Beau hands me the phone, rousing me from an early-morning doze after a night of thunder, rain, hail, high winds and three hours without power so that we worried about the basement flooding because there’s no electricity to run the sump pumps.

“I don’t know who it is,” he says.

“Hello?”

The voice on the other end answers, “It’s me.”

I think, it’s Beau’s mom. That doesn’t make sense. Why wouldn’t he recognize her voice?

The voice continues, “Burly killed himself.”

“Inez?” Now I know who it is.

Fuckin’ Burly.

I’d been thinking of him yesterday, remembering a time in the passenger seat while we made our way in a four-wheel-drive out of their slippery snowy curvy long farm-driveway and I don’t remember what I said as he drove but he laughed and said “I like you.”
One time when I was staying at their place, he came home from working out of town for weeks or months and offered me his spot in his and Inez’s king-sized bed so that I would be more comfortable (than sleeping on the hide-a-bed). Of course I refused; as if I’m going to sleep with his wife while he sleeps on the couch!
And one night as I got ready to climb under the blankets on that foldout couch and he himself rose from watching TV to go up to bed, he walked over to the stairs and then turned and came back, kissed me lightly on the cheek, and went.

I’m walking around in a bit of a daze, processing this news, I guess, and trying to figure out how to be there for Inez. I will probably just literally be there; unless she specifically tells me not to go. She has a sister who lives close to her and the two of them are quite tight, so I imagine she’ll be looked after. And their three kids, though devastated, are with her, and they stayed at her son’s last night. Maybe I’ll be the one who stays with her when she has to sleep at their house again and figure out how she’ll move forward.

God damn it, Burly. We all knew you had a problem with alcohol but we thought liver disease would be what got you. Not this.

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