A NOTE BEFORE READING: I began sharing weekly excerpts from my novel, The Somebody Who, on June 26th. If you want to begin at the beginning, go here. If you want to read more sooner, head over to Amazon (there’s a button on the left that will take you there).
When Evelyn enters the large kitchen, Claudia is multitasking. Her back toward the center of the room, she is stirring a big pot of stew and engaged in a rapid-fire conversation on her cell phone. In Spanish. When she glances in Evelyn’s direction, Evelyn holds up the jar of pasta sauce. Claudia shrugs, and they exchange the raised-eyebrow, pursed-smirk glance that has become a code between them. The code says, “Look what I found and you’ll never guess where I found it.”
Davy is sitting on his stool at the kitchen’s center island. In front of him, on the counter, is the most recent issue of The New Yorker. He looks as if he is reading an article intently. But what Claudia knows, and what Evelyn suspects, is that he has had that page open for nearly two hours. And while he has not been sitting there the whole time (sitting still is no longer his strong suit), he always returns to the chair and the page, and he always looks as if there is something within its contents that will unlock the meaning of life.
Evelyn is relieved that Claudia and Davy are both occupied. She doesn’t have to stay in the kitchen. She can return to the study.
But first, she will make a detour into the dining room. And, if there is any wine left in the bottle she opened last night, she will pour herself a glass. What difference does it make what time it is, she thinks, approaching the dry bar and grateful for what she finds.
“Goddamnit!” Evelyn fumes, as she hits the Stop button on the answering machine and again finds herself needing to push Fast Forward.
When she returned to the study to listen to the afternoon’s two remaining messages, she did not intend to backtrack so thoroughly. But, she hit the wrong button. She hit All rather than New. And perhaps because she was enjoying the feel of the Cabernet rolling about on her tongue, she failed to notice that the tape had gone into rewind mode.
Were it not so revelatory, this exercise in back-tracking and then fast-forwarding might not be bothering her so much. But, what she is quickly realizing is that Angie has been doing a lot of apologizing lately. “I am so sorry to do this, Ev—” Was that today? No. Fast forward. “Ev—it’s Ang, and I hate to do this to you.” Today? No, that was the lecture they had talked about going to. Fast forward. “My God, things are crazy!” That sure sounded like today’s message, but no…
Finally, Evelyn hears the voice that confirms some sort of updatedness. It is the sound she refers to as “the little man who lives in my phone.” The timekeeper man. The man who says, with bizarre nasal-voiced inflection, “Friday. Two-thirty-two p.m.”
She hits the Stop button and sits back in the leather chair. She cradles the glass of Cabernet, stares at it and through it, and she wonders if Angie has simply grown tired of her.
“I found you!”
It is Davy, standing in the doorway of the study.
“I didn’t know what to do,” he adds.
He pads across the room, barefoot as always, leans over and kisses her forehead. Then, he stands back. “You’re wonderful!” he announces, his arms spread out.
“Thank you, honey,” Evelyn replies, her voice a monotone. “You’re wonderful, too.”
Then, as if he is drawn to a particular title on the bookshelves, Davy crosses behind Evelyn’s chair. He studies the spines of several books. “This is very interesting,” he says. “Very, very interesting.”
“That’s right, honey. It is.”
He pads back to a place directly in front of her. “Are you? Do you want me to--?” He holds out his hand to her wineglass. There are only a few sips left. She knows that he is offering to freshen her drink, but she cannot ask him to do that. God know what newfangled cocktail he might return with.
“I’m okay, honey. I’ll get up in a minute and get some more.”
“That’s very good, then. That’s exactly…” Davy nods. “That’s very good.”
Davy looks around the room, goes to the window and opens the curtains. “Okay,” he says, first perusing the side yard and then turning around to face Evelyn, “so now I’m going to do that thing. I’m going to do.”
“Okay, sweetie,” Evelyn smiles, “you do that thing.”
* * *
… to be continued on July 24th.
In the meantime, if you want to read a short piece about the back story, click here.