Chapter 5 continues
So far: A small furry visitor invades Wendy’s ghostly solitude.
Gary patted me on the back as if he was trying to burp me.
His suit was a little too tight for him. I didn’t say anything, but he knew I had noticed.
“Should I have bought a new suit?” he asked, worried.
Mint, his wife, stood next to him in a lovely brown dress with a ruffled collar. She helped Gary with his clothes. He was much better dressed since she had come into his life. But somehow she had overlooked the suit.
“I think you look fine. Richard wouldn’t have wanted you to buy a new suit,” I told him to reassure him.
“Would Rich have bought a new suit for my funeral?” he asked, pulling at his old suit.
I had to think about that. Finally I said, “Yes, probably. But there’s a big difference between you and Richard. He would have seen it as an occasion and he loved occasions even when they were sad so he probably would have bought a new suit. But he would not have noticed what anyone else was wearing. Don’t worry. If you unbutton the jacket, it will hang better.”
He unbuttoned the jacket and then smoothed it down. That seemed to satisfy him and he left to eat the food the church women had prepared.
Mint handed me a clean, pressed Irish linen handkerchief. She didn’t say anything, just walked away.
I loved that handkerchief. The cloth didn’t break into bits like a Kleenex. The linen was able to hold my tears.
Our first date was a disaster. Originally we were going to go out on a Sunday night, but Richard had to put it off a day because he was sick with a bad cold. Monday night he was still sick, but didn’t feel like he could beg off again. I had to call in to work and ask for the night off.
We went to see a three-hour-long Russian film in a cold theater. Richard got up every fifteen minutes or so to blow his nose in the bathroom. I wasn’t sure what he was doing.
Neither of us felt comfortable saying, let’s get the hell out of here. So we suffered through the whole movie. By the time we left the theater it was late. The restaurant where we had planned on having dinner wasn’t open on Monday nights. We drove to another restaurant that was still open but as we were ordering they started putting the chairs up on the tables around us.
My mother was having minor surgery the next day and I had to be at the hospital at five-thirty in the morning. I hadn’t told Richard because I didn’t want to put a damper on our date. Neither of us had much to say over dinner. He told me later that his antihistamine had kicked in and he was having a hard time staying awake.
Richard dropped me off at my apartment, without a kiss, without any mention of another outing. I cringed at how awful our date had been. I knew he was never going to want to see me again. The only consolation I had was that I knew I wanted to see him again and I had gone on the same date. Maybe there was hope.
• • •
I made a bed for Cloud to sleep in. Taking a wicker basket from the laundry room, I filled it with a polar fleece blanket and put it on the floor right next to the bed in the guest bedroom. When I put Cloud into her new basket she looked up at me and shrieked. But it was a happy shriek, I think.
I climbed into bed and turned off the light. Just as I was falling asleep, a pounce landed on my blanket. Then a loud purring crawled up the bed and settled on the other pillow. Up close, Cloud’s purr was even more abrasive, still sounding like an electric shaver, chewing on aluminum foil.
• • •
Cloud needed real cat food and a vet check. This meant I had to go into the small town a few miles away. I’d been having a hard time leaving the cabin. Since Richard’s death, I had only stayed at our house in Minneapolis for the funeral. I felt I had to be at the cabin — in case he came back.
Taking Cloud to the vet was a good chance to get her used to riding in the car. If she was going to make her life with me, she had to be comfortable going back and forth from the cabin to the Cities.
When we got in the car, I put Cloud’s polar fleece blanket on the seat next to me. She sniffed at it, then climbed up my body and positioned herself around my neck like a fur muffler. Her buzzing purr twanged in my ears.
Tomorrow: Chapter 6 continues.