The Man In the Window
Our first glimpse of Louis Malone is him sitting at the top of the stairs listening as his mother Gracie insists to the funeral director that her recently deceased husband Atlas be buried in his flannel workshirt, courduroys, and Hushpuppies. (The final score was Gracie: 1, Rose Funeral Home: 0, by the way.) And upstairs still, Louis watches the procession of casseroles and baked goods droppped off at the front door by friends and neighbors sympathizing with the newly widowed Gracie and even (maybe, just maybe) hoping to get a glimpse of Louis as well.
Now thirty-two, Louis has not been seen in Waverly in the sixteen years since the accident that left him horribly disfigured. He has watched the seasons melt into years from the upstairs windows of his parents home, only sometimes creeping out in the dark of night to touch a spot in the yard he had only seen from two stories up.
And now, face muffled in his trademark purple scarf with Pirate’s ball cap pulled low, Louis rides in the limo to the funeral home, waits until the service ends, and then watches the graveside service from the safety of the back seat. As the service wraps up, a woman taps on the window. She tells Louis there are “worse things than death”–and she’s not the least bit nonplussed to be talking to a man covered head-to-toe save for his eyes. She’s a nurse, she tells Louis, on her way to the hospital and thought the funeral might have been one of her patients.
That nurse, Iris Shula, was horrible in her own way: overweight, abnormally short, and (even Iris herself would admit) just plain ugly. Iris works in critical care and not much surprises her. Not a blood splatter shaped like a perfect Valentine heart. Not even the dying Tube Man who every so often speaks one impossible word at a time: The. Man. In. The. Window. Is. Loose.
And then the worlds of these two misfits begin to collide. Iris’s elderly widowed father Arnie crosses paths with Atlas’s funeral procession; Louis falls from a window and meets Iris in the emergency room; Arnie, lost and confused, enters Louis’s home one night and is befriended by Gracie.
And then Iris, drawn to Louis who inexplicably touches her heart, reaches out to him–the unloved to the unlovable–and he reaches back.
This is a world beautifully conceived by writer Jon Cohen–where a hardware store can fix all of life’s ills, where the comatose offer up talismans, where falling two stories is really an ascent.
I read the last paragraph at least five times. You should too.