Outlandish New Ways to Punish Strangers HTML version

An old man mouths the word ‚walk? to his wife as they leave the restaurant. It’s a
question. She doesn’t particularly want to walk home but a suggestion of romance, a
caress of her hips, and she narrows her eyes in hesitant agreement. It’s June. With
twilight came a light breeze. The streets are quiet, peaceful. They walk leisurely, hands
swinging together, fingers lazily entwined.
He takes his hand away to motion at a bright yellow awning hanging over a
nearby deli. He signs to her, his thin fingers elaborating on the color yellow. He’s been
noticing it more often – yellow seems to be the new color for the city of Philadelphia.
His wife smiles and they stop for a single car to pass. He uses the delay as an excuse to
brush aside the thin black strap of her dress and kiss the nape of her neck. She smells
pinot noir on his breath.
They don’t kiss but smile, the car long passed.
‚You need to take it easier on him,? she signs, bringing up an earlier
conversation about their oldest son.
‚He can be great,? he signs back, stubborn as always.
Her head turns to check the traffic. Her eyes catch his, look past to see no cars
coming, then return. He’s staring at her. It’s a familiar look, sort of a sleepy adoration.
She sees it occasionally, mainly in the morning. The old man likes to dress by his side of
the bed, quietly watching his beautiful wife breathe in and out, watching the covers rise
and fall as she sleeps. He knows some mornings she’s awake since her breathing is less