At midnight, the phone rang. I stirred, half asleep. "Who's calling me? Nobody I know. Some damn robot." I didn't answer.
That morning I found the kitchen door locked. My housemate, Pakobsanh "Paco" Keopanya, hadn't slept at home. No big surprise. He often traveled overnight on business. In 1984 he had immigrated from Laos but became a CEO in a Fremont, Nebraska, cleaning firm. It mostly cleans silos.
I went outdoors and fetched the newspaper, my resident's chore when he's home.
Then Paco, my friend for six years and housemate for four, wandered in grinning. I looked up from chopping strawberries. At forty, he'd lost his puppy fat and turned into a good looking man, beard and all.
"How ya' doing?" Paco's classic question. I'm happy to reply, "Great. And you?"
"You locked me out last night."
"What?" I dropped my knife. "Where were your keys?"
"I lost them. Don't you remember?"
I sort of recalled. "Well," I picked up a berry, "why didn't you call me?"
"Oh! That was you?" I shifted toward him.
Halfway across the kitchen, he turned. "You must have slept like a stuffed hog." He's smiling. "I stayed in a hotel last night." He seems to think that's funny.
I panic: Oh, my God. He's going to be furious. I grab his shirt sleeve. "This is your home, Paco. You shouldn't have to sleep in a hotel. I'll never lock the kitchen door again, not ever. You know I only do it because I'm afraid of the burglar who never shows up."
He bumped my shoulder. "Whatever it was is just what it was. Don't worry."
Well, at least I could make him new keys: two each for the kitchen, the garage, the basement, and the main door. I counted my current pile. Seven keys. I tested. A key for each lock except one in the garage.
The Key Master buzzed new ones in no time.
"I don't have a key for my garage door," I eyed him. "Can you make me one?"
"You can bring the lock in here," he handed me the keys, "or I could go out there for $55 more."
$55! I vowed to remove that lock myself.
At home, I dumped my shiny new keys on the counter. A single key turned the first kitchen lock, then, by accident, the second. What? One key turned both locks?
A vague memory surfaced. In 2004 when I made new locks for this house I'd just bought, I'd chosen one-key-fits-all style, hadn't I?
Sure enough. That single key opened all my locks, even both garage door locks.
After I laid the amazing key on Paco's desk, I mused:
I had locked him out, refused to answer the phone, made him sleep in a hotel—and he laughed. "It just was what it was."
Now there is a man who turns the key to my heart.