Get up Momma. Wake up. It’s Daddy.

It was a little past two in the morning. Lila groaned. Not again, she thought.

Momma. Momma Wake up.

Betsy was a light sleeper. Lila was not. It took her a few minutes to come around.

There were flashing lights outside. She heard the siren. I hope Teddy’s on call tonight, she thought as she put on her slippers.

Lila walked into the hall. Betsy was holding a compact mirror, checking her teeth.

Lila yawned. Where was he this time, she asked.

In the den, same as last week. Betsy smoothed her hair. How do I look, do I look alright?

Is Teddy on call.

I think so.

We need to get you a new housecoat. That one looks so ratty.

Martin and Lila Hinckley had been married for more than twenty years. Lila was a homemaker and until now, Martin had always been a good provider.

The doorbell rang. Betsy smiled. I’ll get it, she said.

The young man was tall, and blond. Lithe. Hi Bets, he said.

Hi Ted. He’s in the den again. Where’s Jimmy.

He’s coming. Jimmy saw it was you and he said, what’s the hurry.

They laughed, and walked into the den.

Hi Ted.

Hi Mrs. H.

Sorry we had to get you out here again. How’s he doing.

Martin was lying on the floor. His eyes were open. Lila remembered the first time Martin died, she felt like she’d been punched. Like the wind had been knocked out of her. She remembered asking God, why did you take him.

There had been so many nights like this in the last year. Calls to 911, paramedics, and after that the doctors and the counselors. Everything was fine for a few days, or a few weeks.

But then Martin would die, come back and die again, and now when Lila prayed she asked why God didn’t keep him.

Martin turned his head to look at his wife and his daughter.

Never again, Princess. Betsy’s face was flushed and her voice shook. That’s what you said Daddy. Remember?

Martin wanted to stand. He needed to give something comfort.

Gotta check your vitals, Mr. H. Ted wrapped a blood pressure cuff around Martin’s arm.

Everyone waited.

Ted looked at Jimmy and said, eighty-seven fifty-seven.

Anybody else, I’d call that low, said Jimmy. Mr. Hinckley? Can you hear me?

He leaned over Martin.

Martin clutched Jimmy’s arm and tried to speak.

Ted looked at Betsy. Hey. I’ve got tickets for RedMist at the Marquette. Next Saturday. You wanna go?

Betsy turned to Lila. Lila nodded. I’d love to, Betsy said.

Ninety sixty, said Jimmy. He put the pressure cuff away, looked at Ted and rolled his eyes toward the door.

We gotta be going, Mrs. H. Looks like his color’s coming back.

Thank you Ted. I appreciate you came out here at all, late as it is.

No problem. I’ll call you tomorrow, Bets—or later today, I mean.

They all laughed, and said goodnight. Martin lay on the floor, with his hand in the air like a prophet.

We gotta do something Momma.

First thing we gotta do is go shopping. After breakfast, we’ll go to Worthington’s and get you a new housecoat. And something new to wear on Saturday.

I appreciate that Momma. I do. But I mean we gotta do something about Daddy. We can’t keep living like this.

I know baby. I know. It’s not right. And it’s not fair to you.

To you either Momma. To you either.

No I suppose not. I don’t know what to do, I see him like this and sometimes I just want to…and then I stop, and I think, but it’s not his fault.

Maybe so Momma. Although I don’t know whose fault it would be if it’s not his. But it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t make any difference whose fault it is. Daddy’s the only one who can do anything about it now.

I expect that’s true. But it’s late, we need to try and get some sleep.

Alright Momma. ‘Night.

‘Night, baby.

They turned out the lights and went back to bed.  

Martin laid on the floor in the den, as if life were a boy with a rock in his hand, and he was a quivering thing.

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