It was a muggy night in early August in Asheville, North Carolina, and my friend Layne Redmond was sitting up in bed. ...Which was already cause for me to secretly hold my breath. Had she taken her evening dose of morphine? Was her eldest cat still shut out on the porch? What had we forgotten? Had I done yet another incredibly bone-headed thing and, if so, what would it be this time?
"You know, Dave," she began. Of the two times she'd started a sentence like this before, one of them had been because I'd left a pair of wet dish sponges on a painted-wood windowsill, and the other had been because I'd completely blocked the next-door neighbor's driveway.
"You know," she repeated, "I'm really, really glad you're here."
I tried not to sigh loudly enough that she could hear me from the door.
"So am I," I said. Because I was.
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