"THE PATIENCE FACTOR" - Rick McQuiston
Everett Stones was a patient man. He wore the virtue like a coat, immersing himself in it, using it as a tool to deal with life’s unexpected and inevitable twists and turns. Whenever something would come his way, such as an illness or a car repair, he would simply deal with it in his own sweet time, allowing his patience to steer him through it.
Now he would be the first one to admit that his life was basically unscathed by any real tragedy. He’d never lost a loved one and his health for the most part remained stable despite a few maladies such as migraine headaches and minor backpain from time to time. But he always felt his patience was what would pull him through. His philosophy was to let time itself heal all wounds, whether they were physical or mental.
His successful book detailed many different forms of patience that he had developed over his life, each carefully tailored to specific situations that one might encounter.
Most psychiatrists and other professionals in the field dismissed him as a quack whose theories were only based on such practices as meditation or even religion. But the book sold well nonetheless. So well in fact that he could afford to retire early and live in relative comfort for the rest of his life.
If he actually believed in The Patience Factor, which was the title of his book, he himself sometimes doubted it. But such doubts would always be suppressed by referring to chapter nine:
Accessing diminishing beliefs in one’s beliefs.
His ego sometimes swelled beyond the boundaries of what most people would consider normal or even acceptable but he did not care. It deserved to roam as it wished, unhindered by other people’s perceptions. He, Everett Stones, had applied the patience factor to his life and ascended above all complications. He had conquered all of the difficulties that were slated to come his way and he had done it with his own methods. No amount of money or success could compare to finding a true path by one’s own means. The Patience Factor had worked for him and that was his true reward.
For the most part, he believed it had worked somewhat well for other people as well. He received numerous accolades regarding his work and he felt confident that he had helped many people. Perhaps not to the degree that he had himself but many people nonetheless.
So now here he was, Everett Stones, acclaimed author of The Patience Factor, sitting in his wheelchair covered with layers of wool blankets to keep Patience pneumonia at bay as the trees outside his library window swayed back and forth in the cold January air. They seemed to be beckoning him to his eternal rest. He knew fully that he didn’t have much time on Earth left. His one hundred and second birthday was only four days away and his body was slowly beginning to succumb to old age.
But it didn’t bother him, however. He was already a living example of his book. A shining advertisement for the effectiveness of his work. Very few people lived to be one-hundred and one and he had managed it due to his theories in the art of patience.
This fact had caused a surge in the popularity of his book. Fifty-seven years after it was first published it was still selling millions of copies and he had found himself to have become something of an icon.
The knowledge of this soothed his mind and relieved the aches and pains of age. He pulled the blankets up to his chin and gazed out at the grey scenery. His aged but still sharp mind jumped back to a young man he remembered from almost fifty years earlier. His name was Richard and he was a very emotional person prone to acting rashly. Everett recalled when he first met Richard; it was at a book signing. Richard had told him how he had lost the love of his life. How his beloved bride-to-be had cancelled the wedding a week before it was scheduled to take place. How he had utilized the methods in The Patience Factor and how his fiancé had committed suicide when she had not heard from him in weeks.
Tears welled in Everett’s eyes. Richard, stricken with unbearable grief, also had said that he had learned one thing from The Patience Factor… infinite patience, for better or for worse. Unfortunately in his case, it was for the worse.
The next day, Richard was dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Everett felt bad, even somewhat responsible, but he quickly got over it. Chapter four of The Patience Factor helped him immensely.
He felt a sharp pain in his chest that radiated into his left arm, increasing in severity rapidly. His head grew light and breathing became very difficult. It felt like his chest was locked in a vice with death’s bony hand turning the rod.
The realization that he was dying settled on him like a cold, wet blanket. He struggled to maintain his composure, to assure that he would be found in a dignified manner befitting an icon such as himself.
Then just as the remaining breaths left to him were dwindling to nothing, a vision manifested itself in the window. A weak smile formed on his face.
“An angel,” he croaked. “An angel has come for me.”
“Yes, I have come for you Everett,” it said softly. “Although I am no angel. Nor do I come from where angels do…suicides are damned.”
It was Richard! The young man who had lost his fiancé all those years ago.
The figure quickly grew in size, blotting out the January sky with its dark form.
“I have waited nearly fifty years for you,” it said in an eager tone. “I do not think I could have done it were it not for your book.”
BIO: Rick is a forty-three year old father of two who loves anything horror-related. He's had nearly 250 publications so far, including ones in numerous anthologies, and a few contest placings as well. He's written five anthology books, one book of novellas, and edited an anthology of Michigan authors (“Michigan Madman”). They are all available on Lulu and Amazon. Rick is also a guest author each year at Memphis Junior High School, and recently started work on his second novel (“Where Things Might Walk”).