The tide of sadness ran all the way from New York to his home town. Willie drove in lone silence. His marriage was in limbo, his wife not answering his calls. So when the phone rang that Thursday morning he just assumed it was his wife. His Brother was five sentences in before he really registered the words "..it was …I found him…pop….please come home…".
Willie tried to reach his brother's cell from the car but cell reception was lousy. He tried the house any number of times. Nothing. Pop had died when Mom died. At least in all the important ways. Willie struggled against a feeling that he couldn't breath. The rain kept up a miserable dirge until he reached the house. Empty. Not even a note. He tried his brother's Cell. Straight to messages.
He parked the battered people carrier and walked slowly into the hospital. He gave his name to the receptionist and was told to take a seat. After about twenty minutes a tired looking doctor shuffled towards him. Willie looked at him and felt his chest tighten. The doctor told him " It was painless. He wouldn't have known anything about it".
His father did look peaceful for the first time in years. Willie saw his Brother cramped with tears, holding his father's cold hand and looking at him. " What happens now?" his eyes said. Of course there was paperwork. The Funeral to arrange, people to invite. Old Friends. Her. He hadn't even thought about Marty in the five years that had passed.
Words followed words. Many condolences. Too many. He needed to breathe and knew one place where he could be alone. He sat in the ice-fishing hut and nursed a bottle of brandy.
" Is there enough for two?". It was her.
" You sure you want to share with a ….cheese eating , dry heavin…and whatever the rest was" Willie didn't turn around. He wanted the anticipation to last.
" Oh ..if you put it that way I'd better head back to town" . Still the same ironic bite.
" No, I was joking " Willie suddenly felt as alone as anybody has a right to feel.
" Got that part , Willie-boy". She moved closer. " Thought you might come here. Sometimes came here myself…when there were too many voices in too short a time "
Willie turned. " I'm sorry I never wrote"
Marty looked directly at him. " I wouldn't have replied "
Willie looked at the Brandy. " I can't offer you a Glass"
Marty took the Bottle and chugged a healthy amount.
" How are your…" Willie ventured , regretting immediately .
" Still alive, if that's what you mean, Willie-Boy " Marty looked just a little phased by the alcohol.
" Sorry. I'm not getting the words out like I used to" Willie smiled sadly
Marty took another swig. " As I remember , you weren't always Oscar Wilde." She looked at Willie. His shoulders were starting to shake. She put her hand on his shoulder.
For an hour they didn't talk.