His apartment was on the second floor of a three-story building. On the top lived a woman and her five-year-old son. She was married to a captain in the Croat army. He was usually at the front, although sometimes he came home with his guns for a few hours of leave. The fighting was only twenty kilometers to the north, so he occasionally got away for a bit of sex or bowl of goulash. The walls were thin and it was easy to hear which one. On the bottom floor was an Italian couple who supposedly worked in the Italian consulate, but neither one of them could cook spaghetti, which he found strange, and he had not firmly decided if they were really Italian.
As he climbed the outside stairway he turned into a red glow. The color vibrated narrowly at his head, but as it progressed down his body, it became wider and rounded. He looked like a walking red raindrop from some advanced form of human storm.
His flat was dark and quiet when he went inside. At the end of the hall was his son. He poked his head into the half-opened door. The child was sleeping heavily and he laid down beside him. The room picked up his red color and he touched his son’s head with his glowing hand. He assumed his wife was asleep in their bedroom, but he didn’t know for sure. Thoughts of a “zona de tolerancia” came to him. He was in Mexico on R&R looking up at a cliff and he noticed an open door glowing with a red light from within. He climbed upward, a man searching for god. Inside he found five relatively old whores playing cards. They invited him in and he played crisscross, the original form of Texas Hold’em, for a while. They offered him sex between hands, but he politely turned down their suggestions. He went on a streak and tried to quit winners, but the women loudly cursed him. Finally, he took his most vocal critic outside and gave her some money for nothing. When he returned to his vehicle he found a tire missing. He put on the spare and drove to his hotel. There was a dog curled up at his door. The weather had gotten colder and he decided to let the dog inside his room. They built a fire together and stayed up most of the night talking about the war. The dog didn’t have much to say, but showed signs of sympathy for his words and certainly loved his silent hand.
He left the bed of his son and went into his own room. It had a beautiful view of the bay. His wife, Rebecca, was not there. After checking the rest of the house and not finding her, he became worried, but since it was almost two in the morning there was not much he could do until dawn. Distressed, he crawled naked under a sheet. In the distant quiet he heard a tiny weeping. It was coming from the closet and when he looked inside he found Rebecca there, on the floor, piled up like dirty clothes in the corner.
She turned her head to him and said, “I thought you were dead.” The words passed through his red glow and he watched them sail out of the closet and through the window and onward toward the water and the flat-line whisper of the Adriatic.