Fooboo leapt into the window seat and set up a clamor.
It was too early in the day for our neighbor dog to drag his master past our window, and Fooboo long ago became bored with the mailman’s daily sallies.
I stood up from our dining table—which we use in the living room, as a breakfast/lunch/dinner nook.
I ambled to the window, and lo!, there stood Milo Bung, my old schoolmate. Milo was about to ring the bell at our side door—which we use instead of the front door.
Milo’s melodious bing-bong triggered another spasm of barking, so I couldn’t hear any thoughts in my brain. I shooed the dog off the window seat and bade him be still.
Then I cranked open the casement window.
Which wore me out.
“Over here, Milo,” I croaked.
He took his finger off the button and turned towards my casement window.
“Oh, there you are!” He sidled over, scratching his elbows.
“Don’t come any closer,” I squeaked.
“Yeah, I heard you were under the weather,” Milo said.
“Under the weather?” I said. “Under the weather? I have COVID!”
Milo rolled his eyes.
“I do. I have it. We both tested positive,” I wheezed. “So it’s more than just under the weather, old pal. We’re victims of a major global pandemic.”
“Yesterday’s news,” Milo said. He favored me with what I suppose he meant as a cheerful smile. “What you’ve got, at most, is a well-entrenched endemic.”
“Thanks for your support.”
“Well, you’ve got medicine, haven’t you?”
“And you’re getting better?”
“And also, be sure to thank all those doctors and nurses, and the robber barons in Big Pharma, too,” said Milo, “working day and night on the taxpayer’s dime to develop vaccines. Had you not been immunized, you might have gotten sicker.”
My wife and I had just returned from a long trip. Somewhere along the Danube, we had been occupied by the virus that made our return home a miserable one.
A Bullet Dodged
But Milo was right. It could have been worse.
I sighed. “When we were young, I never heard of such a thing as a global pandemic.”
“Nor I,” said Milo, using his shirt tail to polish his bifocals. “Guess the first we heard the term was when Michael Crichton and Robin Cook started writing all those lurid medical thrillers. Death from Ebola and all them.”
Death from Ebola? It was not a title I recalled.
“Be that as it may. My point, Milo, is that once I learned a global pandemic was possible I assumed it would be cataclysmic—we’d all die.”
“Well, amigo, a lot of us did die. Not you and me personally, of course, but a lot of—well, you know. People. Millions of people, all around the world.”
It was a sobering thought.
“So what are you going to do?” Milo asked.
“What do you mean, what am I going to do?”
“When you get out of quarantine?”
“First thing, I’m going to the hardware store and buy a new set of hex keys.”
“An astounding act of celebration,” he declared.
“The bathroom faucet handle came loose, and I seem to be missing the Allen wrench the right size for that set screw. Must have lost it somewhere along the way.”
“How could you?”
I gave him a stony glare. “I’ve only had that set of wrenches for forty-five or fifty years.”
“Well, go ahead, then. Splurge.”
My hapless friend, a direct descendant of King Æthelred the Unready, stood pondering, head bowed.
“And after I get the hex keys, I’ll say a little prayer for all those souls who caught covid before the world piled up four years of clinical experience.”
Milo Bung peered up at me through my window screen. “Guess we could all say that one.”
Larry F. Sommers
Your New Favorite Writer