…Well, what I mean is that he thinks it’s wise to…” May looked his way, and caught a lump in his skull that looked to be hooking for a smoke. She blinked, and it vanished. “Hell, I don’t remember. Think I’ll sleep in the chair tonight.”
May didn’t mind sleeping alone, and had good dreams. Jerry was already up before her, shaving away his whiskers. She went down to the kitchen and fixed a platter of sausages and eggs. It was Saturday, and time for a Saturday breakfast.
“Maybe we’ll go to the Wild Safari Park and Ride,” she said to herself, over the chatter of the radio.
By the time the sausages were ready, the television was on and Jerry was sitting in the longseat. May took his sausages and eggs to him, with a bottle of ketchup and some margarine for the eggs. Jerry was one of the few people in the world who liked margarine more than butter.”So,” began May, “what would you like to do today?”
“Fix the faucets,” replied her husband, flipping the channel. “Or maybe the baseball games?”
Three hours later, Jerry hadn’t moved.
May didn’t bring up the subject of the Wild Safari Park and Ride.
She made him a large sandwich for lunch and a steak for dinner. She ate macaroni the whole day, the type that could be decorated with gourmet powders. She enjoyed it, really. She also got Jerry a few soda pops. He looked at them curiously, but never drank them.
He fell asleep in the chair again. The next morning, he didn’t wake up for church, as he was supposed to. May gave him a slight push to the shoulder. He stirred. One finger crept along the ditch of a button on the remote, and tried to change the channel of a dead television.
“Church, dear,” she whispered to him.
“Oh May,” he returned. “It’s my vacation. I’ll go next week, okay?”
She nodded, and heard nothing more from him until she left. “Have a good one.”
Next door, Mrs. Tylenol was in her Sunday best and heading out to church.
“Bitch,” murmured May.
Enlightenment was marvellous but fleeting. Guilt was profound but relegated to bouts of conscience. May came out of church on the downslope of a happiness/spiritual curve. She got home to find her husband watching a home repair show, one with a man and a woman who were in the six month process of refurbishing a house they had just purchased. He began to explain what they had done already, and what they had yet to do.
“And they have this neighbour who comes by and puts them down like the town!” he laughed. “It’s like a sitcom, kind of. It’s not bad.”
He kept talking about it, so May left to tend her gardens. Really, Jerry had started them up, but had given them over to her when she’d expressed interest in them. She’d kept the gardens going even after she’d gotten a job at MapMan’s. Now she found the planting and tending to be a welcome relief from staring at and making maps all day.
In a way, she knew what every city on the east coast looked like, even though she’d never seen a fraction of them. But hell, sometimes, she remembered street names in her head when people talked about visiting relatives or friends who lived on them. She never said anything about it, though. It was a nice secret.
“Jefferson Street, Alimony, Pennsylvania.”
That night, she cooked Jerry a lamb stew with thick potatoes and large chunks of onion and peppers. Jerry took it down well, with some greased-up bread.
“What are you going to do tomorrow?” she asked.
“Don’t know, don’t want to think about it. I’m on vacation, you know.” The television repeated something along the same lines.
“Donner Hill Avenue, Pear, New York.”
“What?” asked Jerry. “Did you say something, dear?”
May went up to her room and turned on the television set. She watched the weather channel. She’d had it all wrong, after all.
Pear was in New Hampshire.
May slept alone that night, and got to work at 8:30. She enjoyed the job enough to keep at it. The money came down on her in streamers rather than in hot air balloons, but she wasn’t disappointed.
“What’s new, May?” asked Supi, the African girl who’d jumped on a ship in her homeland at the tender age of eight and been transported to the west. Her big problem was simple enough: Supi did not know the name of her country, and thus sure as hell didn’t know how to get back.
“Not much, not much. Think I want a baby.”
“That’s nice,” replied Supi. “My mother had five of them before I came around. Probably has twenty by now.”
May looked at her. “Does that include you?”
“Sure.” Supi leaned over her drafting board. “Babies cost money.”
“I know,” returned May. “Supi, why don’t you get out of here? I mean, go to a company that does foreign mapping or something. Maybe you could jog your memory and find your home or…”
Supi laughed. “I’m okay, dear. You just mind your own house, and I’ll figure out where to put mine. Okay?”
May got home and found Jerry watching The Young and the Restless. In his younger days, he’d sworn… He’d made pledges and danced in dark circles that he’d never… That he couldn’t… That it wasn’t in him to…
May tossed her coat on the couch. “Why didn’t you fix yourself something?”
“I did,” said Jerry, pointing to a plate on the table. It had crumbs on it. “I, um, got the mail, and there was a Hydro bill. I was gonna go pay it, had my shoes on and everything… But I need a shower, and I didn’t want to… Could you pay it?”
May slept and woke up alone. She…