Laura stood at the kitchen window watching her two sons play with the soccer ball while straining the hot water from the peas for dinner. She heard the sound of the side door and watched as Duke set down his lunch box and placed his jacket on the hook.
As his large strong arms wrapped around her tiny torso in a full embrace she could smell the woodsy smoke he had been training the captains in all day. It never left his clothes no matter how much she washed them. But on those nights when he pulled the long shift, or times when he wasn’t home, she would find some of his dirty shirts and put them on. He was the only man she truly loved. She felt safe in his arms.
The boys knew that sound at the door and scurried in to find mom and dad hugging. A look of sucking on lemons blinked across each face with a unified “yuck – that’s dad your kissing.”
“Go clean up, we are going to eat soon.” She encouraged them away for another few private moments with Duke. “How was you day?”
“It was long not seeing you.” He said with one more kiss “How was your day?”
“Boys go to school, I wash clothes, clean house, boys have soccer practice, get home from practice, I make dinner” she pause and smiled “then you show up, and carry me up the stairs.”
Duke smiled as he picked her up with ease. She wasn’t a petite woman, but fit perfectly with his vigorous lumberjack frame. He carried her up the steps to the third floor bedroom and gently let her down on the bed.
He changed into clean clothes while she caught him up on the latest news of the neighborhood and PTA. A few minutes later they were at the living room table eating dinner with the twins.
Two hours, three chapters of “Robinson Caruso” for the twins, and four trips to the bathroom later, Duke and Laura were in bed watching the late news. October in Detroit was the start of fire season. Local news anchors reported a rise in the number of abandon homes and buildings – prime targets for hoodlums and arsonists. Duke nearly flinched when the news man said the two words he hated most - Devils Night, the night before Halloween.
“Hey” Laura rolled to him bed, she knew, “It might not be bad this year.”
Duke looked her in the eyes and smiled “I known, I know.”
“Neighborhood watch programs have been really effective these last few years.”
He flashed his fake smile once again, “I know.”