Author / Speaker

Chapter Thirty Three


   Able left work in the middle of the afternoon, surprising his wife when he came in the door.
    “What?” she said, looking up from the chair where she was reading a detective novel. “You have decided to turn over a new leaf and not work yourself into an early grave?”
    They had a good marriage. She read detective novels because she wanted to understand his job. He brought her Blue Dawn flowers every Friday because, as he told her with each presentation, the plant can be troublesome, but when it flowers it is beautiful. They met when they were eighteen. Policemen have their secrets too. In his life Able had made love to only one woman.  
   After thirty-five years of marriage, her chiding still made him feel like the luckiest man in the world.
   He smiled back. It made him feel guilty. He was lying to his wife. He had never lied to her before. His smile was a lie and he was not exactly sure why he was lying.
   “You would make a fine detective,” he said. “And I have learned it is never too late for a change.”
   He went directly into their bedroom. He wanted more than anything to stay with her, but he didn’t.
   From the other room she said, “Next up, the resurrection,” and laughed.
   She had a lovely laugh.
   He found what he required in the closet, though in the dimness he paused again.
   When he came back out he was wearing the floral swim trunks his brother had given him, and carrying a pair of fins.  
   His wife’s eyebrows raised in genuine surprise.
   “You are going swimming? Since when are you a disciple of exercise?”
   The honest truth was he didn’t know.
  “Since now.” He thought for a moment. “I hear it clears the mind.”
  “Stop it right now, Able. You are not fooling me. Your mind is gin clear all the time. Tell me you’re not going to leave those fins beside another woman’s bedside?”
   For a moment, he was himself.
   “I might just crawl into bed with them on.”
   “That could prove awkward.”
    “It might make things more interesting.” For some reason he felt a need to explain what he could not explain. “I am not getting any younger. I would like to buy a few more years with you.”
   He loved her. He had never doubted this, but suddenly it struck him with an almost holy clarity. He wanted to change his mind, spend the afternoon in this home they had made, but his wife stood and kissed him and he smiled and went out the door, swinging the fins like a ten-year-old boy.
  When he arrived at the beach he could still see the happiness in his wife’s eyes.
   He began to cry.    

   He stands at the ocean’s edge for a long time. His reluctance -- his mind is strong -- but also mine. A part of me wishes someone would see him, hail him and break the trance. But no one passes by. Fate still plays its card in many things.
   He is a strong swimmer. As a boy he swam for hours, and the boy still exists in this man. He swims on the surface until he reaches the edge of the reef. Here he stops, jerkily treading water. Maybe he issues some form of goodbye. His mind is very strong. I do not know how much of it belongs to him and how much belongs to me.
  But I must possess the majority for he does not even take a last breath before dropping beneath the surface. Nor does he hesitate at the edge of the reef. Finning strongly he continues down the sheer wall, a beautiful diver in a viscous sky, anemones and sea fans swaying in the currents as if applauding. I do not feel like cheering. I do not want to do this but I know he is supremely capable, possibly even capable of thwarting what must be. He is a sacrifice for the greater good.
   I rise to meet him. He is not afraid. He swims down toward me, his smile wide. Like we are old friends.
   I welcome him into my arms.
  This one last thing, he sees for himself.