she and i stopped packing boxes to watch the hearing on television. we’d left the set out just to see it. not because it’d change anything, but she said she wanted to see their faces.
before it came on i got us each a beer to drink while we watched and sat on the carpet. she opened hers and set it in one of the indents left by the sofa’s foot. i took a long swig of mine. then another. then i got up and went back to grab two more.
from her spot in the living room she said, ‘do you think they’ll admit to anything?’
i was looking in the fridge, marvelling at how empty it was, when i said, ‘no, i don’t think they will.’ i reached for a beer. ‘i doubt they’ll say much at all.’
all the fridge had was was the 12-pack we’d bought, a bottle of mustard, some salami and a box of baking soda. i grabbed a couple more cans, then noticed that the inside of the fridge smelled like bleach. i said, ‘hey, did you already clean the fridge?’
‘it looks good,’ i said. ‘smell’s weird, but it looks good. when the heck did you do that?’
i heard her getting up and coming to me in the kitchen.
‘when you were doing the garage.’
‘well aren’t you something?’ i said, and i set the beer down on the counter and grabbed her around the waist.
she said, ‘i am, aren’t i?’ she was smiling proud and so i pulled her to me and kissed her. i felt her arms on my shoulders. i held her, then felt she was pulling away. she said, ‘i think it’s starting.’
‘alright,’ i said. ‘i’ll be right there.’
‘are you ok?’ she said.
‘yeah,’ i said. ‘i’m fine.’
‘are you sure?’ she said. ‘we don’t really have to watch it. we can just keep working if you want.’
‘why don’t you watch it? i don’t think i can watch it. i’m sorry,’ i said. i put my hands in my pockets and looked down at the floor. ‘i know you want to watch it, but i really, really don’t want to.’
‘ok. it’s not a big deal. i’ll just–‘
‘but it is a big deal, isn’t it? because now we’re back to an apartment,’ i said, but i said it louder than i meant to. i took a breath, then i said, ‘i’m sorry.’ i took her hand. ‘i’m not mad at you. you know that, right?’
she said, ‘mm-hmm.’
‘i’m not mad at you. i want you to see it. and i want you to tell me what happens. i just think it’s going to make me mad. actually, beyond mad. i’m already mad just thinking about it. so, i’m just going to keep working. maybe do some more stuff in the office.’
‘are you sure?’
‘i’m sure. you take a break and see what they say. will that be alright?’
‘i’ll tell you what happens. and i’ll come get you if anything major happens.’
‘sounds good,’ i said. then she reached up and kissed me. ‘i love you,’ she said.
‘i love you too,’ i said. ‘here’s another beer.’ i handed her a can from the counter. ‘go get yourself good and drunk so we can fool around after.’
‘thanks,’ she said, ‘and maybe i will.’ she smiled and kissed me again and took the beer and went back to where she was in the living room.
i leaned back against the counter and looked back over my shoulder into the window overlooking our backyard. a squirrel was perched on her bird-feeder and the grass needed to be cut. ‘i’ll let them mow when it’s their yard,’ i thought. ‘the fucks.’
at the back of the yard i saw the one orange painted fence-board. she’d painted it to commemorate our first repair. the neighbor kid had busted the board with his soccer ball the day after we moved in. she and i went right to the hardware store to get another board. we wanted to keep the place pristine.
the whole repair took ten minutes but she was excited the whole time. ‘we’re doing this for us now,’ she kept saying. ‘it’s our fence. our fence around our house.’
back in the kitchen, i just looked at the paint on that board. it was still bright like a traffic cone.
i heard her turning up the volume in the other room. someone was saying swearing an oath about telling the truth. i glugged down the last of my first beer and left the empty on the counter. the second one i picked up and took with me back down the hall to the office.
in the office i started filling more boxes. it didn’t matter what those guys said to congress, i thought, if they said anything at all. her and i still had to get out. i put another handful of books into the box then looked around. we still had lots of work to do.