Point Lobos - Chapter Three [cont.]
She missed ten, went a tenth over. She put the handle back on the pump and walked to the driver
side, reached in and got her purse. When she turned to the station, the man had gone inside, taking the
rifle with him. He was standing next to the table by the vending machines.
Walking to the station, she was aware of the hammer tap of her heels on the concrete. The man
was watching her approach. She was flattered. But she should have dressed more sensibly. Jogging shoes
and jeans. An engine was pounding in the open work bay. When she stepped through the door, she
caught a glimpse of an electric generator shaking in the work area. Suddenly understanding both that he
needed electricity and he had it, she smiled.
"Clever," she said, gesturing with her head at the generator while she took her wallet out of her
"It runs on gas. Using it to run the pumps is a kinda petroleum sixty-nine."
She laughed once, politely, a little offended but trying to be amiable. She pulled cash from her
wallet, counting out two tens and two fives, then remembering the overage and getting another dollar. He
made no move to take the money.
"It's not three dollars any more. That was before I took over the place. I don't post the prices."
"It's what the market will bear."
She thought about it. "You mean, you charge different people different prices?"
"What the market will bear."
"That's not very fair."
"I probably lose a lot of business."
She made no pretense of being amused this time. It was time to get this over with. "Well, all
right, how much then?"
"What have you got?"
"All my money? Why didn't you say something before I pumped the gas?"
"I told you it was expensive."
"Yes, but I thought--." She glanced back at the posted prices. Gas had been a dollar-forty a
gallon a week ago. Three dollars was expensive. She hadn't even gotten Premium. "I have forty dollars."
He looked unimpressed.
"Fifty, then. She took the rest of the cash out of her wallet and offered it to him. He looked at it,
then at her. He made no move to take the money.
This is impossible, she thought.
"Look, can you take some of the gas out? Siphon it or something?"
He took the money, pulling the bills from her hand. She almost sighed with relief. He unfolded
the bills and tore them lengthwise.
"They don't even make decent cigarette papers."
Now she was going to cry. Damn him. Damn him anyway. She held it back, though, and glared at
"That was all my money."
"Money's just paper. What've you got to trade?"
"Trade?" For a moment, she didn't understand at all. Then she thought, God, it's like that bazaar
outside Cozumel. What did he want? Her car radio? Surely not. Then she realized he was looking at her
neck. The pearls. They were a modest strand, but worth at least three hundred dollars. Quickly she
inventoried her jewelry, hoping she was wearing a day ring or something worth less than a hundred
"All I have is my pearls."
"I can go to the mall and get a bucket a'pearls."
She was getting the picture, finally. "What do you want?"
"A good blow job?"
She stepped back. He was nearly a foot taller than she, trim but heavy in the shoulders. The rifle
was over by the door. He was wearing a hunting knife in a sheath on his belt. She glanced at her car. The
keys were in her purse. The driver door was shut. Force of habit: she'd locked it.
"I don't want your gas."
"You shoulda thought of that before you pumped it. I hafta charge to siphon it out." Until then,
he hadn't lifted his seat from the table, even when he leaned forward to take the money. Now he shifted
his weight and stood up.
She stepped away, then turned toward the door. He took her arm.
"Let go of me!" She struggled uselessly; he pulled her toward him. In her squirming, she turned
her back on him, and he grabbed her neck from behind, spun her between him and the table, and forced
her down onto it. She was helpless. She let go of her purse and moved her arms, trying to protect her face
from the surface of the table. He had her skirt up to her waist and she could feel the raw wood against
her bare thighs. He was pulling at her panties with one hand. They snagged on a splinter and tore; then
they were halfway to her knees. He was leaning his full weight on the hand that held her neck. She tried
to spike him in the foot, but her heel glanced off the toe of his shoe and he squeezed until she was dizzy.
She could hear him fumble with his clothes, and then the slide of his pants falling. She felt his
fingers between her legs, pulling coarsely against the dry tissues. Then she heard him spit and in a
moment he was in her an inch or so. She could feel the catch of the head just inside her. He stroked twice
and then pushed into her until the spittle gave out and she cried aloud. He kept pushing, smoothing her
channel and lubricating himself in her juices, until there was very little pain, more horror and outrage. He
was stroking rhythmically, his thighs thumping her against the table with each push. She felt the bristles
from his legs prickling her thighs; she thought of bug legs, cockroaches, and cried out, nearly gagging.
He ignored her.
She moved a little, unconsciously. "You like it, huh? Rich bitch." He pushed harder. She tried to
relax, not to move. His other hand was on her bare buttock, bracing him. He squeezed in cadence with
the pumping motion. Then he took his hand off her backside and she heard a wet sound and it was back.
His thumb moved into the cleavage of her rump and pressed against the knot of her anus. He pushed
She realized what he was going to do and began to struggle again, twisting at the pelvis, trying to
move away from his thumb. Then it was in, and the pressure on her sphincter made her gasp, squeezing
involuntarily. He held her impaled on his thumb for a moment, then began to move in and out again,
moving his thumb too. She could feel the two intruding columns pinching her together like fingers.
His grip on her neck tightened. He had the carotid artery under his thumb, pressing her cheek
into the wood, and her breathing was being cut off. She thought she was going to faint. She thought if
she did, she would never wake up. She tried to breathe shallower, but it took all her self-restraint not to
simply allow hysteria to control everything. He began pounding her with his pelvis, driving violently
home and squashing her against the table. The table rocked and her purse fell off. Then he exhaled in a
loud gust and she could feel the pulse of his semen. She thought she should vomit, but all her sense of
violation was concentrated on the pain of her violated sphincter, the abraded ache in her vagina. She
tried to relax. He relaxed the grip on her neck a little and removed his thumb from inside her as soon as
his orgasm ended. She cried out; the extraction of the callused thumb hurt more than when he put it in.
He was still holding her neck. Not so tightly, but firmly, his weight against her neck and
haunches pinning her to the table. She began to cry, hating it but unable to stop.
"Please don't hurt me any more. Let me go, please."
He rolled her over and lifted her, all in one motion, unbending her body and forcing her to her
knees. He was holding her hair now, with the hand he'd used on her. She still hurt all through the cleave
of her legs, but the focus of her pain now was her scalp. Nonsensically, she realized he was getting it in
her hair. His thumb. Her face was a few inches below his crotch. His penis swung pendulously and
tapped her forehead, leaving a sticky spot.
"Now how 'bout that blow job?"
Her eye fell on the sheath knife. It had slipped a bit from the sheath, and she could see a half-inch of the blade in the jumble of his pants around his ankles. He twisted her head and lifted a little, so
that his wet penis left a streak like snot down her cheek.
"Blow it or I'll break your neck, honey. Make it hard again."
He pushed against her. His penis felt muscular against her cheek, like a live snake, still turgid.
The head was sandpapery in spite of the slick wetness. She turned her face away and he yanked hard.
"I'm not kidding, bitch."
The head was against her lips. She opened her mouth and took it; it was like mouthing an
apricot. She raised her left hand to touch the back of his thigh and pushed him toward her, sucking and
trying not to gag. He pushed at her with his pelvis, and the snaky weight of his penis became a little
firmer. He pushed again, too hard, nearly gagging her, and she backed away a little. He clenched his fist
then, increasing the pain in her scalp, and she pushed him toward her mouth and shifted her weight, as if
to improve the angle of intrusion. With her right hand, she reached down to the muddle of clothing,
hoping she could reach the knife without a telltale shift of her shoulders. Then she had it and up and she
stabbed his thigh from behind, driving the knife a couple of inches into the soft meat of his leg. At the
same time she bit as hard as she could. He screamed and fell away from her. Stepping back, he tripped on
his pants and then he was on the floor, reaching for the knife in his leg. She threw herself at the rifle,
tearing her knees as she scrambled for the door. She got a hand on the barrel and swung around with it,
flailing at him.
He was holding the knife, but he hadn't extracted it. He was bracing himself on the floor with his
right hand. The rifle stock caught him on the ear, knocking him down again; he grabbed at it as he fell
and missed. She struggled to her feet, her upward momentum recovering from her swing, and half
upright she swung the rifle again, this time with her weight behind it, like an axe, and caught him on the
jaw. Then she was standing, hobbled by her panties. She looked down at the man fussing with the hilt of
the knife, as if uncertain whether to pull it out or not. She pulled up her panties with her free hand and
ran for her car, carrying the rifle.
When she reached the locked car door, she remembered her purse. Sobbing with frustration, she
flung her body around to face the station again. She could see her purse just inside the doorway, spilled
on the sill. She shifted the rifle so that her finger was on the trigger and came cautiously back. The man
was crawling toward the cash register. He had the knife in one hand. Blood was spurting from the gash in
his leg. His pants were still around his calves.
"Stop!" she said, aiming the gun at him. He rolled savagely around to confront the rifle. She
groped for her purse. Watching her, he seemed suddenly to be aware of the wound in his leg.
"You cut an artery! You bitch! You bitch!" he screamed, reaching down to cover the wound.
Blood welled and dripped through his fingers.
She had her purse. She glanced at the scatter of lipstick and kleenex on the floor and then shook
the purse, listening for the keys. They jingled. She looked again at the spilled items, saw nothing worth
the gamble of reaching for. Then she backed away, fumbling in the purse while juggling the rifle. When
she met her car, she felt for the door without turning. The man was watching her. When she found the
handle, she spun and unlocked the door. She yanked the car door open, threw the rifle into the passenger
footwell, and jumped into the car. While she jabbed the key at the ignition slot, she could see that he was
moving again, crawling rapidly toward the counter where the register sat. She turned the ignition and
threw the car into gear. As it jumped forward, she heard a shot behind her. She floored the accelerator
and roared out of the station, missing the driveway a little and crashing her teeth together when the right
front wheel bounced over the curb, then again with the rear tire. She drove east a block and then swerved
south, sobbing, her wheels squealing on the turn. She raced another two blocks south, across Ocean, then
turned again, east toward the highway.
She turned right on Hatton and drove south until the road curved. Beyond the curve she stopped.
Her bottom hurt. When she wiped her eyes, her wrist came away bloody. She looked at the blood, then
touched her lip with her knuckles. She'd cut her lip. She pulled a kleenex from her purse and dapped at
the blood, examining her face in the rear view mirror, also watching behind her. There had been a tow
truck and a sports car in the station lot. She watched for them. She put the car in neutral and let it roll
forward, down Hatton another two blocks. Then she started the engine cautiously. The sound seemed as
earthshaking as a jet plane, so she put the car quickly in gear and drove as fast as she dared down the
curving road until it met Mesa Drive. Calmer now, she turned down Mesa and drove home, watching the
mirror all the while.
When she reached her house, she pulled back into the car port and sat in the car for five minutes.
She looked at the butt of the rifle sticking up from the foot well. She put the keys in her purse and got
out. Then she turned back and picked up the rifle. Then she thought of neighbors wondering where she
got a rifle. Neighbors. She hadn't seen any. She'd come back for it through the kitchen door later. After
dark. Stepping toward the front door, retrieving the keys again, she realized that he could drive up and
down the streets and see her car, a chocolate Saab, from the street. She returned to the garage and
searched for something to hide it with. David kept his RX-7 under a tarp. She struggled with the heavy
reinforced plastic, dragging it off the sports car and scraping the Saab's paint as she pushed and pulled
the plastic with its metal grommets over the back of her car.
When the car was covered, she took two running steps toward the house. Then she stopped. He
could just ask around. He could find her by just asking the neighbors. She glanced up and down the
street. She didn't see anyone. She walked to the house, quickly but with dignity, and unlocked the door.
When it opened, the stench of rotten flesh struck like a wall, but she stepped in anyway. Inside, she
locked the door. She went to the living room and pulled the drapes. She dropped her purse on the coffee
table, went to the bathroom, and puked into the toilet, gagging and crying hysterically.
She rested her face on the cool porcelain and took several deep breaths. Then she went upstairs
to the guest room shower and showered for half an hour, until the hot water gave out. She washed her
hair twice and scrubbed everywhere the man had touched her; she opened her mouth and let the rush of
water fill her mouth, spitting and refilling it, tasting soap and shampoo.
When she turned off the shower water, she realized that with the roar of the water, she couldn't
have heard if someone had broken in. Her pulse leaped with a momentary panic, then she became very
calm. She lay down in the tub, curling on her side to fit in the egg-shaped space, and slowly fainted,
turning inward on herself until there was nothing.
When she was aware again, the tub was cold and she was shivering and cramped. If he was in the
house, he'd've found her by now, she thought. She remembered the look on his face as he lay clutching
the wound on his leg, and now she realized that he couldn't come after her, at least until he took care of
the wound. And told. His version.
She rolled to her knees and stood up. Somewhere she had a douche kit, she remembered. In her
bathroom. It couldn't be helped. She wrapped herself in a towel, wrapped her hair in another, and threw a
third over her shoulders. She crept down the hall and entered her bedroom, trying not to look at the bed's
wretched burden. She crossed to the bathroom and searched the closet for the appliance. There was an
old box of Massengill's under the sink. She made a bundle of other personal things in another towel,
folded it all together, and sidled through the room again, closing the door behind her.
The hot water had recovered. She filled the bag, as hot as she thought she could abide, and
douched twice. If they had one of those hose shower heads, she thought, she'd put it inside her and rinse
and rinse. This would have to do. Afterward, she saw herself in the mirror and washed her face again,
brushing her teeth and rinsing with mouthwash. The pain was gone, but her vagina ached a bit from the
cleaning. She went into the guest room and got a thick terry robe from the closet. She tossed it on the
comforter and dressed, covering everything, when she was done, with the terry robe draped like a coat
over her shoulders. She put on flats. Her hair was still damp, so she left the towel turban on her head.
She was ready to go downstairs.
Her mind knew the house was empty. Except for David. It was empty. Her stomach was not
convinced. She crept downstairs, into the kitchen. In the kitchen, it came to her that she hadn't eaten
since getting up. She'd had a pop tart and coffee for breakfast. She opened the refrigerator, then closed it
quickly when the ripe odor of rotting vegetables sprang out. She got a can of tuna from the pantry and
stepped toward the electric can opener. No. She went to the drawers and searched for a can opener. She
found one of those sticking kind that David managed to use but she never could operate. Deeper in the
drawer she found a crank type, and she opened the can.
She got out a bowl to put the tuna in. No mayonnaise. Sighing, she ate the tuna with crackers and
salt, throwing the empty can away under the sink. She had a drink of water. She felt her hair. It was dry
enough. She left the towel on the sink. She went into the living room. The fireplace was gas. She lit it.
She went to the bar. Glancing at the little refrigerator next to the tap, she thought: hot water, but no cold.
No ice. She poured Bacardi Light into a glass. It was room temperature, so a little cold in her mouth.
There was a Smithsonian on the end table by the recliner. It had come the day before the bombs fell. She
sat in the recliner, her feet to the fire, and read about ferrets in Wyoming. She went back to the beginning
of the magazine then, and read it front to back: the letters, the ads, each article, even the astronomy
section. She never could make out the constellations, even in the clear night of Carmel out over the sea.
David would point here and there, and she would look, but no gestalt would form.
The house was quiet. The living room faced south, and she could see through the drapes that the
sun was descending. On another day, she'd have the drapes open to watch the show. Not tonight. She
went back to the bar to refill her glass. Standing there, looking at the bottle, she thought that she should
be careful, should conserve the liquor. David bought the liquor. How much did they have? Where did he
keep it? She opened the cabinet. It was full; a dozen bottles, variously full, sat on the lower shelf. And
there was the wine in the cellar. She filled her glass again and left the bottle open on the sink. She went
to the bookshelves. Something to read. She found a Michener novel she'd been meaning to read.
Centennial. Never got around to it. She'd been to Colorado last year, skiing. She went back to the
recliner and sat properly. She read.
An hour later, the light was failing. She strained to see the pages for another ten minutes, then
gave up. Looking up from the gray page, she realized with a pang that she'd never really gone around to
secure the house. Were there open windows? Surely not. The air conditioning--but the air conditioning
was not working. She had opened a couple of windows upstairs when the electricity failed. But nothing
on the first floor. No. The little window in the kitchen. It was secured though, blocked with a nail only
open three inches or so. David had drilled holes in the jambs after the electricity failed, so they could
open windows without worrying about prowlers. He was already coughing and breathing coarsely by
then, and she had helped him, carrying the heavy nails they'd pressed into the holes. The window in the
downstairs bathroom was open, and the one in the den. All only a few inches.
She was hungry again. She used a photograph David had left on the end table for a bookmark. In
the kitchen, she got a plastic tube of crackers and ate them one at a time, letting her saliva and the rum
soften them. Munching crackers, she winced in her mind when she thought of the morning's horror. She
was due for her period in a few days. That meant she wasn't fertile, she thought, nearly puking at the
thought of getting pregnant that way. At least, she'd know in a few days. Except, she was pretty stressed.
She was usually regular but the sickness, all the horrors--she might miss one and it wouldn't mean
anything. She had some birth control pills. If it didn't come by the end of next week, she could force it
with the pills. How would she know it was the end of the week? She had thought of the day as Monday.
It could be any day. She resolved to keep track. She could mark days on the pad by the phone. Eight
days. Then the pills.
It was dark. It was a warm night; she slept in the recliner after turning off the fire.
In the morning she was grateful for little things. The toilet still flushed; the water heater ran on
gas, and there was gas. And the stove. She made oatmeal with dried milk, and hot chocolate. While she
was cooking, she noticed the towel on the sink and fussed at herself while she took it back upstairs
where it belonged. After breakfast, there was laundry to wash and sort. The washer wouldn't work. She
emptied the dryer. She straightened the living room. She closed the open bottle of Bacardi. She looked
into David's den once. A book and some papers were spread out on the desk, and some pictures he had
been sorting through. His favorite pipe, with the chewed-up stem, lay in the ashtray. She glanced at the
scatter of little framed photographs on the far wall: them at Cancun, them at the Rockfeller Center, at
Knotts Berry Farm. Them with Ann and Roger; she closed the door.
By eleven, she was in the recliner, reading Centennial and drinking. By six, she was halfway
through the book and finished with the Bacardi bottle, into a second. She had forgotten to eat since
breakfast. At sunset, halfway through another glass of Bacardi, she set the book down and rested her
eyes. She woke at sunrise with a hangover.
She wondered what day it was. What month. What year? she thought, amused at her bravado. It
was time to investigate her situation, to take stock. She had all the clothes she would need. Her fur was
in storage in Monterey, but winter was a long way off, and she had her ski parka somewhere. Tampons.
She was due to get her period in a few days. She had a fresh box, enough for two or three, even if she
had a really heavy one.
She had water and the gas hadn't been affected by the electrical failure. She thought the furnace
needed electricity for something. Like the washer. The thermostat? Maybe the pilot light. She'd been
after David to put in an electric dryer, but he'd never gotten around to it. Not that it mattered: the dryer
was started by electricity. But the water heater was gas, and the kitchen. Long as the pilot didn't go out.
Electric heat was too hard to regulate.
Food. Nothing fresh or frozen would keep. So no meat. No eggs. Milk. Vegetables. No. She had
some canned vegetables. It was too hard to do in her head; she went out to inventory the pantry.
Tomatoes, spinach, artichoke hearts and hearts of palm. Some canned beans. That awful deviled ham that
David liked, and a big jar of peanut butter. For a moment she thought what a baby he was; then she
remembered and sank to the floor to grieve for him.
In the kitchen she had flour, about two pounds in a canister. There were pastas in their glass jars
on the sink, and dried beans. Beans would be good tonight. She put some to soak. It was probably too
late to cook them tonight. Tomorrow. Her eye was caught by the French braid of garlics and the dried
shallots hanging next to it. A bean soup with shallots and fresh crushed garlic. She smiled with an
unfamiliar sense of contentment.
The next night, she had the beans, with a white wine from the basement. She was through with
Centennial and had started Daniel Martin, reading it again. She loved Fowles. She read paperbacks, but
Fowles was one writer she also bought in hardcover, usually through the book club. Looking at her
collection of his books, half a shelf near the fireplace, she wondered if he had lived. She had met him
once. Or was that on television? She found a hurricane lamp in the basement, on David's toolbench. It
was full, and that night she chanced a light and read till pitch dark.
She finished the second novel and moved on to a third. Then an Andrew Greeley she
remembered fondly, moving the photograph from book to book. So her days passed. She remembered to
mark the telephone pad each day. On schedule, she got her cramps. They were bad. She drank chamomile
tea for the cramps. Her period lasted four days; then it was done. She remembered to be relieved; she had
to think of why.
The next morning, she began to rearrange the living room. She needed the shower and tub
upstairs, but otherwise her life required only the living room, the kitchen, and the washer in the
basement. But the washer didn't work. Silly. She brought two suitcases up from the basement and
arranged them as a place to store her clothes. The hanging items she put in the front closet, pushing aside
the assorted coats. A few of them fell on the floor. While she was working on the closet, there was a
knock on the door behind her.
It was not a voice she knew. It was a man's voice. She sank to the floor, facing the door. It had a
big strip of opaque glass running the length of it, next to the doorknob. There was a shadow blocking
most of the light. She hadn't touched the door for a week, since she came home from--that time. Surely
she had locked it. And the dead bolt. David had told her, while he cored a hole in the door for the
deadbolt, that anybody who really wanted to could kick out a plain door lock. She had wanted a thumb
thing on the dead bolt, but he said no, not with the glass in the door. Anyone could smash out the glass
and throw the bolt. Surely she had locked the deadbolt. You would, coming home scared. You'd stop to
put in the key, turn it and hear the comforting muffled thud of the bolt socketing into the wall. It had a
one-inch throw, David said. She had watched him put in the front door bolt, but then she had lost interest
and worked in the rose beds while he put one on the kitchen door.
She stared at the jagged lightning stroke of keyhole in the brass knob and at the other in the lump
of brass that controled the deadbolt. The pounding on the door came again, and again the voice. No one
had come near the house since the day Todd Edel came by to check on her. He had known that David
was dying, and there was nothing he could do. He was worried about her. She wasn't sick yet. He had his
own family to tend. Martha and their little boy. Thomas. He never came back.
It was not a voice she knew. It was certainly a man who was not Todd Edel. Todd Edel,
certainly, was dead. And shorter. She was still as a mouse. She didn't move. She could hear her own
breathing, and she inhaled slowly, quietly, and held her breath. She watched the hulking shadow shift in
the light. She flinched when the door sounded again. Then she stared at the turning knob: clockwise,
counterclockwise, then a rapid flurry of back and forth. She did not breathe while the knob turned. David
had told her how frail it was. At least it was locked.
The shadow spoke too low for her to understand. There was silence and the shadow stood still.
Then its shape changed again and she nearly screamed when the door sounded like a great drum.
Something pounded hard, urgently, angrily. Then it stopped, and in the silence she heard something
squeak, herself--the scream of a mouse. Or a butterfly. After a moment, the shadow went away. She
heard it on the steps. Loud steps. She stayed where she was then, curled on the floor in front of the closet
and lying quietly, being very still, all afternoon. At dark, she was cold, and she crawled into the closet on
hands and knees. It was dark, and cold, and she pulled David's parka from its hanger to cover her. She
left the door a hand's breadth ajar. She slept that night on the closet floor, in a nest of coats, curled to fit
under the parka. It smelled of David's tobacco, something fruity, like cherrywood. The door was only
open a little.
She forgot to keep track of the days, now that the reason was gone. On the third day after
someone came to the door, she heard popping. After half-listening for a few minutes, then focusing on it,
she decided that it was gunfire. It went on for an hour. It didn't approach or recede; it sounded a few
houses away. Or so she thought. She went to the kitchen, dragging her blankets beside her. She went
back for the seat cushion of the recliner, taking it to the kitchen. She went back again for David's parka.
By day, she would sit on the cushion. At night, it could be a pillow. From now on, she would sleep in the
kitchen. It was carpeted. She looked at the world from the foot of the refrigerator. It was small and
manageable. She went back to get books. Three more novels. Cheery ones. What was cheery? Andrew
Greeley. Ursula Le Guin. She met Ursula Le Guin once. No, that was Estelle. At a reading in Carmel.
Chesapeake: That was a cheery name. David had lived in Baltimore once. They had pictures of his house
in Baltimore. Her mom was in Philadelphia. Close to Temple. Pop was overseas. Egypt? There was
desert in his postcards and snapshots. There was one on the mantel. She could go look.
The postcard was pyramids and a camel in a sunset. But it was Syria. She brought the postcard
back with her. "Dear Muff: It's hot. I hate it. Send ice cubes. Hello to David." Back in the kitchen, her
pile of books stacked neatly by the cushion like blocks, she closed the kitchen window and hung a
blanket over it, reducing the room to a twilight only varied by the pitch of night's dark.
The first day, she seemed to read, but nothing came in. She left the book propped open on top of
the stack, but bumped the stack in her sleep and book had folded shut the next morning. She started over.
The next night, she forgot to mark her place when she fell asleep. The next day, she ignored the books.
For two days, she forgot to eat. Then she awoke vaguely aware that she was hungry. There were
a few crackers; she could see the white plastic sticking out over the counter by the sink. She ate them.
She drank a glass of water. She sat by the refrigerator all that day. Toward evening, she ate vermicelli
like candy canes. She remembered the bathroom and approached it cautiously, twice a day. She forgot the
recliner, and the fire, and the upstairs.
When she heard more shooting, she moved the dishwasher in front of the door. Its rollers
squeaked. David would need to oil it. Well, somebody. A few hours later, she moved it away again to go
to the bathroom. When she came back, she put it back. Remembering the shots, she got a knife off the
sink. She put it down beside her, where she could feel the length of it against one thigh, then she forgot
about it. She sat by the refrigerator. The next morning, when she awoke, she saw the dishwasher
blocking the door. She thought of getting up. Finally, toward noon, she did. She moved the dishwasher.
When she returned, she put it back.
The next day, she thought of the dishwasher when she looked at it. She thought of how heavy it
was. She wished someone would stop putting it in front of the door. She went back to sleep. When she
woke, in the late afternoon, it was still there, blocking the door. It required some sort of decision.
"Well," she said to it, "I just won't then." She slept, even before it was really dark. She was very