“The cheese was talking again last night,” Gilda said.
Instead of answering her, Henry used his reacher to pick up his left shoe. He carefully checked inside it to make sure their pets hadn’t left any surprises for him, then set it on the floor and placed his foot inside. He repeated the process with his right shoe.
“You don’t believe me, do you?”
One of Henry’s regrets in life was that he had never gone deaf. He still loved his wife, but there were days he thought it would be easier if he couldn’t hear her.
She punched him on the arm. He rubbed his arm reflexively, although it didn’t really hurt.
“You didn’t answer my question.”
“I’ll go check on the kitchen. Just let me get my shoes tied, woman.”
Mollified, she leaned back against the pillows. “We’re going to have to do something one of these days.”
Henry used his reacher to fasten the Velcro flaps on his shoes. He’d hated giving up laces, but between his arthritis and the pets, the laces had been more trouble than they were worth. Finally, he reached for the cane he’d left next to the bed and pushed off the bed to stand.
His shoes scuffed a little on the low pile carpet — enough to let everyone know he was coming, but not enough to generate static electricity. The home nurse had been after them to replace the carpet with tile to help prevent accidents, but she was paranoid. It wasn’t thick enough to trip him. Besides, he liked the warmth.
The kitchen appeared deserted when he entered, but Henry knew better. He opened the fridge and got out some cream to pour into a dish. The home nurse didn’t like the cream, either — kept talking about cholesterol — as if he drank it! He set the saucer down on the kitchen table and waited for his pets to climb up to drink.
When they did, he grabbed each one by the scruff of the neck. “What did I tell you about charming the food?”
The brownies kicked and squirmed, but he didn’t let go yet. He’d live with the pain. Or take an extra Aleve this morning. He couldn’t release them until they’d agreed to behave. If he did, there was no telling what they’d get up to.
“It wasn’t me.” “The cheese was asking for it, looking at me with those blue veins!”
He resisted the urge to roll his eyes. “Gorgonzola can’t look at you until you’ve charmed it. Now fix it. Fix everything. And don’t let me catch you doing it again.”
“Or what?” Both of them glared at him belligerently.
“Or I add vinegar to your cream.”
They traded looks, somewhat skeptical. In the end, though, they didn’t dare risk it. “We’ll change it back.”
“And?” he asked.
“And we won’t do it again.”
“Good.” He dropped them to the table, where they rushed to the cream, sniffing at it to make sure he hadn’t added vinegar already. “See that you remember it.”
He fixed a tray with breakfast on it for Gilda and himself, then carried it back to the bedroom, ignoring the brownies. Once they’d promised to be good, they kept their word. It should be at least a day or two before he needed to reprimand them again.
Or maybe not.
He stopped in the doorway of the bedroom, staring at the bed.
“Henry?” Gilda said. “Now the pillows are talking, too.”
– THE END –
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