As they were eating, Gus said, “Big guy we rescued must weigh at least 210. We had to stop and reposition him to get him through the door into the bedroom. He was still shaking so hard we had to maneuver him, one leg at a time under the covers.”
Jon-Oliver added, “Carla piled on every quilt in the house, plus the electric blanket turned up to high, he was shaking so hard.” Jon-Oliver paused and whispered to himself, “I don’t expect he’ll live.”
Jon-Oliver came to sit beside Sonia on her left side. She still
held onto Jani’s left hand. Sonia and Jon-Oliver looked so deeply into each other’s eyes that they forgot everyone else for a moment.
Pressing Sonia’s hand, Jon-Oliver whispered, “Let’s sit Jani in the bedroom beside the guy in bed. Maybe she can say something to him in Russian if he wakes up.” Sonia studied his face with his curly, brown-gold beard and kind, smiling eyes. She took a minute to consider this. “Don’t worry,” said Jon-Oliver, “the guy’s wrung out. He could use a common touch.”
Sonia nodded, imagining being in the soft dark of the bedroom. It didn’t sound as if the Uzbek would wake up anytime soon. Maybe Jani would fall asleep. What they’d do with her then, they’d figure out later.
With Jon-Oliver and Sonia on either side of her, Jani let them lead her into the bedroom and sit her beside the figure in the bed. They placed her long-fingered hand in the man’s huge, quiet one.
“Call us if you need us,” Sonia added. Jani murmured.
As Jon-Oliver and Sonia left her there, Carla locked the bedroom door. “Don’t want any escapes,” she said, nodding with her perpetual scowl. Sonia had whispered to her how, twice, Jani had tried to run from the motel into the cold. So far, after maybe half an hour, no one had heard anything from behind the door.
At the table Jon-Oliver twisted just enough to look at Sonia and enjoy the softness of her face under her curly bangs. Her cheeks were pink from the cold—probably chapped, he thought. Her lips were relaxed, and she gave him a brief smile. Thank the stars and garters, as his mother used to say, they’d all come out of the storm into this softly lit room, nothing funereal or tomblike about it. And he had the good fortune to be sitting beside this woman he was pretty sure he adored, who smiled at him with a sweet message in her eyes. Her heart into his breast was given, he thought, rearranging Chaucer a bit. And his into hers.
You, my man, he told himself, mimicking his only black friend from graduate school—a man of impeccable taste who used to come into class looking like the Ivy Leaguer he was–You, my man, Jon-Oliver told himself as he took Sonia’s hand and kissed it, you have hit the jackpot.