by cheri block
My pilgrimage to Joe’s house yesterday was not without worry.
He’d changed our lunch venue back to his home, a two-story house in a neighborhood north with twelve cement steps leading up to a locked door.
His newspaper, still on the porch and wedged by a jute doormat, signaled a weakened Joe.
My arms full and my heart heavy, I knocked on the door.
No answer. Maybe Joe is in the bathroom, I thought.
Down I set the soup, the sandwiches, his newspaper, my binder, The Merchant of Venice, King Henry IV part 1 and my purse and then looked out to the street, over his front yard. This rainy winter and Joe’s weakened health had conspired to produce sinewy weeds and tall turf.
How do I suggest to Joe that my gardeners pay a visit to his house? I thought.
With no Joe opening the door, a door I have faced though the highs and lows of our lives, my concern heightened. This time, I used the door knocker. Tap, tap, tap. Still, no answer.
I kneeled down and pulled my phone from my purse and hit speed dial.
Well hellloooo, Ms. Sabraw, Joe answered.
Joe, where are you?
Here, waiting for you, Joe replied. Where are you?
I am at your front door, I emphasized with some impatience.
Oh, Ok. Joe hung up. I waited for his customary whistling from within.
I picked up the soup, the sandwiches, his newspaper, my binder, The Merchant of Venice and King Henry IV part 1 and my purse, readying myself for entry.
But still no Joe.
My god, I thought. Maybe Joe’s many meds are messing with his mind.
This time, I pulled at the door knocker and pushed it against the door three times, briskly. Clack, clack, clack. And then I waited. Nose to nose with the door knocker, I wondered why Joe and Maureen hadn’t changed the name on the knocker after all those years of living in the house. Maybe they had been too busy living life.
I hit redial.
Where the hell are you, Cheri? Joe barked and then coughed.
Where are you? I questioned delicately.
I am standing in my hall with the God damned door wide open and I certainly don’t see you.
At that moment, my arms full with soup and sadness, I looked closer at the door knocker. Johnson, it read.
I was on the Johnson’s porch, two doors down.