Meals with Gloria aren’t so much a physical necessity as a social one. Whatever unholy force animates him also fuels him. He doesn’t really need to eat – aside from that constant background buzz, that constant craving for braaaains….
Mm… yes, brains. Gloria is sweet enough to satisfy that craving with little “goodie bags” of tissue from the lab; destined for the incinerator, and “diverted” to “better use.”
“Anything to keep my man happy.” she’ll say with a smile. “Besides,” she’ll add, breaking in to a grin: “the preservatives in the samples help to keep you fresh!”
Frank doesn’t need to sit down to dinner, but he does. It feeds something else for him. A chance to meander through a conversation with Gloria, to come together and share tales of their day, share a laugh. And for Frank, a chance to do something that feels “normal” amid all the strangeness he now feels.
“We’ve got a new lab tech in this week. He’s a real crackerjack! Diving right in and taking stuff on. Really good at figuring it out for himself, and smart enough to ask the stupid questions before it’s too late.”
“Sounds like a refreshing change from the last two you’ve had.”
“I KNOW! It’s great, I’d forgotten our lab techs were actually there to make our lives easier, not hazardous little nitwits we had to work to keep us all out of serious trouble.”
Gloria takes hers last bite of lasagna, says through her half full mouth: “So, what did you get up to today?”
“Well, I spread the compost on the tomato bed, and turned the other pile. It’ll be ready in another week or so if this heat keeps up.”
He stretches his legs out under the table and adds: “And I did some off season pruning of the apple tree. It’s out in blossom and probably smells great.”
Gloria’s eyes widen with joy as she leans around to look into the livingroom. “I thought it smelled like spring when I walked in here, but never placed it!” Smiling as she caught sight of the vase of flowering branches.
She gives his hand a squeeze, “Aw, thanks sweetie, thinking of me when your little zombie nose wouldn’t have noticed at all.” She bends and gives him a loving nip on the nose as she takes her plate to the sink.
She leans against the counter as he turns to face her, his plate still half full.
“You didn’t eat much today, not hungry?”
“Well, I’m never really hungry, but actually I had a little something to eat earlier.”
“Erm, yeah… a hot dog.” Frank expounds sheepishly.
Gloria looks at him squinty-eyed for a moment, realizes the other subtle difference she hadn’t quite picked up on when she first got home…
Not only was she greeted by the scent of apple blossoms, but she wasn’t greeted by the unrelenting yap of that little fluffy dog across the lane.
She turns back to the sink, starts wiping tomato sauce off the counter. With a smile she can’t quite hide says, “I never did like that dog.”
Read the next instalment.