George was the dessert man at the prepared food counter. He was short and round, and sported a black caterpillar mustache. His buddy the butcher called him ‘Vanilla Pudding.’
After his Saturday shift, George went home to clean up. On the way to Ming’s apartment, he stopped by an ATM to extract five crisp twenty-dollar bills.
George had continued to visit Ming even after she fell ill and there was no chance of any carnal pleasure. Ming’s thirty-something daughter Helen opened the apartment door and wordlessly returned to the kitchen to read her books.
George and Ming watched a dancing show on the TV in the bedroom. He sat in a chair next to the bed, while Ming lay with her eyes closed, fingering the synthetic jade necklace George had given her years before. George left his twenties on Ming’s night table before kissing her hot white forehead.
In Ming’s final weeks, George and Helen gave Ming sponge baths. They laved Ming with warm soapy water. George held his breath to avoid breathing in Ming’s stench. After drying Ming off, they changed her sheets and pulled a nightdress over her body.
Ming died in March. For several weeks, George stayed home on Saturday nights. One Saturday night in April, George walked over to Ming’s, stopping at the ATM along the way. George knocked on Ming’s door. Helen opened it. She wore a pretty blue dress, her hair swept up, revealing her long white neck, upon which hung Ming’s jade necklace.