“Hello,” I said into the house, “Anyone there?” Particles of dust were floating in the hot air.
“In here,” a man growled.
“Hi, I’m looking for Elizabeth,” I said. I walked in slowly, without confidence, and for some reason I was trying not to make the floor creek.
“No Elizabeth here,” said the man, “You must have the wrong address.” He was lying on the couch, a scruffy looking man with an unkempt beard, wearing a dirty old lumberjack shirt and jeans. He was staring into a huge plasma TV that was showing a football game, no sound.
“Could I have a glass of water?”
“Oh, shiiit,” he said, as if saying “Now you make me get up and I gotta do it because I am a good host, a proper one, old school.” But in actuality he said, “Yep, I’ll get that for you.” And he swaggered slowly into the filthy kitchen area. “You really looking for Elizabeth?”
“I just,” I said, “I was in the neighborhood and I though she might be here. She does this sometimes. I found here in this place before. The house is very old-looking. Like from the sixties. I like the feel.”
“Yeah? I ain’t got no money to make it modern, so I just stuck with the way my daddy made it,” he said, handing me a tumbler glass of tap water. “I appreciate you noticing.” He wiped his mouth on his sleeve.
I gulped the water down quick, half the glass in a few seconds. “Thanks, I needed that.”
“You wanna sit down and watch the game a little? The audio is busted and I ain’t got the money to get it fixed, but football is football and you can make out what’s happening.”
“No, thanks, I gotta get going,” I said. I put the glass on the counter and turned around.
“Wait,” he said, “Elizabeth. She’s here. In the… upstairs.”
“Huh,” I nodded, “I knew it.”
“I’m sorry I lied to you,” he said, “I thought you were one of them bad folks, but you ain’t got that… Confidence?”
“Yeah, I get that a lot,” I said, nodding. “So, where is she?”
“Upstairs, second door on the right. She was sleeping about… about an hour ago.”
I climbed the stairs slowly, again trying to make no sound, and at the same time I wondered what made me be so quiet. Finally, I reached the room. The door was ajar. She was in bed, among dirty sheets, wearing just a top and panties. She was sleeping on her back with her mouth wide open, her hair all over the pillow in sweaty clumps. She looked like she had suffocated in the hot air and I hoped she had, so I did not have to go through this again.
“Elizabeth, baby,” I said, “It’s time to come back home again.”
She woke up with a grunt.