“The doctor said my heart is beating too fast. It means I’m burning myself up.”

The old man didn’t hear me come in to deliver his meal. Come into his house that gives off each comforting scent of man. Outside in the snow comes the smell of wood smoke. In the shed before the porch, grease, oil, machines. Inside the door, laundry. The old man didn’t hear me come in. He sat at the kitchen table with his back turned to me. He looked deep in thought or prayer. Classical music played loud on a huge antique stereo. I said hello, hello, but he didn’t turn. I let him be, leaving with a vision of the doctor from Steinbeck’s Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday.