Press the Button

What’s the answer? she asked and he wanted to say we are past the point the answer would matter but the words stuck there and would not clear his lips as if he were gagged. We can’t—he started and stopped. There isn’t—he stopped again. She looked at him and her eyes prodded: Anything at all? He looked at her and she nodded slightly and unmuted the line. Sir? Mr. Vice President? Please don’t. That’s all I can—and the voice cut in: We’ll go ahead then.

Later, it made the 23rd paragraph of his Times obit. Someone counted.

Tripp Stelnicki is a writer in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Twitter: @trippstelnicki.