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Bob Singer steps up to his Smith-Corona. When he writes it as if he’s finding spiritual peace, birthing a nervous system that’s stopped shivering, trembling, disconnecting. Do not get him wrong – for his 83 years he is thankful. One day, this virus will be silenced, we will no longer cry out: Social distancing! Masks! Gloves! Wash your hands! Sob for those people we have lost! We will return to almost-normal. He would have to be slow-witted to think life will ever return to normal. Not in his lifetime, at least. Now his mind panics and he worries: will his beloved wife make it? Will his college-age son? Will his twin brother? Will all of them disappear?

Bob goes to bed. Buries himself in a toasty quilt, reaches out for his wife’s hand, tries to sleep. Sometimes it works, sometimes in the middle of the night he’s tossing and turning, worrying what tomorrow will bring. Sometimes he dwells on his past successes, other times about being powerless, or about his Black and Brown friends whose grandchildren risk being murdered by racists. Other times on what he is NOT doing… At those times, he hobbles to his study and starts writing checks to the needy… and he works on a novel about his former life.

And then there’s the matter of the Duck. He and Duck had been spending more and more time together. Clandestine meetings in Bob’s NYC penthouse when both are in town and Duck needs to vent to an old friend. It is a deal his ego cannot refuse. Jabbering a great deal. Bob even showed Duck some of the pages he wrote that put him down. Their views of the world often clash. At times Duck reminds him of Reid, his son, when he was nine…

Bob’s not a political animal. Feels he knows less about politics than Reid did in his early teens. Says it is beyond him how we have this joker in charge. What went wrong?

So now when Reid says: “I have no interest in yesterday’s newspaper. I want to read tomorrow’s. Duck is irrelevant. He’s done!”  Bob listens.

He’s right. But the future has its roots in the past. But the past is never black or white. It is all shades of gray, and Bob Singer is A Man Divided… 

About Robert Kalich