The Fit
June 1995

“I won’t let you get away with it Wes! Do you hear me? I won’t let you get away with it!” A woman screams at the top of her lungs.

As Justin and Vic Newman step out of the hospital elevator, they hear the woman’s fit of rage. They turn the corner and are shocked to find the commotion is coming from their stepmother, Betty.

“I can’t believe you did this! I won’t let you get away with it, Wes! I won’t!” she screams again. The thin woman’s hair is dyed black and she’s wearing a fashionable black dress and heels. She beats her fists on the plate glass window to her husband’s germ-free room, violently shakes her finger at him and yells, “I won’t let you get away with it!”

Wes Newman, 75 years old, lies in the hospital bed on the other side of the glass window. Once a strong, tall, blonde rancher and Deputy Sheriff, he is now weak, pale and gray. A week earlier Wes learned he has acute leukemia and may not survive the trip from Longview to M.D. Anderson in Houston. He’s embarrassed his wife is making a fool of herself in public, and there’s nothing he can do to stop her. As Betty yells, paces back and forth, and beats on the glass window, he stares up at the ceiling, shakes his head and tries to ignore her.

She spots Justin and Vic coming down the hallway, and runs to meet them. They can see their stepmother is definitely upset about something and is now headed in their direction. Shaking her finger at them, she glares and yells, “I’m not going to let him get away with it! Do you hear me? I can’t believe he did this! He did it behind my back!” Gasping for breath, she continues to unload on them. “He sent me into town to have tires put on the car so I wouldn’t know he was making his Will! He thought I wouldn’t find out about it, but I did! I came home and found him there with attorneys and witnessing attorneys, and your Aunt Sally was there too! Oh, I could just kill him! I’m not going to let him get away with this! Do you hear me? I’m not!”

Justin and Vic glance at each other with raised eyebrows but don’t speak. Their father warned his six children several times that Betty would put them through hell and try to get everything he owns when he dies. The two brothers know one thing for sure – whatever their father put in his Will that caused her to throw this fit was put in it to protect them from her. Without any warning, she lashes out at them again. “And don’t you dare bring your mother up here to see him! I won’t stand for it! Jean better not come up here, do you hear me?”

“I’m going to call Mom,” Vic whispers to his brother. He turns and heads back down the hallway to find a pay phone.

Justin is rendered speechless by Betty’s fury aimed at his ailing father as his brother leaves him standing there alone. The outrage toward his mother is boggling and makes his mind spin. Is Betty jealous of Mom after all these years? Or did Dad leave Mom something in his Will? Their divorce would never have occurred if Mom hadn’t discovered Dad’s affair with Betty and divorced him. Dad was happy the way things were.

Justin finds the glass window to Wes’ room and tries not to cry when his father sees him. Wes quickly reaches for the phone on a stand by his bed and motions frantically for Justin to pick up the phone on the other side of the plate glass window. Justin picks it up and speaks first.

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2004 Sydney Newman Dotson
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