The Sweetest

Winds whistled down the street. Almost knocked him over. The old man couldn’t have weighed more than a buck and a half. Legs wobbly. Grey hair disheveled. A bottle in his hand; Cutty Sark, or, J&B. Mumbled to himself. Something about the second coming. Asking strangers if they were ready? Shouting out words of the apocalypse, the four horsemen, fire and brimstone. He’d take another drink.

At home she waited. Up all night with a pot of coffee. The radio on some classical station; Bach and Mozart kept her company. She tried to hum along, but, didn’t know the pieces. She just liked the way the music made her feel. Like she was someone else. A high society woman. A person of intelligence. She’d smile and finish off another cup.

The door stayed locked. Day-time, nights, always locked. She’d shut it every morning when he left and open it when he came home. The old woman would hear her husband drop his keys in the hallway. She always knew it was him. She knew that sound. A ring of keys falling to the floor. And the old man swearing as he bent over to pick them up. Shhh, she’d tell him. Your gonna wake up the neighbors, she’d say. He’d come to her. Arms stretched out. Smelling like a distillery. Come on now, she would whisper. Get inside.

And he would. The husband followed the wife’s orders. He always had. Always told her he’d be home by midnight; he was. Said he’d always be faithful; did that too. Promised he wouldn’t blow all their social security. He didn’t. They only had so much to spend. Money was allocated; groceries and his booze. She gave him enough to be dangerous. Then she’d take care of him.

First she would force him to sit down in his recliner with his legs stretched out. The housewife took off his shoes and socks. A quilt was tossed over him. He’d go to sleep to sounds of violins, cellos, keys on the piano. She would turn the sound down and then kiss him on the forehead. Goodnight sweetest, she said every night. Goodnight.

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