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 and purchase a copy. (There’s a button on the left that will take you there).
The drive back to Westchester is inexplicably bumper-to-bumper.
Evelyn, sensing Judy’s behind-the-wheel exasperation, tries to throw some sarcasm into the mix. “This would be a great time to have War and Peace on tape, huh?”
“Only if it’s narrated by David Sedaris.”
“You know, Evelyn, I’ve been thinking about something for the last quarter mile.”
“Oh my God, that’s a long time. This had better be good!”
“And maybe it’s just me getting all full of myself because I finally closed on a house last week, but have you thought about selling your place and buying something smaller? It might be easier on you—”
Evelyn doesn’t answer right away.
“I mean,” Judy continues, “you’ve got like, what, five bedrooms upstairs? And I know you have help with all the housework, so that’s not an issue, but it might be easier for you somehow if you weren’t living in such a big place. It might also be invigorating and healthy for you to set up a new place.”
Evelyn appreciates what Judy is saying, and she recognizes that Judy is not just talking about area-space. She is talking about history-space. Judy is thinking of Evelyn. But, what Judy doesn’t know is that two of those bedrooms are not simply rooms abandoned by their former owners. They are storage spaces. And they are absurdly and obscenely full.
“Evelyn?” Judy speaks again, somewhat timidly. “I haven’t said something inappropriate, have I?”
“Oh, no! Oh my God, no! It’s not that at all! Your suggestion is smart. And valid. And kind. It’s just that… Well, Judy… I’m a bit of a pack rat.”
Having made her confession, Evelyn looks over to Judy, whose right foot is so accustomed to the brake pedal, that routine, in itself, is becoming comical. But, the look on Evelyn’s face—as if being a pack rat were equivalent to selling crystal meth to kindergartners—puts Judy completely over the punchy edge. And when she begins to giggle uncontrollably, Evelyn does, too.
It is 7:30 when Judy finally drops Evelyn off at home, and Evelyn knows that Mrs. Krosky, who generally ends her Sunday stint at 7:00, is going to be displeased.
When Evelyn enters the kitchen, The Krosk makes no salutation. “Your husband is asleep with the television,” she says instead, as if the affair might be worthy of tabloid headlines.
Evelyn moves her glance toward the family room where, indeed, Davy is asleep, and the TV is very much on. “That’s fine,” she says to The Krosk. “Did he eat?”
“Of course he ate! Chicken and rice. Good protein. A salad. Good roughage.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Krosky. And – I’m very sorry I’m late. The traffic was ridiculous.” Evelyn wanders to the stove to see what leftovers might still be there for her to enjoy later. She opens the lid of a pot that is on low simmer. The smell is relaxing. She thinks yum, but she doesn’t express it. She doesn’t want to give Mrs. Krosky quite that much credit. “Good,” she says instead. “There’s more for me.”
“Yes. Don’t forget to eat, Mrs. Bennett.”
“I won’t,” Evelyn says, her tone revealing a certain amount of defensiveness at what might be condescending, or judgmental, on Mrs. Krosky’s part.
“Good. Then I’ll see you next weekend.”
“Next weekend. Thank you, Mrs. Krosky.”
Evelyn does not walk Mrs. Krosky to the door, but rather walks partly there with her. And when The Krosk is heading in the direction of the front hallway, Evelyn is heading to the dining room, where she pours herself a glass of wine. And before heading upstairs to one of those rooms that Judy made her think about, she checks in once more on Davy. He is still sleeping with the television. Positively scandalous! Evelyn thinks to herself, bemused and also sad.
* * *
to be continued on September 11th.
In the meantime, if you want to read a short piece about the back story, click here.