Bob is standing next to Susannah Fontaine-Williams’s hospital bed. Macallan slouches in a chair on the other side of the bed, eyes shut, a crossword puzzle on his lap. Bob grasps her hands in his. A Dylan song plays dreamily, coming from someone’s phone or tablet. (Bob backstory here.)
My love, she speaks like silence
Without ideals or violence
“What happened to you?” he whispers. Her hair is frizzed and tangled and the dividing line of a sunburn runs from her hairline to where it disappears at her neckline. Susannah stretches her legs and toes, yawning. She is too tired to open her eyes.
“Where are the kids?” she asks. “Are the kids here?”
“Mrs. Quackenbush is with them. They’re sound asleep.”
“More likely watching a movie and eating ice pops.”
“More likely,” Bob laughs.
“Bob honey,” she says. “You know that guy in Greece they found?”
“You mean the couple on the boat?”
“Uh-uh. The guy that killed that couple.”
“They’re still looking for him. They’re looking for the woman in the hat, too.”
“Oh, that’s good.” She drifts off and in a moment she snores herself awake again. She opens her eyes and sees Macallan. The dividing curtain is open and the handcuffed man is watching her.
She doesn’t have to say she’s faithful
Yet she’s true like ice, like fire
“Hello,” Susannah Fontaine-WIlliams says.
“Hey,” he says. His voice is scratchy and he coughs.
Macallan stirs. “Susannah, you’re awake.”
“Mac… What are you doing here? What am I doing here? Where is here? I’m in a hospital,” she concludes, satisfied.
“Apparently you were electrocuted.”
She squints and scrunches up her face as if she’d just bitten into a lemon. “I was electrocuted?”
She runs her fingers in her hair, or tries to. “My hair,” she says. “Is there a brush anywhere?”
“Who were you talking to just now?”
“The gentleman in the other bed. Would you mind handing me my bag?”
“No, there was a visitor. You called him ‘Bob.’”
“Bob was here? He’s just imaginary, silly. He’s my make believe husband. We have make believe triplets.” (More about Bob here.)
“Two boys and a girl. I think. Maybe it’s the other way around.”
“He’s tall…telegenic, like you.
She props herself up on her elbows and stares him down. The effort tires her quickly and she shakes her head and drops back down onto the pillow. “You were dreaming. Hand me my bag, please.”
“I saw him too,” the stranger rasps. “Good lookin’ guy. Tall. And them kids weren’t with no babysitter neither. Swear to god, they were sittin’ right outside the door, cute as buttons, makin’ faces at me.”
Statues made of matchsticks
Crumble into one another
My love winks, she does not bother
She knows too much to argue or to judge
The man coughs again. “Allergies.”