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Small talk, big talk. There were some good laughs. That was another concern. Laughter, she found, mangled her thoughts during conversation.

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She often instantly forgot what she had been discussing. And she loved to laugh. Taylor mentioned that her husband would be going out of town and that she would be alone but visiting relatives in the Adirondacks part of the time. Weisburd asked how she was getting there.

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Taylor said by train. She had never had an accident, had this proud unblemished record. A few months ago, while driving on the West Side Highway in Manhattan, her brain inexplicably told her to follow the dotted lines separating the lanes rather than keep inside them. For 15 or 20 feet, she straddled two lanes before she realized her error.

Then, out of the blue, in early July while visiting her sister upstate, she bumped into another car.

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There were no injuries or serious damage, but it was totally her fault, and it threw her. Not long after, she was driving in Connecticut with Mr. Taylor, when she came on some road work. A flagman motioned her to stop. Despite her husband also telling her to stop, she continued onward, for she felt an irresistible urge to speak to the flagman.

Finally, Mr. That night, he suggested that she ought to stop driving, that she was using poor judgment. She responded by lashing out at him. Told him, well, he used poor judgment all the time. Drove too fast. Passed on the right.

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And he was chiding her? The next day, once she thawed out and the weight of inevitability settled in, Ms. Taylor said she would cut back, drive as sparsely as she could. Weisburd gave her a searching look. She sipped her coffee. Better than ever. And then walk around with this pent-up stress. And this has gotten you the permission to put it all out there. We were just saying that this week. They ate, and Ms. Hidden it and made excuses. But then there were the signs written on the wall to remind me how to do the curtains, and there was me blowing up the toaster oven.

Making the calendar and checking on me. And he loves it. He always wanted to review what I was doing. The other day I put away my little flash drive. And I said, put it someplace I will associate with it. So I put it with my CD case. And I said, Where would smart Geri put it? What is it for? Copying pictures. I used to copy pictures on the CDs. Aha, the CD case. She had set it up with her husband, allowing him to track where she was through their phones, in case she got lost and had to be rescued. His head drooped, his chin was bent nearly to his chest. His arms dangled limp against his legs.

Mutely, he shuffled dozily in a broad circle through the day room of a nursing home, going nowhere. Now and then, he would reach out and grasp at whatever was at hand — a wall, a person, thin air. In the small audience, Geri Taylor watched the play rehearsal, squeezed next to Mr. The whole thing was a freakish twist.

Taylor had always had an interest in acting and had dabbled in amateur theater. Recently he had taken some lessons. He spotted a flier at his acting class about auditions for a play. There seemed no reason to do it and every reason to do it. He went and was called back to try out for a nonspeaking part as a wandering dementia patient. Some coincidence, they figured.

Life did get interesting. She had been inspired by the dementia patients at Isabella Geriatric Center in Washington Heights in Upper Manhattan, where she volunteered and where this rehearsal was taking place in late When she saw the disease up close, she understood its horror but also felt that there was still beauty in how those afflicted with it functioned. She wanted to tell that.

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Somehow Mr. In part, it was because he could not yet imagine that future. He refused to try. To prepare for their roles, the cast members had been invited to visit the dementia patients at Isabella, so they could gaze at the disease. He declined, not wanting to start his thinking down that road. No, he regarded the play as a performance, not a preview. Taylor had attended an earlier rehearsal with her son, Lloyd Widmer.

A bar and refreshment counter stood in the lobby.

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Afterward, he barreled straight for it. The bartender asked if he wanted a drink.

Well, better not, he said, he was driving. The bartender took on a look of consternation and seemed as if he might faint.

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The play was going to be performed for a week in Las Vegas, where Ms. Reid was born, and the Taylors were going out for it, a new adventure. At this point, Ms. Nor did she find herself picturing him actually coming to that same dim destiny. Of course, it could happen. He could get on the trolley faster than mine.

But there was no poor Jim. Right now, Ms. Taylor confined her attention to the mechanics of the performance. Looked good to her, convincing.

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  4. Would it be better to see the wife when she is on the phone? No, she told herself, it was not about her. The city was its bloated, giddy self, a music festival and a bull-riding championship happening this weekend on top of the usual magnets. Everything screaming action.