Snow Blind

PP1902

The blindness isn’t the worst of it.

No.

It’s the burning.

The burning.

Oh Jesus motherfucking son of God, the burning! It feels like my retinas have been dipped in lighter fluid and struck alight. My eyes; watering. Dripping. Gushing. Each tear stinging as it seems to peel…no, rip…yes, rip…from my eyelids and trail down my face. My eyelids twitching. Twitching. Twitching. Little shots of pain stabbing into my eyeballs.

The blindness I can take. If it’s temporary. At least that’s what I’ve read anyway. That’s what snow blindness is, ain’t it? Temporary? Please fucking God, don’t blind me. No, it is. I’m sure of it. My eyes need rest. Calm. Lack of exposure to bright lights. Temporary; that’s all it is. Like I said, that I can take. But this pain. Holy fuckballs!! It fucking stings! Burns. I might be able to deal with this darkness, this lights out shit, if there weren’t two very small but very fucking vicious fires raging in each of my goddamn eyeballs!

What the fuck I’d give to slam my head in a sink of cold water right about now. No, better still, straight into the motherfucking Chukchi Sea over yonder! Yeah, fuck the freezing temperatures, fuck it all, I reckon I’d give just about anything to do that right now.

Even bound and fucking gagged the way I am. Who gives a shit. All that needs to go in is my head. My eyes. If I slipped in, meh, fuck it! Anything will do. Anything. Anything to stop this FUCKING PAIN!!!

Aarghhhh!

I mean fuck, man. It’s just shit out of luck. That’s all. It’s Alaska for Christ’s sake! Wainwright, fucking Alaska. The fucking ass-end of the world. The coldest fucking point of the coldest fucking place on the goddamn fucking planet. In winter! In the afternoon. 33C below. How the fuck was I to know that fucker of a sun would show up like that! Fuck, it weren’t shining before I came into this place were it?! It ain’t been shining for the best part of a goddamn month or so. Na, fuck that, try three months, maybe. Who the fuck thinks about wearing sunglasses in fucking Alaska in the dead of fucking winter, I ask you! Certainly not this fucker. They mentioned it once or twice up at the oil fields, up at Prudhoe Bay, but it never fucking happens does it? Fuck, man.

If only I could just get these fucking hands free. If only….argh…if only…arghhh…if…if……..if…arggggghhhhh!!!…

‘If fucking only this fucker, whoever the fuck he or she is, would just fucking let me out of these fucking bounds I’d be able to rub my fucking eyes!! Once! That’s all I’m fucking asking for! Just fucking once!’

God fucking damn it!

Fuck, how the fuck was I supposed to know someone would be in here! These houses are supposed to be empty this time of the fucking year. Vacation homes or some fucking thing. Surely not even the fucking Indians, or fucking Inuits, natives, whatever the fuck you wanna call them, surely even they aren’t stupid enough to fucking stay here during the winter. That’s what those fuckers back at the oil fields said. Fuck, man. Easy pickings, they said. Easy fucking pickings. Some of these houses up in this region belong to big fucking oil magnates, rich sons-a-bitches. The kind that get the fuck out of dodge when this evil fucking winter hangs over the place.

She weren’t…

I mean…she shouldn’t…

She weren’t supposed to be here. She shouldn’t have been there! I was only after money for fuck’s sake. Money, some valuables. Any jewellery. The usual. Whatever the fuck was lying around. If they hadn’t fucking canned me back at the oil field I wouldn’t have needed this shit, man. She shouldn’t have…she…housekeeper maybe, but what kind of fucking housekeeper would come out to clean a fucking house in this fucking weather, I ask you?! If she’d just stayed home. Or stayed in bed. Or…or…or whatever the fuck she should have done, rather than be here. I wouldn’t have fucking needed to knock her down would I? When she sprang out on me like that? Maybe I shouldn’t have taken that hit beforehand, man. I might have…might have thought things through. Reacted calmly, maybe. But fuck man, what the fuck else is there to do up here!? And no, no fuck that. She jumped out on me, man. Coke or no fucking coke, if she hadn’t done that I wouldn’t have had to fucking sock her one. And I wouldn’t have had to run out the house and get fucking blinded by that fucking sun and have this FUCKING PAIN burning my motherfucking fucking eyes!! Would I!?!? Fuck fuck FUCK it fucking burns!

It weren’t her that hit me though…when I came back in. I’m sure of it. It weren’t her that fucking cold-cocked me. No, I mean, she were out cold when I ran…I’m sure she was still breathing though…I mean…I mean she musta been…I mean I hit her a good one but fuck man…surely she…she has to be…I mean she did hit the ground like…well, like….like….fuck man. No, no. She ain’t dead. But it was a hell of a crack when she hit that floor…I mean…no. She can’t be dead. Someone else was here. They would have helped her if she were in trouble. He. He would have. Definitely a fucking he. That hit knocked me right the fuck out. It’s surely a man. Either that or very big fucking woman, I mean…

Fuck…

What the fuck is that noise?

Oh shit man…

Is that a….?

Ah the fucking pain, this goddamn fucking pain man! I mean you can’t fucking imagine anything like…

It is…ah shit man, that thing’s growling the fucking place up…

That’s a fucking dog.

Oh fuck, fuck. What the fuck kind of fucking freak show have these fuckers got planned. Oh fuck, man. My hands. If only I could just pull these things free. If only…this fucking darkness…this fucking PAIN!

Na, fuck, a dog would be ok. That I could deal with. This thing sounds like a fucking wolf!

It’s trying to rip that fucking door to shreds. Oh fuuuuuck…fuck this man. Fuck this! I need to get fucking up…I just need to…

Ah fuck! It’s ripping into my fucking wrists! Ahh shit!

That thing sounds feral, man. Oh fuck. That needs its feeding, man. Listen to it for Christ’s sake!

Listen to the…

Listen…

….to the footsteps.

Oh shit, man. Here we go…

I can’t see a fucking thing. Ah fuck. I can’t see a…

He sounds a like a big fucker…fuck man, that’s heavy fucking industrial boots by the sounds of it…stairs…fuck, I must be in a basement or some shit…

Quiet…

Oh fuck, man, no…

Oh shit, no…

He’s unfastening the leash…he’s…she…whoever the fuck…

No that’s the door handle…

That’s the…

‘Listen man, listen, this all a fucking misunderstanding, look it’s cool. I’m fucked man. I’m fucking blind, look. Snow blindness or some shit. Honestly. I can’t see anything. Seriously! Fucking snow blindness, man. When I ran out…the sun…the light…it…Karma or shit. Ha! Fuck, man. I’ll be gone. Just untie me man, I’m gone, I need a hospital man, look, look, seriously man, I’m fucking gone, let me go and I’m gone, I fucking swear…I swear…I’m sorry man…I just needed…look, I’m…look, I’ll be gone…just keep that fucking thing away from me man, I swear…I fucking swear…I…I….hey?…look, man….hey?….’

Silence..

Maybe he’s…na…but maybe…maybe he’s thought…

Ah fuck it burns…it fucking burns!! IT FUCKING…

Shit.

The creak of the door…the snarling…the footsteps…

The darkness…

The…

Fuck.

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The Odd Case of Dr Hyde and Mr Jekyll

Written today (13th Nov) for ‘Robert Louis Stevenson Day 2018’

A tentative knock rattled against the thin wooden door. The doctor glanced up from his desk, his eyes peering almost suspiciously over the rims of his spectacles.

‘Enter.’

He announced the command with more than a little gravitas. The cultivated annunciation of one who was entirely sure, if no-one else was, of his place and standing in society – an attribute similarly to be found in many, if not all, denizens of Edinburgh’s New Town as the good doctor was himself.

A slightly haggard looking gentleman shuffled into the room, catching his visibly frayed jacket on the door handle as he did so. His hair was unkempt with a touch of the unwashed about it. A beard; patchy at best, greying throughout. His nose red, the skin of it peeling, whether through illness or alcohol consumption (or both) was yet to be determined. The doctor looked at him, barely expending any effort to conceal his disdain. Where do these vagrants come from, he often mused. This was a fine surgery in a fine part of the city and yet time and again these dishevelled souls slither their way into the premises. Such is life, such is the job, he thought.

‘Yes, yes, come in now. Come in and sit down won’t you.’

The doctor gestured towards the vacant chair at the end of the desk. The man nodded, smiling kindly, demurely even, and moved towards the seat. The doctor turned his head towards his computer screen.

‘Now, what seems to be the trouble Mr erm…Mr….?’

‘Mr Jekyll, sir. Mr John Jekyll.’

‘Yes, ok, now what seems to be the trouble Mr Jek….’ Oh for god’s sake. The thought scythed the remainder of the letters from his tongue. They’ve done this on bloody purpose. I know they have. He looked at the man, a growing rancour alighting his expression.

‘Did they put you up to this? Hmm?’ he prodded towards the door with the pen clutched in his hand.

‘I’m sorry?’ the patient looked puzzled. Wary. Unsure.

‘Come on now, don’t play daft with me now son. Did they put you up to this? Hmm? The ones out there? The comediennes at reception?’

‘Er…’

‘Come on now, spit it out. I’ve got real patients to see, I haven’t got all day for these damned useless japes!’

‘Erm…I…I really don’t…I really don’t know what you’re talking about, doctor…?’

‘Oh for christ’s sake!’ the doctor’s pen rebounded against the desk in a fury and rolled onto the floor. He paid it no heed.

The man trembled slightly. He looked unsure as to whether he should make a move for the door or lift his arms up to shield himself.

‘Still playing dumb, yes? Ok, then let me spell it out for you.’ The doctor stood up. ‘Mr John Jekyll you say, yes? Well Mr Jekyll, I’m Dr Thomas Hyde. So, Mr Jekyll, why don’t you say hello to Dr Hyde? Hmm?’

‘Oh…I…never…’ the patient stammered slightly.

‘Which one was it eh? Catriona? Yes, it’ll be that Catriona, she’s always pulling stunts like this. No, Wendy. It was Wendy wasn’t it? The bloody cheeky bisom should stick to trying to do her job, that’s what she should bloody well do. Don’t you think! Well, no, you wouldn’t. What would you know. Hmm? Ok, well, yes. Laughs and japes and all sorts of larks. Ok, ok. Bloody juveniles!’

‘Wait, so you’re actually called Dr Hyde?’ a flicker of light (something approaching humour) started to appear in the patient’s face. ‘And I’m obviously Mr Jek…’

‘Yes, yes, ok, Hyde and Jekyll. Jekyll and Hyde. Hilarious. Ok. For god’s sake. It’s done with ok. It’s done.’

The man tightened up again. The humour gone from his features. He coughed. A rough, phlegmy cough. It seemed to bring the two of them back to the matter at hand.

‘Right, well then’ said Dr Hyde, ‘what DOES seem to be the trouble in any case Mr Jek…’ he let out an exasperated sigh, ‘…Mr Jekyll…’ the words seem to catch in his throat as he forced them out.

‘Well it’s…you see the thing is…’ his gaze switched over to the other side of the room. ‘That’s quite a nice cabinet you’ve got there. Old is it?’

‘What? What?’ the doctor narrowed his eyes, draped in incredulity, and swung his gaze towards the cabinet. ‘What? Yes. Old. Yes. A Brodie, dates back to the 18th Century in fact, it was…’ What am I regaling this imbecile with historical tales for, he thought. ‘Yes, it’s old.’ He turned back. The man shifted in his chair, only slightly. As if he was correcting himself.

‘Now, like I say,’ began the doctor, his voice becoming terse, ‘I have several other important patients I need to see today so continue, what seems to be the trouble?’

‘Yes, it’s, it’s a nice piece’ the man muttered to himself.

The doctor lifted his glasses with one hand and clawed at his face with the other. The disdain, the exasperation simmering agonisingly close to the surface.

‘Sorry, yes’ continued the man, suddenly in a far clearer, more confident tone, ‘yes, what’s wrong with me you ask? Well, with me? Not much, to be honest. No, Dr Hyde. There’s nothing much the matter with me. It’s not me that you should be worried about.’

‘What?’ snapped the doctor. ‘What nonsense is this? What are you talking about, man? Come on, spit it out. If you’re not unwell then why on earth are you in my surgery?’

‘Well, I’m getting to that Dr Hyde…’ the patient straightened up in his chair. He ran a hand through his hair, tidying its appearance somewhat.

‘Yes, well bloody well get to it then before I…before I….where the bloody hell is that pen!?…yes, before I throw you out the bloody office!’ the doctor’s head swung from side to side as he searched the floor for the pen he dropped only a minute or so earlier.

‘Do you remember my Mother, Dr Hyde?

‘What?! Your Mother? No I don’t damn well remember your Mother, I’m sure I’d remember a Mrs Jekyll, wouldn’t I you bloody fool! Where is that damn pen!?’

‘Mrs Jekyll? Oh no, no, no.’ the patient seemed confident now, relaxed. ‘No, Mrs Jekyll wasn’t her name. Mrs Silver was her name. Mrs Silver, remember? The one with the damaged leg? With the limp? Remember?’

‘What?’ distracted, the doctor continued to search for then pen, hearing only fragments of the man’s story. ‘Mrs Silver? Yes. Mrs Silver. I remember. I saw the pen fall on the floor. There, it fell just there for goodness sake, it…ah’

The doctor looked up and saw the patient holding the pen in his hand.

‘Well pass it over then, why didn’t you say you…wait, Mrs Silver. Yes, I do remember her. Died a few months back, yes?’

‘More like a year, Dr Hyde.’

‘Yes, yes, ok. Sad business all that, yes. Silver. Remarried had she? Different name and all?’ he moved his hand towards the pen but the patient seemed to withdraw it slightly. The doctor raised an eyebrow.

‘Remarried?’ answered the patient. ‘No, no she never remarried. She was never called Jekyll. Neither was I, actually, doctor. Sorry, that should be neither AM I.’

‘Well what the damn…’ uncertainty was creeping into the doctor’s voice.

‘Do you remember the medicine you gave my Mother, Dr Hyde? The stuff you said would ease the pain slightly on her leg? The stuff you sent her off with because you were fed up dealing with her? Do you remember that special potion you gave her?’

‘I’m sorry, what? I…what?’

‘No you won’t will you, Dr Hyde? Old age they said. Old age. But no, that wasn’t it. She was only 72 for god’s sake. That’s not old. Not these days! No, it was that medicine, that potion you gave her. She took a reaction to it. That’s what did for her. You knew. Or at least you should have known. But no, you didn’t and don’t care two bits for the ‘lesser’ of your patients do you? No, unless they’re the landed New Town gentry you don’t care in the slightest.’

‘Sir, I can assure you that whatever you believe…’

‘Don’t interrupt me Doctor, I’ll warn you…’

The doctor stood up, anger coursing through him. That was a step too far. No matter what this wretch incorrectly believed or didn’t believe, there was a level of respect which should and should not be afforded to one in one’s own office and this was far below those standards.

‘Now, you horrible dishevelled figure of a man, whatever your name may be, I demand that you leave this office at once before I call the authorities on you this instant! What you accuse me of is nothing short of slander and I can assure you my highly-respected lawyers would have a field day with the likes of you and your family. So, get out. Out!’

As Dr Hyde stretched his hand towards the door, in the theatrically gravitas-laden way of his, he saw the man he had known as Mr Jekyll jump up from his chair. The movement was quick, almost stealthy. He had barely seen the pen flash past him before it plunged deep into his neck and tore. Tore at his throat, tore at his neck.

His body buckled beneath him as he slumped heavily to the floor. He could taste the pool of bloody swilling below his head on the floor. Could see the scarlet stains besmirching his once-immaculate doctor’s coat.

Darkness encroaching.

Darkness engulfing.

He saw the patient, the once-coined Mr Jekyll, rush quickly out of the room. Bloody footprints marking his trail.

Darkness.

An end, he thought, as he finally slipped away.

An end to the odd case of Dr Hyde and Mr Jekyll.

Murder On The Fife Circle

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8:29amA two-carriage train stutters into Dalgety Bay train station. 14 minutes later than its intended arrival time. A mass of commuters begin their slow traipse towards the doors in anticipation of their opening. Forming clusters. Ragged triangles of bodies judging their every step and move, waiting to burst onto the train and claim any available or seat or space in the daily space-deprived, sweat-inducing carnival that is the rush hour Fife to Edinburgh train service.

Trees, fully in bloom, resplendent in their greenery, in their foliage, surround the station’s northern platform. Unmoving. Silent. Ornamental.

Eventually the doors shunt open, signalling the stampede of bodies to follow. The crush. The swirl of selfishness as every man and woman nudge, bump and shove their way onto the train with varying degrees of success.

 

8:30amWith every seat already claimed long before, the aisles and gangways burst at the seams with standing passengers. The areas between the doors strain under the weight of bodies. Cheek to jowl, toe to toe; glum looking commuters come into contact with one another. Space to move, air to breathe; both are minimal.

As the train slowly sets off the merest jolt sets in motion a perilous balancing act for the standing passengers. With nothing to hold onto for support, the vast majority of these poor souls bump into one another. Those standing in the aisles judder, scrambling frantically to latch their hand onto the roof racks for support. All the while looking down at the seated passengers with more than a hint of resentment. And no little anger.

 

8:32amThe temperature throughout the train rises. Sweat begins to form and drip from many of those clustered together in the aisles and gangways. Annoyed sighs and murmurs audibly begin to trickle into the air.

 

8:33amThe rain speeds past its next scheduled stop of Inverkeithing. Several dozen passengers are left disgruntled, many hurling profanities at the passing train, as they linger on the platform. Those on the train look in with a mixture of bemusement and, for some, relief. No announcement accompanies this impromptu decision.

The temperature continues to rise. Jackets, shirts, dresses begin to lightly stick to the skin of some of those standing. Disgruntled, sleep-deprived, unsmiling sardines forced together in a joyless journey.

 

8:35amA passenger, a bespectacled male in his mid-to-late forties, cries out in pain and collapses in the space between the end of one aisle and the area between the doors. The mass of huddled bodies means no-one sees a blood-strewn penknife being withdrawn from the unfortunate victim’s lower torso.

Screams break through the carriage as blood is seen spilling from the collapsed man. He drifts rapidly into unconsciousness. His breathing laboured to the point of barely being there.

Panic begins to spread. Shouts of ‘Stop the train!!’ and ‘He needs a doctor…’ intermingle with others suggesting someone, anyone, makes their way towards the driver and/or conductor (should the latter even be on the train) to inform him or her of the situation.

But no-one budges.

No-one.

All seemingly too worried about giving up their space. All too concerned about losing an inch in this, by now, daily battle. The hysteria swiftly dies down. A few disgusted expressions emerge on the face of some before fizzling out to blend in with the mass of sheepish, slightly-ashamed-but-not-nearly-enough, faces turning down towards the floor.

In the aisle the stabbed man, lying in a dark pool of his own blood, splutters his last breath. Unaided or assisted in his death throes.

 

8:37amAnother passenger screams and collapses to the floor. Again with blood seeping from the torso. Again, the withdrawn pen-knife is not seen. This time the victim is a younger blonde woman, aged somewhere in her twenties. Blood trickles down her dress as she crumples to the floor not far from the dead man. The carriage maintains an icy, surreal silence. A muffled beat and vocals can be heard as her earphones fall lazily from her ears. Blood splutters from her mouth as she lies in agony.

A smattering of gasps and screams are heard throughout the train but just as swiftly die out. Glances are exchanged. But no action is taken. Aside from a slight shuffling of feet as the others adjust their footing to make space for the victims.

The woman attempts to cry out but can muster no more than a gargled noise that dissolves into silence.

 

8:39amThe train slows down as it approaches the North Queensferry station. There seems to be a collective brace amongst the passengers, possibly ready to spill out of the train as soon as the doors open. Fleeing in terror, in an attempt to get help.

But no, as the train stops and the doors open no-one moves. Paralysed less by fear and more by an irrational determination to complete their journey. A handle of passengers attempting to board the train are rebuffed, ignored even. Their angry remonstrations are met with silence. The doors close. An uneasy shared silence again tightens its grip within the carriage as the train slowly moves off towards the Forth Bridge.

 

8:45amThe train careers past Dalmeny station, again paying no heed for the multitude of passengers waiting to board. Angry, shocked faces are seen only in a blur as the carriages speed by.

Within the train three more passengers lie dead on the floor close to the first two victims. All three stabbed in quick succession. Two younger suited men and one woman in her late fifties. The floor swims with blood. The stench of death permeates the train. Still a bizarre, stifled silence holds dominion. But the faces. Once sheepish, many are now contorted in absolute fear. Silent tears stream from the faces of some. A gripping terror places its spectral hands around all.

 

8:49amAs the train rattles past the airport another passenger is stabbed. This time this particular victim (being seated at the end of the aisle) slumps forward onto the table in front of them, blood spilling from their side. The heavily bearded man, somewhere between his late twenties and early thirties, collapses to the floor of the aisle, his corpse careering against the legs of those tightly-packed together between the seats.

This time the bloodied-knife is spotted disappearing back into the mass of bodies by some. Violent cries greet this latest killing. Staggered lurches of fear escape from the throats of those up and down the train. Screams of ‘Help!!’ ‘No no no’ and other such exclamations pepper throughout the carriages.

 

8:50amSlowly, methodically, a small middle-aged man – bags skirting his eyes, his posture hunched ever-so-slightly – steps over the corpses and calmly sits himself down in the now-vacated, and blood-drenched, seat.

He casually places the bloodied knife on the table in front of him. For all to see.

He closes his eyes and slumps back into the air. A satisfied sigh accompanies this move.

The other passengers look on in disbelief.

Panic spreads. The volume rises.

Screams, shouts, cries, screeching fill the carriage as a contented smile spreads across the man’s face.

 

9:01am – Grief-stricken commuters file off the train at a busy Waverley Station. Many run, fleeing for safety. Others throw-up on the platform as soon as they step off the train. The stench of the dead victims, the horror of the situation, being too much for them to contain in the depths of their throats. The murderer remains on the train, sitting calmly as all others depart.

The British Transport Police rush onto the train almost immediately after the last passenger departs and apprehends the unresisting offender. He calmly gives his name as his arms are held tightly behind his back, the murder weapon pushed from the table. Les Mahagow. 54 years old. A long-time resident of Dalgety Bay.

As he is led from the train in handcuffs, surrounded by four policemen, he is smiling as he passes by the devastated passengers. Smiling calmly and with supreme satisfaction.

‘I finally got a seat’ he can be heard saying. ‘Finally. That’s all I’ve ever wanted. Just a seat. Not crammed in, not standing, just a seat. I never ever get a seat. Never. But now. Finally. Finally. That’s all I ever….

…all I ever…

“LES!”

…ever…

“LES! FOR FUCK’S SAKE. THAT’S YOUR TEA READY! STOP PLAYING WITH YOUR TOYS AND GET YOUR ARSE DOWN HERE! LES!!!’

Les’ attention is abruptly shaken. He stares down at the model train set beneath him. It runs the length of the attic. A sprawling, expansive model, complete with hills, trees, commuters and even a miniature replica of the Forth Bridge for good measure. The room is dark but for a small lightbulb draining its way down to the finish. He removes the old-style conductor’s hat from his head. Still in a trancelike daze. He looks at the train on the track below. The two carriage train. He can almost feel the sweat clinging to his body, virtually smell the scent of blood hanging in the air.

“LES!! THAT’S YOUR TEA READY!! FOR GOD’S SAKE!”

“Erm…’ he dusts himself down and switches off the light, allowing himself one last look at the train set. ‘I’m…coming. Erm…just coming.”

“WHAT!?”

“I said I’m just COMING!” his volume increases towards the end of his answer as his throat begins to regain some semblance of liquidity.

 

‘Just coming, aye’ mutters his wife as she strolls across to the cooker and turns the hob dials off. ‘I better you bloody are you dirty get. Away up there playing with your little fucking toys. A big child that’s all you are. Pathetic.’

She hears her husband’s footsteps slowly drifting down the stairs as she lays the two plates of food on the table of the adjoining dining room. She flicks on the small portable TV on in the corner of the room, automatically switching the channel to BBC1 for their annual nightly dose of Reporting Scotland.

She hears her husband’s footsteps slow to a halt as they approach the kitchen.

“C’mon Les, your tea will get cold if you dither any bloody longer!” she says as she shovels a forkful of food into her mouth.

Tonight on Reporting Scotland…

She listens with one ear for her husband as she keeps her gaze fixed on the TV. Still no sound. She shrugs, disinterested.

‘…and, Murder on the Fife Circle. We have the latest from the scene as several commuters were tragically murdered on their way to work this morning…

“Jesus…” she mutters, laying the fork down slowly next to her plate.

She stares at the TV. Transfixed by the horror of the story.

A flicker in the periphery of her vision catches her eye.

She feels a shiver creep through her as she looks up to see her husband standing motionless in the doorway.