The Neglected Breast

First
thing in the door, Helen always headed to the bathroom. This gave
him time to hide the wine and cigars. When she came out, he was
settled in his La-Z-Boy.

"Are
you still reading that book? I thought you were finished with
that."

"No,
that was the other one."

"I
don’t know how you can spend so much time reading. All you ever
do is sit around the house and read."

"I
do not."

"Or
watch television."

"You’re
the one who watches television."

"Well,
what am I supposed to do when you’re reading all the time? It
wouldn’t be so bad if you read something decent."

"This
is decent."

"I
mean literature. James Joyce, Faulkner, something that matters.
Not this crap, look at this, these trashy paperbacks, half naked women
on the covers."

"They’re
mysteries. What do you care what I read anyway?"

"I
just don’t get it. All you do is lay there and read or fool
around out in the garage."

"Well,
we’re retired, Helen. We’re supposed to relax, do the things
we like to do."

"How
come you didn’t want to read when you were working?"

"I
didn’t have time. Now I do, so I’ll read. All right?"

She
walked into the kitchen to fix them both a sandwich. When she
returned, he was laying with his head hanging to the side, dozing.

"Art!"

"Wha–"

"Lunch!"

He
struggled out of his chair and walked to the table.

"I
was thinking," she said, "I might run over to Target this afternoon."

"Hmm."

"Want
to go with me?"

"No."

"You
never want to do anything with me anymore."

"That’s
not true. I’ve never wanted to go to Target."

"You
always wanted to go."

"No,
I went with you because you wanted me to. I promise you, in 47
years of marriage, I’ve never wanted to go to Target. Ever."

"Now
what are you doing?"

"I
thought I’d finish the crossword puzzle from this morning. What’s
gotten into you?"

"I
just think with all this time on your hands you’d want to do something
worthwhile."

"Like
what?"

"Well,
you could help out around here a little."

"Doing
what? You keep the place antiseptically clean. There’s
nothing to do."

"You
could clean the pool."

"It’s
already clean."

"It’s
filthy."

"There’s
three
leaves in it. Besides, the pool girl comes tomorrow.
She’ll clean it then."

"And
you’ll be right at the windows, won’t you, watching her in her short-shorts
and tank top, bending over, skimming up the scum."

"What
scum?"

"There’s
scum floating on top. Right there. See it? Scum."

"Well,
so what? Neither of us is going to use the pool anyway.
Are we?"

"Then
why did we have it put in?"

"Because
you said, ‘Living in Florida, we have to have a pool.’"

"Twenty-eight
thousand dollars. We could have put that money toward our retirement."

"We
have plenty of money. Besides the kids like it when they’re
here."

"But
they never come here. Mark and Valerie can’t make it this year, and Mimi and Paul are going to see his folks in Scottsdale."

"They’re
coming in April."

"She
said, ‘Maybe.’ That means they’re not coming."

"Do
you know a five letter word for island?"

"Oh,"
she scoffed. "I’m going to Target. When I get back,
will you help me with the plants?"

"You
mean the one plant out there?"

"Yes.
Will you help me?"

"What
are you going to do with it?"

"Arthur,
just say you’ll help me, all right?"

Pages: 1 2 3 4