Judge's Choice Awards
by Robert Legleitner
Rollins was a bore right up to the time he died. I wasn't the only one who thought so but my husband Jim liked him and that was enough for me. I asked Rollins over more frequently than I liked; and of course the odd thing was, Rollins liked me.
"He thinks you're a handsome woman," Jim told me early in our marriage.
"I'd rather be lovely or gorgeous but pretty would do it," I replied. "Handsome makes me think of older women, matronly women."
"He means it in the best way," Jim said.
It was after dinner one evening when there were several of us out on the patio and Jim was showing off the plantings I'd done, when I heard Rollins say, "Joanne has a lot of talent. See how she's set off the patio with foliage and flowers?"
"Look," someone said. "What wonderful color. However does she do it?"
It doesn't matter who said it, they all went on. What lovely marigolds. Sorry, those are asters. My, these purple things are great. What are they? It did make me feel like someone special and it was Rollins who started it.
Jim and I had saved up to go on a longed for trip to Europe. Rollins was as excited as if he were going. He sat for what seemed like hours poring over the travel brochures.
"Paris. Oh, Joanne, you've got to go to the Cluny. Everyone goes to the Louvre and you should too, but the Cluny Museum.... "Or he said things like, "Chinon. Richard the Lionheart's buried there. Here's Carcassone. And Avila!"
No use saying, "We've only got two weeks."
In the privacy of our bedroom, I could say, "We can't go out of our way to see what Rollins wants us to see. Why doesn't he go if it means so much to him?"
"He hasn't got the money. The tests at the clinic cost more than he expected and his insurance didn't pick up everything."
"He really isn't sick, is he?" I asked. "He doesn't look it."
Jim, who's known Rollins since they were kids together, shook his head. "His father died young. He never has been strong."
"What is it exactly?"
"I'm not sure. Leaky valves or something like that. You've seen how out-of-breath he gets if he pushes too hard," Jim said quietly. "Remember when we all went to Hocking State Park?"