He woke to the familiar sound coming through his open bedroom window. From that single sound, he could predict what the day would bring. It started with a phlegmy cough spit in the kitchen sink of the house next door. Next, he knew she would prepare coffee and breakfast for whomever had stayed the night. Overnight guests were common. Lively conversation would follow. Next, would be the sound of her sweeping the alley and front sidewalk. It was a daily ritual when she was down for the weekend. Next would come the meatballs. Mary’s meatballs. He looked forward to that part of the day when she would call him over to come taste her spicy meatballs. He didn’t even mind that she called him “the Baby” for there was nothing in this world like Mary’s meatballs. And there was no other house in that little beach town that was quite like hers. It was a loud house swelling with love, laughter, arguments, good food, good times, boxers, actors, three generations of family on most weekends and, on one 4th of July night, even murder.
It’s funny how the gross sound of a phlegmy cough could conjure up such wonderful and comforting memories.