The Cot (Ginger Man 8O)

Charlie walked up to the sink, began washing from dinner. It was the unspoken agreement between he and Maggie, his part of the bargain for her cooking their meals.

Maggie gathered the pots from the stove. “I ‘magine he goes back home after that.”

“No-suh.” Charlie sprayed water onto the plates that had piled in the sink. “Fortune teller says, It’s not safe for you to sleepwalk on your own. She pointed to this sofa she had in the parlor where she gave fortunes. It folds out to a bed. You walk every morning at 3 — I’ll set my alarm, so I can watch over you. Guy’s like, This is strange, but nothing’s seemed normal all week, so he stays, sleeps on her cot.”

“I’m guessin’ sumpin’ bad’s gonna happen to her.” Maggie opened the refrigerator, retrieved a plastic bottle of soda.

“Guy wakes up next morning, he’s still on the cot.” Charlie paused to rinse their plates, place them on the plastic drying board. “He walks ’round the house, lookin’ for the fortune teller — in the kitchen, her bedroom, even the bathroom — no sign of her. Not even a note.”

“She have a car?” Maggie retrieved two plastic cups from a cabinet to the left of Charlie’s head.

“Mike didn’t say.” Charlie shrugged. “Don’t think so. Lives in the city, so yeah, prob’ly not. Anyway, he’s ’bout to leave when he hears a knock onna door. He opens it, an’ there’s this old man outside. Tall, thin, all dressed in white. The sleepwalker thinks he’s a customer, so he apologizes, says the fortune teller isn’t in today. I know, says the old man. I also know she won’t come back here at all, unless we help her. Guy looks at him, asks how he knows her. Old man says, I met the two of you last night.”

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