And oh, my love as I rock for you to-night,
And have not any longer any hope
To heal the suffering, or make requite
For all your life of asking and despair,
I own that some of me is dead to-night.
from “The End”
by D.H. Lawrence
Jude Hardy blinked his eyes open, and for a minute he lay in bed, watching the night shadows slowly reel across
the walls. When it finally came to him where he was, he rolled over on to his side and squinted, trying to read
without his glasses the red number glow of the alarm clock. One-thirty. One thirty-three. One thirty-five.
He rolled back over and listened to Christine’s shallow, steady breathing, inhaled the lemon-grass smell of her
long, crow-black hair that shined even in the dark. Somewhere outside their open window it sounded as though
a screen door had screeched open, not loud, more like the muffled pillow cry of a man startled awake from his
Jude and Christine earlier that evening had celebrated their third anniversary. They had driven to the
Timberlanes over in Salem. Both had ordered the surf and turf special. They had split a bottle of red wine from
the first vintage of a new Napa winery, Jude drinking two thirds of it and Christine driving them home while Jude
sang along to a Cleveland rock station, his window rolled down. Now he had to urinate. He didn’t want to get
up, yet he couldn’t fall back asleep.
“Damn,” he whispered.
He rose, easing his legs over the side so the Goodwill box springs they’d not yet gotten around to replacing
wouldn’t squeak. Rather than using the bath around the corner from their bedroom, he walked to the quarter-
bath off the kitchen, along the way once bumping his shoulder into the hallway wall and almost bringing down a
Monet print Christine was fond of.
After he came out, Jude went to the refrigerator. He opened the door and leaned in, resting his palms on his
knees, and surveyed the contents before reaching for the carton of orange juice. He closed the refrigerator door
and leaned back against it and tilted up the carton, emptying it in a half-dozen, gulping swallows.
He dropped the carton in the trashcan beneath the sink, and when he turned, Buckwheat sat in the doorway
looking up at him, his agate cat eyes agleam.
“Yeah, I know to get to the Quickshop before she’s up if I don’t want to be paying Hell from here to Christmas.”
Jude stooped and scratched the cat’s outstretched chin and returned to the bedroom. Christine still slept, only a
thin, summer sheet covering her to the waist, the midnight-blue satin nightgown barely containing her full
breasts from spilling out. Yellow light from the corner street lamp fell across the bed, and Jude walked around to
the window and quietly pulled the cord to the blinds they had forgotten to close before they turned in after
making love on the living room floor like the newlyweds they told themselves they still were and no matter what
would always be.
“Time can never touch us,” she had whispered to him.
When he had the blinds almost closed, Jude stopped his pulling. Across the lawn, the end of a cigarette
reddened and faded and reddened once more. He reached down to the bedside table for his glasses. One
house over, Eddie McCoy sat on the front stoop, his feet dangling down into the tall, month-ago-cut grass,
rocking slightly back and forth in the dark as might a mendicant.
Jude’s brother, George, had worked with Eddie for several summers at the Hanna Boiler Works. Now when
George came back to town, he and Jude would pick up a six-pack of Rolling Rock and walk across the back yards
to Eddie’s garage where on the weekends it would be out of character not to find him in his woodworking shop.
Eddie would put aside whatever project he’d been working on, and they would split the beers between them,
more often than not one of them going off for more and making an afternoon and evening out of it.
The last time George had gone over was six months ago when he flew back for the funeral of Eddie’s wife. He
had again walked across the back yards, but this time alone, foregoing the six-pack and taking instead a pint of
Seagram’s and a couple of cans of 7-Up. He told Jude that he found Eddie sitting before his open garage door
on a trashcan turned upside down, looking out at the March drizzle washing away the last patches of winter
snow, his fingers interlaced before him, his knuckles white.
Jude tugged the blinds closed and again left the bedroom and walked down the hall to the front door. He went
outside and down a few steps of his corral-pebbled walk until he turned and crossed his and Eddie’s lawns, the
grass dewy under his feet. With the street lamp behind him, Jude’s thin, cutout-person shadow lengthened
across the grass until by the time he was at the border of their lawns it had reached his neighbor’s front stoop.
Eddie looked over his shoulder. He raised his hand holding the cigarette and smiled, saying nothing until Jude
was close enough that Jude would hear him without Eddie raising his voice.
Twin half-moons darkened under Eddie’s eyes, and a half-week’s of beard stubbled his sallow, streetlamp-lit
“What brings you out so late?”
Jude sat down on the concrete stoop, sitting close to Eddie until he breathed in his unbathed, onion-smelling
staleness. He scooted a little apart.
“Had to get up to take a leak. Decided I needed a smoke too. Couldn’t find any inside. I was walking back
through the house and out to the car to see if I’d left them on the dash was when I saw you.” He nodded to the
pack on the other side of Eddie. “Got an extra I can bum?”
Eddie looked down at his pack. He looked at Jude. “Ain’t that kind of breaking your training?”
“George told me you was in training.”
“‘Was’ is the operative word in your sentence.”
“One of them marathons he said. Where folks have been knowed to die at the end, or if they didn’t, go
impudent when they got home.”
“Not any more.”
“Last winter I’d be going out the door on my way to work, and it would still be dark, and you’d be coming back.
It’d be below zero, and you’d be huffing and puffing, your breath smoking worse than my pickup back yonder.”
“Office has been keeping me busy.”
Eddie tipped the ash from his cigarette on the edge of the stoop. “Read in the Journal about you sending that
storefront preacher from down there in East Liverpool off to the hoosegow.”
“Yeah, he soaked up a bunch of my time this spring.”
“Well, in that case.”
Eddie picked up the pack and handed them to Jude, the Quickshop matchbook slipped under the cellophane
wrapper. “Don’t want to hear nobody accusing me of corrupting a young’en.”
“Don’t you bet on it. George was to ever hear about this, he’d be back on the next flight to whip my butt.”
“You outweigh him by twenty pounds.”
“He’d use a baseball bat.”
Jude shook out a cigarette and struck a light. When he went to slip the matches back inside the cellophane, he
looked at the pack. He looked at Eddie. “When did you begin smoking Salems? You’ve always been a Winston
“Still am. Forgot ‘em when I was at the store today. Found these in Lisa’s purse.”
Eddie drew down on his cigarette. “Been forgetting a lot of late.”
The two men sat. They had been neighbors ever since Jude and Christine moved up from Ohio State after Jude
passed the bar exam the November before last. Their two houses were almost exactly the same, built one after
the other by the Souder brothers, Dick and Donald, after their discharge out of the Army at the end of World
War II. Two bedrooms, one and a quarter baths with a detached garage in back accessed by an oil-paved alley
that ran parallel to the Baltimore & Ohio tracks. The only differences between the two houses was that Jude’s
was a white clapboard with a covered front porch, and Eddie’s had only a front stoop and had been sided with
mint-green aluminum two years before by Eddie and his uncle over their summer vacations.
In the woodshop he kept out back, Eddie had built every piece of furniture in his home save the living room
couch and a stuffed chair. Jude had been in the bedroom once when Eddie went for his wallet to pay off their
Super Bowl bet. A stained, solid walnut bed, and on a matching dresser several jewelry boxes he’d also built
and one smaller box to hold his wallet and his daddy’s pocket watch and the hand-tooled, gold cuff links the
shop had given his grandfather that Eddie wore two or three times a year, mostly to weddings, increasingly to
funerals. On the walls, prints Eddie had framed, and Lisa had ordered from the Smithsonian and the Chicago
Museum of Art catalogs. Photographs of nephews and nieces at birthdays and reunions and weddings. A
handmade tapestry Lisa had picked up at a West Virginia swap meet filled with words Jesus had either said or
those someone supposed he should have.
Across the street from their houses was the duck pond at the west edge of Hanna Park, the dark, overcast
night mirrored in the black water, and the two sat studying it as an end-of-summer mist began to rise.
Eddie turned and looked at Jude. He frowned. “Them’s pretty fancy sleeping duds, ain’t they?”
Jude held out an arm sleeved in green pinstripes. “Silk.”
Eddie reached over and with his callused thumb and index finger rubbed the material. “My, my.” He eyed Jude.
“You picked up some pretty expensive habits down there associating with them legislators and judges and
other assorted riff raff who don’t have nary an idea as to how to go about earning an honest day’s living.”
Jude took his arm back. “Now don’t go wearing it out.”
“You didn’t go queer on us down there, did you?”
“Anniversary present. Got to wear them if I want to sleep in a bed.”
“Yeah, I hear you, brother,” Eddie said and turned back to the pond, his hand holding the cigarette resting on
Jude doubted if Eddie had never owned a pair of pajamas, not silk, not cotton, and sitting on the stoop he wore
what he always wore to bed. A white T-shirt, grimed and in the back its neck pulling away from the seam. White
boxer shorts, a large yellow stain circling the fly opening.
“Dang,” Eddie said.
“What is it?”
“Besides my smokes, I forgot to pick up a box of Tide when I was at the store today.”
Jude guessed Eddie to be ten years older than he. His dark brown hair, starting to gray, he combed back to
cover the silver-dollar-sized spot shinning on his crown. His makings of a beer belly pudged out of his T-shirt and
the back of his arms and the inside of his thighs had begun to melt into flab.
Jude looked down to where Eddie’s feet hung in the grass. His toe nails had long ago turned blue black from the
steel-toed boots he had worn for half his life, ten hours a day, four and five days a week. On his left foot, circling
from the inside ball of his anklebone and back across his Achilles tendon and up again to the ball of his
anklebone on the other side sliced a jagged, quarter-inch scar.
He was originally from Goshen, the next village south of Hanna. His daddy had worked in the Boiler Works until
the start of World War II when he enlisted and became the second torpedo man on a submarine. After it left on
a mission out of Pearl Harbor in 1944, the submarine never broke radio silence, and it never returned.
The Boiler Works put his mother through secretarial school and hired her on after graduation. Eddie seemed
destined to join his daddy’s brother on the shop floor save for his talent on the football field. After the mid-west
sportswriters named him to their All-Star team, Ohio State awarded him a football half-scholarship that paid his
tuition, and his uncle coaxed the Bartons into giving him a summer job at the Boiler Works to help pay his room
and board. He was the talk of Henry’s barbershop, and that summer folks in Goshen began setting aside out of
each paycheck so that in a few years they could buy television sets to watch the Rose Bowl just in case Eddie
ever got that far.
On an early August morning, Eddie was lifting a six hundred pound steel plate with a hand-operated crane, still
half asleep from carousing the night before with some buddies. He had raised the plate only a few inches and
turned to be certain he didn’t back into something as he lifted the plate the rest of the way to the two
sawhorses to be beveled. A chain link snapped. The plate shifted and swung down, slicing through the back of
Eddie’s foot halfway to his anklebone.
The foreman cradled Eddie’s foot in his hands, telling him all the while he’d be back to work the next day as four
others carried him the two blocks down Union Street to old Doc Carothers’ office on a stretcher they’d made
from tying together the arms of their work jackets. When the men got him up the front porch, they pushed open
the never-locked door and carried him inside to the examining room table, and the foreman ran up the steps
three at a time and knocked on the bedroom door, leaving on the wood his bloody, knuckle prints.
“Doc. Doctor Carothers.” The foreman cocked his ear, almost touching the door. “Got a boy downstairs bad hurt,
One of the men who had carried Eddie stood at the foot of the steps.
“Sorry, Mrs. Carothers, for the intrusion so early and all,” said the foreman.
As he stitched Eddie’s foot back to his leg, the old man, still clothed in his nightshirt, told him he was lucky not to
have lost it altogether. Unlucky enough only never to get to Columbus.
In a couple of months when he was up and able to get around without crutches, his mother told him Lester
Barton had offered to take him back full time at a quarter-an-hour raise. Eddie returned, walking up and down
the shop floor with a limp as he dragged his leg like Chester on “Gunsmoke.” His first week back a new kid even
called him Chester, but just once, and he drew his pay and got into his Chevy and never came back after Eddie
dislocated his jaw for him.
He’d hope with time his limp would go away or anyways lessen a bit, but it never did. Even now, almost two
decades later, sometimes the corners of Eddie’s eyes wince at the end of a long day on his feet.
The spring after his accident, he began taking night classes at the Kent State Extension, hoping to get his
teacher’s certificate, until Lisa told him she was expecting. She may have misrepresented to him her last period
so she could move out from her parents’. By then, though, they’d done their worst. Eddie thought in time he
could fix it, but he couldn’t.
They married. She hemorrhaged three days into their honeymoon up on Pine Lake. Dr. Carothers told her she
could never conceive again, disappointing Eddie, who had looked forward to being a father, more so he said
than he ever had of playing college ball. By the next fall, Eddie had lost his interest in teaching. Though the shop
paid less, he wouldn’t be looking into the faces of children, day after day. Lisa, who had come to believe only in
unhappiness, who believed happiness to be God’s great joke, slipped into her years-long descent, so slowly at
first it was easy for Eddie to hang on to his hope.
The war in Viet Nam was running full throttle. Each month it seemed that some kid in the shop was receiving
Greetings from Uncle Sam, and Eddie worked overtime every week. With Lisa waitressing at the Country
Kitchen, within a couple of years they purchased their house across from Hanna Park when Horace Blake listed it
after his grandfather had to go into the nursing home after he turned senile and started unzippering himself in
front of little girls.
Eddie arced his cigarette out over the lawn where it spit in the wet grass and died.
“You come out here often at night?” Jude asked.
“You’re not afraid the Hanna P.D.’s going to arrest you for pedophiling or some other crime of moral turpitude?”
“Lisa’s brother drives the night shift for ‘em.”
“Guess you’re safe until the village antes up for a second cruiser.”
“That’ll be the day.”
“Yeah, you’ve got a point.” Jude swept from the concrete with the heel of his hand the burned flakes of tobacco
that had not fallen into the grass. “Even if they did, anyone could understand how these muggy nights could
keep a guy awake.”
“Weren’t the weather that woke me.”
Eddie raised his index finger to his ear. “Listen.”
Jude lowered his head. His eyes shifted to Eddie. “What am I supposed to be listening to?”
“Did you ever hear such a commotioning raucous?”
“You can’t hear them crickets?”
“That’s how you can tell we’re due for an early winter.”
“It’s a scientifically proved fact that crickets’ll stick around until winter’s but two, maybe three month away.
Them last two weeks they’re here, they’s mating like there’s no tomorrow ‘cause for them there ain’t. After he’s
shot his wad, the male cricket dies and so does the lady cricket after she’s laid her eggs.”
Jude gave Eddie a look.
“That’s what we’ve been listening to.”
“Who told you that whopper? Or did you make it up on your own?”
“None other than Grandpa McCoy.”
“I suppose you think it’s true?”
“You mark your calendar, son. No more than two weeks from tonight, it’ll be as quiet out here as up on
Cemetery Hill.” Eddie looked back across to the pond. “As quiet as it is inside.”
“You don’t care for the quiet?”
Eddie shook his head. “If there’s one thing that scares me now, it’s that.”
“Death is quiet, the longest quiet.”