To Worship ch1

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. For every inhale there is an exhale, for every Joshua Miner there is a Tomas Adele. At least that’s what I’d like to imagine. Tom was the love of my husband’s life. I’m typing this up because their relationship is a story that needs to be told.

My husband and I, we’ve lived in the deep south for over forty years. Trying to abide by the way of God, country, and the Christian faith.

Some say Joshua’s run of bad luck, started when he was diagnosed with cancer, but I think it started the day he disowned our daughter.

Christina was twenty-one a college graduate with a bright future. All she wanted was to marry her childhood best friend with her father by her side. And Chloe made her happy.

Perhaps it was wrong of me to not tell my husband ahead of time, that our daughter was a lesbian. What can I say? I had made a promise to my daughter.

Christina loved her father so much, she wanted to make him proud. Her big plan was to finish her STEM degree, securing a great job, all before flying Chloe out to San Francisco to propose. She wanted us to be there, but Josh refused to return her calls. And worse he forbade me from flying out there on my own.

“I’m not missing my only child’s wedding!” I screamed at him, hurling a coffee mug at his head. The cup shattered against the door as he slammed it shut.

“We ain’t got no children,” he muttered. I watched from the kitchen window as he leaned against the sidewall, lighting up a cigarette before whistling for our dog.

Pup, a chocolate-brown nine-yearold bloodhound had been asleep in the corner of the kitchen in our small, trailer home. She got up from her dog bed, and easily exited out the back door, trotting to his side. Our dog was apparently welcome where I was not.

“You don’t mean that!” I shouted from the window, not caring who could hear me.

“She chose to leave!” Josh shouted, his speech noticeably slurred. “Christina turned her back on God’s country, to be a liberal feminist sinner.”

“Fuck you!” I knew Josh only spoke like a southern preacher when he was already three sheets to the wind. “Our daughter is not a sinner, and Mississippi is hardly God’s country!” Leaving him to his smoke, I proceeded to trash the house throwing out all his booze and cigarettes. Grant it I wasn’t able to find it all, but Josh didn’t even care. He passed out on the sofa and went to work the next day. I couldn’t help but think that was my fault. 

My husband worked on the military base, as a civilian contractor. He’d served his country for eight years but retired at the age of twenty-five when our daughter was born. It was a pretty sweet deal, Josh got to work on the base, hanging out with his friends all while working a normal 9-5 and avoiding deployment.

It was a rainy July afternoon when he was called to the base, to fix a light pole. That was what he did for a living; normal maintenance shit, that he could do while drunk, high or running on two hours of sleep.  The job was a normal, run-of-the-mill part replacement.

I’d even seen him do it before. Usually, he rode a cherry-picker; those lifts where one person riding in the top can maneuver the entire vehicle into place. (It always looked kind of fun.) Josh also wore a harness and reflective gear (as required by OSHA safety standards.) Yet, somehow, in the middle of a summer storm, Josh fell over thirty feet, landing on his back. At least that’s what the emergency room doctor told me.

Josh fractured his hip and broke his femur in three places. The pain was so unbearable he had to be put into a medicated coma. Over the next few weeks, his condition only got worse. First, he became sick with fever and it took forever for the doctors to find the source of infection. It seemed like they wanted to check everyplace except the brain. (If I was to wager a guess, it was a cost/insurance issue.)

In the end, he had late-stage brain cancer. That explained the fall: Josh had suffered a seizure, while working two-stories up, without a harness.

“Likely, he won’t wake up,” the doctor explained. Part of Josh’s brain had died from lack of oxygen. If he survived he would be deaf and blind. That was only partially true. They didn’t know my husband; Josh was a fighter and an absolute bad-ass.

My husband was taken out of the coma when it was determined he could breathe on his own. Josh struggled with pain, but what he wanted more than anything was to be allowed home. He worked so hard and after just two weeks of physical therapy, he was able to function with the aid of a walker.

If two weeks sounds like not very much for someone with a broken hip, leg fracture and terminal cancer- you’d be correct. After signing a crap-ton of waivers, recognizing that he was leaving the hospital in direct disregard for medical advice Josh was released into my care. A physical therapy/hospice nurse would be visiting once a day.

Why? I guess to make sure Josh was still alive and being cared for. I have to admit, it would have been easy to bash his head in with one of his whiskey bottles and bury his remains out in the nearby field.

Tomas Adele came to our home on a Friday. I can still remember the moment I greeted him at the door of our off-base trailer home. I always felt a certain measure of shame, greeting guests for the first time, in our glorified trailer park. Yet, strangely, there was something about Tom that put me at ease.

The therapist was an older man, Hispanic, or maybe Sicilian with sunkissed skin. Salt-and-pepper hair framed his distinct face; kind eyes, strong jaw, and sweet, fatherly, smile. He shook my hand with a firm, professional grip. “Hello, Miss, are you the wife of the patient? I know from his file that Mr. Miner also has a daughter.”

“Yes, I’m Carolina Miner,” I said with a smile. “Our daughter Christina lives out in California.”

“Northern or southern?” he asked with enthusiasm. “I’m actually a UCLA graduate.”

“Stanford, actually,” I said inviting him inside. “She wants to go into political science.”

“That’s amazing, you and your husband must be so proud.”

“I am, my husband not so much,” I said under my breath. “Can I get you something to drink, coffee, soda, sweet tea?”

“I could go for some coffee.”

“Sure,” I said with a nod while adding water to my cheap Walmart coffee maker that looked like something I stole from a roadside motel. “I think Josh is asleep, I can wake him if you like.”

“No, I think I’d like to talk a bit more.” Tomas seemed to be looking around. For what? I was not sure.

“Ok,” my voice went nervously higher. He had a clipboard and notepad, as if ready to report back to the hospital any signs of physical or emotional abuse.

Tom took a seat at the kitchen table. “Are there any land mines I should be aware of? Our therapy sessions are meant to be four hours long. The last thing I want would be to upset you or your husband.”

His tone put me at ease. “I understand, thank you.” For the next twenty minutes, we enjoyed plain black coffee, discussing my husband’s current state. (Thankfully ignoring why I had no cream, milk or sugar.) Tom knew all about Josh’s compromised hearing and sight as well as his current chemotherapy schedule. So, our conversation inevitably circled back to the subject of Christina.

“Josh, he, has issues with our daughter’s life choices.”

Tomas nodded, to signify that I need not explain further. “Is she aware of his condition?”

“Yeah, I told her the day he was diagnosed.” The memory brought tears to my eyes. I had no one else to call. “She wants to reach out. But Josh won’t even let her visit him.”

Tom nodded, taking a sip of his coffee. “He feels this way, knowing his condition is terminal?”

“Yeah,” I said with a nod, unable to stop the tears from flowing down my cheeks. “She still loves him so much.” I was about to reach for a tissue when suddenly we heard a crash. ‘Oh shit.’ Pup bounded out of the bedroom, barking loudly. This was to signify that Josh was in trouble. I got up, rushing to the dog’s side. “Good job, Pup.” I gave her a hug and a pat on the head, to show she had my full attention. “Take me to Daddy Josh.”

The dog nodded. I had to admit, she was quite talented for a service dog that had only taken a few classes. Josh had fallen out of bed, which meant he had likely attempted to get out on his own, again. This was not uncommon.

Ever since he got home, Josh would always try to use the bathroom or even attempt to make it to the kitchen, on his own. He had a cane and even a walker, to be as independent as possible, but he also had only forty percent of his vision. I sighed and was about to reach for Josh when Tom placed a hand on my shoulder. “Let me give this a try.”

“Sure.” I stepped back, standing in the doorway with the dog.

“Hi, Josh, I’m Tom, a physical therapy nurse from the hospital.” Tom was muscular, strong. He could have easily put Josh back in the bed, (as I had been planning to.) Instead, he showed a remarkable level of professionalism and knelt by his side offering his hand.

Josh engaged with a meek handshake. “Hi, Man. Um, nice to meet you, Sir.” He was clearly nervous, angry even. “I know you’re required to check in me, but just know this is not typical.” Josh forced a chuckle. “I can function like a normal human being.”

“Let me guess, a previous doctor suggested a catheter?” Tom asked with a compassionate nod. “Rest assured, I’m not going to suggest that. You don’t need to spend what remaining time you have left with a piss bag hanging off your dick.”

That actually got a genuine laugh for all involved. I knew independence was the most important thing for Josh. He wanted to stay independent for as long as possible; no catheter, no feeding tubes, no wheelchair.

Tom tenderly held Josh’s hand. “Will you allow me to help you get cleaned up?”

Josh nodded. “Thanks, I’d like that.”

I couldn’t help but blink away tears. “I’ll take the dog for a while.” It was so rare for Josh to show such a remarkable level of trust to a medical professional (or anyone, for that matter.)

I walked our bloodhound around the back of the house, to a window where I knew I could see into the bathroom. This was also to keep Pup calm, as she could verity Josh was safe. Kneeling down at Pup’s level I could hear their conversation, especially when Tom opened the window just a crack.

“Pup’s a great dog, she saved my ass on more than one occasion,” Josh said proudly.

“Is she a trained service dog?” Tom asked, likely hoping to hear my husband’s version of the answer.

“She took a few classes; learned to recognize seizures, low blood sugar. Even got her a life alert badge on her collar. She’s the one person I can count on.”

His words cut deep, but they came as no surprise. I cuddled close to Pup, stroking her ear. “Daddy Josh just doesn’t know how much you miss Christina. Maybe you can get him to say he’s sorry, or at least let her fly in to say goodbye.”

I could hear Tom walk to the left, opening a nearby cabinet. “I want you to be able to trust me, Josh,” he said in a relaxed, confident tone.

I stood up, to get a better view of the window. Pressing my back against the wall, I turned my head just enough for a safe, discreet glance.

“Can I trust you?” Josh asked with a chuckle. He allowed Tom to help him remove his urine-stained sweatpants, revealing his naked, badly bruised, legs.

“I’ve seen the worst of people,” Tom said pausing as he glanced at the site of Josh’s hip surgery, “And I’ve seen people at their worst. I promise you, nothing could ever cause me to turn away from a patient.”

His words made me picture angry elderly patients hurling profanity, food, or even human waste.

“Do you want to use the bath our your shower chair?” Tom asked.

“Bath is fine since I have some help,” Josh said the second part with some hesitation.

I’d offered to help him bathe on more than one occasion. He knew that. However, I lacked Tom’s confidence and upper body strength.

I listened as Tom removed the cheap plastic shower seat, before turning on the bath. “Just put your weight on me,” the male nurse said in his sensual, yet professional tone, “I can take it.”

Josh chuckled but did as he was told. Tom lowered my husband comfortably into the bath placing his weak injured legs, and hips before resting Josh’s head and neck on a towel (in the place of a neck pillow.)

Josh was the calmest I’d seen him in a long time. The look of peace and tranquility was truly remarkable. I couldn’t help but feel a pang of jealousy: I would have given anything to be that close to him.

Josh’s body was thin, pale, but at 6’1″ and nearly two hundred pounds, he was undeniably strong. And yet, we hadn’t had sex in months, not since he started chemo. He tried to play it off as a safety concern, due to the radiation. But I regularly cried myself to sleep, to the sound of him masturbating. Joshua had a thirst, just not for me. Perhaps that was why my husband of twenty-six years was so open and willing to relax in front of a total stranger, (or what happened next.)

“I’m going to examine your leg, to test the range of motion of your hip.” Tom leaned in, obscuring my view. “How does that feel?”

“Good, real good.” Josh was moaning, making sounds I’d only heard in his sleep. “Are you from around here?” he asked Tom in a soft breath.

“I’m actually from Nevada,” Tom replied. I could hear the sound of water splashing. Was he bathing him? “I did my undergrad work in Reno, getting my BS in Kinesiology, before transferring to UCLA for my master’s in physical therapy. I basically went as far as I could without going into debt for medical school.”

Josh chuckled. “Well, what brings you to Mississippi? If I went to school out west you bet your ass I’d never set foot in this neck of the woods. ”

I was confused. I thought Josh loved the south. Was all his ‘God country’ shouting just the words of a drunkard?

Tom replied with a kind smile. “I’m close to retirement, just looking to settle down and do the lord’s work.”

“You don’t sound like a tired old soul, but then again I am legally blind.” Josh laughed a deep, belly laugh.

“I could come closer,” Tom offered. Although I had no view of his face I could imagine he was smiling.

“Yes please,” Josh said, his voice slipping deeper into a sexy southern accent. “I’d like that very much.”

What was Tom doing? I couldn’t get a better view without giving up my position. So, all I had to go on was the sounds.

“Wow.” Josh chuckled, with a soft sensual moan. “You’re strong.”

“I try to stay in shape.” Tom’s words were followed by splashing; more water. Was he taking off his clothes? The bathroom was filling with steam. If Tom wasn’t naked he was certainly getting soaking wet.

I could barely hear over the rush of the water. Leaning closer to the wall, I listened harder then I’d ever eavesdropped before until I heard Josh’s masculine voice.

“You’re something special,” he said, speaking in a voice that was truly his. Josh was not trying to play a role; a Christian, a soldier, an alpha male. No, this was my husband speaking from his soul. Whatever Josh and Tom were doing, was a moment just for them.

I walked Pup around the block, stopping for coffee and a local gas station. I arrived home an hour later, opening the door to Tom guiding Josh through some run-of-the-mill resistance band exercises (while fully clothed.)

Not wanting to bother them, I started dinner. My plan was chicken soup with egg noodles, enough to make extra if Tom wanted to stay for a little while longer. Less than an hour later, dinner would be a non-issue. Josh exercised until he was tired enough for a nap.

I ate alone, in front of the television for a little while, checking in on the local news. Josh didn’t seem to be making much noise so I thought I’d leave him be.

At around nine I went to the bathroom, a trip that would require me to pass by the bedroom. I paused by the closed door, listening for Josh’s breath. I could usually hear him snoring, perhaps even shifting position; anything to show he was still alive.

Instead what I heard were fast, intensely labored breaths. The sound was strange, not loud enough to be an emergency but more noise than I was used to hearing from my sleeping husband.  Concerned, I silently entered the room.

Josh was laying on his back, with his sweatpants around his knees. Eyes closed, he was clearly masturbating. I watched as his dominant hand pumped his shaft hard, while the opposite hand seemed to disappear between his legs. Soft moans drifted from his lips as he grunted and cried.

I walked closer, making sure not to speak. when I was close enough, I stroked the dark blonde hair of his trembling inner thigh. The smell of his sex was intoxicating.

Josh’s hand was knuckle-deep, fingering his tight, virgin, asshole. His body was thrusting, just begging for a release.

I slid his pants off, slowly, as if unwrapping a present. With my husband naked on the bed, spread out like the most delicious feast, I was at a loss as to what to devour first.

I placed my hand upon his sternum, feeling the rise and fall of his breath. Josh gripped my hand, gliding it down his tight stomach to his well-lubed cock. He wasn’t big but he was sensitive. Every movement seemed to be coaxing out more pre-cum.

“Fuck my ass, please.” My husband gasped and moaned. Josh leaned his head back, as he presented himself. “I want you. I want you so bad… Tom.”

Tom? I bit my lip, unable to control how turned on I was. There had been many times early in our relationship when I wanted to play with his ass. The closest I ever came was fingering him while sucking his cock, but that did not induce the level of pleasure I was observing.  Had he always craved a deep anal orgasm? Or was this a by-product of brain cancer?

Josh had already been fingering himself, so I assumed he wanted deeper penetration. I licked two fingers, then three, getting them as moist as I would have wanted if I was the one with my legs spread.

His body was so tight. I could feel where his prostate was. This was a part of him I had never been invited to explore. His hole was deep, devouring more and more of my hand. I could barely keep up with his rampant cravings.

“Yes, just like that,” Josh moaned as he was humping my hand, begging for more.

Josh had a wood textured cross on his hip, starting just below his ribs. I always thought it was a strange place for a memorial tattoo; just low enough to be covered by clothing, but high enough to be readable in a mirror. It originally had his late mother’s date of birth and death, but after the numerous surgeries on his hip, the image better resembled a large lowercase ‘T.’ But as he trusted, his body overwhelmed with pleasure, the mark kind of looked like an uppercase T, for Tomas.

I put my lips to his cock, drooling down his shaft. Was he thinking about Tomas? I kind of hoped he was. I could tell he was close. I removed my hand from his ass, to give his balls a nice firm squeeze.

I knew I wasn’t supposed to ingest his cum, since he was still receiving chemotherapy, but seeing him ejaculate all over his stomach was just too tempting. In a moment of weakness, I made the mistake of gliding my tongue along his pubic hair, peppering soft kisses over his stomach, up to his navel. And then I bit his nipple. 

“Carolina?” Josh suddenly froze, nervously swallowed a lump in his throat.

“Yeah, it’s me.” I was about to cup my husband’s face for a kiss when he suddenly began to sob.

“Oh, God!” He turned his head away, covering his mouth with his hands. “I’m so sorry.”

“There’s nothing to be sorry about. Just let me hold you.”

Josh pushed me away, before pulling his body into the fetal position. Rocking back and forth, he was mumbling what sounded like prayers. “Hail Mary full of Grace, the Lord is with thee,” his voice trailed off as if he was losing consciousness. “Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.”

I put my arms around him, spooning his back. I wanted to offer words of comfort but nothing came to mind. It was clear by the nature of his breathing, Josh was having a panic attack. He just had to cry it out and I needed to be the wife he needed me to be.

I focused my hands on his muscular arms massaging from his shoulders to his wrists. Eventually, he seemed to calm down. “Do you like Tom?” I asked calmly, placing my face to his back. “He seems really knowledgeable, with quite a few years of experience.”

I wasn’t sure what I expected in response. Tom would be returning. After all, he’d been assigned to by the VA hospital.

Josh’s voice trembled as he spoke, “Please don’t let him back in the house.”

“Sure, Babe,” I replied. I leaned over to kiss his cheek before resting my head on his shoulder. “Whatever you want.” What he was asking for was not an impossible request. I could have easily called the hospital and put in for a change of staffing. It might have taken a few days for the paperwork to process, and perhaps for that time period, Josh would have been told to return to Hospice care. This was the VA hospital, I imagine they had plenty of physical therapy nurses they could send over. But none would be as good as Tom.

Needless to say, I was not going to comply with my husband’s Christian desire. Somehow, Tom had made a crack in Joshua’s concrete shell, exposing just a hint of the man I used to know.

And I wanted more.

Tom was scheduled to be back the next day, first thing in the morning. I just had to make sure I was awake and alert, to ask all the questions I wanted to know. Was he a sex therapist? A magic man? Or maybe just an angel sent to save my husband’s soul.

Chapter 2

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