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 and Joy are pleased to be the first guests to arrive at Table Number 12, and Evelyn feels particularly flattered by its location. Not bad for comps, she thinks, as they select two prime chairs, and as each drapes her leather jacket on the seat she’s claimed for the program.
“This is nice,” Evelyn says, scooting her chair in while Joy poofs out her skirt before taking the chair to her mother’s right. “I’m glad we’re sitting down before the mad dash begins.”
“Great table,” says Joy, having taken her seat.
“God,” Joy continues, sashaying her shoulders while surveying the room and noting the close proximity of their table to the stage, “I feel like such a grown-up tonight!”
“A little Chateau Waldorf, my grown-up girl?” Evelyn asks, reaching for one of the wine bottles that came with the table.
“I’m not driving the train,” is Joy’s reply.
Evelyn smiles as she fills her daughter’s wineglass.
“Thank you,” Joy says, waiting for her mother’s glass to be filled before enjoying a sip. “Oh, and I haven’t told you yet! I had a short chat with Mister Two-First-Names.”
“Mister Who?” asks Evelyn.
“The other guy who’s bidding on Dad’s art. Ed Thomas.”
“You met him?”
“Yes! While you were first talking with Gus and Ben! I spied someone signing the bid sheet, so I ran over there.”
“He’s interesting. Very charismatic. A retired architect.”
“Hmm…” says Evelyn.
“Well hello again,” comes a low voice at Joy’s right.
Evelyn looks up to see the remarkably attractive man who, apparently, has already met her daughter.
“Oh! Hello, Mr. Thomas!” Joy says.
“Please, call me Ed.”
“Ed,” she nods. “Ed.
“Ed, this is my mother, Evelyn Bennett.”
“Ms. Bennett,” Ed says, extending his hand.
“Evelyn,” she responds.
“Evelyn,” he repeats.
“May I?” he then asks Joy, his elegant sweeping-hand gesture indicating the seat to her right.
“Sure,” Joy replies, a bit surprised that Ed Thomas has been assigned to the same table.
Ed takes a seat and reaches for the chardonnay in the icer. After filling his glass and returning the bottle to its place, he raises his glass. “Cheers, ladies,” he says.
Evelyn feels extremely self-conscious for a moment, and she also feels incredibly relieved to have Joy in the chair between her and this mystery man. She wants to say something to Mister Two-First-Names, but she feels lost.
Fortunately, he fills the silence relatively quickly.
“Evelyn,” he says, “as I was telling your lovely daughter, your husband’s work is really amazing. I have rarely seen that kind of detail rendered in such an artistic fashion. It makes me appreciate why I went into architecture.”
“Thank you,” Evelyn says. “Thank you. My husband will be happy to hear that.”
Evelyn immediately feels the What?!? that Joy is thinking. And Evelyn immediately wonders why she made such a misleading statement.
“I mean,” Evelyn says, “I’ll tell him. I don’t know if he’ll be happy to hear it.”
Again, Joy’s vibe speaks to her mother. It says: Mom?!? Hello?
“I mean,” Evelyn says, allowing her hands to give the sign language that says I am totally flustered!, “he has Alzheimer’s, so I’ll tell him what I’ll tell him, and he’ll hear what he’ll hear!”
She then exhales rather noticeably and takes a healthy gulp of wine.
“I’m so sorry,” says Ed, first looking compassionately at Evelyn, then turning away. “And I understand.”
He returns his glance to both Evelyn and Joy. “My, uh, late wife… had… Alzheimer’s.”
Evelyn wants to offer the appropriate condolences, and she is about to do just that when Gus and Ben arrive, bringing a burst of their own energy with them.
“Is this seat taken, young lady” Gus asks Evelyn, regarding the chair to her left.
“Only when you sit in it,” is her clever reply.
“Great table!” Ben comments, taking the seat to Gus’s left.
“This is great,” Joy says then, amused by the banter she didn’t expect to find at Table Number 12. “The competitors meet!”
“What’s that, honey?” asks Ben.
Joy holds out her arms. “Ed. Gus. You two are the major bidders!”
Ed and Gus, each recognizing the other’s name and understanding what Joy is getting at, both partially stand and shake hands jovially.
“I think I’ve got you at this point,” Ed says with friendly competitiveness, returning to his chair.
“No,” Gus says. “As a matter of fact, I just dropped by our mutual bidding card. And unless someone has stopped by since, I’m the top dog at this point.”
“Well,” Ed says, conveying an elegant playfulness that Evelyn finds attractive, “I’m not going to jump up now, but, uh, we’ll just see.”
Evelyn cannot help but notice the confidence behind Ed’s smile.
* * *
to be continued on May 14th.
In the meantime, if you want to read a short piece about the back story, click here.