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First prize winner of the 8th Annual Geist Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest.
nobody wanted to take care of the dead guy’s bed but the rest of the staff were all new kids from university mostly just on for the summer what did they know about grief ? he’d been gone three days now Mrs. Nazarenko his wife hadn’t left the suite since they’d wheeled his body out I opened the blinds got into his bed inclined to a forty-five with the remote “can I get you anything?” I shook one of his pill bottles morphine “anything at all? this stuff’s all going back to the pharmacy by the end of the week” she didn’t even let on that she saw me come in I took one of the tabs the clock on the bookshelf chimed eleven times Wheel of Fortune was coming from the suite next door she shifted and Kleenex fell off her comforter like ants being sprayed with a garden hose “back in the heyday he used to love the Oilers” she said “he used to think he could communicate with Grant Fuhr telepathically like the games would come on and he wouldn’t let me say a word to him ‘I have to concentrate’ he’d say ‘Grant needs to know where the puck is at all times’ but the Oilers hardly ever make the playoffs anymore Fuhr retired the kids who drop off my meals don’t even know who Grant Fuhr is and the telepathy well it stopped he said he didn’t feel a psychic connection to the players anymore” she looked at the pill bottle then at me for the first time “maybe I will take one of those after all” “why don’t you crawl in with me?” I said “the sheets still smell like him there’s a hair on the pillow I won’t tell anyone” my chest pressed against her back she had the warmth of a woman who hadn’t been out of bed in days “I should call Grant Fuhr” she said “see if there’s any way just an off chance you know that Grant could talk to him” her heart raced against my forearm she turned her head our faces pressed against each other our lips touched not kissing as though testing the temperature on a sick child’s forehead we held each other for a long time like that I was drifting in and out what the hell I thought I owed it to the guy I’d borrowed two hundred bucks from him a few months back when I told him about my daughter and first wife he carried it to the grave “why don’t you tell me more about him?” I said “lying here in his bed and all I think I’m getting something your husband wasn’t the only telepathic one you know I can’t talk to sports stars just regular folks not that Mr. Nazarenko was just a regular guy but let’s try it” so we lay there spooning I told her anything she wanted to hear that he was thinking of their first kiss moving to Canada small-town Saskatchewan drifts of snow up to the eaves and the ’84 Oilers her breathing slowed heart slowed for a while I thought she might check out too right there in the bed with me but she started snoring her eyes fluttered Gretzky was tipping the puck up to Kurri in the slot a surgeon’s hands gingerly ricocheting it to the back of the net the crowd on its feet foam fingers draft beer sloshing over plastic cups I levelled the bed cleaned up her dishes for a moment we were all in a better place