â€œWeâ€™ve got to go over to Lynnâ€™s this weekend,â€ Kim told me as we lay in bed watching TV. The lights were out and the traffic passed outside with its uneven ebb. Kimâ€™s head rested on my chest as I stroked her tangled hair. The glow of another bad cable movie lighted her placid features, like a childâ€™s before they drift into sleep. Her tiny, perfect hands scratched lightly across my chest and made the supple muscles of her naked back move smoothly.
â€œSaturday or Sunday?â€ I asked softly. Kim was moving back to Arkansas in four days time. Neither one of us wanted to talk about it. Maybe we thought the reality of her leaving wasnâ€™t real unless we did talk about it. But every time I came home from work and there were more boxes packed, the reality was in them. Even going to Lynnâ€™s was to pack up things she was taking with her.
â€œI donâ€™t care,â€ Kim said lazily, â€œbut I want to go to the beach one of those days, too.â€
â€œLets go to the beach on Saturday,â€ I said and pulled her up to me and kissed her again and ran my hand down to the swell of her hips and bathed in her embrace.
On Saturday the sun was up and hot by breakfast. Kim wanted an omelet before we got ready for the beach. I wanted a cigarette and a cold beer, which I got while I started Kimâ€™s coffee and scrounged in the refrigerator for something to put in the eggs. She liked sausage and cheese, and I folded them into the omelet and poured salsa over the top.
Kim was still in bed smoking one of her skinny, designer cigarettes. I brought her the omelet and coffee with amaretto cream.
â€œOoh, you made my coffee,â€ she said. â€œI was just about to get up.â€
â€œSure you were,â€ I answered, handing her the plate and putting the coffee on the nightstand. I turned on the TV and found my swim trunks in the chest-of-drawers and slipped them on.
â€œDonâ€™t you want some?â€ Kim asked me with a full mouth.
â€œIâ€™ll eat a bite of yours,â€ I said. I sat on the bed and flicked through the channels as she cut me a bite. â€œIs it any good?â€
She nodded as I took the bite off her fork. When she was finished eating, she sipped her coffee for a while and finally got out of bed to find her suit.
She picked the blue t-back bikini. It was in one of the piles of clothes on the floor along with her cutoffs. She pulled those on, too, and found one of my tank tops in another pile. There was a kind of Bohemian elegance to the way Kim lived. I found myself straightening up after her until I began to understand the lazy rhythm of her lifestyle. It wasnâ€™t long before I was living to the same rhythm. Looking good when looking good mattered. Wearing the same shirt for three days when it didnâ€™t.
I found myself a t-shirt in the clothes on the floor and slid my feet into my flip-flops.
â€œAre you ready to go?â€ Kim asked.
â€œYeah,â€ I said. â€œWhereâ€™s the beach bag?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know,â€ Kim answered absently. I found it on a hook by the back door. Kim was right behind me, putting on her Birkenstocks.
â€œLetâ€™s go,â€ she said.
My sunscreen was in the bag and her oil, and the radio was there. â€œDo you have towels?â€ I said. Kim shook her head and went to get them. â€œAnd I need more cigarettes,â€ I said to myself.
â€œDo you have your cigarettes?â€ I asked Kim when she came back with the towels.
â€œGoddamnit,â€ she spat out and threw the towels at me.
â€œHey,â€ I called after her, â€œdonâ€™t forget your sunglasses.â€
â€œWhere are they?â€ she called back.
â€œOn the bookshelf by the light switch,â€ I said. â€œDo you want to take the cooler?â€ I asked when Kim came into the kitchen again. I had already filled it with ice and set it by the back door.
Kim stopped dead in her tracks, thinking. A look of annoyance came over her face. â€œWe donâ€™t have any beer, do we?â€ she said.
â€œWe can stop and get some on the way to the beach,â€ I said in my most patronizing tone.
Kim threw her hip out and stared at me. Then she pulled the freezer open to get ice. â€œWhereâ€™s the cooler?â€ she asked with a playful touch of venom in her voice.
â€œIâ€™ve got it right here,â€ I answered, holding up the cooler and shaking it so she could hear the ice.
She stared at me again with her jaw out in reproach. I just grinned back, wagging my head and shaking the cooler. Kim slammed the freezer door and strolled towards me, a grin of her own curling out from behind her scowl. I grabbed her around the waist and pressed her to me, and together we took the gear out to the car.
I stopped at the Mobil station on the corner to get beer. â€œGet me a trash mag, too,â€ Kim told me. I bought the twelve-pack of Busch Light, and a copy of the Star for Kim and a pack of cigarettes for myself. Kim put eight of the beers into the cooler with the ice and we each opened one for the road. I took the freeway to Tierra Verde and paid the toll to cross the intercostal to Pass-A-Grille. We opened the last two beers that hadnâ€™t fit in the cooler as we turned down the two-lane street towards our favorite beach. There was a little church across from the Gulf where we always parked. Kim carried the beach bag and the cooler, and I pulled the lounge chairs out of the trunk. We walked out to the beach and set up shop in our usual spot.
â€œDo you remember the first time we met out here?â€ Kim asked after we got comfortable.
â€œYeah,â€ I said. â€œYou were wearing that red bathing suit. I was glad I had on sunglasses so you couldnâ€™t see how much I was staring at you. I just knew you were going to take one look at me in the light of day and start thinking of ways to get out of there.â€
â€œNo,â€ Kim answered with an honest smile, â€œI was the one staring.â€
â€œSure you were,â€ I said. â€œI was just glad you showed up. You stood me up the time before.â€
Kim laughed with me then. She was used to my teasing. â€œDo you want to go out in the water with me?â€ she asked. â€œIâ€™ve got to pee.â€
â€œSure, baby,â€ I said. â€œIâ€™ve got to pee, too,â€ and we trudged through the sand, weaving among the senior citizen sunbathers, to the water.
It was late spring and the water was cold, so we held each other and swayed in the gentle surf.
â€œThis is just like that first time,â€ Kim said, â€œthe way we kissed out in the water. I think thatâ€™s when I fell in love with you.â€
â€œYou know what I remember?â€ I said. â€œI remember making love out in Lynnâ€™s car before you left.â€
â€œYou can make love to me now,â€ she said, and reached her hand under the water. We made love slowly to the rhythm of the swells as the old people floated unsuspecting in the shallows.
Languidly we made our way back to the beach. â€œWill you put oil on my back?â€ Kim asked when we got back to our chairs, and then she grabbed me and whispered, â€œI canâ€™t believe how unbelievable you are,â€ in my ear.
â€œI canâ€™t believe youâ€™re leaving me,â€ I whispered back. We both fell silent then. I rubbed the oil over her shoulders and up the backs of her legs while we lost ourselves in our own memories.
The next morning Kim woke up early and called Lynn. â€œShe wants us to come over for lunch,â€ Kim told me as I lay in bed next to her, still more asleep than awake. I had drifted close to consciousness when she stretched over the bed to get the phone off the nightstand. She roused me again when she leaned across to put the phone back, and when she pulled the covers off me as she tumbled out of my side of the bed. I watched her, naked in the half-light of the morning, while she looked for a shirt on the floor. I found the remote swaddled in the covers at the foot of the bed and turned on the TV to fill the empty room as she headed down the hall to the kitchen. I fell asleep again to the drone of a Sunday morning news show and the gurgle of Kimâ€™s coffee brewing in the automatic coffeemaker.
â€œYou have to wake up, honey,â€ was the next thing I heard. Kim was sitting cross legged on the bed with a cup of coffee in her hand. She was still wearing the tank top she had retrieved from the floor, but her hair was wet from the shower and the tight ringlets dripped dark patches over her breasts.
â€œYou have to wake up,â€ she repeated, â€œor weâ€™ll be late.â€
â€œWeâ€™re always late,â€ I mumbled back.
â€œYou mean Iâ€™m always late,â€ Kim grinned.
â€œYeah,â€ I said, sleep overtaking me again.
But Kim kept after me. â€œYouâ€™re the one that makes me late,â€ she said as she moved on the bed and straddled me. The cold, wet curls of her hair were nothing like the warmth of her soft lips as she nuzzled into my neck and whispered into my ear, â€œIf you go back to sleep, Iâ€™ve got hot coffee in my hand.â€
I pushed myself up on my elbows and looked at the clock I couldnâ€™t see without my contacts. â€œWhat time is it?â€ I asked.
â€œTen thirty,â€ Kim answered, still astride me.
â€œWeâ€™ve got plenty of time then,â€ I said. The TV was still on, but a movie had replaced the news. â€œWhat are you watching?â€ I asked as I fumbled on the nightstand for my glasses.
â€œI donâ€™t know,â€ Kim answered. â€œI was watching you sleep.â€
I pulled her down to me, this time expecting the delicious coolness of her hair. I added my lips to the warmth of hers, and made us late.
It took half an hour to cross the bridge into Tampa. Lynn lived north of the freeway, just past the Hillsborough River. We pulled up to her house a bit after noon. Some of Lynnâ€™s cats met us on the steps up to the porch. There was Buster and BG and Smoke, the other three or four were either inside or still roaming around the neighborhood. I could never get an accurate count of the cats Lynn kept, with all the kittens being born and the strays that stayed, but I knew the regulars. The dogs were probably out back, except maybe Charlie the Shar-Pei Lynn let into the house more than the other three.
Lynn met us at the door. Her hands were covered in dirt, but she kissed Kim on the lips and me on the cheek as we came in.
â€œWhat have you been doing?â€ Kim asked.
â€œBurying Darby,â€ Lynn answered, looking up at Kim with swollen eyes. I knew the stricken look that came across Kimâ€™s face, and with it the emotion spilled out and she grabbed Lynn for support.
â€œWhat happened?â€ Kim wept.
â€œHe got hit by a car, I guess,â€ Lynn answered. â€œHe was in the driveway.â€
â€œWhy didnâ€™t you call me and tell me?â€ Kim implored. They were still standing in the doorway, and I stood off a bit and let them grieve. Lynn was crying again now with Kim. She was a tough little strip of a woman, close to forty and not even five feet tall, and it wasnâ€™t usual to see her cry.
â€œI didnâ€™t want to wait,â€ Lynn said, looking at the dirt on her hands. â€œI know how you get.â€
â€œI canâ€™t believe you didnâ€™t wait and let me help you,â€ Kim snuffled. â€œDarby was my lover cat. Where did you bury him?â€
â€œUnder the orange tree out in the back,â€ Lynn said. She and Kim had pampered Darby more than most of the other cats. He had been a big orange tom with a long neck and face that looked like E.T. They said he sang instead of purred, but I never did really understand what they meant.
â€œI want to see where he is,â€ Kim said.
â€œI ainâ€™t going out there again. It was a pain in the ass digging the hole,â€ Lynn said.
Kim gave Lynn a vicious look and said, â€œYou arenâ€™t going to show me?â€
â€œThereâ€™s a pile of fresh dirt under the tree. How can you not find it?â€ Lynn shot back.
â€œJohnny will go with me then,â€ Kim said and stalked off toward the kitchen and back door.
I gave Lynn a look now, too, but not a vicious one. â€œI guess I better go with her or this will be a long day for both of us,â€ I said and Lynn smiled with me.
I caught up with Kim on the back steps. The dogs had stopped her there. All four were jockeying for her attention and Kim was petting them each in turn. When I came out the back, the dogs had someone else to elicit attention from and Kim broke through them and into the yard. I went after her without paying the dogs much mind.
We found the mound where Darby was buried near the trunk of the tree. The citrus smell was strong. Small shards of light filtered through the branches to the ground. Tears came again to Kimâ€™s eyes and she leaned her head on my chest.
â€œPoor Darby,â€ she said softly. Then, â€œEverythingâ€™s getting so screwed up.â€ I knew just what she meant. I took her face between my hands and wiped the tears off her cheeks with my thumbs.
â€œItâ€™ll be all right,â€ I told her.
â€œNo it wonâ€™t,â€ Kim pouted. She looked at me, her eyes soft with emotion, and asked me for the thousandth time, â€œWhy wonâ€™t you come with me?â€
â€œI canâ€™t, honey,â€ I said.
â€œYou wonâ€™t,â€ Kim responded with anger. She pulled her face out of my hands and wiped her own tears away.
â€œLetâ€™s go back inside,â€ I said in a defeated tone.
â€œNo,â€ Kim answered, â€œyou go ahead. I want to stay out here a little while.â€
I didnâ€™t say anything. I just waded through the dogs, back up the steps and into the house. There was no use saying anything else. We had said the same things over and over again since Kim decided she was moving back to Arkansas. What it boiled down to was that Kim wouldnâ€™t be happy until she was back with her son. I wouldnâ€™t be happy in Little Rock, Arkansas, even if Kim was there. And neither one of us could understand why the other one was leaving them. So we were both unhappy, until she left anyway, perhaps longer.
I found Lynn in the kitchen. â€œDo you want a beer?â€ she asked. I nodded and got one out of the refrigerator myself.
â€œYou know, I donâ€™t want her to go,â€ I said to Lynn, â€œbut the way itâ€™s been lately, Iâ€™m glad sheâ€™s going soon.â€
â€œI know,â€ Lynn said while she poured herself a rum and coke. â€œWhatâ€™s she been like?â€
â€œMostly she goes out drinking. When itâ€™s just me and her, everythingâ€™s okay. Like almost normal. But it hasnâ€™t been much just me and her the last couple of months,â€ I started, but there was more to it. â€œI never know whatâ€™s going on until she doesnâ€™t show up from work when sheâ€™s supposed to. Then I get to look forward to her coming home drunk as shit at two in the morning. And she wants to know why Iâ€™m pissed off. I guess it doesnâ€™t help that she works in a bar.â€
â€œBelieve me,â€ Lynn said, â€œit worries you more than it does her.â€
Lynn knew. Kim had lived with her for two years or more before I met Kim. I came to realize it had been almost the same for Lynn when Kim moved out of her house and into mine.
â€œI just hope these last couple of months arenâ€™t all I remember,â€ I said.
â€œYou wonâ€™t remember the same things after she leaves,â€ Lynn told me.
The back door opened and Kim came back into the kitchen with Charlie. â€œDo you have any more beers?â€ she asked.
â€œSure, honey,â€ Lynn said, and I got Kim a beer and opened it before I gave it to her.
â€œWhat did you make for lunch?â€ Kim asked after her first swig of beer. She seemed okay again.
â€œI didnâ€™t make anything,â€ Lynn said with a bit of edge to her voice. â€œIâ€™ve been taking care of something else.â€
â€œWell letâ€™s get the stuff out of the garage then,â€ Kim said nonchalantly. â€œThen weâ€™ll get something to eat.â€
We didnâ€™t waste any time. I grabbed another beer and followed Kim and Lynn out to the garage.
â€œOkay, what goes?â€ I asked when I got there. There were boxes everywhere, and stuff piled on top of the boxes and on the ground. You couldnâ€™t have gotten a car in there with a crowbar. In fact, there was hardly enough room for the three of us.
â€œAll those go,â€ Kim said, pointing to a stack of boxes in the farthest corner. â€œTheyâ€™re all full of clothes, all of Jakeâ€™s clothes I get him when he comes here. And all my Christmas stuff, where are those boxes, Lynn?â€
â€œUp in the rafters,â€ Lynn pointed them out. The slat rafters were full of junk, too.
â€œOh, and my bike,â€ Kim added. It was up in the rafters with the Christmas boxes.
â€œThatâ€™s a nice bike,â€ I commented. â€œWhy didnâ€™t you bring that over to the house?â€
â€œIt needs air in the tires,â€ Kim answered.
â€œOh, yeah,â€ I said sarcastically, â€œI donâ€™t see how we could have done anything about that.â€
â€œDonâ€™t you start, too,â€ Kim warned, but smiled.
â€œYes, maâ€™am,â€ I saluted. â€œIâ€™ll just go get the gate open and pull the car in. Itâ€™s going to be real fun getting those boxes out of the back corner.â€
I moved the car up the driveway to the garage, let the back seat down and opened the hatchback. When I got through, the clothes boxes were already out of the back corner and stacked neatly in the garage door.
â€œWe didnâ€™t want you whining anymore,â€ Lynn explained.
â€œBut you have to get the stuff out of the ceiling,â€ Kim laughed.
â€œWell, Iâ€™ll whine about that then,â€ I said. â€œDo you have a ladder, Lynn?â€ but she was already dragging it over to me.
Kim started loading the boxes into the car while I got the ones out of the rafters and handed them down to Lynn. The bike was the last thing down, but there wasnâ€™t any room for it in the back of the car.
â€œWe can tie it to the bumper, I guess,â€ Kim suggested.
â€œOr, we can put it in the front seat and strap you to the car,â€ I suggested back.
â€œYouâ€™d like that, wouldnâ€™t you?â€ Kim answered.
â€œYeah, if Iâ€™d known I would have brought the ropes off the bedpost,â€ I quipped.
â€œWell I wish you would have,â€ Lynn chimed in. â€œThose are probably the same ropes Kim took from my bedpost, and I donâ€™t think I have anything else to tie it down with.â€
â€œNo big deal,â€ I said. â€œLetâ€™s go order a pizza or something and worry about it later.â€
After lunch we went back out to the garage and rummaged around. Lynn actually did find some nylon cord we could use to tie the bike down.
â€œThereâ€™s no telling what youâ€™d find in here if you cleaned it out,â€ Kim said.
â€œWell, honey,â€ Lynn shot back, â€œif people would stop bringing their crap over here and leaving it.â€
Kim threw out her hip and answered right back, â€œLike Iâ€™m the only one.â€
â€œNot at all,â€ Lynn admitted, â€œnot at all. Thereâ€™s probably something in here from everybody I know.â€
â€œLook, Johnny,â€ Kim pointed out, â€œthereâ€™s Christinaâ€™s car seat.â€
â€œSee what I mean,â€ Lynn said with a nod of vindication.
When we got home Kim called the U-Haul place to see if they were open on Sundays. I untied the bike and unloaded the boxes from the car and stacked everything in the back yard. The rest of Kimâ€™s stuff was already piled up in boxes in the dining room, ready to be packed in the truck.
â€œLetâ€™s go,â€ Kim said when got off the phone. â€œTheyâ€™re open until six.â€
We drove with the radio filling up the silence, each of us contemplating the final steps that were bringing us closer to Kimâ€™s leaving. We went in together to the rental counter, without holding hands. It was another manifestation of the separation.
The U-Haul guy asked, â€œDo you need a trailer to pull your car?â€ He was a small little guy with a Popeye face. His words smacked out like heâ€™d forgotten to put his teeth in.
â€œNo,â€ Kim said. â€œI sold my car,â€ she explained needlessly.
The old man just looked at us blankly. He pulled the bill off a printer and explained it to us. Kim paid him and he limped around the counter with a funny walk, like he had a false leg. He led us through the stacks of boxes you could buy and pointed out which truck was ours.
â€œMake sure you keep it locked if you put anything in it,â€ he smacked as he handed me the keys. â€œWeâ€™re not responsible for anything you put in it.â€
â€œOh, I need to get a lock,â€ Kim said. â€œIâ€™m glad you said that,â€ she said to the old guy.
I bought a cheap padlock from the display on the wall behind the counter. Kim waited for me and we went out to the truck.
â€œHere,â€ I said, handing her my keys. â€œYou take the car and Iâ€™ll follow you in the truck.â€
Kim took the keys and led the way. She stopped at the Mobil before we got home. I pulled into the back of the station with the truck and Kim walked over to me from the car.
â€œDo you have any money?â€ she asked through the window of the cab. â€œWe donâ€™t have much beer left at home,â€ she explained.
I took a twenty out of my wallet and watched her as she walked up to the store and then back to the car with a twelve-pack under her arm.
We spent the rest of the afternoon loading the truck. I started dismantling Jakeâ€™s swing set and putting it into the truck first. Then Kim helped me load her bed and dining set and wicker rocking chairs. We finished with the boxes in the house and all of Kimâ€™s odds and ends, then the boxes from Lynnâ€™s house and Kimâ€™s bike. When we were through, the truck was packed full.
â€œAll we have left is the washer and dryer,â€ Kim said. â€œI hope thereâ€™s room in there.â€
â€œWeâ€™ll worry about that tomorrow,â€ I said, grabbing my shirt off the back fence and wiping the sweat off my face. â€œYou can go over to Harryâ€™s tomorrow and see if heâ€™ll help us after I get home from work.â€
â€œThat reminds me. I still need to go get my last check from Rubyâ€™s,â€ Kim said. â€œIâ€™ll go do that tonight. Do you want to go with me?â€
â€œNot right now,â€ I said. I wanted to relax.
â€œI need another beer anyway,â€ Kim said. She had been drinking while we moved. There were probably only three or fours beers left. â€œYou havenâ€™t been drinking with me today,â€ she said when we got into the house.
â€œI didnâ€™t want to while we were working,â€ I said. â€œIâ€™ll take one now, though.â€
â€œWell, Iâ€™m going to go get my check,â€ Kim decided. â€œIâ€™m not even going to take a shower first. Iâ€™m just going to change and go.â€
â€œIâ€™ll wait, too,â€ I said, sipping the cold beer and drying the sweat off the back of my neck with my shirt. â€œWe can take a shower together when you get home.â€
â€œIâ€™ll be right back then,â€ Kim smiled. I followed her into the bedroom. â€œIâ€™ll probably stay a little while and have a beer or something if Kristin or Terry or John are there,â€ she explained as she changed. I planted myself in front of the TV, on the bed. There was a playoff game on a little later. â€œBut Iâ€™ll be home early,â€ she finished.
â€œOkay,â€ I agreed and she kissed me quickly. â€œIâ€™ll be watching the basketball game,â€ I said to her back as she hurried out.
After she left I moved the truck out of the alley and into the street. The Rockets had the ball and the lead when I got back inside. They were trying to force the series with Seattle to a seventh game. They ended up winning by twelve. I took a shower at halftime when I knew Kim wasnâ€™t coming home anytime soon. I didnâ€™t even call to check up on her, and she didnâ€™t call to tell me where she was. I switched to a movie after the game was over and drifted off to sleep around midnight with the TV still on.
Kim woke me up sometime later, crashing around in the bedroom, and she turned on the light.
â€œWhat are you doing?â€ I asked angrily.
â€œYou took a shower,â€ Kim slurred.
â€œTurn off the light,â€ was my answer.
â€œWell Iâ€™m taking one, too, then,â€ she said with an exaggerated nod that made her hair fall into her face. I turned back over until I heard the shower start and Kim was gone and the light still on. I didnâ€™t even bother to get up and turn it off. I tried to go back to sleep, but was really waiting for Kim to come back.
â€œWhy didnâ€™t you come in the shower with me?â€ Kim asked. Her slur hadnâ€™t gotten any better. She was standing in the doorway to the bathroom, naked. Water still glistened on her body. Her eyes were vague and she squinted to focus on me.
â€œI already took a shower,â€ I told her like she was a child.
â€œAre you going to make love to me?â€ she said.
â€œJust come to bed,â€ I said, and finally she turned off the light.
She came through the dark to the bed and grabbed me with her wet hands. I grew to her touch, but I didnâ€™t respond further.
â€œDonâ€™t you want to make love to me?â€ she whispered in her best bedroom voice. I did want to make love to her, but this wasnâ€™t Kim. This was the ghost of her that only came in the middle of the night to torment me. Not to love me.
â€œLetâ€™s just go to sleep,â€ I said with sadness.
Her sultry bedroom voice turned to anger. â€œAre you mad at me?â€ she asked sharply.
â€œNo, Iâ€™m not mad at you,â€ I lied. â€œIâ€™m just tired. Iâ€™ve got to go to work in the morning.â€
Her voice got quiet again, with emotion now, not with sex. â€œYou donâ€™t know how much Iâ€™m going to miss you,â€ she whispered. But I did know, and I wanted to be angry with her for the way she was showing it. Instead, I gave in to her. I loved her more than my anger. We made love wildly with her intoxication, but, for all its energy, the act was hollow. I knew she wouldnâ€™t remember in the morning.
I woke her up before I left for work with a kiss on her forehead. She roused groggily, her eyes not quite focused.
â€œDonâ€™t forget to see if Harry can help us move the washer and dryer tonight,â€ I told her flatly.
â€œYou sound mad,â€ she mumbled.
â€œNo, honey,â€ I said.
â€œWill you make love to me tonight?â€ she asked, her eyes finally focused on me in the doorway.
â€œWe made love last night,â€ I reminded her.
â€œWe did?â€ she mused, like she could only imagine how it had been. â€œIâ€™m sorry. Call me today and tell me what I said.â€
â€œOkay,â€ I agreed and left for work.
When I got home Kim was still in bed, an array of half-eaten bags of chips and dirty dishes strewn around her.
â€œDid you talk to Harry?â€ I asked her. I knew she wasnâ€™t going to when I left in the morning.
â€œYou didnâ€™t call and remind me,â€ Kim whined. I also knew it would be my fault she hadnâ€™t talked to Harry.
â€œLet me change, and Iâ€™ll go see if Harry can help,â€ I said and started pulling off my tie.
â€œYou better get over here and give me a kiss first,â€ Kim said, sitting up in bed and putting her arms out for a hug.
â€œYou havenâ€™t made it to the bathroom to brush you teeth today either, have you?â€ I teased her after we kissed.
â€œNope,â€ she said with a mischievous grin. â€œIâ€™ll take a shower and brush my teeth while you get changed.â€
When Kim got through in the bathroom, Harry was already helping me disconnect the dryer.
â€œI moved the truck into the alley,â€ I told her when I heard her come into the kitchen. â€œWould you get the bike and some of that other stuff out of there so we can get these in.â€
â€œYou better put some clothes on first, before you do,â€ Harry said. I looked up and Kim was wearing a bra and a pair of my boxer shorts. It was one of her C-cup bras. She wouldnâ€™t wear the D-cups I had gone out and bought her. She said she wasnâ€™t a D, but the bra she wore made it abundantly clear she was.
â€œOops,â€ Kim giggled, but she didnâ€™t turn to run out of the room. Instead, she calmly said, â€œI didnâ€™t know you were going to be here,â€ to Harry.
â€œThat all right, darling,â€ Harry said. â€œIâ€™m just glad Iâ€™ve got you to remind me I ainâ€™t too old yet.â€ Kim smiled and left to find a t-shirt.
â€œShe didnâ€™t seem to mind,â€ Harry said to me. â€œMe being here, I mean.â€
â€œYou got to like that,â€ I answered back.
Harry was a retired construction worker. He lived across the alley from us with his wife. She was about fifteen years younger than Harry and tended to tune him out when he started in on his tall tales about running numbers for the mob in Chicago when he was a kid or living on an Indian reservation in Oklahoma after he ran away from his parents. And when his wife quit listening, Harry came over to our house with his stories. I knew I was going to get one of his first wife stories now. He always told me about his first wife after he saw Kim in her bikini or one of her short skirts she wore as a waitress uniform.
â€œI remember when my first wife would run around naked in the house,â€ Harry started. â€œShe didnâ€™t know how to close a window either,â€ he continued as Kim came back into the kitchen. â€œEvery kid in the neighborhood got a peep.â€
â€œI donâ€™t close the windows either, Harry,â€ Kim said as she squeezed past us in the laundry room. â€œBut the only one who can see me is Kevin, next door. And Kevin would be more interested in seeing Johnny naked than me,â€ she explained before she closed the back door and went out to make room in the truck.
â€œSheâ€™s right about that,â€ Harry said to me. â€œIâ€™ve known Kevin for a lot of years. His old man still ainâ€™t used to him being a homosexual. Kevin takes a little getting used to anyway.â€
I went on listening and Harry went on telling me about Kevin. I didnâ€™t have to be too attentive; I just nodded my head occasionally. It was worth it. Harry had every tool known to man in his garage, and he knew how to use them. Heâ€™d help me get the washer and dryer in the truck without either one of us killing ourselves.
Just as we finished loading the washer and dryer in the space Kim had made for us in the truck, Harryâ€™s wife came out to their back fence. â€œCome on home and eat,â€ she said through the chain link.
â€œWell, I got to help them finish,â€ Harry stalled.
â€œTheyâ€™re tired of listening to you,â€ she answered him.
â€œDonâ€™t worry about it, Harry,â€ I said. â€œWeâ€™ll load the rest of the stuff back up.â€
â€œAll right, Iâ€™m coming,â€ Harry grumbled to his wife and wheeled the dolly and tow straps down the truck ramp.
Kim and I found places for the last few boxes. There was only the bike left. Kim started to put it up in the truck, but I pulled it back from her and sat on it. The air squashed out of the tires from my weight.
â€œThe tires are flat,â€ I said.
â€œWhat are you doing?â€ Kim asked with her hands on her hips. â€œDo you want to keep it?â€
â€œNo,â€ I explained. â€œItâ€™s just the last thing left. If I pack it on the truck it means youâ€™re really leaving.â€
Kimâ€™s posture changed in the twilight. I couldnâ€™t see her face, but I could see into her heart. She didnâ€™t really want to leave, and I didnâ€™t really want her to go. But it didnâ€™t make any difference. I got off the bike and rolled it up the ramp onto the truck. I pulled the back down and locked it. Then I started the truck and moved it into the street. Kim had gone silently inside.
When I came into the house, Kim was already in bed. We stayed there all night without even the TV on to distract us.
â€œWas I really wild last night?â€ Kim asked me in the darkness.
â€œYou sure were you old drunk,â€ I teased her to let her know it didnâ€™t matter. Because tonight we made love slow and tried to make it last beyond tomorrow.
The next morning I didnâ€™t go to work until Kim was ready to leave. I kissed her as she got into the cab of the truck, and she started to cry.
â€œBe careful,â€ I said.
â€œI will,â€ she answered softly through her tears.
I closed the door and stood on the curb as she drove slowly away. She couldnâ€™t see that I was crying, too.
Â© 2012 Wasted Space Publishing