Thursday, November 15, 2007

Chapter Forty-Three

Autumn had arrived overnight. Jacoby was awakened early Saturday morning by the sound of rain pounding the skylight over his bed. A cold wind blew in through the open window at the head of his bringing the rain in with it. His mood was a gloomy as the weather. Jerry Benson’s call had left him unsettled. The image of a knife-wielding adversary roaming around his city disturbed him. He hadn’t slept well. He’d been bothered by bad dreams including one that featured hand to hand-to-hand combat a samurai warrior who looked a lot like Senator Jaffe.

He stumbled to the kitchen and poured himself a cup of coffee. One of his few indulgences was his automatic grind and brew coffee maker. He’d joked with his friends that it was cheaper than a wife. He ducked outside for his morning paper and retrieved a soggy Washington Post from a puddle of water. The front section was unreadable, but the Metro Section was still legible and that was what he was interested in. He quickly scanned the local news and saw the stabbings had been pushed to the back page and there was no mention at the unidentified Tyson’s entire victim. He tossed the paper in the trash. Jacoby hated weekends. During the week the demands of his job helped him forget how alone he was but on weekends he missed having a companion. He turned on ESPN just for the noise then he poured himself a bowl of Cheerios. As he ate he thought about how he would approach his encounter with Jaffe that evening. He was still leaning toward the Columbo technique.

At the same time Jacoby was dropping his dirty cereal bowl in his already full kitchen sink, Harold Britt was cursing the rain as his unusually obstinate dog rain off in the direction of a female poodle. The Saturday morning dog park gathering was Fanny’s job. She actually looked forward to the – totally illegal – off leash romp with other dog-loving scofflaws in the neighborhood. Harold wasn’t enjoying it all. Even without the curious stares and careful questions of his neighbors, he wouldn’t have liked it.

“Well, we sure needed the rain.” It was Lucky’s mom. Harold thought her name was Valerie but he wasn’t sure.

“You’re right about that. I gave up on my grass.” It was the woman with the poodle.

“How are you ever going to get that mud off of Arlo?” It was Steve – the owner of Cooper the yellow lab. Sure enough Arlo had chased the poodle into the creek that ran along the edge of the park and he was now racing back toward Harold, leaving a shower of mud in his wake. “I guess that’s the least of your worries right now, Harold. If there is anything Mary and I can do, you’ll let us know –right?”

Steve was a good friend. He and Harold ran together sometimes and took in the occasional National’s game. But, Harold wasn’t ready to open up about what was going on – not even to Steve. “Sure, Steve. I’ll keep that in mind. I really appreciate it.”

Arlo had made the mistake of coming close enough for Harold to grab. He deftly reattached the leash. “We’re going to head on home now. Looks like Arlo has had enough fun for one morning. I’ll see you guys later.”

He knew that as soon as he left they would all congregate and speculate about what had happened. He just wanted this all to be over soon.

Pete was up and making breakfast when he got back to the house. Harold put Arlo in his crate to dry and took the cup of coffee that Pete held out to him. “Did you decide what whether you’re going to say anything to Mom about that phone message?”

“Yeah. I talked to Dr. Broom first thing this morning. He called me. I didn’t call him. Anyway he didn’t think it would be a good idea to bring up anything that might create stress for your Mom. Not yet.”

“I was thinking the same thing. It’s a shame about that woman’s husband, but we do have to think of Mom first. What was Broom calling about anyway? Has there been any change?”

“Not really. He saw her this morning and she was about the same. She hadn’t slept much. He said she’d been up all night scribbling on a yellow pad she got from one of the nurses. She has this idea that if she just writes down all her thoughts she will get her memory back.”
“You’ve got to hand it to Mom. She’s always thinking. Say. Maybe we should take her laptop with us this morning. Remember how she always said that her writer’s brain only worked when she was at a keyboard?”

Harold didn’t remember that. How could his son who was hardly ever around remember things about Fanny that he didn’t? “It’s a thought. Why don’t you give Broom a call and ask him what he thinks while I take a shower. His number is by the phone.”

After he came out of the shower, the first thing Harold saw was his unmade bed. Fanny never left the bed unmade. When she was out of town one of the questions she always asked when she called home was “Did you make the bed, Harold?” He always lied and said he did and tried to remember to make it before she got home. He took the time to make the bed and hang up is clothes before he headed downstairs. The room wasn’t as neat as it was when Fanny did it, but somehow it made him feel better.

Pete was ready to go when he got back to the kitchen. He had Fanny’s computer bag on his shoulder. “Dr. Broom said it was okay. I think this is a good idea. At least it will help her stay occupied.”

“Whatever you say, Pete.”



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