Read part oneRead part twoRead part three

He sat on a cardboard box and let her wash and bandage the cut while he held his shirt pulled up near his neck. “You don’t have a bed,”he said, “but you have gauze.”

She ran her fingers around the edges of the tape to secure the seal, then stood and inspected her work. “Girl scout,” she said, then she turned and carried the scissors and tape back down the hall.

Letting his shirt drop around his midriff, he stood up, walked to the open front door and waited. He heard the sound of a toilet flushing from behind a closed door, water running. He walked outside and up the ramp into the truck and picked up one of the chairs from the dining set. She came around the back of the truck, stood aside and gave him a grateful smile as he carried the chair down the ramp. In less than five minutes they had the truck emptied, and she began closing truck doors. He lifted the ramp and slid it noisily back into place, then clambered up and pulled down the heavy rolling door. He followed her into the garage, and she pushed the button to the automatic door closer. Without waiting, she turned and went inside. He followed. 

As she went to the refrigerator, he walked to the front room and closed the door. He twisted the knob to lock the deadbolt, then stepped back.

“Thanks,” she said, but he gave no reply, just stood and watched her as she picked at the label on her water bottle. She looked up suddenly and broke the silence. “You want to help me unload the kitchen boxes, then we’ll get some sandwiches? Let me buy you lunch.” Then, quickly, as though thinking better of it, “Oh, you probably have someplace to be.”

“No, I’m not expected anywhere.” He glanced around the room. “Sure. Let’s empty some boxes.”

She raised her water bottle in salute, and headed into the kitchen. “How ‘bout you unpack boxes and I’ll put things where I want them.”

“Makes sense,” he said, rounding the corner into the kitchen. He found her standing, hands on hips, looking at the countertop.

“What did I do with the box cutter?”

He looked at her blankly for a moment. “Did you take it in the bathroom when you were getting me gauze?”

“Probably.” She moved past him and toward the hallway. “Do you still not want any water?”

“I’m good. I have the bottle you gave me.”

She went down the hall, and he stood and waited, listening to the sounds of boxes sliding on tile, objects being moved, paper rustling. She reappeared, her brow wrinkled and lips squeezed tightly closed. “I can’t find it.”

“It was right here on the counter.”

“Yeah.” She paused. “You don’t think you maybe slipped it in your pocket, do you? Just not thinking?”

He patted each of his pockets in turn, then again. “Nope. Nothing.” He shrugged.

“Okay. I must have moved it somewhere. It’ll turn up in a minute.”

“No place to hide in here.”

She laughed then. “No, no place to hide.” She walked into the kitchen and pushed a box toward him with her foot. “See if you can get that open.”

Read part 5

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