It wasn't the burn holes in his shirts, the eyebrows reduced to stubble sometimes, or even that Angelo spent too much money on steel toed boots because he kept giving barely used ones to the Portuguese men who wore theirs with soles flapping, open to the possibilities of molten splatter that got to her.
This got to her.
"You cough sand. That can't be good. Find something else," Bea said.
"Something else, like where something else? You tell me where and I will go, but I tell you, clean jobs don't pay. Dirty jobs. That's what pays, so I do it."
"I want a baby but not a baby without a father."
"We cannot have a baby without the money from the dirty job." He clenched his fist. Just the left one. The left one had the power for the work.
"Nancy from church said Luis almost lost control of the ladle, and almost got poured with the liquid. The metal. He would have died burning."
"Yeah. Almost. But Luis showed up at work today, so that's that. Also, I am stronger than Luis. And I pay attention."
“You want supper? I made a lamb stew. I can heat it back up.”
“Nah. I’m too tired to eat. But you are so good to try. I thank you. Tomorrow I will eat it before work.”
“Twelve hour shifts. Why do they do this? Until midnight now?”
“The war. They make the money from the war.”
Angelo's left arm always felt numb. Using a twelve pound sledge hammer to shake the inside sand from the castings made his left arm bulge like Popeye’s. His normal arm felt OK. His normal arm could shake hands. He often slept in the big padded chair when Bea went to bed. He could ease his left arm onto the high side of the one cushioned chair, which let it rest. The huge arm looked separate; it had a life of its own but Angelo had to carry it along if he wanted to keep the job. If he went to bed, with one wrong restless turn over, the arm would sometimes fall out toward the floor, and jolt him awake like a heart attack.
He looked around the three room house. Some wooden chairs, a table, a bed, and dishes. This is what they owned. He’d fixed up a tossed away pipe in the bedroom to hang clothes. What else could he do? He could try to ignore the left arm. He could go to work. Once a week he could go to church. Angelo could drink two beers on the day of rest. He could go make a baby. He should go now to bed. For her.
Bea heard him move, stand beside her, cough hard for a time, and sigh to suck in air. She felt his hand stroke her cheek. The normal hand. Angelo was on his knees beside her. He kissed her breast through the blanket. He gently pulled away the blanket and found her nipple so ripe for kissing. He could feel Bea moved slowly aside so he could climb in. He could feel how ready he was to make the baby. He tried to get up, pushing himself with the right hand while still kissing her, wherever he could find to kiss, he would kiss.
However, he could not feel the left hand around her throat, squeezing too hard.
The left arm belonged to somebody else.