Florida, wow. Holiday?published: 2011-04-01
“Those aren’t mice,” he says, “those are rats.”
He closes his bag, the one that looks like a tool kit. You’d think he is a handy man, but he is the mice pest controller.
“Not to worry. All taken care of.”
I sigh, “have some coffee. Please, have a seat.”
“Only a minute then. I have loads of work to get done before my trip to Florida.”
“Florida, wow. Holiday?”
“My daughter lives there.”
“She works there?”
“No, she’s 17.”
I nod. This is what people do. Even when we don’t fully understand a given situation, we nod. Usually we leave it at that. Sometimes we ask another question, such as: “did you live there too then?”
This time he nods.
“Yes, for two years. With her and my ex-wife.”
He takes a sip of his coffee. Then holds the cup with both hands as if bracing himself to explain:
“My ex wife and I separated 7 years ago. Then my ex moved to Florida with my daughter.”
“And you wanted to be closer to your daughter?”
“No. My ex got leukemia, see. So they some support. I lived in their basement.”
I feel my chest getting heavier.
“She died. My ex died. And then I moved back.”
“When was this?”
“Two years ago. We decided it was better for my daughter to stay with her stepfather.”
He has been looking at me all this time without batting an eyelid. His eyes are deep-set and heavy.
“You get used to it. My brother died last year. Heart attack. It runs in the family. My dad died at age 44.”
I wonder about his age.
“I’m 47,” he offers, without me asking this time. Then he gets up.
“Thanks for the coffee.”
I stand up too. He picks up his tool box and leaves my house without looking back.