In Wolves’ Clothing
I can’t remember if I took an oxy during the flight, so I eat two. They pair nicely with the scotch.
It’s good to be home.
I should be upstairs sleeping, especially since I didn’t catch a single wink on the flight from Guadalajara. But there’s something I have to finish first.
An eight-letter word for gradually losing one’s edge.
I fill in each box of 27 Down with my black pen and take another sip of scotch. It’s times like these I turn into God. The crossword squares fill up by themselves in a secret blurry code. A few of the answers might even be correct.
The black pleather couch makes love to me as I solve 32 Across.
A four-letter word for spouse.
She’s leaning on the banister, wearing a white T-shirt and gray sweatpants that might have fit me when I was ten. Her eyes, almond-shaped during waking hours, are half open.
“You’re home?” she says, pre-dawn gravel in her voice.
“Hi, baby,” I say while trying to conceal the nearly empty lowball glass in my hand. “Sorry to wake you. I’ll be up in a sec.”
Neda yawns and combs her hand through a shining cascade of black hair. “What time d’you get in?”
I scratch my shaved dome, feeling the perspiration forming, and say, “Uh, a little after one maybe.”
Neda opens her eyes the rest of the way. “You’ve been here for nearly two hours? Why didn’t—”
“Baby, I just needed to unwind a bit before bed.”
Neda’s eyes open wider than the manual recommends. “Why must unwinding always involve single malt and a crossword?” she asks. “You know, some men unwind by spooning their beautiful wife. Especially when they haven’t seen her in four days.”
I ponder the answer to 36 Across.
“Zero!” Neda shouts.
The sound knocks the pen from my fingers, and I go, “I didn’t want to wake you.”
“And look how that worked out for you,” says Neda. “At least if you’d come up when you got home you wouldn’t be getting yelled at.”
I tell her not to be mad, then get up from the couch as gracefully as a man two drinks and twenty milligrams in can. “I knew if I woke you right when I got home, you’d want to talk about the mission.”
I realize this is not what God would say. I can tell by Neda’s face.