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Now We Are Three   By: (1926-2007)

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Where are we going? What will the world be like in the days perhaps not too distant when we have tested and tested the bombs to the finite degree? Joe L. Hensley, attorney in Madison, Indiana, and increasingly well known in SF, returns with this challenging story of that Tomorrow.

now we are three

by Joe L. Hensley

It didn't matter that he had quit. He was still one of the guilty. He had seen it in her eyes and in the eyes of others.

John Rush smoothed the covers over his wife, tucking them in where her restless moving had pulled them away from the mattress. The twins moved beside him, their smooth hands following his in the task, their blind eyes intent on nothingness.

"Thank you," he said softly to them, knowing they could not hear him. But it made him feel better to talk.

His wife, Mary, was quiet. Her breathing was smooth, easy almost as if she were sleeping.

The long sleep.

He touched her forehead, but it was cool. The doctor had said it was a miracle she had lived this long. He stood away from the bed for a moment watching before he went on out to the porch. The twins moved back into what had become a normal position for them in the past months: One on each side of the bed, their thin hands holding Mary's tightly, the milky blind eyes surveying something that could not be seen by his eyes. Sometimes they would stand like this for hours.

Outside the evening was cool, the light not quite gone. He sat in the rocking chair and waited for the doctor who had promised to come and yet might not come. The bitterness came back, the self hate. He remembered a young man and promises made, but not kept; a girl who had believed and never lost faith even when he had retreated back to the land away from everything. Long sullen silences, self pity, brooding over the news stories that got worse and worse. And the children one born dead two born deaf and dumb and blind.

Worse than dead.

You helped, he accused himself. You worked for those who set off the bombs and tested and tested while the cycle went up and up beyond human tolerance not the death level, but the level where nothing was sure again, the level that made cancer a thing of epidemic proportions, replacing statistically all of the insane multitude of things that man could do to kill himself. Even the good things that the atom had brought were destroyed in the panic that ensued. No matter that you quit. You are still one of the guilty. You have seen it hidden in her eyes and you have seen it in the milky eyes of the twins.

Worse than dead.

Dusk became night and finally the doctor came. It had begun to lightning and a few large drops of rain stroked Rush's cheek. Not a good year for the farming he had retreated to. Not a good year for anything. He stood to greet the doctor and the other man with him.

"Good evening, doctor," he said.

"Mr. Rush " the doctor shook hands gingerly, "I hope you don't mind me bringing someone along this is Mr. North. He is with the County Juvenile Office." The young doctor smiled. "How is the patient this evening?"

"She is the same," John Rush said to the doctor. He turned to the other man, keeping his face emotionless, hands at his side. He had expected this for some time. "I think you will be wanting to look at the twins. They are by her bed." He opened the door and motioned them in and then followed.

He heard the Juvenile man catch his breath a little. The twins were playing again. They had left their vigil at the bedside and they were moving swiftly around the small living room, their hands and arms and legs moving in some synchronized game that had no meaning their movements quick and sure their faces showing some intensity, some purpose. They moved with grace, avoiding obstructions.

"I thought these children were blind," Mr. North said.

John smiled a little. "It is unnerving. I have seen them play like this before though they have not done so for a long time since my wife has been ill... Continue reading book >>

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