Are these chicken eggs, Rita? Dr. Clayton Niles and his wife, Rita, were having breakfast in the kitchen of their oceanfront home; just outside of Galveston, Texas. Clayton, with his stoic middle-aged determination, sat at the table studying his breakfast - two eggs fried sunny-side up - from multiple angles. Rita sat across from her perennially perplexed husband, buttering a slice of toast. Clayton raised the plate to eye-level and tilted it slightly; taking advantage of the sunlight streaming in through the adjacent window to further interrogate his meal. They don't look like chicken eggs, he remarked, with more than a hint of suspicion. An impatient sigh crept from between Rita's full lips. What else would they be, Clayton? He shifted his lanky, blonde frame and twisted his mouth to one side as if repulsed; still studying the eggs. Your mother did the shopping, yesterday; didn't she? He set the plate down and picked up a fork before adding, The yolks are too big for chicken eggs. Afterwhich, Clayton leaned his face down to audibly sniff the plate's contents. They smell disagreeably fishy. She impatiently batted at the lock of dark hair curling across her forehead. Speaking of disagreeable, you and I need to have a heart-to-heart talk. If you're referring to your mother's plan to move in with us permanently, I will t take issue should you refuse to allow her. Rita's curtly responded with, I'm talking about you, Clayton. You've been cranky and hallucinative, with respect to my mother; t to mention inattentive to me. With a vicious jab of his fork, Clayton pierced one yolk. Look! he cried. Even the viscosity is wrong. Clayton studied the thick, yellow fluid as it moved across the white plate like a kid admiring the flow of chocolate across ice cream. The yolk has a greenish pallor; almost reptilian. Rita picked a crumb from the bodice of her blue nightgown. Then her large brown eyes returned to Clayton's ongoing meal assessment. As usual you are t listening to me. Of course I am, he said; still examining the yolk. We have agreed your mother will t continue her presence, indefinitely. And she will t do grocery-shopping in future. For the past three weeks you've been exhibiting the symptoms of a man who is overworked, overtired and definitely undersexed. Clayton gave his wife an accusatory scowl. Since when are you the psychiatrist? Since marrying you, my dear Doctor. Whereupon I promptly discovered you are the most neurotic man I have ever kwn. I am t. You said your first husband was terrified of spiders. I happen to like the fuzzy little critters. It's the rest of the world you worry about, she snipped, and who worries about you. He shifted in his chair; returning the plate to the table. As long as we're throwing shards, I would like to find out when your mother is going to return to Israel? She arrived for what you described as a short visit, immediately after we married. Short by any definition is t three weeks. In your mother's case, it is more along the lines of interminable. Rita's mouth dropped open in astonishment. My mother's a joy to have around! Joy? said Clayton, setting down his fork. Each time I shower she's in there with a scrub brush scouring my back and anything else falling within reach. Then, he twisted his body laterally so as to bend over and place his eyes at plate level, before giving the intact egg ather assessment. How large are lizard eggs? THIS IS A WORK OF FICTION. ANY SIMILARITY TO REAL PEOPLE IS COINCIDENTAL.
Michael Paulson is the author of 21 novels and six cookbooks.