Chapter 1


                                                                             Baxter Falls, Connecticut


            Daniel dreamt. It was always the same dream. He’d dreamt about it for so long he could give a perfect play-by-play without any effort. It started with him in the back of a wood-paneled sedan. A familiar but distant tune, reminiscent of Glen Campbell, played on the radio.

            In the front were two people who chatted livelily. They laughed and smiled lovingly at each other. They were his parents, but when they turned to talk to him, they were faceless. Anyone else would have been disturbed by anonymous distorted parents, but for him, it was as normal as the blue sky. He supposed if his parents had faces, they would look happy. They would be laughing and joking around, but whenever they looked at him, their individuality wiped away. As soon as they turned away came the moment he hated the most.

            The sedan passed through an intersection in a strange but oddly familiar neighborhood, and as he turned his head left, he saw another vehicle—a black truck with flashers ablaze—crashed into them. He wondered as the metal crunched together if the other driver attempted to stop.

The sedan spun wildly out of control.

The unmistakable smell of burnt rubber and gasoline overwhelmed his senses. His eyes watered uncontrollably. He couldn’t help but gag.

            But it wasn’t over yet.

The out of control sedan came to rest wrapped around a telephone pole.

The windows shattered upon impact and scattered everywhere, the glass cut him mercilessly. His parents suffered the brunt of the accident. Thrust forward, his mother slammed her head into the dashboard and then into the broken glass of the windshield. She stopped moving. His father hopefully, died when his head implanted into the steering wheel.

            As the noise and world faded into oblivion, he marveled in quiet horror at how much blood a person had. When he woke, it was to the sound of his alarm clock. He automatically hit the off button only to knock his alarm to the floor. He groaned in frustration and rubbed his face. It was to be one of those days.

            He relished the few precious minutes he had before he was forced to get up, he reflected on the nightmare. For quite some time he’d had the nightmare and it never deviated. It started innocently enough. At sixteen, his curiosity got the better of him, and he decided to do some research on his parent’s demise. He bought a copy of a newspaper printed the day after their accident. The article was vague in detail. He had read the story so many times he had it memorized. Due to the seriousness of the crash, the details were sketchy. He, filled in the story with his imagination. He wanted to discuss it with his Gramps but never dared to invoke memories.

            The only variation which seemed to change was his place of sleep. From the time of his parent's deaths, he had slept in this room. He had been away from his bedroom for quite a few years and lived on his own.  Now it was a reminder of the days he spent as a wayward teen. The poster of Farrah Fawcett in her iconic bright red bathing suit with her smile and come-hither eyes taunted him from across the room. Adjacent was the tattered posters of the Beatles and Star Wars. Above his bed was a beautiful sunburst guitar. A relic from the ages, it had belonged to his father. It was a vintage 1966 Gibson Byrdland. The body was a gorgeous, bright orange of a midsummer night sunset, accented by a mahogany hue. The guitar was defunct.

            Daniel fondly recalled the summer when he, along with a few friends from school, rummaged through the pawn shops and second-hand stores for musical instruments as they hoped to start a band. He had found the sunburst guitar in his parent’s attic. Excited, he brought it to his friends and was immediately the star of their garage band. He passed the guitar around and allowed his friends to feel as cool as he did. They strummed the strings, did riffs, and attempted to mimic the moves of the great guitarists of their age.

Gramps had warned him not to take the guitar out, as it was one of Daniel’s father’s cherished possessions. He defied him. Later in the summer, he left the guitar in the garage where they practiced. When he went to the house again to rehearse, he found the headstock broken. No one would take the blame. He had mixed emotions about his friends. He felt he lost the few he had and couldn’t trust them anymore. All his life he had trust issues, and this further enhanced his feelings. He isolated himself from the world. He brought the guitar home and hid it from his grandfather.

            His grandfather eventually found the guitar and the crack. He mounted it in the case and hung it up on Daniel’s wall. The guitar remained there for years, and neither he nor his grandfather ever discussed it. The garage band fell apart. Everyone went their separate ways, he never forgot those summer days and nights where it seemed like anything could happen, and stardom was within reach.

            He moved past his nostalgia and got on with his day. He needed coffee before he could indulge himself in his morning ritual, he went down the hall to check on Gramps. His grandfather was in his eighties, and while he always kept his body healthy, his mind had started to slip. Dementia was a terrible and cruel thing. He peeked into his grandfather’s bedroom and saw he still slept. His snores bellowed throughout the room. The world was all right—for now.                      

            He descended the stairs and helped himself to his first cup of coffee. The aroma of a well-brewed cup stimulated his senses. Already, he felt more awake. The serenity of a peaceful morning was to be cherished. As he took a seat on the kitchen island, he wondered how many more mornings like this he would have. He cast a disdainful gaze towards the pile of letters from Benjamin, Benjamin, and Franklin, Esq.

            Inside the letters were the papers to change his grandfather’s power of attorney. He shuddered at the fight which would come when he asked his grandfather to change it over to him. His grandfather was proud and stubborn. He was deaf in one ear which he refused to admit. He kept on like nothing was wrong. The faked hearing was forgivable but a rotting mind? A changed power of attorney would be the onset of a series of disagreements.

            He stared into his coffee cup and sighed. He caught a glimpse of his reflection. He had aged poorly. His face etched with worry lines had stubble, and his eyes were duller than ever before.

            No one ever prepares you for this.

            He looked toward the living room where there was a photo of his parents.

            “What would you guys say to him?” he asked the photograph.

            He wondered what they would do? Growing up, he heard stories about his parents like how his father was the funniest guy around or how his mother could balance finances like no one else. They were smart people who seemed to have the answers to everything. Now they were dead, and he was left alone to navigate the minefield of advanced aging.

            On his way out, he stopped in the living room and lovingly touched the picture of his parents. Ever since he moved in with Gramps, it had been a daily ritual. Today was different. It was the twenty-seventh anniversary of their deaths.