a wall, a knock, a cough

I rolled my story dice and decided to write something – ANYTHING – to distract me

“Marco,” Johan said. “How are ya, man. You good?”

No answer. Johan knocked again.

“Dude, you alive in there?”

Marco answered with a series of harsh coughs.

“Come on, man. Let me in.”

More groaning. Probably from the pain. The coughing wouldn’t let up. This was Marco’s second go-round with COVID and it nearly killed him. His lungs hadn’t recovered And now here he was with it a second time.

“I know you come out when I go to work,” Johan pointed out.

Johan worked at a factory on the midnight shift, eleven to seven, Sunday night to Thursday night. They’d met on a Friday night after Johan had been up for over twenty four hours – which is what he loved about the midnight shift; every weekend was a long weekend if you could stay up long enough.

“Did you have enough soup?”

The cupboard of Campbell’s soup reduced by one or two cans every day. Johan deliberately watched them disappear, along with the cans of flaked tuna, chicken and salmon. He figured that would get Marco to at least talk to him, if only to buy more food. Maybe then he could convince Marco to let him help.

No joy. Two days ago, after the last can of flaked chicken disappeared (Johan despised it – reminded him of how all his childhood and adolescent meals came from a can or a drive through window – but he knew Marco loved a chicken salad sandwich so he bought it because he loved him) Johan felt sure he might come out ahead. But only yesterday the cupboard filled up again. Marco had discovered that Uber delivers groceries.

“Come on, Marco. Talk to me.”

Johan banged on the door now, trying to get his attention, to maybe annoy him and get him to rip open the door and yell at him, ask him what the hell was he trying to do. He wanted Marco to yell at him so he knew it would be okay. Marco wouldn’t be Marco if he wasn’t yelling. And now, he could barely speak.

Turned his back to the door and slid to the floor, putting his head in his hands and waited for some sign that Marco was okay.

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