The Id and The Odyssey: Episode 47

Breakfast With Al and Al 

Rich awoke to a cold apartment with a layer of heavy frost on the window. He rolled out of bed with the blanket wrapped tight around him and scraped the window with a spatula he retrieved from the kitchen.
He pulled a chair close to the window and looked at the slightly visible daylight day. The street below and the harbor beyond were lifeless. The skies were bleak and foreboding. It was not an angry sky, just bitter and selfish. He laid his hand on the radiator and it was warm only. He grabbed hold of the black knob to open the valve further. It was already wide open. He thought Al had not likely stoked the fire yet. “It will be warm before long,” he thought. “This is the type of day that nothing works; cars don’t start, pipes freeze and bust, and people don‘t venture out. Everything paralyzes.”
Rich laid his hand flat on the wall. It felt as cold as stone wall.
He glanced at his alarm clock; 6:05. He quickly bundled warmly and hustled to The Beacon and cleared the sidewalk.
The walk back to the apartment was worse than the walk to The Beacon, for now he was walking into the wind.
At the apartment he tried to warm his hands over the radiator. It was about the same warmth as it was earlier.
Rich draped a blanket around himself, he added fresh water in the teakettle, and lit a fire beneath it. He waited for the teakettle to whistle. Once it did he brewed the tea and added cream and sugar. He sat huddled at the window reading a collection of Hemingway short stories and occasionally looking out the window until the need for warmth arose to take him back to wherever the story’s location happened to be.
At 8:30 Rich bundled warmly again, went down the two flights of stairs, to the outdoors, and grabbed a shovel from the garage. For the next 45 minutes he shoved the sidewalk and driveway clear.
Rich stomped the snow from his boots and went back inside the foyer. As he was about to place his foot on the first step going upstairs he heard a door squeak open.
“It that you, Rich?” Al said.
“Yes, Mr. Crawford,” Rich said, “It’s me.”
“Would you like to join Alice and me for breakfast?” Al said.
Rich paused for a moment. “Sure, let me go upstairs and hang my coat and I’ll be right back.”
“When you do,” Al said, “just let yourself in.”
Rich hung his coat, hat, and gloves on the back of his door and rushed down the two flights of steps to Al’s and Alice’s apartment. He let himself in.
He walked immediately into the dinning room. The table was perfectly set for three. There was a stack of French toast, pancakes, and a plate of sausage and bacon.
From the kitchen Alice called out, “How do you like your eggs?”
“Anyway you crack ’em,” Rich said.
“I can do better than that,” Alice said.
“Over easy,” Rich said.
“The same for me,” Alfred said entering the dinning room from the living room with a copy of The Beacon in his hands.
“I see your name on an article,” Al said. “Too much more of that and we’ll have to charge you the V. I. P. rate.”
“And what would that be?” Rich smiled.
“Don’t know,” Al said, “never had a V. I. P. before, but I’ll come up with somethin.’”
“It looks like you have enough here to feed half of Rockland,” Rich said.
“I wanted to fix a little of everything and make sure there was enough,” Alice said. “Young men eat like they got hollow legs.”
“Have a seat and pour yourself some coffee,” Al said. “Get yourself warm.”
Rich poured coffee from a small china pot.
“Sorry about the heat this mornin’,” Al said. “I clean forgot to stoke it and toss some coal in it. Won’t have to worry about it next year; we’re converting to oil.”
“I was fine,” Rich said. “I’m used to cold mornings.”
“Thanks for doing the drive and sidewalk, again,” Al said.
“Don’t mention it,” Rich said. “I don’t mind.”
“Your parents sure raised a good lad,” Alice said.
“I’m sure they’d appreciate hearing that,” Rich said.
“You better dig in,” Al said.
Alice brought the eggs and placed them on Rich’s and Alfred’s plate. She sat at the table and joined them.
“By the way, Rich,” Alice said, “we hate to say anything, but one of the tenants below you said they could hear you typing well into the wee hours of the morning.”
“I’m sorry,” Rich said. “I’ll try not to type so late and I’ll try to find a way to muffle the sound.”
“Tell him what you told them, Al,” Alice said.
“I told ‘em it wasn’t a typewriter,” Al said. “I said it was mice tap dancing.”
“You didn’t have to say anything on my account,” Rich said.
Alice cupped one hand beside her mouth and whispered, “They’re a month behind.”
“Another month and we turn the real mice loose in their apartment,” Al said chuckling.
“Are you getting along okay in your place?” Alice said.
“It’s perfect,” Rich said. “I like it here. I like being able to look out over the harbor.”
They continued to converse and after breakfast they talked for a short while. Rich excused himself and returned to his apartment.
How nice they are,” he thought. “I hope I never outgrow this place, but someday I will.”