The queen bed was just the right size for Murphy. With just enough room left for Abby, sitting up against fluffy pillows, watching a tube TV perched on a pine desk near the foot of the old iron bed.
Abby knew what she was in for when she saw the listing on Turner Classic Movies. Kleenex box close at hand, Abby watched Shirley McLaine in a silly New Year’s hat sitting in a booth at a Chinese restaurant across from womanizing insurance executive, Fred MacMurry. The clock strikes midnight, the lights go out and Fred turns away from Shirley to sing Auld Lang Syne with the crowd. Song over, he turns back… Shirley is gone.
Abby understood, hugged her pillow.
Shirley runs down the street… bounds up the steps to an old brownstone… climbs the stairs to the second floor… hears a gunshot… pounds frantically on an apartment door. Agonizing seconds until Jack Lemmon opens the door, champagne bottle bubbling over.
Abby took a deep breath. It was going to be okay. Abby relaxed and watched Shirley and Jack play cards on the couch in his apartment.
“I love you, Miss Kubelik,” Lemmon says.
Shirley hands the deck of cards to Jack who looks at her with unbridled affection.
“Did you hear what I said, Miss Kubelik? I absolutely adore you.”
Abby smiled and joined Shirley in the film’s last line, “Shut up and deal.”
The theme from The Apartment filled Abby’s bedroom. Murphy watched his woman wipe her eyes. Needing his touch, Abby rolled over and wrapped her arms around the man in her life.
Buried under the covers of the double bed halfway back in his trailer, Jerry was too dead to the world to hear the whimpers coming from Winifred, on the floor beside the bed. Winifred’s legs churned on an old blanket, muffled cries escaping her body until one terrifying SHRIEK!
Jerry lurched awake, rolled out of bed onto the floor. Holding the little mutt in his arms, he stroked her head.
“It’s okay, little one. You’re okay. I’m right here. You’re safe.” Jerry massaged her ears and back, watched Winifred’s hind legs stop churning. Rocking her like a child, Jerry found himself singing…
“In the wee small hours of the morning / While the whole wide world is fast asleep / You lie awake and think about the girl / And never ever think of counting sheep…”
Winifred looked up into Jerry’s eyes, his voice comforting, strangely familiar. She snuggled closer into his body.
“When your lonely heart has learned its lesson / You’d be hers if only she would call /
In the wee small hours of the morning /
That’s the time you miss her most of all…”
Surrendering a sigh, Winifred closed her eyes. The song stirred something else in Jerry. Refusing to give in, he eased Winifred back on her blanket and crept back into bed.
Winifred waited until Jerry settled in under the covers… And then made her move, jumped up on the bed, snuggling in the hollow between Jerry’s back and butt.
Jerry stared into the dark. Feeling Winifred’s body against him, he inched away. Scrunched up at the edge of the bed, eyes open, Jerry was in no hurry to confront the dreams sleep was sure to bring.
~ ~ ~