The following is fiction, but it’s short.

Notes From the Underground During the Time of the Coronavirus

Bob Kalish observes life from a placid place on the island of Arrowsic (motto: You’re not in Georgetown yet). You can reach him at [email protected]

June 20 – Ah, I can smell spring. Three weeks I have been in lockdown quarantine. Here in the suburbs it is quiet, but in the poor neighborhoods not so good, from what I can tell from the scenes on television. The rules are simple and stark: Wash your hands as often as you can, don’t make friends with anyone not wearing a face mask and especially anyone not washing their hands AND not wearing a face mask.

Things would be a lot less lonely with my wife by my side, but she was at the home of W when the edict went into effect and Homeland Security troops were sent into the street armed with spray cans of Purell. G was at W’s house at the time the edict went into effect and hasn’t been home since. She used to phone every other day at the least. W’s husband is an oral surgeon and they live in a smart development behind gates. That won’t stop the virus causing this horror.

July 4 – There’ll be no Independence Day holiday this year. No parade. No fireworks. And probably no G.

She phoned me last week to inform me that our life together was over. Just like that. When the pandemic was over, she and the oral surgeon would be taking off for parts unknown. I think Novocain had something to do with it. You know, her thinking process. You got to be careful with oral surgeons.

Sept. 20 – The thought of winter fills me with dread. I have finally accepted the reality that my wife is not coming home. Ever. We will end up a statistic, joining the long list of couples whose lives have been inexorably changed by a stupid virus.

Just the other day Z called me on the phone and said his 12-year-old grandson wants to set up a conference with me using Zoom. All went well, but all I could pick up on the screen was a scene from the security camera at the local laundromat.

It is so eerie to see on television cities like New York and Rome and Paris deserted, the streets empty like it was the season finale of “The Bachelor” on television.

A doctor friend told me a story of when he and his wife, a nurse, were on duty at the hospital when some kind of emergency occurred having to do with radiation and about 12 or 13 doctors and nurses all dressed in protective masks, gloves, the whole thing, squeezed into a small room.

Everyone was masked and gloved. While waiting the doctor sees who he thinks is his wife in the corner, walks up to her and in a dramatic whisper says how much he has loved her and what a privilege their marriage has been and he just wanted to say those words here and now.

“That’s sweet,” a friendly voice said from behind the mask, “but I’m Julie. I believe your wife is over there.” She pointed across the room.

Stay safe. Stay well.

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