"He said when you yelled at him it was 'blood-curdling'."

She looked non-commital. I saw the image of this calm woman suddenly pulling a Little Lulu on that gentle boy and curdling his blood. It had been years before. "Did you really do that?" It amused me. I laughed softly. "Did you really do that, gentle lady? You're the gentlest and sweetest person I ever knew. Ha, ha. I can just see you doing that." She had never done that to anyone's knowledge. Of course they had kept everything from me.

"You're a fire-breathing monster all right."

She almost smiled.

"You must have had a lot of stress."


She never yelled.

"Want to have an argument?"


"Why not? Afraid you'll lose?"


"I just thought it would be nice if we could have an argument for a change."

"What do you want, Mike?"

"An argument. We never had a real argument."

"Why do you want one now? I don't want to argue. I don't even think about stuff."

"Lucky you."

"It's just a waste of time that's all. Why go into it?"

"Oh I don't know," I relented. Our business was over, and I could see she was becoming impatient. It didn't take much to make her impatient with me. She knew all my tricks. The Year of the Snake and all that.

"I just thought it would make the time pass faster. Everything's going so slow. I feel like I'm on the Lincoln train. Maybe we could spice things up with an argument or something. How about if we arm wrestle instead?" I offered her my elbow on the table.

She got up and moved into the kitchen and stood with her back to the counter.

"Okay," I said. "Wanna make love?"


"You never want to make love anymore."

"Look, I have things I have to do."

"Okay." I laughed. "Look."

Two beats.


"Look at us."

"I see us."

"Do you?"



I looked at her until she couldn't look at me anymore and turned away for something in a cabinet.

"Well, Merry Christmas," I said. I touched her shoulder and headed for the door.

"Merry Christmas."

"Don't let the bedbugs bite."

"I won't."

I stopped at the door and turned.

"Your vocabulary is improving."

She didn't say anything. I left.


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