One beautiful Saturday morning in early summer Joe and JoJo set out from their house on Bluebird Lane for a little before-breakfast stroll about the neighborhood. They had not gone far, just around the corner and to the next block, Robin Drive, when they noticed a garage sale.
"Oh, no," Joe said, "we have way too much junk already."
"Aren't these little dresses just darling?" JoJo said, showing Joe a delicate pink gown. He smiled. Amy, Joe and JoJo's daughter, was just of college age now, and JoJo had a collection of darling dresses and pink gowns sheathed in plastic hanging in the attic.
"How 'bout this?" Joe said, pointing to a slatted circular tub of weathered gray wood.
JoJo laughed. "What is it?"
"Beats me," Joe answered. "Maybe some kind of cider press. See the hole down here. I bet that's where the juice would drip."
JoJo studied the hole. "I don't know," she said. "I guess we could make it into a planter."
Now Joe laughed. JoJo could make just about anything into a planter. "Forget it," he said good- naturedly.
Next was a table of knickknacks and odds and ends. "Hey," said JoJo, stopping. "Hey," Joe echoed. They stood in front of the knickknack table staring at the alarm clock radio.
"A Snoozer," JoJo whispered.
"I know," Joe whispered back.
On their honeymoon twenty years ago, Joe and JoJo had spent six nights in the city in a not-quite- seedy hotel convenient to the theater district. The idea was that the money saved on lodgings would go towards shows and dinners. All Joe and JoJo really needed was a clean mattress and each other. And sometimes they didn't even need the mattress. The hotel offered a free continental breakfast, served from six-thirty to ten each morning. On the nightstand next to the double bed sat a little alarm clock radio. Late the first night, JoJo told Joe to set the alarm. "We don't want to miss the complimentary continental breakfast," she said.
"We don't? What is a continental breakfast?"
"Probably not Belgian waffles smothered with syrup and ripe juicy baby strawberries," JoJo speculated.
"Probably not three eggs any way with smoked Canadian bacon and extra lean sausage and heaps of hash-browns," Joe said.
"Set the alarm for nine-thirty," JoJo told him. "That should give us plenty of time."
"Look, the case is cracked. I don't know if this thing even works. I don't know how it works."
But Joe opened the drawer in the night table, and there, underneath the Bible, he found a set of instructions.
"My man!" said JoJo, hugging him as he studied the slim booklet.
"Choice of music or alarm."
"Music might be nice," JoJo said.
"Yeah, but we might get static."
"Right," said Joe. "We'll go for the alarm. And see this button on top? That's the 'snoozer.' You press it and you get nine more minutes."
JoJo fingered the button, and then she touched the crack, which curved from the button on top to the back end of the case and on down. "Poor little radio," JoJo said, patting it tenderly. "Looks like somebody bashed it."
Joe set the alarm.
As it turned out, Joe and JoJo were already awake when the alarm went off the next morning. They were awake but not out of bed. "Burr-rup, Burr-rup," blurted the alarm, soft at first, but then louder, raspier.
"Oh no," sighed JoJo. "Not yet." She gripped Joe's back with her hands, his legs with her legs, his middle with her middle, pulling him closer, tighter. "Don't leave me. Not yet."
"I can do the snoozer," Joe said. "That would give us nine more minutes. Would that be enough?"
The alarm blatted louder.
"Okay, do the snoozer," JoJo said. "Do it, but don't leave me. Not yet." She relaxed her grip just enough to let Joe reach the snoozer without disconnecting them.
Nine minutes later the alarm went off again. "Too soon," JoJo snarled, her body tensing.