wood on the door and frame. A large brass padlock held it secure. I scratched my head. What on earth?
I walked down the hall to the kitchen and found the note on the refrigerator.
What do you want? Why don't you just come home? I promise not to hit you anymore. I'm sorry about that. Sometimes my temper gets the better of me. I wish you wouldn't keep coming into the house unless you're coming home for good. It scares me. I might mistake you for a burglar and accidentally shoot you. Just come home, okay?
It was held to the refrigerator by a magnet I'd decorated in elementary school, a clay blob in green and blue. I slipped the note out and crumpled it into a little ball.
More promises. Well, there's been enough broken promises in the past. As an afterthought I uncrumpled one corner of the note and stuck it back under the magnet. It hung there, a ball of paper held to the refrigerator by the blob of colored clay.
Let's see what he thinks of that.
I was angry and my head hurt. Why do I keep coming back here? I picked up the flour canister from the counter. It was a large glass jar with a wooden top. I tossed it up, high above the floor. It slowed, just below the ceiling, hung there, and then dropped. Before it hit the floor I jumped.
"Christ, where do you get your clothes?"
I shrugged instead of answering and climbed into Robert's car. The springs creaked and I had to slam the door twice before it would catch. I put the champagne bottle on the seat between us, a white ribbon tied around its neck.
Robert eased out of the parking lot gingerly, the springs rocking excessively as we went over the gutter. "Shocks are shot," he said. "But it's ugly."
"Great. How many people are going to be at this party?"
He waved his free hand. "Oh, fifty, a hundred, who knows. They got band for it, I think. She can afford it."
"What will her parents be doing?"
"They're out of state."
We had to park half a block down the street because of the accumulated cars. There was a crowd of Stanville High football players standing around the front door, beer cans and cigarettes in hand and mouth. We threaded our way between them.
One of them called out, "Who's your date, Robert?"
Robert just kept on walking like he hadn't heard, but I saw his neck turn red. I paused at the door and looked around. They were all grinning. The one who spoke was Kevin Giamotti, who used to extort lunch money from me in junior high. I looked at him, my stomach knotting for a second, my heart beating faster.
Christ, he's just a kid!
I shook my head and started to laugh. Compared to those guys in the alley near Times Square, Kevin was a baby. And I'd been scared of him? It seemed ridiculous.
Kevin stopped grinning. "What?" He started to frown.
"Nothing," I said, waving my hand. "Absolutely nothing." I turned, laughing even harder, almost uncontrollably, and went into the house.
Sue Kimmel stood at the end of the hall talking with a couple who seemed far more interested in touching each other than listening to her.
"You two in heat or what?" she said. "The bar's in the living room. If you're going to drink, give your keys to Tommy. He's behind the bar."
The couple moved on, joined permanently at hip and lip.
"Hello, Robert. Who's this?"
Robert opened his mouth and I said quickly, "I'm David." I brought the bottle from behind me and presented it with a slight bow. "So nice of you to let me come."
She raised her eyebrows and took the bottle. "The pleasure, Miss Doolittle, is all mine, I'm sure. Bollinger? They don't sell this around here. Folks around here think Andre's is hot shit." She touched the bow and ran her finger down the condensation on the bottle. "Where did you get it?"
I swallowed and said, "My refrigerator."
She laughed. "Subtle. Well, I shan't stare down the horse's mouth any longer." She looked at Robert. "Trish was looking for you. She's out on the patio."
"Thanks, Sue." He turned to me, "You want to meet Trish?"