MB: No, I’m going to talk with him now… Right, “chat” — the chat thingy, except that it’s not really chatting because it’s in writing. Yes. Okay already. Do I press the button every time it— oh look at that! It’s writing what I say! Wait — does that mean he’s there now? Hello?
TB: You’re adorable. Did you wash your hands or will there be dried bread dough in my keyboard when I get back?
MB: Why can’t we do video this time? Are you okay? Peter says they’re moving you to a ventilator soon…
TB: The Mayo’s WiFi is strained. Chat enables more patients to communicate. So… what was the tire pressure?
MB: Oh, for fuck’s sake—NO, DON’T WRITE THAT! Goddamn thing. Your son kept me on the phone for three hours yesterday doing that! They’re all 34.5 PSI, which probably means Pete’s Shitty Increments.
TB: Pounds per square inch, darling. So, you were right after all.
MB: Don’t sound so surprised. It was just a spin-out from crappy road conditions — I wish you had just let AAA pick me up after.
TB: It has been my privilege to take care of you for nearly 25 years. I could not yield the privilege to another easily. Certainly not to a tow-truck driver who ended up having COVID.
MB: But I only got it mildly and now you’re…
TB: Yes. I have always been thorough in everything I do. You must admit that it has made me an excellent husband.
MB: It made you a pain in the ass is what it did! “My love, I see you used your credit card at Target again instead of the RedCard, foregoing a 5% discount of $1.96. Was that why you misplaced the receipt?” I can’t believe you actually calculated the discount I could have gotten.
MB: Tim? Sweetie, are you there?
TB: (I’m sorry, ma’am. We’re having trouble with the chat function. I’m Nancy, I’ll be typing what he says now. I just have to say it’s been an honor meeting him.)
MB: Yes, well, it usually is. Just be careful with your grammar, honey. Will the WiFi let us switch to video for a little bit?
TB: (Well, the WiFi would, but…)
MB: WHAT? YOU LIED TO ME, FUCKER! LET ME SEE YOU! I know you’re sick. Stop treating me like a child.
TB: Allow me my vanity, my love. How was your hair appointment Monday?
MB: (sniffs) Fine. Peter called five times while I was gone. Then, he goes and turns on that damn nanny cam because he thinks I must be on the floor with a broken hip! He’s just like you, you know…
TB: Yes, he is. I taught him well.
MB: He worries too much.
TB: Not if he worries about his mother. It gives me peace to know he’s taking care of you. Don’t be too hard on him.
MB: No… I won’t. I promise… I did pose Gracie’s Barbies having an orgy in front of the nanny cam, though. If he keeps doing it, I’ll bring in the Paw Patrol.
TB: …that’s my girl.
MB: 25 years… I can’t believe it’s been so long. You’d better get back here soon. I don’t know what I’ll do if… (sniffs)
TB: …you’ll go to the lake… to Pipestone.
MB: Wh-why would I go there?
TB: Pete says the writer using the cabin has “gone all Jack Kerouac.” He wanted to call the police, evict him. I told him to wait… I thought you could go talk with Kurt, instead. I figured I owed him that.
MB: You… you knew? All this time?
TB: The title search… it was his family’s cabin that you had the foundation rescue. It was why he went to the camp that year… the year he met you.
MB: You have to know that I never… we never…
TB: I know, my darling girl. You have been always a true and faithful wife to me… although I did not deceive myself into believing that you did not have to leave a part of your heart behind in marrying me. Our son… our life together… everything special in my life came from the sacrifice of your heart. I only hope… I have given you nothing to regret.
MB: (quiet sobs) I married the best man… I’ve never doubted that.
TB: Then… my dearest love… if this becomes our last goodbye, I want you to go. Go back to Pipestone.