“Where were you, baby?” I said. “All those days and nights. I worried.”
Doris pulled off her boots and tossed them toward the closet. She peeled off those tights, slipped the blouse over her head.
I’m not saying that all my grievances vanished at once. But close enough. I stared. My mouth probably hung open.
I could go on. This curve, that hollow, the fall of her hair over her shoulders. My mind goes blank.
“You just going to stand there?” she asked.
“Come over here. Let me help you out.”
She stood on my feet, grabbed hold of my belt with one hand and leaned back to work the buttons on my shirt. She stepped back. The belt went next. My pants hit the floor.
I caught a glimpse of us in the mirror. It’s a Mutt and Jeff act, a lot of yin and yang. Charitably speaking, I bring heft to the party. Gravity. Solidity.
My head filled with a thousand desires. The possibilities, always, seem endless.
She gave me a shove and boom, I was flat on my back in Duke’s massive bed.
“I had a room at the Saint Paul Hotel,” she said. “I figured, when would I have the money again?”
“You knew right away? You’d give it all away?”
“We should have known better.”
“Who says no to being rich?”
“Monks. For instance.”
Doris grabbed a couple hands’ worth of flesh and started kneading.
“I called Duke’s money guys, the planner, the accountant. I told them to get the Archbishop on the line and make it happen.”
“That was a problem?”
“You think it’s simple, giving money away?”
“They didn’t want it?”
“First the argument with Duke’s guys. You can’t just give it away. Yes I can. No you can’t. Yes I can, and if I have to fire you, screw you out of your cut and hire somebody else, I will. Which solved that part of the problem. Then the church. You think beggars can’t be choosers. That’s where you’re wrong.”
“What? They wanted it in Krugerrands?”
“They wanted to off-shore it. An account in some damn place. St. Kitt’s.”
“What do they care? They’re a non-profit. So to speak.”
“The altar boy settlement. Forty million in a domestic account, they figured it would be up for grabs. Altar boys. Altar boy attorneys. Their own attorneys. Better to have it gather mold for a while.”
“Like I said, I wouldn’t wish a pile of money on a friend. I figured they deserved it. Or at least they’d know how to deal with the ambiguity. Having centuries of experience.”
“What can I say?”
“You don’t have to say anything.”
The bed rattled. There was gasping, groaning. She collapsed finally, her head on my chest.
I considered what to say next, whether to say anything at all. Before I came up with an answer Doris started to snore.
Parts of me fell asleep. An arm. A leg. This from where Doris pressed against me. But my mind: it roiled.
Back to our old house, our old life.
While I had moped and pouted, Doris had grabbed the reins.
Back to our simple, happy life.
As the minutes and hours ticked by during our last night in Duke’s bed, the truth settled down upon me.
I could not simply go back.
Tomorrow: Get your lazy ass in the truck, she said.