Harry and Martha


Harry sat quietly in his overstuffed armchair. He was watching the birds hopping on the fir tree in the side yard. There was a gentle early winter breeze blowing with just enough cold in it to warn of the gathering storms heading in from Siberia.

He was mulling over a particularly complex philosophical question. But without others at hand to test his thoughts, to try them on for size, he was feeling a bit grumpy. This was the story of his life. Lots of alone time working puzzles in his head, but rarely being able to take them out for a spin amid the possible opposition of real people.

So there was the very annoying suspicion that perhaps after all, it was all drivel. All this stuff rattling about in his own mind. It was like eating sandwiches made of bread alone.

He was a rather dumpy man with a poochy stomach and a caved in chest encased in a brown and yellow plaid shirt. That shirt was at least 15 years old and frayed at collar and cuff. But he kept wearing the thing. Made you want to take him shopping just to look at it. Maybe buy something crisp and starchy new, something periwinkle blue and white with a pair of navy trousers. Then go out and make a fire with the old clothes and toast s’mores over the coals.

Martha came into the room.

“What would you like on your sandwich Harry?”

He was momentarily taken aback by the question, being as he was in the middle of his reverie. What WOULD he like ? What would he REALLY like ? . . . . Avocado with pepper jack cheese, mayonnaise and sprouts !

But that’s not what he said.

“Whatever is handy dear.”

She walked away wishing he would ask for what he wanted once in a while. It put a little more spark into doing for someone when you knew what they really wanted. And too, it made one less decision she was responsible for in the day.

She opened the fridge and reached for the peanut butter, pushing aside the package of pepper jack cheese she had bought on a whim that morning at the grocery.