A Moment Before

storm, outside, window


Euell sat facing the long picture window, his eyes lazily tracing the rain as it cascaded from the roof. His book lay folded open and face down on his lap. How long he’d been absent-mindedly watching the rain was an unanswerable question. Time slows to a crawl on such cold, rainy afternoons. Euell enjoyed allowing the tiredness to overcome him. An hour stretched to two or three if he allowed himself the luxury of such mindless pleasure.

Behind him, the man coughed, reminding Euell that his special request was drawing to a close. Euell closed the book in his lap, admiring the book cover, remembering how much joy the book had brought him through multiple readings.

The man stood and placed his coffee cup on the small antique table next to the chair he’d just vacated.  He carefully straightened his long black jacket.  “It was an unusual last request, sir, but one of considerable pleasure for me. Most people request something a bit more exotic for their last request.”

Euell nodded, uncertain how to answer him. The man had unexpectedly come to gather the sum of Euell’s life, regardless of whether Euell was ready to depart.

The man gestured for Euell to lead the way. As Euell’s hand grasped the glass doorknob of the front door, he looked back toward his chair one last time. He was sitting there, slumped over and leaning slightly to the right. His book still lay open across his lap. Euell could barely tell that he was no longer breathing.

The man placed his thin fingers across Euell’s shoulder, as if to console him even as he moved him along.

“Thanks,” Euell uttered to no one in particular, as he opened the door to discover what waited for him on the other side.


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