Dale and I sit in opposite corners of the nearly empty McDonald’s where I come to grade freshman English themes — he by the front window and I in the back near the restrooms. Twenty years ago we worked together, but now Dale is homeless, and I pretend not to know him.
Carrying the baby horizontally across my chest like a football usually calms him, and often puts him to sleep. But not tonight. He’s still crying, cycling through his whole repertoire: the screechy fear cry; the lower, throaty demand cry; the pitiable gasping interspersed with slobbery whimpers.
A new couple has moved into the apartment next door to mine in this ancient Victorian. They are using the same bed as the previous couple, Nicole and Peter, whose dramatic lovemaking I would hear quite clearly as their headboard pounded my living-room wall.