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Harry Was Late

Harry Patelli had a faint inkling of an eerie dream when he awoke, but a quick glance at his Rolex struck a frayed nerve in his chest, and the reverie was replaced by panic—Harry was late. He sprung from the bed in a railroad apartment downtown New York City, his girlfriend had already awakened—and was yelling and sobbing while reading a note to someone on a cell phone in the kitchen. Harry’s guilty stomach churned as he hoped it wasn’t his wife. “Lana,” he whispered through the hallway, “who’s on the phone? ”

A dark haired beauty snapped her head back at Harry. “Nobody. ” She sniffed, and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. “Why are you always so jealous, already? ” Harry shook his head as his hands dug through the pile of clothes on the chair, and fought with her pink lacy stringed underwear twisted and strangling his tie. “What a mess,” he muttered. “She’s really good in the sack, but not much of a housekeeper. ” Hurrying into the bathroom, he shaved quickly with a bright pink plastic razor, which cut his face to shreds.

The razor was as dull as his recollection of last night, but his heartburn kept reminding him of some kind of sweet and sour cocktail. Margaritas? As he dabbed the bleeding razor cuts, he stared into the mirror as bathroom fog curled around his head. Someone taking a bath? Sensing a presence, he cautiously turned as his body caught the warmth of a bathtub full with hot water. And now he spotted the imprint of damp footprints pressed on a hot pink bathroom mat. “Lana,” he shouted in a minor curious tone, “did you take a bath? ”

A thick Brooklyn inflection answered from the kitchen, “I thought about it…then I changed my mind. ” Slowly he peeked into peeled purple shower curtains hanging in layers over a yellowed ceramic tub. For a moment, his gut was firing off a few prickly butterflies, but they soon dissipated…the tub was empty. Dressing in the same suit he had on last night, he just needed to get to his office, into a fresh suit, and an early trip to the gym for a long hot shower—and some Alka Seltzer. “Lana, where’s my keys? ” “Right dthere,” she said pointing an extensive acrylic nail, “on the kitchen table.

” Grabbing for his keys, he caught a glimpse of a torn piece of paper soaked with Lana’s tears on the table top. “What’s this? ” He said pointing. “And I’m not being jealous. ” Lana sat down in the recliner and curled up like a baby. “It’s from Frankie… he just got out of prison. ” “Frankie? ” “Yeah, my ex-husband. ” She sobbed into her hands. “I’m ‘a scared Harry, you don’t know how crazy he is. ” The nerve in his chest stung him again, “But I do know what he’ll do to me. ” Slipping on his fine leather shoes, his mind resolved never to return. “I gotta go, Lana.

I’m really late. ” “Harry! ” Lana threw a coffee cup that bounced off the doorframe and shattered in the kitchen. “You don’t even care! ” The front door flew open to the parking lot as Harry pulled on his black coat. He looked up into a frozen watery blue New York City sky as he paused for a moment. Where did I park? Scurrying down the cobblestone side street, he spotted the Mercedes across the narrow shoulder. As he flipped his phone to call the office, his neck began to sting from the worst shave he’d ever had. Damn, this is really killing me!

Without missing a swift beat, he pressed a cold palm against his neck, then pulled it back when he felt the sickly sensation of hot water running over his cold hand— then gasped in shock as he rose up a hand with fingers dripping with blood. Reaching the Mercedes window, he bared his neck in the reflection, and coughed a red spray of blood that trickled down the slick glass. Straining to draw a breath, he slid down the car door, and landed hard on the black tarred parking spot. A gust of winter chill tossed his long coat over his head, and the cell phone rang still clutched in his hand—Harry was late.

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