The Other Side of the World

The Other Side of the World by Jay Neugeboren

Book: The Other Side of the World by Jay Neugeboren Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jay Neugeboren
Charlie,” she said. “I’m sorry. Really sorry. Really, really, Charlie…”
    â€œShit,” I said.
    â€œFuck,” Seana said. “Fuck and double-fuck.”
    â€œIt’s my father, isn’t it,” I said to the trooper.
    He nodded. “I’m awfully sorry, Mister Eisner,” he said.
    â€œI knew it,” I said. “I just knew it. “We shouldn’t have left him alone.”
    â€œNonsense,” Seana said.
    â€œWe shouldn’t ,” I insisted. “We shouldn’t have—even if he wanted us to.”
    â€œAnd we’re being punished for having done so, right?” Seana said. “Punished for our pleasures.”
    â€œI didn’t say that. I just said we shouldn’t have left him alone.”
    â€œCan it, Charlie,” she said. “He’s gone. End-of-story, as young people say these days.”
    Then she turned to Trish, who opened her arms wide for her. Seana held to Trish, let her head rest on Trish’s shoulder, and I was suddenly confused. Why was she embracing Trish when it was my father who had died? Why was she shutting me out? And if I went to her, and tried to pry her from Trish’s embrace…
    â€œI’m awfully sorry, Mister Eisner,” the trooper said again. “We received a request from the Northampton police to try to locate you. I checked hotels and motels in the area—we had the license plate number of your father’s car—and at the Ocean House, in Port Clyde, they said you’d mentioned visiting some one in Thomaston.”
    â€œDid he—did he do it himself?” I asked.
    â€œI don’t have details, sir. For that you’ll have to call Northampton. I have a number for you—two numbers, in fact.” He tore off a piece of paper from the kind of pad you use for
giving out speeding tickets, and handed it to me. “Officer Burke. Michael Burke. He said he’d be there all morning, and that you can call him on his cell phone anytime—the number’s there. He said he went to high school with you.”
    I turned and saw that Trish was sitting in a chair now, sobbing away, Seana next to her, stroking Trish’s hair while Anna clung to Trish’s leg and told her not to cry. “Don’t cry, Mommy,” she kept saying. “Please don’t cry, Mommy. Don’t cry, Mommy Mommy Mommy…”
    The floor, tilted up at a forty-five degree angle, was rapidly approaching my nose, squiggles of black dots swirling in its path. I sat down, bent over so that my head was lower than my heart, and after about thirty seconds I sat up straight again.
    None of us spoke for a while, which made the room much too quiet—the trooper was gone, though I hadn’t noticed him leaving—so I picked up the telephone and called Michael Burke, and when I identified myself, he said he was sorry for my loss, and assured me he would take care of everything until I was back in Northampton. My father had died peacefully in his sleep, of heart failure, he said—that was the initial finding by the doctor, and he didn’t expect it to change. When the lights in much of the house had stayed on for more than twenty-four hours, a neighbor became concerned, and rang the doorbell and banged on the door and, receiving no response, had called the police. I thanked Michael and told him we should arrive back in town by early evening.
    I told Trish and Seana what Michael had told me—that it seemed Max had died peacefully in his sleep—and I added that he would have turned seventy-three on his next birthday, but that, as I’d often heard him say, he believed that everything past the proverbial three score and ten was considered extra—a gift—so that seventy-two wasn’t a bad run.
    â€œStill,” Seana said, “when you’re seventy-two, seventy-three doesn’t look so good.”

    We were quiet again, and after a minute

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