The Joy of Covid

Fooboo leapt into the window seat and set up a clamor. 

How much is that Fooboo in the window?

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.

Dread Disease

“Under the weather?” I said. “Under the weather? I have COVID!”

COVID-19. Alissa Eckert and Dan Higgins, Center for Disease Control. Public Domain.

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?”

“Thank God.” 

“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?”

Post-Covid Challenges

“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 

What Time Is It?

Read Time: 4 minutes


Swept up in the mad whirl of life, I did not see this coming.

It was Milo Bung who informed me. 

He stood on my front stoop in casual clothes and formal mask. Even Milo has learned to mask up. He shivered in the pool of arctic air we have lately inherited from the Canadians. “Well? You just going to stand there and let me freeze to death?” 

“Oops, sorry.” I opened the door and let him slip inside. 

He stamped his feet and adjusted his mask. That is to say, he took it off. He’s been in a bubble for months and so have I. We’re both of an age where we’ll be next in line for the vaccine.

“What’s got into you?” Milo demanded. “Did you actually not know last night was New Year’s Eve?”

“I slept through it, like most other things. To tell you the truth, I was preparing to suck the remaining joy out of 2020, but now you tell me the chance is gone.”

“Wake up and smell the coffee, pardner.” That was a hint.

François Villon. Public Domain.

“Come on, I’ll make some.” I led him into the kitchen and sat him down. “The years go by too fast. Où, I ask you,  sont les neiges d’antan?” This was a bit of Gallic ju-jitsu, intended to trap him into a long-winded discussion of an irrelevant subject. 

Dear Reader, perhaps I’ve neglected to mention that after his unfortunate stint in the Marine Corps, Milo picked up a master’s degree in French Medieval Literature. So he would know I merely meant to ask, “Where are the snows of yesteryear?” But he would not be able to resist a mini-lecture on François Villon. That was my theory, you see.

Milo surprised me. “? I’ll tell you . They’ve been piling up around our ankles and knees for years. Now we’re up to our ribcages in them, and I can tell you, they’re going for the throat.” I had never seen such intensity from my old school chum. But I shared his concern.

Let me explain, Dear Reader, in case you, through no fault of your own, are among the metaphor-impaired. My old friend the French scholar was referring to years. The separate snowfalls are just harbingers of time. And indeed the years do pile up around one, just as successive snows will eventually swamp the hardiest mountain cabin.

Cabin in Snow. Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash.

I poured coffee and set it before him. “What do you propose we do about them, Milo—all these neiges?”

He took a sip, made a grateful face, and gave me a canny look. His eyes measured me, from the top of my snowy head to the gnarled hand resting on the curved handle of a cane, and on down to its rubber tip, planted on the linoleum near my questionable legs.

“You’ll be all right,” he said. “You’ve got baggage to throw overboard yet. Go up to the hospital in a couple of weeks, get that hip replaced, and by spring you’ll be good for another fifty thousand miles.”

I smiled. “It’s wonderful what they can do now, isn’t it?”

He frowned. “Me, I got nothing like that left to improve. I’ll just have to get by on sheer force of personality.”

“Gee, Milo, what if you run out?”

He scowled. “I’ll make up something else, you slippered old pantaloon.” 

I stared at him through the spectacles on the end of my nose. He had assured me of fifty thousand more miles, but from where I tottered, fifty thousand didn’t seem like all that many. 

Nonetheless, when he took his homeward way, I was cheered. After all, I had received encouragement from no less than Milo Bung, direct lineal descendant of Aethelred the Unready, and third cousin to Slats Grobnik.

Happy snowfalls to you all.

Larry F. Sommers,

Your new favorite writer

Author of Price of Passage—A Tale of Immigration and Liberation.

Price of Passage

Norwegian Farmers and Fugitive Slaves in Pre-Civil War Illinois

(History is not what you thought!)