The Sweat of the Brow (xxiii)

An hour of false starts and fresh drinks and we find our way to talking.

“Easier this way,” she says.

“Can’t hang up?”

“You or me?”

I can’t help but shake my head.

“It really is good to see you,” I say.

“You too, Martin.”

And there’s the way she says it…

“You wanted to check up on me,” I say.

“Of course,” she says.

It settles over me like a warmth, how nice it is to talk to an old friend.

“It’s been rough,” I say.

“I’m sure” she says, eyes wizened in sympathy.

“I meant getting fired.”

“Oh.”

“Sam’s death was eight years of hand-holding horror.”

“Martin-”

“A little different.”

“Martin-”

“I can barely remember it.”

She looks at me for a while.

“I don’t believe that,” she says, slowly.

I shrug. “There are maybe three days I remember. The first day in the hospital, that first time she started to twitch. Getting the diagnosis, the few days after. Then at the end. Three days.”

“And the rest of it?”

“It just isn’t there anymore.”

She takes a drink. Then a long pull of water, to roll the sea off her tongue.

She looks good. For an old girl.

I decide to change the subject. At least for a little while.

“So what are you doing with yourself?”

She smiles. “This and that.”

“Retired?”

She shakes her head. “God no.”

“Why not? If I’m old enough, you’re old enough.”

She shrugs. “Wouldn’t know what else to do.”

Then she looks at me.

I raise her my glass.

“Is that what you want?” she asks me. “Just to work?”

“I don’t have much else,” I say.

“You have your health.”

“Exactly.”

“And some ret job, polishing a bar, that-”

“No,” I said. And, “No.”

“Martin…”

“You keep saying that.”

“It’s bee half a century,” she says, “and you haven’t changed!”

I stick out my tongue. Then I nearly bite it off as I start laughing.

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~ by davekov on 27 November 2011.

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