He drove cigarette-slowly home, and unlocked a quiet door, following the halflight to where alex had spread out top-shelf photo-albums on his fathers bed and was facing them without impatience. Their Norwegian forest cat was standing on an open book and watched as the liminal doorframe filled with the body of a patriach. Pilsner sat at the foot and reached, his curious hand rough against the cat’s chin and she hissed to let him know that she would turn to join his son instead. Then she was turning. Then she had turned. The moment lapsed, and Alex’s question finally came.
‘Pilsner?’ he said.
‘Was Mom real?’
‘Do you miss her?’
‘Is it like henry?
‘Yes.’ his Feet were palm-to-palm against his hands in a pretzel on the linen. The cat, having turned from him, was rubbing herself against his father’s brickfoot. They were irrelevant. The meek do not want the earth. Outside swelled the patient swaying of the carolina’s understory.
‘You said she named me.’
‘She did, she named you Alex.’
‘How did she know?’ Pilsner chewed his teeth and did not answer.
‘How did she know?’ Alex continued, but the man windowed him with his eyes until the boy shut up.