Shortly after Bernard’s birthday, my life took several turns. For the better and for the worse. I should probably start with how it all began:
Gunther had called me up one night just after he’d gotten back from a business trip, asking if we could meet up at the graveyard. It was a periodic haunt of ours, since he enjoyed the place so much. But he had never asked me so late in the evening. I felt some worry bubbling up in my gut.
He looked grim. More so than usual. “Hey. What’s going on?”
“It’s…my wife. She’s rather angry at me for forgetting our anniversary yesterday, among…other things. Ah, let me put it this way. Cornelia and I haven’t been getting along these last few months. Well, last two or three years really…I didn’t want to bother you with all this marital triviality, but I don’t particularly want to stay in the same house with her right now, let alone the same bed…”
“You need a place to stay.”
“Yes. I hate to bother you, but you’re a dear friend.”
“Oh. Uhm. I have a couch. Harriet is away this week, on business. She took Bernard with her. But she’ll be back Saturday.”
“That’s alright. Cornelia should have mellowed out some by then.”
“Uhm…about the house…It’s…really small…”
“That’s ok. I’d expect it’s fairly cozy?” He flashed me a comforting smile, but it didn’t calm my nerves. He was used to a mansion. Which I did not have.
I had taken a taxi, but he had his brand-new top-of-the-line car on him. So that’s what we took back to my house. I didn’t even think of the time of the rumors that would stir, having the Goth’s car on my property for a whole week.
I mixed him some basic drinks to help him calm down.
He wound up drinking just about everything in my house.
It was far too obvious that there was so much more on his mind.
That was an incredibly awkward week. He didn’t speak much. Merely went about his life. He bought his own food and had brought everything else from home, so he didn’t need me to provide anything. Which meant I definitely didn’t see him at all, between our two jobs.
It was a tense situation, but I tried to deal with it. He needed some quiet time, away from his wife. ‘After this week, things will go back to normal,’ I would tell myself.
After he had packed his car that last afternoon, he headed back in to say thank you. A simple enough exchange, usually.
I looked like an idiot, I know.
As I was exchanging the traditional ‘you’re welcome,’ I could feel the mood shifting.
He tilted his head, and I tilted mine.
What was I thinking?