Robin Heart Revisited

Sadie was sitting at the foot of the bed when he came out. Daniel Tiger was afraid of going to school and Lady Aberlin was there at the clock-house reassuring him. She looked up at her companion. He was naked except for a small towel around his waist. His musculature was toned and looked strong but stretched thin. She could see most of his ribs.

 “and Jesus threw aside the rock and shouted Lazarus, come out!” she said.

“Heh. Sorry, couldn't manage to get clothes back on.” he said. His back seemed to be forever hunched and he peered through his wet hair. The shaking had subsided somewhat. He drank the shot, regarded the candy bar for a minute but turned it away and poured himself another half glass. She looked him over once more, tattoos scattered across his back, a couple were jail-house blue. He shuffled over to the bed and sat down next to her.

“Is this what we're watching?” he asked.

She turned and looked at him. “Yes,” she said “Yes it is. You got a problem with Daniel Tiger or something?”

“No ma'am, not at all.”

On the television Daniel Tiger was at his clock house. He asked “But what if the other children don't like me?” to which Lady Aberlin replied “I will go with you on the first day. Would that help you not be afraid?” Daniel Tiger said “Yes.”

Billie Joe laid back and, with drink still in hand, began the arduous process of climbing under the covers. He somehow managed to keep from exposing himself. Sadie spent this time examining the relationship between Daniel Tiger and Lady Aberlin.

“When I was sick, I would stay home from school and me and my mom would get up on the couch and watch this show.” Billie Joe said.

“Yeah,” Sadie said, “Me and my momma did that too. I can remember being really happy then.”

Billie Joe slumped down under the covers. “I'm sorry.” he said

“Don't worry about it. I needed a couple days vacation anyhow.”

He felt like crying again, but stifled it. “Thanks.”

“How long does this usually take?” she asked.

He lay there thinking for a second, then sat up “Look at me.” he said, and opened his mouth wide and stuck out his tongue.

“Say what?” she said

“My tongue.” he said somewhat garbled. “How bad is it shaking?”

All she could think was that he had pretty good teeth for a drug addict. The man's tongue trembled, but not too terribly, she thought. “I think you're doing pretty good?” she said

“Are my pupils really dilated?”

“Not as bad as earlier.” she said “You seem better than then. I thought I was gonna have to find a hospital.”

He chuckled “Yeah that or take my money and leave me in a ditch.”

“The thought crossed my mind. Yeah.” she said.

“Do you wanna take off?” he said.

“Do you still need a ride?”

“Well yeah, but I got thumbs too, if need be.”

“I think I can stick around for a while longer.” she said

“I know I'm slowing you down, I'll make it up to you.” he said

“I know you will. You're driving us through Oklahoma or Nebraska or whatever. We start running across corn fields? I'm taking some of your pills and sleeping through that mess.”

“Deal” he said and got under the covers again, shivering still. “I'm not a bad guy, I promise.”

She didn't say anything to this. “You can sleep in the bed, too. I won't try anything.”

“Yeah, because I will whip your shakey white ass if you do.” she said.

He chuckled at this and was soon fast asleep.

Much late he woke next to her, covered in sweat and shaking violently. His mind had been turning in on itself. Sadie woke up, “You okay there, soldier?”

“No.” he said “No, I'm not.”

“What can I do?”

“I don't need you to trust me. That's fine. Really” he said “I mean, I'll be okay in a little while. I swear.”

“Billie Joe, what do you need from me?” she said

“Just, I dunno. If you could just...hold me.” he said “Please.”

“Yeah.” she said “I can do that.”

She put her arms around him and pulled him close. He was clammy and wet and trembling all over again. As she fell back to sleep she worried he might fade away completely on her. Then another dream, or memory really. One spring, when she was a little girl, she found a baby robin once that had fallen from it's nest. She held it in one hand and climbed up the tree to return him. After the wings had stopped fluttering, she could feel the quick breathing and even the heartbeat of the creature in her hand. She thought the man in her arms felt exactly like that.