I know your voice well enough, your silhouette. Which is why I worried your wife was who the ambulance had come for last night. Back and forth you stomped in the tiny, cluttered yard as the headlights accumulated.
“…it hurts all over,” you rumbled, and I wondered what she could be dying of.
I imagined her, praying for the sound of sirens in her hopeless pink night-shirt, so very afraid, as they loaded her on the stretcher, apologizing for the house, her hair; reaching for her babies, who watched with odd knowing, from a kitchen, or a den maybe.
Then there was only your yellowed porch light and the consuming silence of a night on the verge of spring. I stood there a while in my own darkness, with your fears, crying. I had never wanted you there. Not just you, anyone... that trailer. But I would never ask that you leave like that—afraid.
In the morning, I was relieved to hear that it was you and not her, that you had thought you were having a heart attack, but had been down to the store for cigarettes already, so you must be all right.
Later, I felt the sting of old resentments when they told me that your ‘heart attack’ was nothing but the DT’s, that you had depleted your prescription of morphine tabs by crushing and snorting them—that was why you had 'hurt all over'—and that you had squandered thousands in disability money and pawned off appliances kind hearts had gifted you.
“I’ve been hooked and I've squandered and pawned,” I said, trying to make some sense of it.
“You ain’t like them, though,” they told me. “They’ll never amount to nothin’.”
That may be. But I’ll have to pray and wait for the sound of sirens just the same.