I drive a forklift, which may or may not be a lifelong job but, if so, I'm fine with that future, my ambitions being somewhat less than insistent. Marley-Anne, on the other hand, is a woman of magnum potential, tall and funny and smart as the dickens, and I buy her things so as not to leave her wanting. Last week, a blue moonstone commemorating our ten-year anniversary, paid for up front in full by yours truly.
Anything her maverick heart desires, and I'll gladly work as much swingshift or graveyard overtime as need be, though what excites Marley-Anne . . . well, let me put it this way: there's a river nearby and a bunch of fancy waterfront homes back in there, and those are the ones we stake out and prowl.
The first time was not by design. The declining late winter afternoon was almost gone, and Marley-Anne riding shotgun said, “Stop.” She said, “Back up,” and when I did she pointed at a Real Estate One sign advertising an open house, all angles and stone chimneys and windows that reflected the gray sky. “That's tomorrow,” I said. “Sunday,” and without another word she was outside, breaking trail up the unshoveled walkway, the snow lighter but still falling, and her ponytail swaying from side to side.
She's like that, impulsive and unpredictable, and I swear I looked away—a couple of seconds max—and next thing I know she's holding a key between her index finger and thumb, and waving for me to come on, hurry up, Reilly Jack. Hurry up, like she'd been authorized to provide me a private showing of this mansion listed at a million-two or -three—easy—and for sure not targeting the likes of us. I left the pickup running, heater on full blast, and when I reached Marley-Anne I said, “Where'd you find that?” Meaning the key, and she pointed to the fancy brass lock, and I said, “Whoever forgot it there is coming back. Count on it.”
“We'll be long gone by then. A spot inspection and besides I have to pee,” she said, her knees squeezed together. “You might as well come in out of the cold, don't you think?”
“Here's fine,” I said. “This is as far as I go, Marley-Anne. No kidding, so how about you just pee and flush and let's get the fuck off Dream Street, okay?”
What's clear to me is that my mind's always at its worst in the waiting. Always, no matter what, and a full elapsing ten minutes is a long while to imagine your wife alone in somebody else's domicile. I didn't knock or ring the doorbell. I stepped inside and walked through the maze of more empty living space than I had ever seen or imagined.
Jack Driscoll is the author of four books of poems, a collection of short stories, and four novels. In addition, he is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including the NEA Creative Writing Fellowship, the NEH Independent Study Grant, Pushcart and Best American Short Story citations, the PEN/Nelson Algren Fiction Award, the Associated Writing Programs Short Fiction Award, and seven PEN Syndicated Project Short Fiction Awards.
His stories have been read frequently over NPR's "The Sound of Writing," and his work has appeared nationally in magazines, literary journals, and newspapers such as Chicago Tribune, Kansas City Star, Civilization, Poetry, The Georgia Review, The Southern Review, and Ploughshares.
His novel Lucky Man, Lucky Woman received the 1998 Pushcart Editors' Book Award, the Barnes and Noble Discovery of Great New Writers Award, and the 1999 Independent Book Publishers Award for Fiction. Stardog, his third novel, appeared in 2000, and How Like an Angel, a University of Michegan Press Sweetwater release, appeared in May, 2005.