“Do you want Italian or Chinese?”
“Oh, let’s have Chinese,” Harry said.
I pulled the menu from the drawer and sat on the edge of the sofa. I read off the selections.
“Number five,” he said. “I liked that the last time you ordered it.”
“You want soup with that?”
“No. Just number five.”
I scanned the menu, decided on my selection, and phoned in the order.
“Are you going to be okay while I pick up our dinner?”
“Yeah, fine. I’ll lean back and turn on the vibrator.”
I smiled as I went to the car. Harry loved that vibrating chair. It’s the first thing we purchased when we moved into our apartment. Harry, twenty-seven years my senior, and I entered a platonic marriage two years ago. I agreed to take care of him and if he died, I was the sole heir to his estate. It worked out for both of us since I was left with no job skills after twenty-two years of marriage to a man who cheated, left me homeless, and with little options. I took a housekeeping job at the home for minimum wage and lived in a rented a room. My future looked bleak until I met Harry.
His kids stuck him in the home because none of them wanted to care for him. While he was mobile, he couldn’t do household chores. We hit it off right away. He liked to play chess, rummy, and any other game I chose. I read to him, we watched news on TV, and I helped him track his investments on the computer.
When I returned with our order, I called his name. Harry didn’t answer. I sat the bags on the kitchen table and went to check on him. The chair was still vibrating, but Harry was pasty white. I shook him lightly. His head fell to the side. Harry was dead.
Harry made arrangements to be cremated, and the burial company left instructions to call them first. They would send their ambulance to pick up the body, therefore avoiding the hubbub of EMT’s, hospitals, etc.
I was in shock. We had taken a trip to the park earlier and Harry seemed fine.
My neighbor, Ellen, came over and sat with me that evening. We shared the Chinese dinners and talked about the future.
“First I’ll call his kids and then his lawyer,” I stammered.
Ellen took my hand. “I’d reverse that if I were you. The entire two years you and Harry lived next to me, I never heard you mention that his children visited.”
I nodded. “None of them have been here. While they didn’t approve of me, they were relieved that they didn’t have to care for their father. Harry always sent them money for their birthdays and holidays.”
“That is so sad,” she said.
“It will be even sadder when the children learn of Harry’s net worth. He made good investments the two years we lived together and I’ll never have to work another day of my life.