Robert opens the backdoor and lets Bubba out. The grassy backyard is extraordinarily large for a city row home. Aged wooden fence enclosing him, Bubba can run around to his heart’s content.
As is his Saturday morning ritual, Robert ascends the rear stairs with his freshly poured cup of coffee. He breathes heavily when he reaches the third floor and thinks of younger years when scaling the Art Museum steps would’ve felt like less work. Easing into his most comfortable chair, purchased twenty years ago when he was a ripe twenty five year old rebel, he places the coffee mug on a table to his right and lights a cigarette. The chair faces out the bay window protruding from the third floor’s back room, his study, and he sees a landscape his wife wouldn’t recognize.
For the best, he supposes, to replace abandoned buildings and old, empty warehouses, relics from an industrial economy long since displaced from Philadelphia to China and wherever else. He sees the many young folks starting their Saturdays and imagines himself in their shoes, new to the neighborhood, not a care in the world, meeting his wife for the first time at Ortlieb’s on a Tuesday night.
Closing his eyes, drifting, Robert strolls with her down 2nd Street, drives while she adjusts the radio, stands beside her in their garden. . . .
Bubba barks loudly, startling his owner. Robert re-lights the cigarette and walks downstairs to join the chocolate lab. He lets Bubba lick remnants of coffee from his mug as he stares off into uninterrupted blue sky, trying hard to feel something other than sadness.