this anger, come up from my gut.” I sucked in a deep breath. “Something about that guy and his cheezy moves made me see red.”
I turned to the woman, stuck out my hand. “I’m sorry if I frightened you. I don’t usually meet a woman like this. I’m Matt and this is Brian.”
The blond didn’t take it. She turned to her friend, said, “Let’s go,” picked up her purse and went out the door.
Not a night to remember, and I have strange dreams now, violent dreams of hitting people, breaking things, lashing out with anger I can’t control.
With my dad on his way to a facility that he’ll never leave, and me with dark and dangerous dreams, I worry that Alzheimer’s isn’t the only thing I have to fear.
You can read more about Matt in Ashes of Memories, a psychological thriller.
Getting what you wish for can bring unintended circumstances. Jennifer in New York and Matt in San Francisco worry that they’re losing their memories. Jennifer from an earlier trauma and Matt while watching his father succumb to Alzheimer’s. After finding a new medical technology designed to help people with cognitive disorders, they independently track down a grey-market supply, but when they meet they find unknown terrors.
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About the author
Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian. She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both Southern and Northern California home. During her career in journalism—as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers—she won awards for producing investigative series.
She is the president of Capitol Crimes, the Sacramento chapter of Sisters in Crime, and the co-chair of Bouchercon 2020.
Her Amy Hobbes Newspaper Mysteries are Edited for Death, (called “Riveting and much recommended” by the Midwest Book Review), Labeled for Death and Delta for Death, and a stand-alone thriller, Ashes of Memories, published in 2017.
Her paranormal romance series, The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, was the best paranormal vampire series of 2014 from the Paranormal Romance Guild. The series is SNAP: The World Unfolds, SNAP: New Talent, Plague: A Love Story, Danube: A Tale of Murder, SNAP: Love for Blood, SNAP: Happily Ever After?, SNAP: White Nights, SNAP: All That Jazz, and SNAP: I, Vampire.
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