He could see light from under the doorway. Smelled a cigarette burning as well. The late late show was on. A rerun of McMillan And Wife. He could hear Rock Hudson’s voice, then some commercial for the SPCA with that hollowed sad music playing as countless dogs are shown suffering in the cold, chained up.
The light went out and the sound was turned down. Muffled voices and a bluish tint now came through the bottom of the door. He would wait. He’d wait until morning when the sun would begin melting the snow. He’d wait till she opened the door.
This was the old hallway he used to sleep in when he lost his keys, or, on stormy nights when there was no safety to be found.
He used to live in this building, in that room behind the door. Got kicked out when he fell behind on rent. Now he just slept on church basement floors, under bridges, in city parks, abandoned cars. It was every once in while that the old bum slept in the hallway. He wanted to feel something again. Maybe human. Maybe the old carpet was the closest he could find to that; a coat waded up for a pillow. Sweet dreams.
And at eight she opened the door. Gave him a nudge with her right foot. Good morning Sheldon, she said. How ’bout some coffee before you leave?, he nodded his gray head. Wait here, she told him.
It had cream and sugar in it. Just as he liked it. The old man drank it down in a couple of gulps and handed her back the empty cup.
It’s cold out there, she said. Will I see you tomorrow?, he nodded his head. OK, I’ll leave the bottom door unlocked.
And with that, they started the day.