The winds erupted from the dark beyond like a police raid. They raced across the harbor and raddled the window in sharp bursts. There was something hauntingly beautiful and serenely comfortable about being on the inside while observing the ferocity of nature.
“I’ll start a fire in the stove at headquarters before meeting for coffee,” Niles thought. “If it gets as bad as they say it will, I hope everybody just stays home tomorrow.”
“I really wish Annie was here. I would move the couch to face the window and we’d hold each other and enjoy the security and comfort of each other’s arms. I wish I had that—only with her. She’s gone and there will never be another. There are many lonely nights like this ahead of me, I’d better adapt and prepare.”
Niles’ cell phone on the kitchen counter buzzed. He picked it up. “Annie!”
“Hello, Annie,” Niles said.
“You answered that pretty quick,” Annie said, “are you on duty?”
“No,” Niles said, “I’m standing here in my robe, pajamas, and slippers.”
“I was thinking about you,” Annie said. “I heard you guys along the Maine coast are going to get hit pretty hard.”
“I have a beautiful view of the harbor from my place,” Niles said. “The wind is whipping across it.”
“I was wondering how you were getting along,” Annie said, “with the weather and all, well you know what I mean.”
“Strange,” Niles said, “I was thinking about you.”
“Our weather is fine down here,” Annie said.
“I probably shouldn’t say this,” Niles said, “but I was thinking it would be nice to have you here with me, but that ship has sailed, I know. Just wild thoughts – you know.”
“I understand,” Annie said. “There are times I think about you. If love comes to you again, I don’t know how a person can unlove the one you loved and are no longer with.”
“I know what you mean,” Niles said. “I mean, I still love the girl I took to prom. Not in a romantic way, but a good way. Guys I worked with would divorce and say they hated their ex, but I never felt that way and I don’t think they really felt that way, they were just covering the hurt. Way does a detective who sees death, hatred, and violence all day long sit alone in the squad room after hours with no light on, burying his face in his hands, calling out the name of the woman he claims to hate. No, love is forever.”
“There are times I didn’t try,” Annie said. “I was too wrapped up in things that I wanted my name on. I wanted to succeed so badly. And now that I have.”
“Are you still getting along with whats-his-name?” Niles said concerned.
“Sure,” Annie said. “we go through the usual stuff.”
“I don’t know what the usual stuff is,” Niles said.
“I know who wants the ballgame,” Niles said. “Remember when we started, it was the bleachers and just as we could afford the box seats, we got rained out.”
“As I look back,” Annie said, “we really didn’t get rained out. If we stayed around they would have removed the tarp and started playing again.”
“I think you’re right,” Niles said. “How did we get so smart?”
“How many times have I said I wished I had this brain twenty years ago,” Annie said.
“Annie,” Niles said, “are you sure?”
“About what?” Annie said.
“Whats-his-name,” Niles said.
“Can we just talk?” Annie said.
“Sure,” Niles said.
“Not about anyone or anything, but about everyone and everything,” Annie said. “The Kicks, the Yankees, potholes in the streets, politics, your dad, my dad, and mom, not work, but definitely the weather.”
“Hold on,” Niles said and laid the phone down. He moved the couch in front of the window and relaxed in it. He looked out over the harbor.
“I’m back,” Niles said. “There are a few lights on the harbor and it has just started to snow. It is furious and beautiful all at once. There is a constant whistle it changes in tone with each rush of wind…”
Niles talked with Annie until just past 3:00 AM.