up Momma. Wake up. It’s Daddy.
was a little past two in the morning. Lila groaned. Not again, she thought.
Momma Wake up.
was a light sleeper. Lila was not. It took her a few minutes to come around.
were flashing lights outside. She heard the siren. I hope Teddy’s on call
tonight, she thought as she put on her slippers.
walked into the hall. Betsy was holding a compact mirror, checking her teeth.
yawned. Where was he this time, she asked.
the den, same as last week. Betsy smoothed her hair. How do I look, do I look
Teddy on call.
need to get you a new housecoat. That one looks so ratty.
and Lila Hinckley had been married for more than twenty years. Lila was a
homemaker and until now, Martin had always been a good provider.
doorbell rang. Betsy smiled. I’ll get it, she said.
young man was tall, and blond. Lithe. Hi Bets, he said.
Ted. He’s in the den again. Where’s Jimmy.
coming. Jimmy saw it was you and he said, what’s the hurry.
laughed, and walked into the den.
we had to get you out here again. How’s he doing.
was lying on the floor. His eyes were open. Lila remembered the first time
Martin died, she felt like she’d been punched. Like the wind had been knocked
out of her. She remembered asking God, why did you take him.
had been so many nights like this in the last year. Calls to 911, paramedics,
and after that the doctors and the counselors. Everything was fine for a few
days, or a few weeks.
then Martin would die, come back and die again, and now when Lila prayed she asked
why God didn’t keep him.
turned his head to look at his wife and his daughter.
again, Princess. Betsy’s face was flushed and her voice shook. That’s what you
said Daddy. Remember?
wanted to stand. He needed to give something comfort.
check your vitals, Mr. H. Ted wrapped a blood pressure cuff around Martin’s
looked at Jimmy and said, eighty-seven fifty-seven.
else, I’d call that low, said Jimmy. Mr. Hinckley? Can you hear me?
leaned over Martin.
clutched Jimmy’s arm and tried to speak.
looked at Betsy. Hey. I’ve got tickets for RedMist at the Marquette. Next Saturday.
You wanna go?
turned to Lila. Lila nodded. I’d love to, Betsy said.
sixty, said Jimmy. He put the pressure cuff away, looked at Ted and rolled his
eyes toward the door.
gotta be going, Mrs. H. Looks like his color’s coming back.
you Ted. I appreciate you came out here at all, late as it is.
problem. I’ll call you tomorrow, Bets—or later today, I mean.
all laughed, and said goodnight. Martin lay on the floor, with his hand in the
air like a prophet.
gotta do something Momma.
thing we gotta do is go shopping. After breakfast, we’ll go to Worthington’s
and get you a new housecoat. And something new to wear on Saturday.
appreciate that Momma. I do. But I mean we gotta do something about Daddy. We
can’t keep living like this.
know baby. I know. It’s not right. And it’s not fair to you.
you either Momma. To you either.
I suppose not. I don’t know what to do, I see him like this and sometimes I
just want to…and then I stop, and I think, but it’s not his fault.
so Momma. Although I don’t know whose fault it would be if it’s not his. But it
doesn’t matter. It doesn’t make any difference whose fault it is. Daddy’s the only
one who can do anything about it now.
expect that’s true. But it’s late, we need to try and get some sleep.
turned out the lights and went back to bed.
laid on the floor in the den, as if life were a boy with a rock in his hand, and he was a quivering