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[personal profile] puffy_wuffy
As the sun rose over the suburb, the sky’s changes in color over the clipped lawns were beautiful to behold.  Not that the denizens were appreciative, rather not yet fully woken.  The men and women, heads of their households, pushing forward, pushing outward into the morning.  The many men and women and kids and animals of the neighborhood marched towards the rest of their day: a meal, a wash-up and out the door.  A man waved to his neighbor who waved back.  Somewhat of a blue morning greeted these simple folk as families packed into cars and sped away.  Workers and schoolkids alike fought the haze of waking up to another day on their walk to bus stops.
The morning rush subsided.  The sound of local songbirds gave way to the whoosh of wind shifting easily through the developments.  One house, a house of Harolds, was not abandoned as the others were.  Harry and Hare conferred in the kitchen, both drinking their mugs of coffee, and searching, as those who are unengaged in business, any business, on a daily basis for something to do.  In the way that people who are familiar with each other day and day out, they moved about, avoiding each other while acknowledging each the other’s presence, a distracting dance.
Harry broke the quiet first.  “Morning.  Nice to see you up at this hour.”
“Morning.”  Hare nodded politely and downed his last gulp of coffee.  “Well, I’m off.”  He placed his mug in the sink and headed over to the shoerack to put his shoes on.
Harry tapped Hare on the shoulder.  “No you’re not.”  
“I forgot.”  Hare looked up at the ceiling.  “Is he really still here?”
“Yes.”  Harry shrugged.  “He really still is.  He really ate breakfast and really headed back into the basement.  As if you didn’t know.”
“Thanks for reminding me.”  Hare rolled his eyes.  “And watching him.”
“If I thought it was okay for us to leave the house, I’d let you know.  He’s dead set against it.  I didn’t have the heart to tell him.”  Harry shook his head.
“You should insist, Harry.  You’re the eldest, he’s known you longest.  So why haven’t you asked yet?”  Hare made eye contact with Harry.  “I know it’s not as bad for you as it is for me and Rold.”
“Well, I can’t walk that far.  I can’t do that much.  I just take up space.”  Harry looked into his empty mug, then puttered back towards the coffeepot.  “And drink coffee of course.  While the two of you were off gallivanting, I’d stay home and worry.  The two of you, plotting and planning to leave and then be back before he returned.”
“He never noticed then.”  Hare gestured out the kitchen window.  “I could pop out for a walk and be back in five minutes.”
“I think he’d notice, don’t you?”  Harry poured fresh coffee into his mug.  “He’s old, not physically decrepit like me.  What he says, goes.  He feeds us, clothes us, cares for us.  We’re not even people, Hare.  Not really.”  He sipped the dark, black liquid.  “What happens to us if he tossed us out?”
Hare walked over to the coffeepot.  “I think its too early for this conversation.  I know you mean well.”  Hare patted Harry on the back comfortingly.  “Maybe we can talk about it after lunch.”  Exhaling, Hare gnawed on his lower lip.  “I guess I’ll go back up to my room and . . . do some push-ups or something.  Maybe I’ll carve something.  Watch something.”  Hare dragged his feet as he lurched out of the kitchen.
The Harolds remained in the house all morning, each in their separate spheres of space.  Rold stayed in protest, in his room, clicking away at his computer, dreaming of the outside world.  Hare did some push-ups and carved something, gazing through his room’s tinted window to the tree outside.  Harry remained on the ground floor, puttering from the kitchen to his room and back, checking the door to the basement occasionally.
In the basement, Harold has not touched his robot.  It sat, sadly, on the workbench, not even opened or turned on or flipped on its side.  Harold cowered with a notepad at a desk, reading his frantic chickenscratch as if learning numbers for the first time.  He has spent the early morning scribbling frenetically.  This morning, he downloaded information regarding his pension with the intention of squaring his finances and discovering his financial situation.  Oh, he had every intention of figuring such things out before quite some time before his hasty retirement, but no lazy Sunday had presented itself to him
Harold has been spending hours rediscovering addition, subtraction, division and multiplication with actual numbers.  Science and numbers don’t always mix, though they go together quite well.  Numbers out of context may not prove a point.  Gregor Mendel’s years of work and many successful fertilizations were still considered to be strange:  far too much math involved in the science of biology.  Nowadays, math and science walk hand in hand:  science is the way people explain important things and math is the way people quantify important things.  
Harold has discovered an important thing.  He has become absolutely sure about something horrifying a total of three separate times.  Three is a very important number:  in science, merely a blip, but in everyday life, coincidences that arrive in threes are portentous.  While in the musty basement with only his robot for company, he has been calculating:  his pension will not cover costs the way his regular pay would.  Were he but one person providing for one person, his pension would be more than enough for the adjusted years of life he had left, twenty odd years of life.  He could easily take holidays to Cabo, the Mediterranean, an odd trip to Asia here and there, if he were by himself.  He has three unlisted dependents, that was the reality.  Sighing, Doctor Harold Smith rubs his eyes with his right hand.
Tired of waiting for something to happen, Harry decided to make lunch.  His angry chopping of cucumbers for salad roused Hare’s interest, and Hare headed down to the kitchen.
“Making lunch already?”  Hare feigned interest in the cucumber bits.  “I think there’s a limit on how much salad all of us can eat.”
“Very funny.”  Harry stared at the unchopped cucumbers.  “Maybe you have a point.  I wanted to do something useful.”
“Me too.”  Hare admitted.  “Sandwiches again?”
Harry nodded.  “Ever since Harold’s been home, he’s the only person who’ll get food for us, and he hasn’t gone in days.”  Harry pursed his lips.  “I think its cucumber salad salad day today.  Maybe peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.”
Hare sighed.  “Only cucumbers?  Any dressing?”
“Nope.”  Harry picked the knife up again and sliced into an untouched cucumber.  “Could you make the sandwiches?  I’m feeling a bit achy today.”
Hare walked over to the fridge and opened it.  “How does peanut butter and peanut butter sound?”
Harry groused, “Delightful.”
Hare snorted.  “Right.  I’ll make the sandwiches, shall I?”  He made a big show of pulling out the bread and peanut butter.  “Yum yum yum.”  Rubbing his tummy in Harry’s direction, he walked over to the utensils drawer.  “You know, I could run out to a store and be back before anyone knows it.”
“Harold is still downstairs.”  Harry finished chopping the last cucumber and reached for the salad bowl.  “We have to be patient.  He’s a reasonable man.”
“It’s a tiny risk.”  Hare raised his right hand in a solemn pledge.  “I can get jelly and be back in twenty minutes, tops.”
“Come on!”  Hare whispered.  “He hasn’t come up in hours.”
“Do you think I like being cooped up in this place any more than you two do?”  Harry set the bowl down.  “I want to go outside, too.”  He lowered his voice.  “I want to see things other than these walls and . . . I’m tired of only having the three of you for company.  And I really hate peanut butter and peanut butter sandwiches.”
“This is another way of saying no.”
“Yes.”  Harry pushed the cucumbers around in the bowl.  “If he thinks we’ve been going in and out of the house willy-nilly . . . I think we have to formally ask.  He’ll get used to the idea, eventually.  We have to be insistent that we haven’t left the house.”
“Fine.”  Harry angrily set a piece of bread down.
“No more sneaking out, all right?”
“If we don’t figure out a way soon, though, I think we’re all going to go crazy.”  Hare began peanut buttering the piece of bread.  “There’s only so many things I can do before needing to head outside.”
“I think it’ll work best if we all ask one at a time.”  Harry suggested, taking a seat near Hare.  “Make him feel like we’re all asking without talking to each other.  Make him feel special, but not as if we resent him.”
“But we do.”
“Yes, well, we’ll leave that out.”  Harry brushed his hand against the counter idly.  “I can mention that I’m worried about you and Rold.  You’re both getting older, and you could both get jobs, or something, if we had formal identities.  That its not for me that I’m asking.”
“Ah, I see.”  Hare finished up a sandwich and pulled out another piece of bread.  “I’ll ask him if he thinks that you and Rold seem rather lonely and sad.”  
“Yes, and we’ll get Rold to mention the two of us.”  Harry chuckled.  “He’d say that we’re both super old.  We don’t use the internet like him.”
“That sounds like him.”  Hare counted the four sandwiches.  “How’s Harold?”
“Still downstairs.”  Harry stretched.  “I’ll go get him and you can get Rold.  You’ll see, things will change soon.”
“I hope so.”  Hare washed his hands at the sink, then wiped them dry on a towel.  “If not, I’m likely to die of boredom.”
“Die of boredom!”  Harry parroted.  “You’re so melodramatic.”  He shuffled to the basement door.  “Scurvy, more likely, the way we’ve been eating lately.”


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November 2010

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