He shuffled down the stairs and immediately turned left into the kitchen to find something to eat. He hoped for saltines and pimento-hugging olives. A glass of tomato juice, maybe? The usual. His labored steps paying homage to his dead wife, Irene. She had been gone for a several months now. Several here, being a little more than four. Because I was taught that several is always more than three, which is a few, and less than ten, the number that tiptoes upon regions of forgetfulness.

He was prickly and remembered everything. That fact, he attributed to his good habits and equally bad manners.

He started to count things now that she was gone. The notches on the bookshelves (45), the hooks next to the door (3), the sparrows in the yard. 1, 2, 3, 4……12. He often tired himself with the counting, but it seemed the only thing that made sense anymore. Routine. Logical. Safe. For Christ’s sake, the dog had outlived his wife. Nothing made sense anymore.

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