Mel had been dithering for an hour, which annoyed him. He had been so decisive when he was younger.
“God, how my kids will complain,” he told Rufus. “And it probably won’t be long before some helpful neighbor comes over or sends a grumbling kid to do it for me.”
He thought a moment longer. Then he snapped his fingers.
“But I’m going to do this whether anyone approves or not.”
The little terrier, as ancient in his way as his owner, shifted slightly as he napped on the end of the sofa.
Mel sat down on a chair by the door and put his overshoes on.
“I don’t think the younger generation knows what these are,” he said.
He stood up and took his long, heavy coat off the coat tree. He put it back on its hook and reached for his scarf. After winding it around his neck, he put the coat on.
“Scarves are yesterday’s apparel, too. Don’t know how kids don’t freeze the way they dress in the winter anymore.”
Next came his warm trapper hat. He pulled the ear flaps down and fastened the snaps under his chin. Then he put on his gloves.
“You want to come out, Rufus?” The old dog looked up at Mel briefly and then went back to sleep. “OK. I’ll be back in a while.”
Mel grabbed the snow shovel’s handle in the middle and opened the door.
“There’s only two inches of snow and the property setback’s only twenty feet. I can still shovel my own walk.”
Mel started to open the door but stopped himself, remembering something. He pulled off one glove and hiked up the right side of his coat to fish in his trouser pocket briefly. He pulled out the chrome keychain fob that held his nitroglycerin tablets and hooked it to the coat’s zipper.
He put the glove back on and took the shovel out into the cold, closing the door behind him.