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Authors: John Herbert

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Rules Get Broken

BOOK: Rules Get Broken
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Table of Contents

Copyright

Rules Get Broken

Dedication

Prologue

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Book One

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

Twelve

Thirteen

Fourteen

Fifteen

Sixteen

Seventeen

Eighteen

Nineteen

Twenty

Twenty-One

Twenty-Two

Twenty-Three

Twenty-Four

Twenty-Five

Twenty-Six

Twenty-Seven

Twenty-Eight

Twenty-Nine

Thirty

Thirty-One

Book Two

Thirty-Two

Thirty-Three

Thirty-Four

Thirty-Five

Thirty-Six

Thirty-Seven

Thirty-Eight

Thirty-Nine

Forty

Forty-One

Forty-Two

Forty-Three

Forty-Four

Book Three

Forty-Five

Forty-Six

Forty-Seven

Forty-Eight

Forty-Nine

Fifty

Fifty-One

Fifty-Two

Fifty-Three

Fifty-Four

Fifty-Five

Fifty-Six

Fifty-Seven

Fifty-Eight

Fifty-Nine

Sixty

Sixty-One

Sixty-Two

Sixty-Three

Sixty-Four

Sixty-Five

Book Four

Sixty-Six

Sixty-Seven

Sixty-Eight

Sixty-Nine

Seventy

Seventy-One

Seventy-Two

Seventy-Three

Seventy-Four

Seventy-Five

Seventy-Six

Seventy-Seven

Seventy-Eight

Seventy-Nine

Eighty

Eighty-One

Eighty-Two

Eighty-Three

Eighty-Four

Eighty-Five

Eighty-Six

Eighty-Seven

Eighty-Eighty

Eighty-Nine

Ninety

Ninety-One

Ninety-Two

Ninety-Three

Ninety-Four

Ninety-Five

Epilogue

Ninety-Six

Acknowledgments

Rules Get Broken

By John Herbert

Copyright 2012 by John Herbert

Cover Copyright 2012 by Ginny Glass and Untreed Reads Publishing

The author is hereby established as the sole holder of the copyright. Either the publisher (Untreed Reads) or author may enforce copyrights to the fullest extent.

Previously published in print, 2009.

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be resold, reproduced or transmitted by any means in any form or given away to other people without specific permission from the author and/or publisher. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

This is a work of nonfiction; however, some of the names of characters have been changed.

http://www.untreedreads.com

Rules Get Broken
By John Herbert

To Nancy—

Who first saved my life

And then taught me how to live it.

Prologue
One

I’ve come here today to be with my wife.

The January wind whips at my pants and bites at my exposed cheeks. The ground under my feet is frozen, hard as stone, and the grass crunches like gravel when I step on it. The late afternoon light is fading rapidly, and a flat gray sky promises that the snow the forecasters are predicting will materialize shortly.

I look around me. As far as I can see, there is not another soul in sight. I look down at my feet and shiver, and I remember a telephone call on a Sunday morning two summers ago.

The telephone had rung that morning at ten minutes after seven, and I wondered who could be calling at that hour as I ran to the phone.

I picked up the receiver on the third ring, and the voice at the other end asked for Mr. Herbert.

“Which one?” I replied automatically, knowing that I recognized the voice.

“Mr. John Herbert,” the caller answered.

“Is this Dr. Werner?” I asked.

“Yes, it is,” the caller replied.

But that’s really the middle of my story. So much happened before that phone call. And after.

I should start at the beginning. Thanksgiving Day, 1968.

Two

I was 22 in 1968—single, Protestant, college graduate as of June, my parents’ only child, philosophically conservative, not bad-looking.

I spent Thanksgiving Day that year at my grandparents’ home with my parents, my aunt and uncle and their four daughters—just as I had every year since I was born.

Thanksgiving Day was always the same. Every year after dinner the women and children would clear the table while my father and uncle retired to the living room. Then, as soon as everything had been brought into the kitchen, my grandfather would invite his five grandchildren to join him in his Thanksgiving Day walk around the block to make room for dessert.

When we were little my cousins and I always argued about who got to walk next to Grandpa and hold his hand. My grandfather wisely settled this annual disagreement by dividing the walk into thirds, with two of us getting to walk next to him for the first third, two of us the second third and, best of all, one of us the last third on the final leg back to the house. To this day I think that was his way of rewarding patience.

As we got older we voluntarily broke into two groups of three, the first group consisting of the two youngest grandchildren on either side of my grandfather and the second group consisting of the three older grandchildren bringing up the rear. Year after year our walk, like Thanksgiving, was the same.

But in 1968, our Thanksgiving walk was different. Different because, although I didn’t know it at the time, our Thanksgiving walk that year would set into motion a series of events that would shape my life forever.

My grandfather was walking up ahead with my two youngest cousins, Kimberly, 13, and Meredith, 11, while my two older cousins, Christine and Sarah, were walking behind with me. Christine was 23. Sarah was 22.

The three of us had always been close, and young adulthood had not yet changed that. The girls walked on either side of me, and each had an arm through mine as we either took part in or disengaged from the conversation that my grandfather was having in front of us with the two younger girls. During one of the moments of disengagement Sarah asked me what I was doing for New Year’s Eve.

“I don’t know,” I answered with a shrug. “I’ll probably stay home. Or go out with my folks.”

“How come?” Sarah asked.

“That doesn’t sound like you.”

“Well, to tell the truth, I don’t know anybody around here to ask out. All the familiar faces have disappeared since I went away to college, so…I think it’s gonna be a quiet night.”

“I’m going to be in the same position, I guess,” Sarah admitted sadly. “I mean, not that I would have expected anyone to ask me out this far in advance, but I don’t know of anyone out there who might even ask.”

We walked for the next minute or so without saying anything, listening instead to Meredith tell Grandpa about some boy in her class.

Suddenly Sarah squeezed my arm and gave me a coquettish look.

“You know, I just might have an idea that would work for both of us. For New Year’s Eve, I mean.”

“Oh yeah? What?” I asked, less than enthusiastically.

“Well,” Sarah began, “there’s this girl I know at work. Her name is Peggy. Peggy Reilly. She’s nice, really nice, and I think you’d like her. And if you could get me a date with Ted Norris, I’ll get you a date with Peggy, and we can go out for New Year’s Eve together.”

Ted had been my roommate at college, and Sarah had met him over the summer at a family barbecue. He had been a starting halfback on the university’s football team and was now in his second year of medical school at Seton Hall University. He was big, good looking, a lot of fun to be with, and like me, had recently broken up with the girl he had dated through college. He was any girl’s dream date, so this was a great idea for Sarah, but not one that particularly excited me.

“A blind date for New Year’s Eve? Sarah, you gotta be kidding me. You are kidding me, right?”

“No,” she replied without a second’s hesitation. “I’m dead serious. I would love to go out with Ted, and I know you’d really like Peggy.”

I shook my head. “Peggy Reilly, is it?”

“That’s right.”

“She’s Irish, I presume?”

“Yes, she’s Irish. So what? What difference does that make?”

“Sarah, you know me. I’m not Irish, and I’m sure as hell not Catholic. What would ever make you think that a good Irish Catholic girl and I would get along?”

“Well, I’d like to think you wouldn’t get into a heated discussion about sex or religion,” Sarah shot back.” This is supposed to be a date, stupid. A fun evening. Nothing else.”

“And tell me again why you think I’d really like this Peggy Reilly,” I asked, ignoring the look of exasperation on Sarah’s face.

“Well, for one thing, she has a great sense of humor and…”

“Oh God, Sarah. I don’t believe you just said that.”

“Said what?”

“That she has a great sense of humor. That’s what every girl says about every girl that she’s trying to get a date for. ‘She’s got a great sense of humor.’ No, I don’t think I like this idea.”

I could see that I had offended her. She withdrew her arm from mine and wrapped both her arms around herself as we rounded the last corner of the block and started to head back to the house.

“Well, all I can say is, she does have a great sense of humor. And she’s not ugly, if that’s what you’re thinking.”

“Is she good looking?” I asked as gently as I could.

“Yes,” Sarah answered, again without a second’s hesitation.” She’s very good looking. Some people might even say she’s beautiful.”

The sensible part of my brain told me to change the subject, or better yet, to say nothing at all, but the other part of my brain, the part that always got me in trouble, told me to find out more about this Peggy Reilly. As was all too often the case, I listened to the other part.

“Describe her to me.”

“Why?” Sarah asked, obviously annoyed. “She’s Irish, and she’s Catholic.”

“Okay. I shouldn’t have said that. I shouldn’t have even thought it. Now describe her for me.”

Sarah took my arm again. “Let’s see. She’s about maybe five eight. She’s slim, not skinny or anything like that, but definitely not heavy. And she has black hair, really thick black hair, down to her shoulders, and she has blue eyes. Beautiful, brilliant blue eyes. I think she’s beautiful.”

“You do?”

“I do.”

“And you wouldn’t lie to me just to get a date with Ted for New Year’s Eve?”

“Yes, I would,” Sarah replied with a teasing look in her eyes, “but this time I don’t have to.”

I shook my head again. “You’re too much, Sarah,” I said with a sigh. “Tell you what I’ll do. I’ll call Ted tomorrow and see if he’s free for New Year’s Eve and if he’d like to take you out. If he says yes, then you can see what this Peggy says when you see her Monday morning. How’s that?”

“That’s great!” Sarah exclaimed as she gave my arm an excited squeeze. “And I know you’re going to love her.”

“I better, Sarah, or your name is mud.”

Sarah just giggled and gave my arm another squeeze as my grandfather and the two girls on either side of him slowed down and turned onto the walk leading up to my grandparents’ house and my grandmother’s pies.

Three

I was about to hang up when Ted answered his telephone on what must have been the tenth or eleventh ring.

“Ted, where the hell were you?”

“Who’s this?”

“John. John Herbert.”

“John. Long time, no hear. What d’ya mean, where the hell was I? I’m here. In my apartment. In New Jersey.”

“I know that, Ted. But you took so long to answer the phone, I…never mind.”

“So now that we got that out of the way,” Ted said lightly, “what’s up?”

“Well, first a question. What are you doing New Year’s Eve?”

“That’s the name of a song, isn’t it?” Ted asked.

BOOK: Rules Get Broken
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