A NOTE BEFORE READING: I began sharing weekly excerpts from my novel, The Somebody Who, on June 26, 2010. If you want to begin at the beginning, go here. If you want to read the book in its entirety, head over to Amazon and purchase a copy. (There’s a button on the left that will take you there).
Evelyn settles Davy into his chair in the family room, and she clicks on the television with the remote control. The feature appears to be some horror movie, and already there is too much blood on the screen. She scans the channels. There’s a game show on one of the cable networks, and she believes Davy will like that. He seems to respond to letters and numbers, and this particular game seems to be all about numbers, most of them preceded by a dollar sign.
“Thank you,” Davy says to his wife, in a tone that reveals exhaustion. “Thank you,” he repeats.
Evelyn leans down and kisses his forehead. “You’re welcome, Superman,” she says lovingly.
Before returning to the living room, Evelyn stops at the kitchen counter. She holds up the bottle of wine that Angie brought and studies the label. Returning the bottle to the countertop, she shakes her head. “Cheap bitch,” she mutters.
For the next hour, Evelyn and Angie take turns going to the door. The trick-or-treaters seem to come in waves. There will be nothing for ten or fifteen minutes, and then, for the next twenty minutes or so, the stream of costumed visitors is relatively constant.
Evelyn prefers the business at the door to the lack of business in the living room. It strikes her tonight that Angie never asks Evelyn a personal question, never inquires how Evelyn is doing. In fact, Evelyn muses silently, the focus is never on her—not even on her kids or her grandchildren. Not even on the fucking leaves that are piling up in the yard.
As she half-listens to Angie’s incessant chatter—this man; that pair of shoes; the admissions department job from which she cannot wait to retire—Evelyn notices how Angie’s eyes dart around the room.
Is she telling this to me or the lamp? Evelyn wonders. And, if I stand in front of the lamp, will she begin to speak directly to the chair I have abandoned?
Evelyn refills her wineglass and offers more to Angie.
Angie indicates “no” by covering the top of her glass with her hand. “Thanks, but I’ve gotta drive soon. On a night like this, I need all my faculties. You never know what ghost or goblin might suddenly scoot across the street!”
“How about some casserole?” Evelyn says, not particularly in the mood to eat, but anxious for an opportunity to leave the room for several minutes.
“Thanks, but I think I’ll pass. I had a late lunch, and a huge one, to boot! Do you know Mary Holliwell? Works in the music department over at school.”
“Holliwell?” Evelyn asks. “Not sure.”
“She’s been there for years. I’m sure she started before Davy retired. Anyway, she’s about my age, maybe a few years younger, and she’s a hoot! Mouth like a sailor. Married and divorced more times than she can count even. A real card.”
Angie then laughs and shakes her head, perhaps replaying to herself some stream of four-letter words once uttered by that card, Mary Holliwell.
Evelyn just sits there, knowing that her reactions must be unnerving Angie in some way. In the past, she would have asked Angie why she was laughing. Or, she might have said, “So, you had lunch with Mary today?”
But Evelyn doesn’t feel like asking any questions. She’s too tired, and she really doesn’t care. Besides, she has this feeling—just a hunch—that Angie will not let the silence last too long. If Evelyn doesn’t ask the obvious question, Angie will imply it by providing the answer.
“Anyway,” Angie says after thirty seconds or so, “that’s who I had lunch with this afternoon. Mary Holliwell. And you would not believe the ruckus we caused! Giggling like two schoolgirls. We actually got glared at by a few other diners.”
Evelyn continues to observe Angie, and she envies those other diners for the anonymity that permitted them to glare. She also envies the thinking behind their responses. How could they have figured her out so quickly? Evelyn wonders. What has taken me so long?
After another thirty seconds of silence pass, Angie takes a final sip from her wineglass, places it on the coaster on the table beside her chair and says, in a tone that seems hyper-apologetic. “Ev, honey. I wish I could stay longer. But, really, I think I’ve got to go.”
“I’ll get your coat.”
* * *
to be continued on February 5th .
In the meantime, if you want to read a short piece about the back story, click here.