Photo by Patricia Youker


by Craig Hartglass

The washer was the first to go. They were still a new couple then, and had bought an old house, a fixer-upper. Their plans had been romantic ones. He would return from a day of working on other people's homes, and she-not yet the big executive she would one day become-would return from her cubicle, where her hours had been passed drafting misleading blurbs for the backs of the boxes of dreadful video movies. Together they would drink wine and laugh and get covered in dust and mud and paint and then collapse, exhausted but happy, into a hot tub (not to be confused with a hot-tub, an item the couple did not yet possess) before bed. They would add on a master bedroom with a master bath suite with a jacuzzi and twin lavatories. They would sell at great profit, and then they would do it again. They would kiss a lot.

But before this renovation had gotten underway, they'd started with the fundamentals, the barest of bones needed to make the house inhabitable, so they could move in. They'd cleaned. They'd painted. They'd polished the floors. They'd bought a portable dishwasher-since neither the husband nor the wife cared to do dishes by hand-which was convertible to a permanent, built-in unit, that he-the husband-would install into the cabinetry when the couple redid the kitchen, a project for which they had great ideas. They'd also bought a new washer and dryer-for this the husband ran piping and wiring and drainage and exhaust-which they both used with great pride, particularly the wife, as she delighted in no longer having to load the car with their laundry and drive to the laundromat, or mix with the sorts who did. But now the washer was broken.

"Bill's Appliance Service," read the ad in the yellow pages. It was a box ad, large, yes, but not one of those overly large ads that screamed of deductions and bottom lines and secretaries with long polished nails who answered the telephones in uninterested monotones before putting you on hold. Yet, it-the ad-was large enough to be taken seriously (roughly an eighth of a page), while remaining small enough to be associated with scraped knuckles and vans that sometimes did not start in the winter. This was why the husband called. Also, it was a local number. He liked the idea of that.

Later in the day the husband picked up a ringing phone. He wondered who it could be. He had forgotten making the call-he was in those days a busy man, going places, a soon-to-be real-estate mogul (though the type who wore jeans and worked on his own properties), or so he imagined-and the man on the other end of the line introduced himself as Ronnie. "From Bill's Appliance Service," he added.

"Yes, of course."

Ronnie had bought the business from Bill, he later explained, smiling with a kind St. Bernard face marked by the occasional pockmark, and a bright red froth of '70s rocker hair (this was the '80s) flowing from beneath a soiled ball cap, worn backwards. "And I just decided to keep the business name. I mean, what the hell." They were in the cellar, side by side, leaning over the impaired machine, the appliance man tall and beefy, and the husband tall-but not as tall-and slim. The washer was on its belly on a drop cloth, a snapped belt in the process of being changed. It was damp and musty down there but also there was a fresh-cut plywood and fir smell emanating from the newly built shelves, pridefully adorned with tools, and there were sections of pipe scaffolding leaning against the stone and cement of a foundation wall, whose recent coatings of paint shined and added to the workshop-scent of the basement. There were no cobwebs. Or messes. It was because of this odor and the equipment, the husband thought, that Ronnie, from Bill's Appliance Service, looking around, began first to comment about tools and jobs and customers and the various hazards of working with one's hands-including occasional nonpayment, and the bloodsucking nature of the insurance sector-before moving on to his troubles.

He had a Brazilian girlfriend (hard campaigning to become a Brazilian wife), who had a twelve-year-old daughter. "A package deal," was the way he put it. Though, he insisted, as if reflecting on the harshness of this two-for-one description, that he loved her-the child-to death, and could not in fact love her any more if she were his own, nor could he, for that matter, imagine not having her. But things at home were not good. The girl was sullen. She traveled with a bad crowd. The mother screamed. "I mean, it's not so bad I guess," he said. "But sometimes you get tired of it. Sometimes you just want peace. Do you know what I mean?"

The husband, recently married and with no children, and with no such plans for the immediate future, but with other plans that were romantic and industrious both-though, if one were to be honest, the smallest of doubts had by now crept in-had no idea what the repairman meant, but said that it sounded difficult, and as though he had his hands full. He said this to be kind.

"What would you do?" the repairman said.

"I don't know."

"I guess what I'm saying is: I'm not that old. Is this my life?" The repairman nodded, as though the husband-still silent-had answered him, and took the screwdriver the husband was handing him and, in the effortless offhanded way that comes with experience, used the screwdriver to guide the new belt into place. Then he shrugged. "Maybe it's not so bad," he said. "She really is a good kid."

When they climbed the steps and reached the front door the husband asked what he owed, and Ronnie, from Bill's Appliance Service, said sixty dollars. He was gazing out into the front yard, at the springtime afternoon covering the day with joy, squirrels, flowers, bursts of life coming up through the tired lawn, and he had spoken in a preoccupied tone. He turned back now, and looked at the husband, and then at the modest interior. "No. Make it thirty-five," he said. "The blue collar special."

It was several years before the dishwasher went. "I cannot live without a dishwasher," said the wife to the husband then, her face and neck gathering into a tsunami of grief the husband thought inappropriate for the level of stress induced. Maybe for a pink slip, or a lump on a breast. Or a house lost to a volcano. By now they had completed their renovation project, though, due to unforeseen circumstances, it had been scaled back from their original intent of adding a master bed and bath, selling at a profit, and then doing it again. It had worked out that she did not wish to move stacks of lumber and tear out rotten plaster and carry buckets of debris to a dumpster after toiling in an office all day, and he, after spending his days engaged in similar activities on the homes of others, would have preferred doing something else as well. But he had committed to this, and, really, it wouldn't have been so bad with her by his side, her bright blue eyes, her golden hair. As the days wore on, however, he found himself more and more on his own, until, after a time, she no longer performed even the charade of changing into her jeans and sweatshirt and tying her hair into a ponytail before looking for some phantom material or tool, then disappearing to the hardware store or some other destination he did not know. The hours and days dragged. Sometimes he would find himself sitting on a joint compound pail, staring at a wall or a sheet of plywood for hours, while she-it was his guess-was shopping, or out with friends.

"How's the girlfriend?" the husband said to Ronnie, from Bill's Appliance Service, after the repairman had carried his bucket of tools into the kitchen (by now finished for years) and knelt down, facing the dishwasher. The repairman rubbed his palms together and then on his pants. He took out a Phillips head. He unfastened two screws, then, by means of a back-and-forth wiggle, pulled the machine noisily onto the porcelain tile floor-that the husband, after renting a wet-saw and reading a how-to book, had laid on the bias-and then reached into his back pocket for a collection of Allen wrenches that folded like a pocketknife. He had gained a few pounds.

"We got married," the appliance man said. "We were living together for a few years, and then we got married. I can't believe you remember that."

"I remember," the husband said. Indeed. He had been married for some time now himself, and his wife had gained a pound or two, and also she had responded in a disagreeable manner when he tried to introduce some new things of a sexual nature (novelty items, photography, and such), and, consequently, thoughts of women-any woman who was not his wife-were never far off. Plus, she-the repairman's bride-was Brazilian. That was exotic. The husband offered his congratulations, and the repairman his thanks. The repairman made a humming sigh a few minutes later while sorting through a canvas apron with pockets that lined his tool bucket. He was looking for a specific tool and the husband was not sure whether it was this search that elicited the sigh, or something else. "What?" he asked.

"Hmm?" the repairman said. "Oh, nothing." He looked up as though brought back from a dream, and once again said that it was nothing. He raised a hand up to his hat-still backwards-and took it off and ran his fingers through his hair-unchanged-and then replaced the hat and returned his hand to the pail of tools and continued sorting. He located a small wrench that looked to the husband, a man not unfamiliar with tools, like the foot of some enormous predatory bird, and then his hand disappeared into the machine. "You've been married awhile," he said.


"Any kids?"

"No. No kids."

The repairman made a grimacing face, and leaned his weight behind his hand, making a lever of his forearm, and pushed until his face reddened-especially, it seemed to the husband, the pockmarked areas where his hairline met his temples. There was a rusty squealing sound. "Got it," he said. While working loose the nut with his fingertips, having added the wrench to the disarray on the floor-a wholly different manner of work than the husband's own-he said, "The thing is, we've got a teenage daughter at home. She's only fifteen. She's not mine, really," he said, going on to repeat the particulars of the situation the husband had heard those years earlier, while straining from the face and shoulder as he continued his fingertip efforts on the nut, or nuts. "Though I couldn't love her any more if she was." He looked up as the husband nodded. "I don't know," he went on, "I guess she's just going through a tough time. Girls," he said, shaking his head. "I never had a sister, I had three brothers." This caused the husband to look away, so as not to have to meet the repairman's eye, or plaintive smile. "I mean, she won't talk to me. She just stares and stares without saying a word. Do you have any idea what that's like?" Before the husband could reply that he did not, but imagined it would be terrible, the appliance man told him the girl sneaked out at night. "We have rules," he said. "My wife has rules. I don't make rules," he smiled again, this time with resignation, and a bit of shame it seemed, and added-in a tone that was self-deprecating-the word: "Stepfather." He worked his hand back and forth several times then emerged with an oddly-shaped nut followed by a metal box followed by a tail of wires-red wires, blue wires, yellow wires, white wires-from which the metal box dangled. "She stays out nights. I don't think we've slept through the night in months. What are you supposed to do?" The question was aimed more toward the ceiling, or maybe the sky and the heavens above, than toward the husband who remained still. "Do you let her keep on doing it? Throw her out? What about you and your wife, don't you think it takes its toll?" the repairman said in a weary voice. "She's just a kid, how do you throw out a kid?"

"I couldn't imagine," said the husband, who was in fact at the present moment trying to imagine the girl and the mother. He pictured them not unlike the dark-eyed beauties with heels and pouting lips facing off on the Argentine soap operas, or crying out their hearts on the Christina show, or singing in lingerie for cash prizes on Sabado Gigante!-which always seemed to be on, Sabado or not-when he passed those three or four Spanish stations on the TV dial. The husband shrugged.

"I'm sorry," the repairman said.

"No. It's okay."

The power switch had blown, a surge perhaps, and a new one would have to be ordered, the repairman explained, as the two men temporarily pushed the dishwasher back into its den. It would take two weeks. He would bill the husband then. He collected the tools from the floor with his blackened fingers. There was a ringing, metal-on-metal sound as each tool was tossed into the pail, and a meditative hush that followed, and that left both men silent, staring off. When the last tool hit, and the ringing died away, the repairman shook his head. "Fifteen," he said.

"It's a funny thing about these refrigerators, I've seen the compressor go on maybe a dozen of them. What is it-ten years old? Twelve?"

The husband, now the former husband, thought for a moment, counting back the years. It had been two until the renovation was complete (the very moment the real-estate market collapsed), another five before his wife had walked out, another two since then. Nine years. Had it been that long since he stood in this spot directing the deliverymen with their hand truck as they guided the new refrigerator into place? Had it been two since she left? It did not seem possible. Yet it also did not seem possible that she had once lived with him. He tried to place her body beside his, leaning into him, the way she so often would, his arm around her shoulders, the perfume of her hair just below his nose-or maybe standing chest to chest facing him in an embrace. But he could not. She was shorter, he remembered that. Her hair was blonde, that too. But her smell and her laugh and the touch of her skin, these would not come. He saw, instead, a particularly cutting smirk of face, a curl and lifting of lip-nearly unnoticeable, but a straight razor to him-that she would make to indicate disgust. It made him feel as though she were judging his manness, judging him to be a woman, or less. One time they were on their way to visit friends, another couple. They were in her car, he was driving, full of cheer. It was a lovely day, a bright, clear, wintry day, warm too, and he was-as was his custom-looking at the various homes passing between the bare trees in the sun of afternoon; homes half-covered by tarps, or with scaffoldings erected up front, the ribs of rafters not yet skinned by sheathing, of new additions, he would look at them commenting on the work, the style of architecture, the quality of construction, of roofing, siding, windows, etc. Who was the builder? The mason? He would glance from one to the next, taking his eyes from the road for the briefest of seconds, surely not long enough for trouble, but-on occasion-long enough for him to feel the car starting to drift, and for him to make the correction. It was no big deal. But to her it was.

"Oh my God!" she screamed.


"Don't what me! You know what! You nearly killed us!"

At that moment, looking into her screaming eyes, into her screaming soul-her screaming, unhappy, dispirited, and disappointed soul-he wished he had. He felt like jerking the wheel toward the shoulder, toward a tree or a rock, showing her what real danger felt like. He felt the contempt coming from her, rising from her blood and her skin like an aura, a fog of the stuff, thick and blanketing-making him feel like grabbing and smacking her, smacking her stupid yelling head, smacking that smirk right out of her face-and in turn he felt his own contempt, and his day was ruined, and he wondered why he had ever married her, and then he wondered why when he had first seen her instability, or for that matter her fat upper arms, he hadn't just walked. And yet, standing here with Ronnie, from Bill's Appliance Service, the husband, now the former husband, knew that that was only a small part. He knew there had been moments where they laughed so hard they nearly threw up, and times where he worried about her safety, her health, when he cared what she thought, and felt, when he cared about little else. He knew that he loved her once. He was sure of that. But it, along with her smell, seemed to be gone forever.

"Nine years," the former husband said.

"Yeah." The appliance man let out a laugh. He used his screwdriver to pry off the glacier that covered the compressor, chipping away, before sliding the plate back into position. "Guess what the warranty is."



The chunks of ice came off and shattered into a mosaic of pieces as they hit the freezer bottom, and then the floor. The former husband picked up the pieces and tossed them into the sink. He picked up the frozen items from the countertop-Cornish hens, beef stock, ginger root, etc. (the former husband had discovered, quite by accident, a penchant for cooking)-and handed them one by one to the repairman, who had just snapped the shelf back into place, after turning the last screw on the plate that covered the compressor, and now he stacked the foil and wax-paper parcels with great care.

The compressor was on its way out. Sometimes that happened. Did the former husband like ice cream? He did, he admitted, but seldom bought it, which was a good thing it turned out, for now it would become soup. The repairman gave the former husband the number for Whirlpool Service, saying: You never knew, it was worth a shot, that they just might make good-though both men tended to doubt this, and said as much-and then he said the compressor was not worth replacing, that it would cost $400 or $500 and you'd still have a nine year-old refrigerator when you were done, this in a day and age when refrigerators were made to last ten, and when a new refrigerator cost a thousand. No. Better to get something new. It was the way things were. The two men stood by the door. The former husband had written a check for the service call, the discounted "blue collar special," and thanked the repairman, and now they stood by the door.

"My wife's gone, you know," the former husband said for no reason he could figure. "Yeah," he added a second later, with as much smile as was musterable, when the repairman met his eye. "It's been two years-that was part of my arithmetic in working out the age of the refrigerator. Two years."

"That's rough business," the repairman said. "Did she work?"

"She made good money. Better than me."

"They never want that."

"They say it doesn't matter-but it does."

"You can count on it."

"I have a boarder now, sharing the load. It helps."

"Every bit helps," the repairman said, folding the check in half without looking at the amount, and sliding it into his shirt pocket. "Take it easy."

"Take it easy."

The boarder was long departed when the oven went cold. He had stayed on for a year, maybe two, becoming the former husband's friend, and, miraculously, not becoming his ex-friend through those long winter evenings before moving out. Those years, and the ones that followed, saw the former husband leave his job at the construction outfit for which he'd worked fifteen years, and go off on his own. He stuck mostly with smaller jobs, preferring finish work, as the former husband had a good eye and a good way with tools and with the wood itself-a patient, thorough way, that lent itself to furniture, cabinetry, built-ins, and things of that nature. Occasionally, he would take on a small addition or interior alteration, just to break up his days, and so that he would not lose the stamina and muscle drive necessary, like a former athlete attempting to maintain a rudimentary level of conditioning or set of skills. But over time, regardless of effort or rest, he found the heavy labor exhausted him, leaving him weak and achy for days at first, then weeks. Eventually, the finish work was too much for him as well, and he took a job as an estimator with his old employer.

He was working in this capacity when the oven broke. He had just finished preparing a chicken. It was a new recipe he'd seen on the television program with the Frenchman and that woman who had just died. In the preceding years, as his strength waned, his interest in cooking had intensified, helped along by a former girlfriend, the last in a series of girlfriends that marked the end of the wild period that follows many divorces, including that of the former husband. She was a woman that now, looking back, he realized was the most compatible woman he'd known. She would cook and smile and set the table and laugh and pick up the dishes afterward, and all so uncomplainingly, and in such joyous a manner, that he found himself-unlike the days of his marriage-wanting to help. They would stand together in the kitchen, her at the stove, him behind, arms around her waist, kissing her neck as she salted and peppered and chopped and diced and simmered and splashed wine and picked up the skillet to toss and mix its contents. Their sex was good. It was very good. Individually, on an act-for-act basis, he did not at the time think it compared to the woman who had come before, who was uncommonly gifted in this arena. But over time, and particularly after she was gone, he came to recognize the special quality of sex with this woman, who would do anything to please him, anywhere, anytime, exploring any fantasy, and responding better-and more vocally-than any woman he had known (other than she with uncommon gifts in this arena). His former wife was not even in the same league. By the time she had moved on, this woman who was so very compatible, he no longer imagined the angles and movements and smells of the woman who had come before with the uncommon gifts. No. When alone-quite often, these days-and watching pornographic videos, or otherwise, he thought always of the one behind whom he would stand in the kitchen, kissing her neck as she flipped or cut or simmered or sautéed, all so very compatibly.

He had preheated the oven (to 475, from which he would drop it to 350 after ten minutes of cooking), but when it came time to pop in the chicken, the oven was not hot. And the kitchen smelled vaguely of gas. So, after shutting the oven and opening some windows (not too many for it was winter, and heating oil was not cheap) and looking up the number, the former husband, at that point, picked up the telephone and dialed and spoke into the answering machine of Bill's Appliance Service, identifying himself by name, then by address, as an old customer, before going on to detail the nature of the problem, which he imagined as having to do with the thermostat or the igniter. He left his number.

"Once I came around that corner of the road and saw the house, I remembered," said the repairman. "I mean, I knew I knew you, but I couldn't remember." The repairman had gained a few more pounds. He had gone completely grey. But his cap was still backwards, and the '70s shag was intact, and his hair seemed to remain-unlike that of the former husband-robust in its coverage and wave. The former husband watched as the repairman attached kneepads to his knees-circling the rubberoid straps around his legs, then popping the rubberoid ball of one strap into the female counterpart on the other-while noting that they were the same pads, reptilian in appearance, that he-the former husband-had used just before forced to give up heavy framing, and then carpentry in general. The repairman removed the door to the oven by sliding it upwards off its tracking. He kneeled down (a slight groan). He removed the lower drawer, which in the days of the former husband's youth had served as a broiler, but now as a drawer to store broiling pans and glass baking dishes. Under the oven-currently hollow-the dust was as thick as lint in a dryer trap. There were vitamin pills, a cork with the broken-off helix of an old corkscrew stuck inside, and several bottle caps. Beer caps. The former husband had not taken a drink in over three years, and laughed with surprise at this sighting, and then related the reason for his laughter to Ronnie, from Bill's Appliance Service, who had looked up. "A beer cap," the former husband said. "I haven't had a drink in years."

"I have a friend, a moderate drinker," answered the repairman, from his position on the floor, "never abused the stuff or anything, and his doctor told him he had to give it up for his health. So you never know."

"No. You never know."

The former husband was not sure, but thought this story was relayed because of the phone call a few minutes earlier. While the repairman was stretched on his belly, searching the underside of the oven with a flashlight, the phone had rung. Without thinking the former husband had picked up. It was a wall phone, salmon in color, a warming influence on the grey porcelain tile of the floor (set on the bias), with a long cord that twirled itself into knots-by now impossible to extract, causing the salmon-colored insulation to crack and fall away in spots-that had been installed when the kitchen was remodeled. And now the former husband had picked up. It was the doctor calling.

"No," the former husband said into the telephone, stepping through the threshold and into the dining room. "I'm currently on the mino. I filled the prescription for the plaq, but haven't taken it yet. You said you wanted me to hold off on the zith and the artemisinin until I stabilized." He'd lowered his voice to a volume that he hoped would not sound as though he were lowering it at all, and certainly not intentionally, but that, he also hoped, would dim the words falling on the ears of the repairman,-who was pretending not to listen-as he, the former husband, knew what was coming next. "No," he said, after a pause. "No, the MRI was yesterday, the biopsy is tomorrow. I was waiting until after that to start up, in case of any reactions."

After finding an igniter in his truck, and installing it, the repairman joined the former husband at the dining room table-a wedding present from the former-husband's former-wife's aunt? cousin? brother?-and set to working out the bill. In between calculations on a triplicate pad of forms, yellow on top, he would look up and begin random conversations that ranged from his customers, to the state of the economy, to his own drinking, a topic broached when asked if he'd like a cup of tea-which he declined-and after the former husband had apologized for the fact that he could not-for obvious reasons-offer a beer.

"No thanks," the repairman said.

"It's just as well," said the former husband, "all I have is herbal tea. It tastes like ground up sticks and weeds."

The repairman stuck with his figuring, which he did without aid of a calculator, but with his pencil in the elementary-school fashion of multiplication and long division-carrying ones, adding zeros, and so forth-in the narrow margins of the bill, and, when he had run out of room there, on the cardboard back of his pad which he continually flipped over. He stopped abruptly. "I haven't had a drink in six years," he said, as though this were an invitation, an opening of the door through which the former husband's medical records could slip. "And I used to like to drink, too," he said.

"Me too."

There followed a short volley in which the repairman qualified his statement, saying that he'd not been an alcoholic, hadn't attended any of those meetings or anything, wasn't the type, but after a while realized it was not doing him any good, the drinking, and it was time to slow down-which had been no fun-or quit outright. The former husband concurred. Both men laughed. By now it was clear the former husband was not going to slip through that door, and the appliance man, looking to the former husband's gaunt cheeks and hollowed frame, then quickly away, and then to the shaking way in which the former husband moved his hands, said he would have that tea after all. "With a little milk, if you've got it." And between sips and calculations-apparently, quite complex-he tried, out loud, to recall when he had met the former husband for the first time. That first call. Had it been the dishwasher? The water heater? The furnace?

But, of course, it had been the washer.

"The washer," the former husband replied, feeling a tinge of hurt that the repairman had not remembered. "God, that was so long ago." He then repainted the scene of the musty cellar, the washer on its belly, in need of a new belt, their conversation, the sawdust smell. "I was still married then," he said, before tagging on an, "I think," though he was certain he had been. "And, if I remember," he continued, which he was sure he did-but paused, as if coaxing the picture from some recessed and darkened corners of consciousness-"you were going with a Brazilian girl. You were having troubles"-and here he paused again and narrowed his eyes-"with your daughter."

"I can't believe you remember that." The repairman shook his head. He smiled broadly. He drummed his pencil eraser on the table then picked up his tea then put it down and shook his head again. "We got married," he said, "that was my wife."

"Oh. Congratulations."

"We split up."

"I'm sorry."

"No. It was long ago."

They'd split up because of her daughter, his stepdaughter, he explained, with the kind of laugh that does not follow something funny, but that is usually quiet and accompanied by audible breaths and sometimes a shaking head. She had been playing them off of one another-the repairman husband and his Brazilian wife-before she moved out, at age sixteen. It was a bad time. Yes. "But we've made our peace," he said. Although his face was long and tired and it looked as though he was saying that peace, in this instance, did not come without a great price, if it ever did.

"Sixteen. That's young to be on your own," said the former husband.

"She's twenty-nine now."


The former husband had for a second missed out on the chronology. He had forgotten the couple had gotten married. He had assumed the girl to be a teen still-maybe one of those troubled girls with achingly thick hair in made-for-TV movies that ended up at bus stations or working in diners or as maids in fleabag motels or with drugged-out boyfriends in tank-tops in seedy apartments with bad lighting, or worse. "Twenty-nine," he said. "Yes, of course." The former husband took the bill being handed to him with the pencil calculations in the margins. It was $150 exactly. He got his checkbook from his drawer and filled out a check. They crossed through the living room. At the front door, as the former husband handed the check to Ronnie, of Bill's Appliance Service, and the repairman looked back and thanked him, and said he'd done his best for him, "Blue collar special," it dawned on the former husband that blue collar special was a play on words. Blue plate special. That it had been the whole time. He saw this now.

Just a few nights earlier, the former husband now recalled, while watching television, a McDonald's commercial had come on, and at the end of the commercial-through some miracle of technology and animation-they'd shrunk down the huge golden arches and twisted them around sideways, and that was when he saw that the arches were, in fact, an M. M for McDonald's. He remembered going to McDonald's as a boy, begging his mother to take him, back when a pair of enormous golden arches-real arches of steel and plastic and yellow back-lighting-bookended the tiny glass building with its lone takeout window, and somehow he never saw that the arches were an M. He had looked right at them. He had looked at them hundreds of times. Thousands. And at the ads, too. And now, standing here in the doorway, with the sun almost gone and a wintry chill to the air, as he said goodbye to Ronnie, and shook his hand, and thanked him, he wondered how much else had been right there before his eyes all these years, how much else he just never saw.

© 2009 by Craig Hartglass.

Craig Hartglass has worked as a tin-knocker, roofer, and carpenter. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in: One Story, Quarterly West, Swill, Passager, The South Carolina Review, and many others. He lives in Connecticut with a few plants, the ashes of his cat, and a brain filled with spirochetes, and one day longs to have a decent suntan again. He can be reached at