Kelly Carney had a thought he needed to share with Janelle. The pressure vessels were going to be running at almost a thousand degrees Fahenheit and with 3000 psi. The welds were going to be under huge amounts of stress.
Kelly had some very clear ideas on how the joints ought to be prepared to ensure the welds completely penetrated the metal and was free of voids or porosity.
He stood up, because he thought better when standing and pulled off his safety glasses, holding them by hinge near the front of the temple.
He cleared his throat and started nibbling the ear-piece to organize his thoughts when he noticed the shop rapidly getting dim. He had the passing thought that he had never seen a solar eclipse and that he really needed to run outside to see it.
Janella’s first hint that something was wrong was when she hear a clatter over at the rack where they stored pipe and flat stock.
Looking over, she saw Kelly sprawled across the rack.
Rolling him over, she felt his body twitching. His eyes were rolled back into his head.
Ripping her small, hand-held radio off her collar, she keyed the radio over to the channel that Rick Salazar typically monitored.
“DAD! I NEED YOU NOW. BRING NYSSA.” Janelle called.
If Kelly had been conscious he would have undoubtedly joked that she was yelling loudly enough to not need the radio.
It took the three of them more than an hour to track down Di, Kelly’s wife. She was out taxiing passengers about Capiche. It was another two hours before she made it back home.
She could see the three of them waiting for her, standing in her driveway. She could see that Kelly was not with them while she was still a hundred yards out. At fifty yards, she was able to read the bad news in their faces.
“Is he still alive?” she asked.
It was all Janelle could do to shake her head "No."
Nyssa said “He went painlessly.”
“His heart?” Di asked.
“Heart attack or a stroke” Nyssa said.
“It ran in his family” Di said, somewhat bitterly. “He refused to do anything about it. He ate like a sixteen-year-old and didn’t exercise.”
“What can we do to help?” Rick asked.
The news rippled through Capiche. Kelly had always been bigger than life. EVERYBODY knew Kelly. He always had a smile, a kind word or a joke for anybody he met.
It forced people to look at the future. Not only had Capiche lost a friend, it had lost an irreplaceable encyclopedia on how to make things. The things he knew were now gone and would have to be rediscovered via trail-and-error.
At least a dozen key players were forced to confront the reality that there is no guarantee of another tomorrow. The issue was larger than an individual’s mortality, it was the cost to the larger community.
Within a couple of days most of those players were looking for apprentices.
People who had already been through the process, Dr. Sam and Dot for example, were sought out and asked for advice on how to find one. Young men and women who were busy lugging water or feeding cattle or cutting wood were surprised when a stranger tapped them on the shoulder and interviewed.
Di was impacted more than anybody.
She assured Gabby that Gabby could continue to run distillery The Pub on the Carney property. She also assured Janelle that she had the run of the shop “Kelly would want you to keep it running.”
Di adapted by hiring domestic help. She got up in the morning and grabbed a bite to eat on the way out. She swung by for lunch at Gabby’s Pub and grabbed a sandwich for dinner. Other than that, she worked 16 hours a day. On Sunday, she delivered food to less fortunate families.
When asked, Di told people “What would you have me do? Pull the curtains and cry all day long? How long should I do that? A week? A month? A year?
Everybody grieves different. This is how I choose to grieve. When I cry, it is when I don’t have any passengers and it is all good.”