Marc was at home alone perched on the arm of a sofa. He was pawing lustily at a guitar in his lap. He adored this new acquisition, a yard sale find and now his after a successful haggle, possibly the most emotionally charged of all purchases. To Marc this talisman could ward off death, as if God had winked at him, and he grinned
as he strummed, liking the sound, liking the peacefulness of single life, if only for the night. He tried to picture his wife’s face, but he couldn’t get anything, like the fuse box was smashed. He grimaced and felt the hold of the bandaids on his face, pulling at his skin. His wounds began to itch. ”Bitch!” he cried, and gently put down the guitar and shuffled off to look at himself in the hall mirror. Marc examined the wounds at close range. Tiny dots of dried blood freckled his face. He began to collect wallet and keys, all he knew was he wanted fresh
At the loony bin the smell of bleach and ancient excrement infested the air. Lizzie had noticed a pack of tarot cards on the bookshelf in a waiting room and now she was reading the cards for the nurses, defying the rules of fraternization. Predictably, they were fascinated to hear about themselves and lined up for attention. Lizzie had an odd habit of removing her rings when she read the cards.
On the verge of leaving Marc realized something was off and he flipped back on the lights. His heckles up, instincts shrieking at him from some primitive well. He felt panic, but he stood still, except for the keys in his hand, which he jangled, an aide-memoir. There was a gap on one wall. A painting was missing. Thoughts hurled at him like pelting asteroids and he might have sorted through them more efficiently but his horror was all consuming. The empty space faced him like a knife thrower, thwack, thwack, thwack as the dreadful possibilites rushed at him, pinning him in place. Where was his treasured painting! Suddenly he rushed from one end of every room to the other, skidding on the soft tiles, he pawed through stacks, he dug into the back of cluttered closets, he swung open doors and landing on his knees ransacked his way through cascades of things. Marc blamed the housekeeper, he blamed the neighbors, he blamed Lizzie.
As Lizzie knew they would, soon the lulled nurses began admiring her rings and nimbly she seduced them, “This sapphire is from a flea market outside Paris. I love Paris,” she said as she coddled the tiny object.
Sweat rolling down his face, terror ripping through him he could barely grasp the facts when he found the painting, innocently propped behind the front door. Right where he had placed it the day before. He had forgotten. He had to laugh!
Meanwhile, Lizzie had convinced the nurses to release her, and slowly and determinedly she walked the three miles back to the house.