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May

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The nighttime is upon them.

They know that because it’s dark outside the window, black around the trees, and the box of light that shines across the floor mid-day is diminished to the point of disappearing. They sit on the soft couch, side by side on fabric seats. It’s in the night, so they watch television.

The program is quiet. The people are still sleeping, always sleeping, and it’s only polite to keep the volume low—and also safety—if anyone is startled, they might wake up, might go into the room that is the hallway, and they might take the weapon. Sometimes Jon says they should put the weapon somewhere else, but it already has its home. It breathes against the second story floor, even and aware. It might be put-out if they move it. If Amy were the weapon, she’d rather be downstairs—the carpet under the couch is soft (as soft as the couch) and unmarred by Alan’s shoes.

In Amy’s peripherals, Jon is watching the television too. He looks nothing like Alan except that they’re both white men, which is most of Alan. It’s enough to remind Amy of the three of them smiling in the photograph that lines Alan’s now-faraway denim jacket.

And Jon is also still wearing the catcher’s gear. The helmet makes him look deceptively strange, scary even, even though Alan would never discharge the weapon like maybe Amy would if her parents ever found her. The fireman costume is too small and scratchy, but there was no time to change: it’s already night. Television.

“I miss him.”

Amy glances sideways. After a brief flicker back and forth between her and the tiny crackling screen, John returns her gaze. He said it, but she thought it. Only because it’s Jon, and she trusts Jon more than she’s ever trusted anyone, Amy admits, “I miss him too.”

“All the coffee’s gone.”

“There are still cookies.”

They could eat the cookies and reminisce, but Jon reminds her, “We said we’d save those for the people in case they wake up.” A solemn nod of understanding—Amy wasn’t suggesting they eat all of them. But they could make more cookies. And the cookies would smell so good that the rich aroma would waft out of the window, squeeze under the door, drift up the chimney and fog across the streets until it found and filled Alan’s nostrils. Then he might return.

That’s absurd. Amy knows it’s absurd. The garden on television is growing—Amy looks back at it, and Jon follows suit, because he knows just what she knows: they don’t have Alan’s number or address and will never see his white-boy cowboy hat again. But since he’s out there, maybe they won’t use the weapon.

Suddenly, surprisingly, a stilted cry of the doorbell sounds down the hall. Amy’s breath hitches, Jon tensing at her side. They look at one another again, and their eyes read: the weapon?

But they’ll answer the door first. Always careful. Never rash. They get up in unison, but she turns the television off on the way and Alan reaches the knob of the front door. She joins him, the two of them standing side by side, shoulders squared, ready.

Jon opens the door.

Alan is standing there with an animated saying in his hands: it reads It Takes A Lot To Make A Stew.

He breathes, “I got it from a website.”

Amy smiles. Jon throws the door open, and Alan comes to join the sleeping mass of bodies on the upstairs floor.