I’m having a glass of wine with Dr. Cohen in his back yard. It was so much fun last week, I decided to do it again. Yep, that’s right—I’m developing a slatternly crush on Dr. Cohen.
He has lovely blue eyes, something I, with my muddled hazel, am incredibly partial to. His whole bearing—slender, perfect posture; head held high—is nothing short of patrician. He’s tall, especially when you take into account his age.
Truth be told, I don’t know precisely how advanced of an age we’re talking here. Older men’s spines compress: that’s a fact. They grow shorter. (Your dad, though, did an hour of yoga every day, so he was stretched out farther than most.)
“Did you ever have to defend your wife from an enemy?” There’s no easy way to work this into the conversation, so I just blurt it out after a conversation about water supply peters out.
A smile envelops Dr. Cohen’s dry, skinny lips. They could benefit from a generous nightly application of lip balm. If we move in together, I’ll let him know.
“You manage to surprise me more frequently than anyone else I know right now, Jane,” he says. “An enemy? What do you mean by that?”
“You know,” I say. “Somebody who hates your guts.”
“While I can’t claim that all who met my wife loved her to the same degree that I did, I can assure you no one ‘hated her guts.’ Why? Does someone not care much for yours?”
I nod a little too vigorously, and to my surprise, I find genuine girly tears springing into my eyes.
“Jane!” Dr. Cohen reaches across the table and places his hand on top of mine. “What’s wrong? Who is it?”
“Oh, jeez.” With the hand that isn’t under his, I lift my cloth napkin off my lap. I dab my eyes. “This guy who owns a shop by the place where I work. He’s been threatening me. A little bit. Okay, a lot.”
I explain about the zombies Beefcake prodded into harassing me, and admit we had an argument. I don’t mention breaking into Beefcake’s shop, or that he knows I’ve helped myself to someone else’s business enterprise. I also soft-pedal the part where Beefcake shoved me against the wall of my office. I say that he came in to the office and shouted at me.
“Do you know why he’s doing this? What does he want from you?”
I haven’t thought through a decent lie for his motivation, so I let a youthful shrug take its place.
“Have you contacted the authorities?”
“What authorities? We’re on our own now. In case you haven’t noticed.”
Jill Riddell is a writer in Chicago. She teaches at the School of the Art Institute and has a weakness for nature, magic, and pennies abandoned in sidewalk cracks.