A hollow day, it was. Work to be do (yet no one to see). Paper to push ( while no urge to do it). And nothing — nothing required that moment.

Did I mention it was cold outside. Dry cold…bitter? Or that I was bored?


Perhaps the systematic culling of our aunt’s archives — the self-imposed obligation to closely scrutinize each and every document left from her Hundred Years War — had taken a toll. Carrie got it, (and a few others). To much of the western hemisphere, however, Aunt Helen was somewhat of a pain … an aberration…an inconvenience.

It was about 11 that my brother called. There were matters attendant to Helen — things to discuss. As such, when he asked if I had time to swing by, I jumped. (Ed. Note 1: Make that “leaped” from my chair).

“The door will be open,” he told me by phone. (Ed. Note 2: Was that not a metaphor of our nexus?).

Not long after, turning down Aldersgate, I reveled at this perfect measure to fill the morning’s vacuum!

I knocked while entering, and was greeted by my splendid brother, standing with the paperwork. Our task took but seconds.

“Do you have somewhere to be?” he asked.
“Not really.”
“Why don’t you sit for five minutes,” he urged me. “We don’t talk as often.”

I obliged, of course, quite amused. So was he. Laughing, we both pretty much said the same thing: his words were the words of Aunt Helen! How many times over the years had one of us wanted to run into her house, drop the groceries, and just “Get out of Dodge?”

— And yet… how many times had each of us sat, kibitzed a bit, and not felt the better for it?

So I sat on his couch. And we talked about kids, and wives, and work, and whatever. And we laughed.

“Gotta go,” I said after a while. (Ed. Note 3: Not that I had to, not that I was bored, but perhaps more along the lines of what Stuart or Stacy term my A.D.D.).
(Ed. Note 4: My wife takes it a step further: “If he was school-age now, he’d be diagnosed”, she tells others).

“Do you have time to go to Staples? Nothing urgent”. (Little did he know HE was doing ME the favor).
“Are you sure?”
“Of course. Do you want me to go for you?”
“No,” he demurred. “We can both go.”

(Ed. Note 5: Truth be known, understand I didn’t, his necessity to shop. Desiring a check register, H didn’t opt to wait the day for his bank to reopen. Oh, and ink was needed, he said, for his computer. First: I don’t know why he can’t keep his balance in his head, like I do, but God bless him, and Second: did any male Bogart really have the wherewithal to load a cartridge in a computer?).

Thrilled I was however, to go.

Within minutes we pulled in the lot. He ran in; I waited; he came back; they were out.

“What kind of office supply store doesn’t have ink?” I asked, and he shrugged. “Let’s try Office Max!” I urged, not ready to go home.
“They’re closed,” he told me.
“Let’s drive by just to make sure,” I pushed back.
“We can if you want, but they’ve merged with Office Depot.”

… So we drove up to Eastgate. I told him, en route, how I had once boycotted the store when a friend had a fight with it…and how years later, unbeknownst to me my buddy had ended his feud … and how for another decade, not knowing my pal had since mended fences, I continued to abstain from Office Max. He wasn’t impressed — my brother wasn’t — even as I drew the analogy of Letterman doing the Super Bowl commercial with that piece of shit Leno, much to the chagrin of Howard Stern.

… And then drove back from Eastgate — the store clearly closed.

“Do you need to go anywhere else?” I asked. His answer was “No.”

A bit later I dropped him off — my sterling brother — and went to my office.

I could have used another five minutes.

Leave a Reply