Black stared out the window at Arnie’s house next door. Nothing had changed since the last time, but he looked anyway. The caution tape twisted in the gentle morning breeze. Black’s gaze followed the yellow stripe from the chain link fence to the scrub palmetto in the back of Arnie’s yard, then to where it disappeared on the far side of the house.
He pulled a grapefruit from the mesh bag on the counter and twisted half on the dull spike of the old Pyrex juicer. The cigarette smoke curled past his ear on its way to the ceiling. He scooped two seeds and tossed them in the sink on his way to the freezer.
Liana had harped at him about smoking in the new house. It was funny; she’d smoked like Chernobyl when he’d first brought her over from Belarus, twelve years earlier. Black could still see her in his mind, sitting on the sofa in the old house chain smoking and learning English from watching the soaps. She said if she enjoyed shivering, she could have stayed in Belarus. Eventually Liana convinced Black to take the early retirement package. They sold the house in Bloomfield and moved to Florida. Now she was gone.
Black sat in the silence, drinking his breakfast of vodka and grapefruit juice. The sinkhole had swallowed the back half of the place next door, taking Arnie’s wife and her beloved Pomeranian, Buttons, to their deaths.
From his screened porch, Black could see into Arnie’s living room and what remained of the bath. There were hand towels hanging on the rack next to the sink and half a roll of toilet paper still on the spindle. He felt like a voyeur staring into the empty house. He regarded his ice cubes – already fading in the early heat of the day. He took a swallow and felt the cool burn of acid and alcohol. Black chased the mouthful of cocktail with a long pull on his cigarette and gazed back out at the hole.