This week's sentence was taken from Willa Cather's 'Death Comes For The Archbishop'.
'Muerto,' he whispered.
Sometimes That's All You Need
Tharp blinked funny.
His right eye always seemed a little ahead of his left. Or perhaps it was the left eye that was slower than the right. Either way, people found it hard to talk to someone whose blink was out of sync. Before long they would become acutely aware of what their own eyelids were up to, which left them kind of distracted.
Tharp's sequential blink rolled across his face from left to right as you looked at him and your eyes couldn't help but follow the movement off to one side, somewhat in the manner of a typewriter carriage, with the result that you found yourself constantly flicking your gaze back to meet Tharp's from a point somewhere above his left shoulder.
People got the impression he was doing it deliberately, which of course he wasn't. Or at least you thought he wasn't until you next met him and then you couldn't help but have your suspicions.
Oblique by nature, Tharp liked to live in profile, more comfortable at counter than table. As long as you could only see one eye at a time he was pretty good company. Errant eyelids aside Tharp was as normal as you or me, although knowing you and me that might not be as reassuring as it sounds.
He had worked at the mortuary all his adult life. The dead don't care how you blink at them. Tharp felt that his charges respected him more than the living so he cared for them with skill and tenderness.
His one real friend among the living was his boss, Stent. A much younger man, Stent had married a beautiful but simple girl whose closest approach to academic achievement was to obsessively search for the image of Jesus in her food. Their life was idyllic yet Stent craved from Tharp the conversation he could not get at home. Tharp was older and wiser and loved to talk.
And so they got along.
Somewhat superstitious, Stent could never bring himself to mention death in his native tongue and substituted Latin or Spanish when the subject raised its grisly head, which at the mortuary was not an uncommon occurrence.
'Muerto,' he whispered.
Tharp blinked at the figure on the slab. Stent's diagnosis was, as usual, concise and accurate.
'So what was yesterday's count?' Tharp asked, as he did every day before they got down to work. Stent didn't look up.
'Three,' he said. 'One burned into the toast at breakfast, one in a pork chop and a particularly good one in her mashed potato.'
Maria posted photos of her edible saviours on a blog. She had quite a following.
The conversation strayed to last night's radio adaptation of Chekhov's 'Seagull,' meandered on into politics, books and the entertaining collection of tattoos adorning the elderly lady who no longer felt any sense of shame at the ministrations of these strange men on her naked body.
They worked on, happily. Tharp liked Stent. Stent liked Tharp.
Life was good.