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Authors: Bonnie Rozanski

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BOOK: Come Out Tonight
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“Poor?” I said, grabbing the bed rail.

“On the other hand, two-thirds who are unconscious for two weeks or less should make a moderate to good recovery.
 
How old is she?”

“Thirty-three,” I said.
 
“It’s in her chart.”

He glanced down at the chart hanging on the bedside.
 
“Well, her age is one thing in her favor,” he said, letting it drop back down.
 
Then he shook my hand again and left.

I stood there gazing at Sherry for another half an hour.
 
It was hard to see her so lifeless when in my mind she was still the way she had always been: smart and funny and wise.
  

Like the time we were walking through the
Museum
of
Natural History
.
 
We had started in dinosaurs, of course, but ended up in insects, staring through a glass case at a colony of leaf-cutter ants.

“They’re all sisters, you know,” Sherry said, watching a conga line of ants marching up a stem, each waving a piece of leaf.
 
“Identical twins, really.”

“What a dull life,” I said.
 
“Cutting leaves, carrying leaves, day in day out.
 
Ugh.”
 

“That’s what they do.
 
They don’t think about it.
 
They just do it.”

We watched for another ten minutes.
 
The colony was fascinating: little robots marching back and forth, tending a crop of bacteria that fed on the leaves, a farm so organized and smooth-working you’d think someone was in charge.
 
A million little cogs, each mindlessly doing its job, adding up miraculously to....a single thing.
 

“You’d almost think it had a soul,” I marveled.

“They call it a hive mind,” Sherry said.
 
“A group mind with a single consciousness occupying many bodies.”

“But how can that be?” I asked, laughing at the strangeness of it.
 
“How could there be one mind with so many bodies?”

“Who says there has to be one mind per body?” Sherry said, laughing, too.

That was the Sherry I wanted, not the one lying in bed, her hair in a knot, mouth open and drooling, eyes to the ceiling.
 
I prayed to God that the old Sherry was not gone forever.

 

*
   
*
   
*

 

It wasn’t till I got back to the apartment that evening and looked at the mess on the rug that I realized I never had called the police.
 
I picked up the phone, apologizing no end about why I was just reporting it now.
 
The lady at the other end didn’t seem to care one way or the other.
 
She said someone would be over sometime in the next few hours.
 
Evening was prime crime time in
New York City
.
 
All the officers were out, she told me, and if it wasn’t no emergency, she’d just be pencillin’ me in in the appointments book.
 
Okay by me, I said.
 
I’ll be here.

I was still Lysolling the living room to get rid of the stink of the puke when the cops knocked on the door.
  
I opened it to find two guys in blue, flashing their badges.
 
One was this weary guy with a beer belly; the other, young, red-haired and enthusiastic:
 
Anderson and Koslowski.
 
I could tell just from looking at them that they got on each other’s nerves.

Meanwhile,
Anderson
was eying the spray can in my hand.
 
I explained about the smell and why I hadn’t called earlier.
 
They just nodded and looked around.
 

“You didn’t move anything?”
 
Koslowski asked.

“Nothing except the rug.
 
I had to wash it because I threw up all over it.”


You
threw up over it?
 
When?”

“After I found her.
 
The medics were here.”
  

“Where did you find her?”

I showed them the place beside the couch, and under the window.

They walked around some more.
 
“This window was open?”

Yes, I nodded.
 

“You opened it?”

“Yeah,” I said.
 
“Before I went to sleep.”

“Anything missing?”
Anderson
asked.

I shook my head.

He walked over to the African statue, still lying on the floor.
 
“This what the perpetrator used to hit her?”

“Musta been,” I said.
 

He opened a small black case filled with brushes, gloves, powder and tape, pulled on the gloves and dusted the statue for fingerprints before looking up at me.
 
“Nothing,” he said.

“No fingerprints?” Koslowski said.

“Not even in the sticky part.”

They both said “hmmm,” looked over at me with the Lysol can still in my hand, and commanded me to sit down somewhere.
 
While Koslowski bagged up the statue and searched the apartment,
Anderson
proceeded to grill me on who I was, where I worked, how could I possibly have been sleeping through all that racket, why Sherry didn’t live with me, and whether we argued, last night or anytime.
 
By the end of the session, just from the direction of the questions, I was expecting them to slap on some hand cuffs and read me my rights.
 
Instead, they told me not to leave town, and left.
 
I poured myself a single Malt Scotch, sat there for a few minutes in the living room, staring at the floor where Sherry had just been lying, until I got tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat.
 
Then I got up, took a Somnolux and went to bed.

 

*
   
*
   
*

 

I woke up the next day feeling groggy and tired.
 
My whole body ached like I’d been running up and down the stairs.
 
Normally, Somnolux has no side effects on me:
 
I wake up bright and bushy-tailed.
 
I figured it must have been all the stress from yesterday.

I went in and showered and shaved, the whole time picturing Sherry laid out on the floor the day before, while I was doing exactly what I was doing now.
  
I got myself so worked up that I had to take a stroll into the living room to make sure there wasn’t a body on the floor. There wasn’t, but, you know, the one thing that surprised me was that the window in back of the couch was open again.
 
I could have sworn that I had closed it the night before; I even had this mental picture of securing the latch between the upper and lower window frames.
 
But memory can be faulty, I told myself.
 
Especially, mine.
 
Sherry was always teasing me about my not remembering movies we had watched together.
 

Just to set my mind at ease, I opened the lower window all the way, stuck my head out, and looked down three flights of fire escape to the street.
 
Nothing special.
 
Just the usual noise and litter.
 
A few people hurrying off to work.
 
I tucked my head inside and closed the window, securing the latch for sure.
 
Should I call the police, I wondered, but then I figured, what for?
  
I tried calling the hospital, but they wouldn’t put me through.
  
I called back and asked them to connect me with the fourth floor nurses’ station, but all that the nurses would tell me was that she was stable.
 
No, she hadn’t woken up.
 
No, she wasn’t any worse. Visiting hours were from five to seven.
  
So, I went back and got dressed, made some coffee and got out the box of Cheerios, which, wouldn’t you know it, was empty, made a piece of moldy toast, drank the coffee and walked the eight blocks to work.

Nadia had already opened the metal gate and was going around the place turning the lights on.
  
It wasn’t much of a drug store: long and skinny, with three lengthwise rows of shelving, each brimming with all the usual pharmaceutical suspects: products for your hair, your skin, your mouth, your stomach and your ass, all done up in glossy packaging and sold for five times as much as they were worth.
 
In back, Prescriptions.

Nadia came over and planted a sympathetic kiss on my cheek.
  
“How is she?” she asked.

“Same,” I said.
 

“She’ll be okay,” she said.
 
“Don’t worry.”

“Yeah,” I said.
 
“Sure.”

I went in back and gathered together all the prescriptions that had come in the night before, and started filling them, trying not to think too much.
 
Carl came in an hour later, gave me a slap on the back and told me not to worry, she’d be all right.
 
His wife’s cousin was in a coma for a month after she’d accidentally been hit in a drive-by shooting, and she was fine now except for that slight paralysis of her left leg.
 
Then there was a slew of walk-in traffic, and we were working straight through to lunch without a breather.
 
I didn’t want any lunch, but Nadia made a point of going across the street and bringing me back something from Gray’s Papaya.
 
I wolfed it down in five minutes in the back of the store, then went to work again.
 
Carl said I could take off half an hour early.

Same old, same old.
 
Mrs. Levinson came in again and insisted her health plan covered Fosamax, even though we had gone through the whole plan with her last month, and it didn’t.
 
A bunch of people tried to buy Oxycontin without prescriptions, and then there were the usual ton of prescriptions for Somnolux, Lunesta, Sonata, and Rozerem, Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, some benzodiazapines, a few tricyclic antidepressants: all the stuff we need because we can’t sleep, we can’t relax, we’re stressed, we’re anxious, we’re tense.
 
Welcome to
New York
.
 

Then I was out, and I grabbed a cab to
St. Vincent
’s.
 
By the time I was there it was a few minutes after five, so I got my visitor’s badge, took the elevator upstairs, and went down the hall to Sherry’s room.
  
There she was: this time lying on her side.
 
The nurse must have turned her so she wouldn’t get bed sores.
 
Her eyes were still closed.
 
She looked just like she was asleep.
 
Sweet and peaceful, like Sunday mornings in bed.
  
I pulled up a chair and watched her, remembering the last Sunday morning when I stood there, watching her sleep.

Sunday morning, only two days ago, I woke up to the sun in my eyes.
 
Sherry was lying at my side, long brown hair fanned out around her, soft, red lips kissing the pillow.
  
“You came after all,” I said out loud, but she was so soundly asleep, she didn’t hear me.
 
I watched her lie there for a few minutes before I got up, made some coffee and went out for the New York Times and some lox and bagels and cream cheese.
 
I looked in on her when I came back in.
 
The sun had warmed up the room, and she’d kicked off the covers in her sleep.
 
Obviously, she hadn’t bothered to put anything on when she slipped into bed the night before.
 
I stood there till I couldn’t stand it any more, stripped off my t-shirt and sweat pants and climbed on top of her.
 

Her eyelashes twitched, then opened.
 
She looked at my face, then the rest of me.
 
“Again?” she asked, laughing.

I wasn’t listening, kissing the valley between her sweaty breasts, brushing my lips against her midriff, her belly, her bush.
 
She arched her back in pleasure until I fully entered her.
 
Then she let out a little squeal of pain.

“Gentle,” she said.
 
“I’m still a little sore.”

I might have asked her what she meant, except I was too much in the moment.
 
“Gentle,” I said, and humped her as gently as I could.
 
It didn’t take long.
 
Between the sun and the natural heat I’d built up looking at her naked body, I was half done when I started....

There was a voice at my back.
 
“Mr. Jackman?”

I turned around to see a tall, lean, thirty-something woman coming into the room.
 
Something about her - the butch hair, the
New York
attitude or the Filene’s jacket, I don’t know what - screamed cop.
 
“I’m Detective Donna Sirken from the NYPD,” she said, flipping out her police badge.

BOOK: Come Out Tonight
13.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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