In the Time of Being Here Now

I felt his hand under my pillow. So I said, Could you please get on with your business and leave?

His hand froze, then slipped away, as if backing off an unsafe bridge. He said, Your wife is a sound sleeper.

She is, I said.

He found the chair by the closet, pulled it close, and sat down, leaning forward. None of my wives ever slept so well, he said.

Not many do, I said.

My first wife, he said, had a real sleep disorder. The second just ate too much before going to bed. I tried to tell her she needed to not eat heavy meals so close to bedtime.

But she didn’t want to hear it, I said.

You know it, he said. Big plates of Tater Tots.

He leaned back, putting his hands on his knees. He wore an actual watchman’s cap.

Is that wool? I said.

The cap? he said. Oh yeah. I believe in quality.

Remember orlon? I said.

Very tight knit, he said. Lightweight. But not wool.

He put the chair away and knelt beside me. Listen, he said. I’m not quite done here, if you know what I mean.

I understand, I said.

So you’ll stay here, he said. Okay? Promise?

You’re not doing the dining room are you? I said.

Sorry, he said. But don’t forget, I can’t take everything.

I guess that’s a blessing, I said.

I don’t know that I’d call it a blessing, he said.

He closed the bedroom door behind him. I heard him in the dining room, and cringed over the thought of my mother’s miniatures. He didn’t take as long as I thought he might, although I’m not sure when he left. Because when I woke it was morning.

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