Rick then forced himself to wake up. He was drenched in sweat. Rick got up and went to the kitchen to make himself a coffee. He really wanted a shot of Jack Daniels but he had been on the wagon for a year now. Just as he was pouring the water into his coffee maker, Rick heard his phone ring. He automatically looked for his cigarettes. This was an addiction that Rick was still unable to break. He found a pack in his sports jacket pocket. He had thrown the jacket onto a Lazy Boy chair when he came home. He found a lighter on his glass coffee table in the living room. Rick grabbed the receiver of the phone with one hand while he shakily tried to light his cigarette withhis other hand. Rick answered the phone, “Hello, Rick Jennings speaking.”
“Hi Rick. This is Peter Harkness, Brett’s father returning your call. Did something happen to Bret?”
There as a long silence before Rick was able to speak.
“I’m very sorry to say sir that he passed away some time this morning.”
“That’s impossible. Bret’s only twenty-two years old and is in excellent health!” exclaimed Peter Harkness.
“I know sir, but he’s dead,” said Rick with a shaky voice.
“How?” asked Mr. Harkness. By this time he was crying and so was Rick. Rick knew that he was supposed to be a professional, but he was also a human being.
“We’re not sure sir. Bret had fallen in the stairwell but we don’t know exactly what killed him.” Rick was starting to regain some of his professionalism.
“I don’t understand,” said Peter Harkness.
“The police have been here and are investigating but we are still waiting for the medical examiner’s report,” answered Rick.
“When will you know?” asked Peter.
‘Possibly, later today or tomorrow. I will call you immediately when I hear something.”
“I appreciate that Rick, but my wife and I will be taking the next available flight to Winnipeg. We can talk again then.”
“Very good sir and I want to express my sincere condolences to you and the family.”
“Thank you, Rick. I appreciate it. Hopefully, we’ll talk again in person in a short while. Peter Harkness hung up the receiver.
Rick felt a strong wave of anxiety overwhelm him. “This can’t be happening thought Rick. I would never hurt one of our clients. These guys are like family to me. The double dose of pills that I gave Brett couldn’t have killed him. But the med. error might show up in the autopsy report.” Rick lit another cigarette and thought about visiting the local bar around the corner from where he lived. Rick was able to fight off the urge this time but his thoughts were very troubled that evening. At around 10:00 PM Rick tried got into his bed and tried to get some sleep, but all he could do was toss and turn.
Rick thought about how he had been trying to turn his life around during the last six months. Before this incident he thought that he had made a pretty good start. Rick had stopped drinking about a year ago. He had been a heavy drinker for most of his adult life. Rick fell in love with alcohol when he was sixteen years old and was a junior hockey player. Rick was the team’s under age star goalie and he made his team look much better than they actually were. They won many games that they should have lost because of the near impossible saves that Rick would make. Often his team would need to score only two or three goals to win a game. As Rick was a big favorite with his teammates it wasn’t long before they were taking him along to their post game parties where heavy drinking was the name of the game. It wasn’t long before his teammates discovered that not only was Rick a great goalie, he was also a young kid who could really knock back the beer. At this first stage of his drinking career Rick still didn’t know what a hangover was. The drinking parties didn’t appear to do anything detrimental to Rick’s ability to play at a high skill level at his hockey games.
These had been good times for Rick and it was not until much later in his drinking career that alcohol became a problem for him.
Rick had been legally separated for about eighteen months now and a divorce was in the works. Rick felt very guilty that he had been the one to cause the break up of his marriage. After all he was the one who had the affair. At least