Updated: Feb 1, 2021
The orange bottle with a white wrapper sits on the night table amid a collection of safety pins, half-empty water bottles and wrinkled receipt papers. Take three times daily. Do not use with other medication unless prescribed by your—
The man inches out of bed, wrestling against a stiff joint. “Damn arthritis…” he stares at the ceiling. The analog clock reads seven twenty-two. Coffee has already brewed in the kitchen. The man squints at the clicker to turn on the news, the only button he--
--ever pushes. There are thirty-nine others. And immediately, Fox News anchors wish him a good morning and read their teleprompters, the only channel he
ever watches. There are six hundred and twelve others.
He sits in his chair at an angle. His wife joins him four minutes into the broadcast. “Those damn compatriots, call themselves educated, call themselves trusty. Jesus Christ hisself would boot ‘em all to Guantanamo. Weather casters think we’ve got a one way ticket into summ’r, fools can’t even read a thermometer, now what they gon’ say when I go down to the golfing course and them boys throw me out on my arse for trying to hit one in the snow. Now that’s just my fairy sprouted head askin’ a question.”
They leave the two-bedroom apartment for breakfast, the man hobbling out to his ’14 Mazda. He turns the ignition over and frowns, “this woman is trying to kill me…just wants my money so she can move to the Galapagos and jump all the natives.” She emerges within a minute and eighteen seconds and climbs in the coupe.
They drive to the Country Inn where they wait for three minutes and eleven seconds for the waitress. She is greeted roughly.
“Finally. I already had to wait on this one and you’ve got no excuse, still ripe enough to get to the table on time. I’m ready to order.”
Their meal is spent over eight cups of coffee between the two, and an examination of their breakfast worthy of a Parisian chef. The man shuffles out the door, dropping a dollar sixty-seven on the table.
He speeds during the nine minute drive home, testing out the horn more than the blinkers, until they pull around the corner to their apartment.
I saw them through my bedroom window. I recognized my neighbor’s car sitting dead in the street. His face, from the second-story, still had a clear message across it. It took me but a moment to realize. See, someone else, Lord knows whom, had a little white cardboard sign in their car, with a blue picture. They had taken my neighbor’s handicapped parking spot. The same spot I have seen him park in for the year and a half I have lived here. He didn’t move his car. He stayed right there in the middle of the street staring at this mystery van, uncomprehending. I closed my curtains.