301 Moved Permanently

301 Moved Permanently



First place winner of the 8th Annual Geist Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest.

nobody wanted to take care of the dead guy’s bed     but the rest of the staff were all new     kids from university mostly     just on for the summer     what did they know about grief ?  he’d been gone three days now     Mrs. Nazarenko     his wife     hadn’t left the suite since they’d wheeled his body out     I opened the blinds     got into his bed     inclined to a forty-five with the remote     “can I get you anything?”     I shook one of his pill bottles     morphine     “anything at all?  this stuff’s all going back to the pharmacy by the end of the week”     she didn’t even let on that she saw me come in     I took one of the tabs     the clock on the bookshelf chimed eleven times     Wheel of Fortune was coming from the suite next door     she shifted and Kleenex fell off her comforter like ants being sprayed with a garden hose     “back in the heyday he used to love the Oilers” she said     “he used to think he could communicate with Grant Fuhr    telepathically like     the games would come on and he wouldn’t let me say a word to him     ‘I have to concentrate’ he’d say     ‘Grant needs to know where the puck is at all times’     but the Oilers hardly ever make the playoffs anymore     Fuhr retired     the kids who drop off my meals don’t even know who Grant Fuhr is     and the telepathy     well it stopped     he said he didn’t feel a psychic connection to the players anymore”     she looked at the pill bottle     then at me for the first time     “maybe I will take one of those after all”     “why don’t you crawl in with me?” I said     “the sheets still smell like him     there’s a hair on the pillow     I won’t tell anyone”     my chest pressed against her back      she had the warmth of a woman who hadn’t been out of bed in days     “I should call Grant Fuhr” she said     “see if there’s any way     just an off chance     you know     that Grant could talk to him”     her heart raced against my forearm     she turned her head     our faces pressed against each other     our lips touched     not kissing     as though testing the temperature on a sick child’s forehead     we held each other for a long time like that     I was drifting in and out     what the hell I thought     I owed it to the guy     I’d borrowed two hundred bucks from him a few months back when I told him about my daughter and first wife     he carried it to the grave     “why don’t you tell me more about him?” I said     “lying here in his bed and all     I think I’m getting something     your husband wasn’t the only telepathic one you know     I can’t talk to sports stars     just regular folks     not that Mr. Nazarenko was just a regular guy     but let’s try it”     so we lay there     spooning     I told her anything she wanted to hear     that he was thinking of their first kiss     moving to Canada     small-town Saskatchewan     drifts of snow up to the eaves     and the ’84 Oilers     her breathing slowed     heart slowed     for a while I thought she might check out too     right there in the bed with me     but she started snoring     her eyes fluttered     Gretzky was tipping the puck up to Kurri in the slot     a surgeon’s hands gingerly ricocheting it to the back of the net     the crowd on its feet          foam fingers     draft beer sloshing over plastic cups     I levelled the bed     cleaned up her dishes     for a moment we were all in a better place

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