October 6, 1998
The attic door squeaked as it opened. It was a pet peeve of his and something he’d have to take care of later. At least the light bulb above the door is still good, he thought as it illuminated the warm, musty room.
Charlie Franklin had always been a large man at six-foot-four and close to three hundred pounds of solid mass. He realized he wasn’t as strong as he used to be while his ninety-two-year-old legs struggled up the staircase.
It was the first time in about a year since he visited his attic in Piedmont, California, and he was determined.
His black, wrinkled hand shook as it griped the railing and he grunted as he pulled himself up the final steps. After a few minutes, he finally managed to reach the top. He surveyed the room as he caught his breath. Old sheets covered pieces of furniture staged against the walls and the old crutches were still propped in the corner. Except for a few cobwebs hanging from the rafters, he thought the room was still tidy.
After a brief moment, he made his way to the old desk near the window on the far wall. He pulled out a chair and sat. He fondled the old desk lamp until he found the switch. He was happy to see the bulb still lit.
He then removed an old photo album from the top drawer of the desk and wiped the dust off with his sleeve. It was made of leather and had a gold leaf inlay on the cover that was peeling from age. He opened the album and admired the pictures as he thumbed through the pages. Eventually, he came upon his favorite photo of his wife, Betty, himself, and his best man, Zach Mullins. The photo was taken on their wedding day. They were so young, jubilant and unaware that their special occasion would be short-lived and end so tragically.