10 a.m. She keeps dusting.

Despite the pain in her knees, she floats around with a can of Pledge and dust cloths, dusting. I know what’s going on here. She’s fearing that should they find us here fully “corona-ized,” sitting in living room chairs, eyes wide, mouths open, gone to the other side, one will say, “Look how clean the house is, my, there isn’t a speck of dust on anything.”

Another will say, “Well, she had such a reputation for neatness; I had her in the sixth grade, and our room was spotless. She carried wipes like Kleenex.”

The sixth grade. If there are 500 people at her funeral, 480 of them will have had her in the sixth grade.

She’s upstairs now at her desk. I don’t know what she does there. The taxes are all done, the bills paid. She’s compulsive with paying bills. I know why she’s that way. I know what she’s thinking.

She’s thinking about the office manager in the hospital business office who had her in the sixth grade, who’s talking to the other clerk who just asked, “Is Mrs. Devine covered for all of these extras?”

“Oh my lord, of course,” the former sixth grade pupil replies. “She always had wonderful insurance, and it doesn’t matter. I saw her wallet once when she left it on the desk. She had 67 credit cards, and I heard she had a credit rating of 840.”

“Sixty-seven cards?” the assistant asks.

“ Yep, but she only used one.”


“Yep, her Discover card. The Devines have a family joke. When J.P passes, She will take his body to the crematorium and ask, ‘Do you take Discover?’”

So here we are in our house on the hill with a great view from the big inside.

They deliver the paper, but we don’t touch it. We used to spray the daily paper but it made the ink run, so now we’re reading online. She’s sure it’s tinted with the virus. She still thinks papers are put together the way they did in Tombstone in 1888, one copy at a time.

We’ve stopped watching the news shows, the ones I watched habitually for the past year, Nicolle Wallace, Chuck Todd, even Fox. I like watching Fox because they’ve been so reassuring and confident, calling the virus a hoax. I pretend they have inside information, it makes me sleep better.

Good news: As most of you know, I’ve been the Central Maine Newspapers film critic and reviewer for 35 years and suddenly, all the movie houses have closed down, and I’ve found myself without material.

If you don’t know by now, be aware, that I’ve found a new source of material for your viewing pleasure.

I’m watching all the streaming shows: Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu and others, because now, that is where the action is. But don’t give up. Movie theaters will be back.

Some of you still remember how Hollywood got us through the Great Depression with one slapstick comedy after another. They’ll be back.

Hollywood has been slugged by the coronavirus, yes. Even Tom Hanks, the great, untouchable Tom Hanks, the purest, most honest actor in the business, is sitting in Australia social distancing (6 feet) from kangaroos and Aboriginals, while recovering from the virus. And you can bet there will be other celebrity victims.

But the agencies and studio bosses aren’t just sitting at home playing poker. Movies, both in the theaters and home screens, is where the big money is, and the big boys aren’t going to lose that.

Business is humming at a low volume these days, while actors and those who photograph them, directors who move them, and writers are all at their laptops churning out material. I know them. They’ll risk their lives to make a box office hit.

I know you won’t believe this, but there are a couple of kids in Hollywood who had her in the sixth grade, and just to cover medical issues, she has one surgeon, Jamie Kim in Boston, and another surgeon, William La Plante, in express care in a Chicago hospital.

OK, She’ll be down in a minute and will want me to sweep the kitchen and vacuum the living room.

I’ll scream, as usual, that I write for food and beer money, and I know what she’ll answer. “You want them to come in here and find your body in the den covered with taco chip crumbs?” She has a point.

A last note: I’ve been cautioned to avoid barber shops, and I should warn you that should you glimpse me driving through the takeout window at Starbucks, I haven’t had a haircut in two months, and I’m not planning another until a cure is found. I’ve had long hair before, and it makes me look like Michael Douglas in his Netflix show “The Kominsky Method.”

It could be worse. Be brave, readers, don’t lose your reading glasses, I need you.

P.S.: If one of her sixth-grade kids comes up with a vaccine for this virus, we get first dibs.


J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 

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