Dean Grey dropped Bill off at the corner where Bill and Sue lived. They did not say much during the ride. Bill was conscious of his odors. He knew he needed a shower and was self-conscious about it. Dean Grey left Bill to look out the window. He asked if they had treated him well. Bill said he got along. Dean Grey’s last words were the hopes that now his life could get back to normal. Bill doubted that but thanked him again for making himself available.

Sue was not home when he unlocked the door and walked up the stairs. In a way, Bill was glad to be alone but for the two cats, and after kicking off his shoes, he lay down on the bed to listen to the silence. The grey Persian cat, Anais, jumped up and settled herself on Bill’s chest where she proceeded to purr and knead on him. Bill petted her softly and let her rub her whiskers on his hand.

Overall, it was a typical September day, the afternoon of a typical September day, sunny and clear, not hot like in mid July, but not Fall-chilled. He closed his eyes and allowed the sounds of Anais’ purrs to reverberate in his ears. Then he felt anxiety begin to spread in his gut. He didn’t have any money and didn’t know how he was going to pay next month’s rent. When the anxiety and worry blocked out everything else, he got himself up and stripped to go take a shower. Later in his life, at another AA meeting, one he’d gone to because he needed to be there, he’d learn the slogan “Move a muscle, change a thought.”

He’d lost so much weight he didn’t have to open the button on his pants for them to drop. All he had to do was loosen his belt and let them fall. They slipped easily down over his waist and hips and fell at his feet. He kicked off his shoes, stepped out of the pants, dropped his skivvies and kicked them off as he walked. In the bathroom, he started the shower, pulled off his socks and stepped onto the scale. He was a very trim 137, nearly an all-time low. His stomach was completely flat. Finally, he got into the tub pulling the shower curtain closed behind him and let the hot water run all over him.

God this feels good, he thought. Then he looked up toward heaven and thanked God for allowing him to survive the workhouse ordeal. He knew God was there because it was God who had answered the tough. God is good, he told himself. God is good.

Bill had no inclination to hurry out of the shower. He’d decided he’d let himself prune up and stay in as long as he was inclined. He relaxed, leaned against the wall and closed his eyes.

He stayed this way for what seemed a long while. Then, he heard Sue coming up the stairs and next thing, she was stepping into the shower with him. For the first time in nearly three weeks they were  alone together.

“Dean Grey picked me up and brought me home.”

“I know.”

“They let me out for Rosh Hashanah.”

“I know.”

“I have to see my probation officer next week.”

“I’m so glad you’re home.”

“I’m glad it’s over.”

“You’ve lost a lot of weight.”


“You hungry?”


“How about I wash your back?”


“Wanna go get something to eat?”

“I just want to sleep.”

Sue washed Bill’s back. She finished her own shower. When Bill emerged from the bathroom, he found she had turned  down  the covers for him. He slid in between the sheets and allowed himself to feel the comfort of a real mattress with comfortable bedding. Sue lay next to him, up against him. Bill heard her sniveling as he fell off to a deep sleep.