© Brian McInnis TC Media
Atlantic Nights Chapter 7
Helen opened her eyes. It was dark outside again. Dennis was sitting stiffly next to the bed, still in his work clothes, big and square with his shoulders thrown back against the wall, the flat paint making him look like a cutout photograph of himself.
It’s so unfortunate, she thought. He’s never been able to look relaxed — even as a boy, it was always like he was doing what he thinks he was supposed to be doing, expected to be doing, but somehow never able to stop giving off the air that he was doing it unwillingly.
“Dennis, where’s your father?
“Mom, this isn’t my kind of thing,” he said. “Sarah will be here later, she can tell you.”
Helen had her hands under the covers and could feel the roughness of the hospital-laundry sheets stiff against the skin her knuckles — stiff, rough even, but not in an unpleasant way. More an unfamiliar feeling, like hotel sheets fresh from the laundry.
“Tell me what? And what do you mean, not your kind of thing? Your father always lets me know where he is, so just tell me.”
“Digby,” Dennis blurted out. “He’s in Digby.”
“What’s he doing in Digby?”
“You know, Mom, he’s selling.”
“They gave him back the Atlantic region?”
She could see him relax, his shoulders slacken, although she couldn’t understand why.
“Yeah, he’s, ah, he’s, they’ve got him down there selling marine paints, and, ah, training another sales guy. You know Dad, how good he was at that.”
“I thought he stopped the marine paints. He told me once that they were full of heavy metals, bad for the environment.” Helen paused for a moment. “He said that it was one thing to be a manufacturer’s agent for something like whiskey, where at least people get to pick their poison. He said exactly that — pick their own poison. Is it someone I’ve met?”
“The person he’s training.”
“I, ah, I don’t think so, Mom. His name’s Allan — Al.
“Ah, Al Asher. It’s a funny story, really, I think that, well, I think that Dad took pity on him.”
“Because he got fired from his first selling job after the accident.”
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