The door to the antiques store opened, the bell jingled, and Abe sighed, his shoulders dropping. He had just been going to lock the door for the night, but had gotten distracted by the arrangement of a display in the back.
“We’re closed!” he shouted to whoever had walked into the shop, hoping they would leave without making a fuss. He’d been planning on starting dinner soon.
“Even for me?”
Abe straightened up as he turned to face Henry, who was standing in the middle of the shop, his hands in his pockets, a large grin on his face. His father had always had a thing for dramatic entrances.
Abe waved him in with a smile, and after making sure the door was locked, headed into the kitchen.
“I was just about to make dinner, if you wanted to join me,” he called over his shoulder as he pulled spice containers and a cookbook from the cupboard above the stove.
He turned just in time to see Henry standing by the edge of the room, shaking his head.
“Abigail’s still at work, but I’m meeting her for dinner soon. I thought I’d stop by, since we’ve been so busy at the hospital for the past few weeks.”
Abe moved over to open the far cabinet and grabbed two tea cups and the jar of tea leaves.
“If you can’t stay for dinner, how about a cup of tea?” he asked, already filling up the kettle with water.
Henry paused by the chess board set up on a nearby table on his way to the kitchen. He moved his black rook three spaces forward, then continued on into the kitchen to join Abe.
“Damn, I hoped you’d forget about that.” Abe said. He’d have Abe in the next three moves unless Abe could think of a fancy way out of Henry’s trap.
“It would be rude of me not to take my turn,” Henry said, not so subtly gloating over his advantage.
Abe just shook his head and turned his attention back to the kettle. Once the kettle was on the stove, Abe cleared his throat.
“Anyway, I'm glad you're here, I was going to talk to you. I want you to have the credenza. Well,” Abe acknowledged with a tilt of his head, “have the credenza back.”
Henry paused, his expression turning soft.
“Abraham, I know how much you were hoping to sell it.”
Abe waved him off and shook his head.
“I can always pick up something else at an estate sale. Give those Berkowitz brothers a run for their money. I thought it would be perfect for the dining room. It’s not everyday my dad gets married.”
Henry grinned, his face lighting up.
“No, you’re right. It isn’t.”
Henry still looked like he was floating on air from the wedding three weeks ago. Abigail had looked so beautiful in her white dress, and neither she nor Henry could keep from smiling so wide that Abe was sure it must have hurt later. Abe had sat in his seat and watched as they danced their first dance as husband and wife, and wondered for a moment where Maureen was now. He’d had pushed that thought to the back of his mind, knowing it wasn’t a road he needed to go down.
Henry had been alone for too long. Decades, at the very least. Abe had never seen his dad as happy with anyone as he was with Abigail. He and Henry had had a good life, an interesting life, but as much as Henry tried to hide it, Abe had seen how lonely he had been.
It didn’t hurt that Abe liked Abigail too. She was so full of life and energy. It was comforting to know as he watched them that day that he wasn’t the only one looking after Henry anymore, that she would be there if he wasn’t.
She forced Henry out of his shell, forced him to be the man they both knew he really was, around them and around others. When had he ever known Henry to laugh so much, to let go and enjoy himself as much as he did with Abigail?
Henry placed his hands over Abigail’s as they cut the cake, both of them paying much more attention to each other than what they were doing. Before Abigail picked up her small piece between her fingers, she leaned up to press a quick kiss to his lips, both of their smiles wider as they pulled apart.
Henry’s smile remained, even as he opened his mouth and leaned forward, even as Abigail brought the piece of cake up and smashed most of it onto the side of his mouth, some of it catching in his beard, the white of the cake and frosting in contrast with the dark hair. Abe joined the rest of the small crowd in their laughter, clapping a few times at the look on Henry’s face as he stiffened in surprise and Abigail giggled.
Abigail’s eyes widened as in the next moment, there was cake on her face and Henry was laughing, his eyes bright and his lips and beard smeared with frosting and crumbs.
She swallowed her bite of cake, and then leaned up to really kiss him, all sticky and disgusting, both of their mouths covered in frosting. They pulled back, both of them laughing along with the crowd, a bridesmaid rushing forward with napkins for them to clean up.
The kettle whistled, pulling Abe back to the present. Henry was already up, pouring the water into the teapot.
They talked about the trivial things that made up the days since they’d seen each other last, sipping tea and sharing stories about what a fellow doctor had said or a customer had asked. Abe hadn’t realized just how much you miss when someone moves out, even if it was just blocks away.
Abe’s phone beeped, and he reached over to check the notification.
If Henry’s still with you, could you tell him I’m home?
“Abigail wants you to know that she’s home. You know, this would be a lot easier if you had one of these,” he said as he typed a quick reply.
“They’re not necessary, Abe.”
“Except when they’re someone else’s,” Abe muttered.
“I don’t need to be that connected and at the same time that distant from those around me,” he said, his tone sharp.
This was an old argument, and Abe didn’t need to look up to be able to exactly picture the look of judgement on Henry’s face. He set the phone down and looked back up at Henry. Yep, there it was. He shook his head with a snort. He was fond of his father, so set in his ways on some subjects.
“Go on, you’d better get moving.”
“Are you sure? I know I haven’t seen you in a while given how busy we’ve been with the ER room being temporarily short-staffed and all the extra shifts.”
Henry looked so torn, Abraham just huffed out a laugh and gestured for him to go.
“Don’t worry about me. You don’t want to make your wife wait.”
Henry’s grin only widened at Abe’s use of the word “wife” and after a hug and a promise to visit again soon, Henry was out the door. With an affectionate shake of his head, Abe went to clean up their tea cups.
He put both of the cups in the sink but didn’t bother with dishes. He’d just have to clean up again after he made dinner.
It wasn’t until after he’d eaten and put everything away that he spotted Henry’s doctor’s bag leaning against the corner of the couch.
“Always forgetting something,” he muttered, but his smile never left as he went to pick it up. He checked his watch. It was still early and Henry would need it for work the next morning. He’d drop it off, say hi to Abigail and they could all avoid the panicked phone call early tomorrow.
He threw the bag in the passenger seat, and pushed back the twinge of frustration. It wasn’t that long of a drive really, and he wouldn’t mind the chance at a short visit with either of them. Much better than a trip to the river, after all. He switched out the tapes in the tape deck and began humming quietly along to the jazz number that filled the car. Soon enough he was to their block, just as the second song was ending.
Abe stopped humming, his mouth opening slowly, as he pulled onto their street and saw the whole block lit up with flashing red and blue lights. Police cars and an ambulance were parked in front of Henry and Abigail’s apartment and Abe felt his heart stop.
No. What could possibly….
He pulled over at the next available stretch of curb and jumped out as soon as the car was shut off, running towards the crowd.
“Excuse me, officer, what’s going on?” Abe asked the police woman standing in front of the caution tape.
The officer opened her mouth to speak, but Abe didn’t wait for the answer. He ran to get closer to the apartment as Henry walked out the front door.
Henry was missing his suit jacket, and his dress shirt was torn and covered in blood. His eyes were wet, his gaze unfocused as he was escorted out of the apartment by two officers, both of them looking grim and determined. Abe was about to shout Henry’s name, try to get his attention, when he glanced over by the ambulance and saw the stretcher being loaded into the back. Whoever was on it was completely covered by a sheet. Small, still, a wisp of blonde hair visible from beneath the edge of the sheet.
Abe’s hand flew up to cover his mouth.