"What?" Harry swore he heard Boris say.
Then Boris got up, stretched, yawned-snapping his teeth shut the way he did when he was annoyed-and walked away. Harry stayed laying on the couch, not having moved other than hurriedly pushing the mute button on the remote on the off chance that Boris hadn't finished his thought. He didn't. That didn't happen. Boris was either in the kitchen-again-or had gone upstairs. Harry turned the sound back on and wondered which number glass of Maker's Mark he was on. But he wasn't counting. At least he had promised himself not to count tonight. It was Friday, the week was over and he had worked hard to get it all done, get to the end of it and leave the office with no regrets and a few tasks for Monday morning. Tonight was get comfortably numb night with little expected other than a face-plant into bed around midnight, not counting having taken its toll and advanced Harry's war on insomnia.
Boris' affront wouldn't help that but Harry wouldn't dwell on it. He'd ignore Boris until the morning came. Then he'd face him down and ask him what the big idea was.
Harry was sure Boris had a reason. He always did. Even on nights Boris went out. Nights that it was raining and cold and all Harry could think about was filling his glass against the chill, Boris would insist on heading out, always having a reason but never sharing it with Harry until he got home. Couple hours later Boris would check out what Harry was watching or look at the cover of the book he was reading or just toss a glance into whatever room Harry was in-except the bedroom-to check out Harry and if he was ok.
Harry was getting better as the days accumulated into weeks and the weeks into months. It had been a bunch of months, eleven whole and then some, since Colleeen had left-she had to but that only satisfied Harry's intellect, never his heart-and Harry had stopped running past her house at nights, he'd stopped running altogether.
It wasn't practical, Colleen staying in town. She could get work just as easy in whatever city she wound up in and she and Harry would be safe as long as they stayed away from each other. Sure, they were safe. But that was here and now and some day Paul's prison sentence would end or some parole board would believe his "model" put on and he'd be out and the danger would start again. Better this way with her gone and Harry not having a clue where. Paul could hit him all he wanted and he'd get all Harry knew which was nothing.
So she left. She was gone and Harry trading his running shoes in for a drinking glass which he'd drain a couple of times a night, every night, just to settle down and be able to sleep. Except Friday nights when he promised to lose count and he most often did. Those were the nights of reckless abandon that sometimes wound up with Harry dropping into bed around ten thirty and sometimes wound up with Harry talking to Colleen-even though she was long gone-out loud and no doubt annoying Boris to no end. There was the drunk bastard, chattering away to his long lost love like there was no tomorrow. If he had balls, he'd have run away with her. But something kept him in his comfort zone of manageable house, ok job, town he felt in place in and me hanging around most days.
Try going through what I went through was what probably ran across Boris' mind most Friday nights.
It started as a hard spot. Something that should not have been where it was, hanging around her kidney, 'round mid-back. It grew. She complained. If you touched it, ran your hand over it she'd yelp and positively screech if you gave it a squeeze. Harry talked to the Doc for a long time and they decided, once they knew what it was, to let it go, to let her go because there was no hope, there was only cutting and sutures and hanging around trying to heal while the stuff spread to another organ. So they let it be, let it take it's course which it did and she died within two months. That was eight months ago. Harry had had them both around the house for three months after Colleen left to keep him company and then she left too. She died and now it was him and Boris, a widower and an ex-something or other-Boyfriend? Paramour?-hanging out together for company.
Harry looked at his empty glass and wondered how many, really how many, he had had. Couldn't be that much. He spoke:
"Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country."
He didn't slur any of the words.
"You're not that drunk." Boris called from the kitchen.
"K, thanks." Harry answered and it was then that he sat upright and snapped the tv off.
Boris was in the kitchen and Harry had to see him. Just had to. He righted the pillows he had been laying on and walked in to see Boris sprawled out on the floor. His front leg was under his head and his back legs were splayed. His tail twitched. There was marmalade fur in the corner of the small galley kitchen, Harry picked it up between two fingers and let it float into the sink. Boris was riotously red as Natasha had been black and white patched. If they had mated, Harry was anxious to see what kind of excitement of color the kittens would be. But Harry never got that chance and neither did Boris and neither did Natasha most of all.
"Did you just say something?" Harry asked.
Boris stared at him. He closed his eyes for a moment in that comfortable way that cats do when they relax or can't be bothered with you.
"Ok. Thanks." Harry said and put the glass in the sink next to Boris' wad of fur and the dinner dish. He looked back at Boris.
"You think you're alone here?" Boris asked. "You think you're the only one who's lonely, who's missing some deeper part of himself, who is wondering what's next?"
Harry just looked at him.
"The game is awful. Sox are down three and they're not going to come back tonight. C'mon Harry, its the mid-season Red Sox blues. You're tired. Go to bed."
Harry continued to watch Boris as he got up, walked past the dry food bowl, glance at it then continue to the middle of the dining room floor where he sat down and looked back at Harry.
"Fuck." was what Harry said. And nothing more.
"I miss Tash. You miss 'Leenie. We'll talk about it in the morning." He rose and walked into the living room, jumped up on the couch and got into a sleeping tuck.
It was probably ten minutes later. Harry couldn't be sure. He didn't much care but he turned the kitchen light off, checked that the back door was locked-it was-and walked up the steps to bed. He stopped three quarter ways up. He didn't turn. He just stopped, putting both feet on one step and breathing slowly. When he finally made his mind up to take the next step Boris called from the couch:
"One. You've been nursing that one glass all night. And you didn't finish. Just in case you were wondering."
"Talk in the morning." Harry said and went to bed.