After a Long Day’s Work
Karl unlocked the front door of his house, entered and relocked the door. He sighed heavily, happy to finally be home after an exceptionally long day. He walked through the living room, fully expecting Marci to be sitting at the kitchen table awaiting his arrival.
A good wife, Marci. No matter how late he was, she would wait up for him. She would already have eaten, but stay with him while he ate dinner, listening attentively as he told her about his day. Marci was a great listener.
He stopped in the arched entrance of the kitchen. Marci was not seated at the table. A placemat lay at the head of the table, and a piece of notebook paper lay on top of it. Karl sighed with disappointment. He so enjoyed his late-night conversations with Marci.
Her soothing voice helped him recuperate after tough days – like today. He walked to the table, leaned over and read the note:
Dinners in the oven honey. Dont feel so good. Gonna lie down. Ovens on low so dont forget to turn it off. Love you.
Karl stepped to the stove and laid his lunch box on the counter next to it. He grabbed a pot holder off the hook below the cabinets, took his meal from the oven to the table. He ate the meatloaf, potatoes au gratin and beans silently, alone and lonely.
Marci hadn’t been feeling well for a few days, so he understood, and hoped the rest did her well. He truly loved his wife of forty years, so he would handle the disappointment.
“Oh well,” he spoke softly. “Nine months to retirement, then I’ll have her to myself all day!” The thought made him feel better. He finished his meal, rinsed the dishes, and returned to the living room.
Karl sat on his twice-refurbished recliner and grabbed the remote from the coffee table.
“Shall we-“ …watch some TV? he’d been about to say. He’d looked to his left, and was reminded with a start that Marci wasn’t sitting on the sofa as she usually was after dinner. Another sigh, and he clicked the television on. He quickly turned the volume down.
Marci always had it on so high; yet she refused to admit she’d become hard of hearing!
A commercial soon ended, and the title of the program showing came on the screen: Adventures in Ghost Hunting. Karl almost laughed. “I bet it’s another marathon,” he all but whispered. Marci loved the show, but Karl was a die-hard skeptic. He thought it all silly nonsense.
Still, he decided to watch it: It would seem like Marci was watching with him.
Karl always let Marci watch what she wanted. He hadn’t had a favorite since Matlock. Secretly, he enjoyed watching the Adventures program, if only for the pleasure he felt at finding alternative explanations for the Ghost-Hunting team’s so-called ‘evidence’.
He was also sure those EVPs were either faked, or random static mistaken for words. He kept things like that to himself, though. He didn’t want to hurt Marci’s feelings. She was a believer, and loved the program.
In the episode being shown this night, the Hunters were in an old hospital, built in the early 1800’s, and used until the late 1950’s.
There was a lot going on this time, and Karl was really getting into it.He laughed suddenly when two investigators, checking out the old hospital’s basement, jumped at a sudden noise Karl thought was obviously a couple of rats running from their lights. He looked to his left, realized again Marci wouldn’t be there, then startled when she was!
“Oh! I didn’t hear you come in?”
Marci, to him as beautiful at 60 as she was at 20, smiled at her husband. “You were so engrossed in the show!” she said.
“You feeling better?”
“Hmm? Oh, yes! I feel just fine.”
“Good.” He looked at her, concerned about her paleness, but she was smiling happily.
“You gonna stay up and watch the next episode with me? They’re investigating a ski-cabin in Colorado.”
She looked over at him and smiled more warmly. “Of course. I love sitting and watching TV with you, Karl.”
He gave her a loving smile in return. Oh, how he did love her! He didn’t have any real friends – hadn’t for a long time. He’d quit trying long ago, having realized Marci was the only friend he really ever needed.
The next episode wasn’t as good as the first; the team just wasn’t finding as much (so-called) evidence. He and Marci discussed his day at length.
She gave one of her wonderful laughs when Karl told her a new tale of the antics of “Junior”, an elderly alcoholic who always got on Karl’s bus at 5:15 pm – the last run – staying on from the main terminal to the big Kroger’s, where Karl let him out.
Karl was sure the old eccentric bum slept in the large, overgrown woods adjacent to the grocery store. Though a nice enough chap, Junior was always pulling some sort of mischief, or talking to non-existent friends.
“The reason I was late,” Karl explained, “was that we had an oil leak when I pulled in. Took a while to find it.”
“Dear, that’s why they have mechanics,” Marci countered. It was an old argument.
Karl gave the standard reply, “Yes, but those youngsters can’t find what to fix unless it’s pointed out to them!” They both laughed, then Karl conceded, “Though, I have to admit, they do a good job fixing the problems once they’re found.”
They missed the last minute of the program, just smiling and staring at each other.
“Do you know how much I enjoy our nightly chats, Marci?”
“I’m always here for you Karl,” Marci replied, “I love you very much.”
“And I love you,” Karl told her.
Tears glistened in Marci’s smiling eyes, and dang it if Karl didn’t feel them threatening his own!
“Well,” Karl cleared his throat and blinked his eyes. He stood up. “Are we ready for bed?”
“Yes, dear.” Marci stood too.
Karl led the way to their bedroom. He turned on the light and began to look back to suggest something marital – but something had caught his attention. His head turned quickly back to the bed. His mouth fell open, his throat went dry, and his eyes bulged.
Marci lay on her back in the center of the bed. Her mouth was slightly open, and her eyes looked upward in a vacant stare.
“Marci!” Karl’s voice cracked.
“Don’t worry dear,” Marci’s calm voice came from behind Karl. He could feel her hand – cold but silky smooth – touch the skin of his back, as though he wasn’t wearing his work shirt.
“Don’t worry dear,” Marci repeated, “I’m always here for you, Karl. I’ll always be here for you.”