You’d been a lot of things in life—a failed hooker, a hotel maid, a magician’s assistant in the French Quarter, even drove an ice cream truck for a while.
Upon closer inspection, its insides offered a glimpse of the savagery about to be witnessed and experienced. Caked blood speckled the inner wall and remnants of fur splintered loosely to the upper rim.
He had been out of work for a month now. His severance package was starting to dwindle away as the cost of living in Center City started piling up: rent, take-out food, the gym... The prospect of moving back home with his mother was too depressing to even contemplate.
“What about her?” “Will you make her wear a seatbelt?” “When she’s an adult? Probably not. It’s got to be up to her at some point.” Deborah stares at me, forcing me to ask, “How much older are we talking?”
A package by the door. Inside, he’d opened it. No, nevermind. I’ll wait for her, he thought. He knew what it was anyway. He knew it was for her. Later. “Did you see what we got?” “No.” “Weirdest thing. A mug full of moss.”
I like your eyes. That is what he wrote on the piece of paper. She put her number on it. They were in seventh grade and thirteen and the world did not stop spinning until he was home.
August 4, 1945 Phelps sat with his back to the door of the room when Dante knocked. He’d been staring out the window at the same tree for an hour. Other soldiers missing limbs sat in wheelchairs, some played checkers or cards, some slept with their heads on their chests, some talked quietly.
“It’s disappointing in a way. And somewhat confusing. I don’t really know how you’re supposed to handle it. But still, I understand science is not something that just sits there. Like everything else, it goes on. And Clyde knew this better than anyone. Though even in his last days he told anyone who asked him about Pluto, ‘It’s there. Whatever it is, it is there.’”
Soup was finished and the main course was placed out on a smaller table in a buffet style. The boys and Steve moved the dining room table out more to make room once it was decided that it would be easier for all to serve themselves. The dining room was small but sufficient for a party of four. It provided a satisfying intimacy for everyone and was warmer than other parts of the house due to its proximity to the kitchen.
It was something new. They had enjoyed the routine of Christmas Eve for the past four years at the same setting, and it was satisfying in the way most routines are. Chinese dinner, in an establishment that was Zagat Rated yet located in a mall, provided an adequate alternative from the take-out they enjoyed in a nursing home the previous eight years. But last year, their mother asked if they would mind if she invited her former boss, Steve. Their acquiescence was a mere formality. This year though, Steve had invited their mother and them to his home, and the offer was accepted unanimously.