Lake Effect, Spring 2012, Volume 16: Apes

J.T. Ledbetter



     Grace Fundle watched her husband at the window. He was looking at something in their back yard, but she could not see what it was. He’s acting strange these last two days, she thought, stranger than he usually acts, what with his insisting that he can’t eat the same food two days in a row, and has to save his clothes for something special, wearing instead older worn-out things. She wondered if this was how it would be now, her wrapping and unwrapping her hands in her apron after the morning dishes, him staring out the window.
     “Ruhlon, you’ve been staring out that window forever. What in the world do you see out there? I can’t see anything but that old wheelbarrow you moved into the flowerbed. Did you hear me? I asked you a question. You could answer!” She had been asking him questions for fifty years, and the last ten or so brought few replies. Ruhlon Fundle, retiree, lover of silence and privacy, retreated into himself by degrees, as one might slide into a warm bath, slowly, until the world was seen through a thin film of water and odd shapes moved above as in a dream.
     “Ruhlon, are you going to stand there all day? Your pancakes are cold, and you know how particular you are about cold food, though God only knows what difference it makes to you. What in the name of thunder are you looking at!”
     “The apes.”
     “It’s the apes. The apes are here.”
“Apes? What apes? Where do you see an ape? This is Thousand Oaks, California, not Africa or wherever apes live. Did you take your meds this morning?”