The Man Who Cancelled the Newspaper
He called The Courier the day after they buried Priscilla. As town librarian for decades, she’d been the one who read it, occasionally calling his attention to local news. His only consistent use of the paper was to clip the crossword they did in bed together each night before turning out the light. He tried a puzzle the night after the funeral, but didn’t complete it.
And he clipped the obituary, of course. Worried it from pocket to pocket, and finally folded it into his leather-bound copy of Alcestis. The wife who died before her husband.
Max’s spaniel insistence on barking to greet the thump of the paper on the doorstep had long been a signal to spoon up with her for another half-hour’s doze. That morning after the funeral, the paper arrived just as he’d finally dropped off. He gave up, got up, and stared at himself, hollow-eyed, in the bathroom mirror. Most of the ancient Greeks shaved off their beards as a sign of mourning, although some displayed their grief by leaving beards untrimmed. Priscilla used to love running her fingers through his bush; she said it distracted attention from his bald pate and chin wattles. He would leave it untrimmed.
“Okay, Max. I hear you.” He let the dog out for a minute, watching that he didn’t trot off visiting the neighborhood, and picked up the newspaper.