Housebreaking

Housebreaking by Dan Pope Read Free Book Online

Book: Housebreaking by Dan Pope Read Free Book Online
Authors: Dan Pope
had to give it to her. You never knew what might come out of her mouth next.
    â€œYou don’t look a day over sixty,” he said.
    â€œSixty- nine ,” she stressed. “That’s a dirty number, you know.”
    â€œA what?”
    â€œA dirty number. ‘My favorite number,’ Dick Senior used to say.”
    Leonard’s face must have betrayed his bewilderment.
    â€œNever mind, Len,” she said, patting his hand. “You play your cards right, maybe I’ll show you sometime.” She winked lasciviously. Something sexual, then. He would ask Benjamin or one of the salesmen. They knew all the dirty jokes.
    â€œYou do have those little blue pills, Len? All the old men have them these days.”
    His Halcion were blue. He couldn’t sleep without them, ever since Myra died. Alone in the big bed, the sheets drawn tightly. She’d always run hot, Myra had. Better than an electric blanket , he used to say. “Sure,” he said. “I can’t get to sleep without them.”
    Terri snorted so loudly that he flinched; a small piece of food projected out of her mouth and landed in his salad. “ Viagra, Len,” she blurted. “I’m talking about Viagra. For your you-know-what. For your putz. Not for sleeping.”
    â€œFor God’s sake, Terri. They’ll throw us out.”
    And indeed, he looked up to see the waiter approaching, looking stern. But the man was only delivering their cocktails. Leonard bit into his meatball; he’d barely touched his dinner.
    â€œGo to your doctor,” she said. “They give them out like vitamins these days.” She forked the final piece of chicken into her mouth and began wiping up the sauce with a roll. “More bread, Len,” she rasped.
    Myra too used to get boisterous in restaurants. Once she’d asked the maître d’ at Scoler’s to dance, and when he politely declined, she called him fancy pants. You’d dance with me if I were a man, wouldn’t you, fancy pants?
    â€œTo little blue pills,” Terri Funkhouser was saying, her sidecar raised. She drank it down in a few swigs. But that was her final toast. The sidecar finished her. She became quiet, then unresponsive. Finally she announced that she felt sick. “Take me home, Leonard.”
    He and the maître d’, a heavyset Italian man, got her out to the Cadillac, Leonard holding on to one arm, feeling the fleshy weight of her against him. They managed to strap her into the passenger seat. On the drive back to her house, her mouth fell open and she began snoring. In the close confines of the car Leonard began to feel light-headed from the scent of her; he opened the driver’s-side window to get some air; her perfume, as Myra had always said, could stop a bull.
    When Leonard pulled into her driveway and honked the horn, Dick Junior came out immediately, striding purposefully toward the passenger side, as if he’d been expecting them.
    * * *
    THE NEXT MORNING Leonard got the photo albums out of the den closet. He was looking for a picture he’d taken of Terri Funkhouser, many years ago. He could summon the image in his mind: young Terri standing ramrod straight, chest thrust forward, a cocktail glass in her hand. One of his grandkids, combing through the photo albums, had once said, Who’s the pretty lady in the red dress?
    As Leonard searched, Benjamin suddenly bounded down the hallway, calling out, “I’ll be right back.” Where are you going, he wanted to ask, but the door had already closed behind his son. Leonard smiled. That was Benjamin, always in a hurry. He talked fast, typed fast, drove fast. It was nice having his son back in the house, despite the marital concerns. They had dinner together most evenings and TV time afterward in the den. Benjamin even watched television fast , flipping through the channels in a blur.
    Leonard turned past the countless photographs of dogs and cats,

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