UNITED STATES—”The silence filtered through charcoal silence. I want to let it all out…”

“Well this forced the issue, something like the fall had to happen. And now it’s bringing everything out into the open.”

“Like the fact that you’re an embezzler…?

Davy glares at her.

“Can’t you tell when I’m kidding?”

“Freud said there are no jokes.”

“That may be true. Have you ever thought your comedy may be simply another form of evasion?”

“My god, I never thought of that,” Davy says. “We are so fragile. Look at Saville, his spindly little legs. I’m turning into one of those pet people who spend college tuition on the vet.”

“Trying to change the subject.”

“I didn’t know there was a subject? Karen you’re opening my eyes in this passive-aggressive way. Like mom.”

Betty starts awake,  What are you talking about?”

“Cognitive dissonance.”

“What did you say?”

“Cognitive dissonance.”

“Oh, I don’t know what you’re saying,” says the mom and drifts back off to sleep.

“She divorced me from love of music, you know. The shrink was right. Mom is to blame for everything. She was to blame for the good as well as the bad.”

“Is something the matter?” the mom says.

“It’s all right.”

“You always did what you wanted, Davy,” says Karen.

“You think I did what I wanted.”

“You always had this creative thing going. I admire that. Mom made me work with her and help with the bookkeeping.

I did everything she wanted, but she always wanted something more. And I went to college, and that wasn’t enough.”

“It never is.”

“So I had to take special training to get a job. And by the time I got the job, all mom wanted was that I sit at the foot of the bed in the dark room and listen to her while my marriage went to pot.”

“Can someone open the door just a little wider,” the mom says. “I like to see what’s going on in the hallway.”

“Sometimes I could strangle myself. I could strangle her,” she points to Betty.

“I bet you could strangle me,” Davy says with some heat.

“I know I could.”

She raises him off the ground; his feet twitch.

“Wow, you’ve got a strong grip.”

“It’s all that time driving a forklift.”

“Whatever you do, don’t call me embezzler. I prefer thief.”

“You’re a petty embezzler,” she says, no seething. “I made my money.”

“You married into it.”

“I made it and married into it.”

“I better watch my mouth, I can see you’re getting upset.”

Saville starts barking like crazy, a high-pitched piercing cry that comes from the Chihuahua blood in him.

“It would be a sham for your kids to get along well, and then spoil everything over me. I’m just a little old woman who doesn’t have very much life left.”

The barking stops uninterrupted.

“I think Saville can’t detect irony,” Davy says. “That’s the problem.”

“He wants to protect you. That’s more than I can say for my husband.’

“We’re gonna be OK, Karen,” Davy says. “Don’t worry, sis.”

“Someone open the door,” the mom reiterates. Karen complies.

Now the Chihuahua-terrier leaps off the bed, barking all the way. And goes in pursuit of some chimera. Davy runs after him.

“Saville! Saville!”

Both the mom and Karen are frozen gazing out into the hallway. The nurse bells start ringing. A loud scream is heard. There’s a bustle of nurses passing down the hallway at a fast pace.

“What happened?” Karen asks.

“There’s been an accident.”

After a while, one of the nurses, Blanca comes into the room. Out in the hall, Davy, strapped to a gurney, struggling to get out.

“There’s nothing wrong with me, nothing wrong with me at all.”

“We’re sure,” says one of the staff. “We have to take an X-ray and we’ll be sure.”