Category Archives: Short Stories

Some Like It Wet

 

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1.

“Are you positively sure?”
“Well, Madam, as sure as a weatherman can be.”
“Which is not very…” Here she was interrupted.
“I don’t mean to be rude, Madam, but though I may sound divine, I am not. Neither can I promise you dry weather, nor can you order one.”
“If my garden party is spoiled by the rain, I will mention you in my goodbye-note.” She announced in a plaintive tone. An awkward silence followed. The wretched weatherman cleared his throat and made an attempt at amiable assistance concerning something entirely out of his range:
“Well, I’m not an expert in catering and organizing garden-parties, but according to my knowledge, they usually set up a marquee for that purpose. I mean, against bugs and leaves and rain falling into your soup.”
“Thank you for breaking this piece of old news to me.” Came the ungrateful retort from the other end of the line. “I considered getting one myself, but it would spoil the overall effect and prevent the stars from being present at my party.
“Well, just as you think, Madam. I really am at a loss for better advice.”
“I shall take my chances.” She heroically concluded.
“May your evening be dry and pleasant.”
“Thank you, and bye now.”

2.
The Sheridans were a phenomenon indeed. Upon meeting them, one would inevitably get the urge to sort out the jumble of contradictory impressions that they never failed to leave behind. This urge was a kind of defense mechanism; managing to organize this chaos of impressions by giving it a form would have made it possible to get it out of one’s system. The attempt to make use of polite meaningless words like “nice” and “to like” would have been ridiculous. It was peremptory to try and be as daring as Mrs. Sheridan herself when it came to making a mental portrait of her, and it had to be accepted as a fact and she had to be forgiven for it in advance that she invariably burst out of every frame in the end.

Would it do her any justice to sum her up as a big loud flippant lady wrapped up in vulgarity, pearls, and dazzling pink shawls? Would it help in knowing where one stood if it could at least be decided whether one was attracted to her—to this person who had surely been beautiful once but now only faintly resembled her original self? She was an antique, a Denkmal of Beauty, who was as yet too vigorous to let dust settle on her monumental proportions. Yes, she was big but her bulk had the grandeur of Norman-style cathedrals, which sit like kings of the Earth on their eternal chair. But the Sheridan effect did not only reside in size; decadent, erotic and almost disgusting, there was the unmistakable Baroque twist to its Romanesque dimensions. But then again, although she would be abundantly adorned regardless of the time of day, she was anything but tasteless. She was a very rich cream or pastry. She was a cake called “Death-by-Chocolate” or the “Double-Chocolate-Decadence” that winks at passers-by from the shelves of American coffee-shops.

As for Mr. Sheridan with his slick and smooth manners and cool reserve, he was a very pleasant companion at dinners, parties, and golf. Though outwardly never running into extremes, inwardly he had to be drawn to excesses to have the sweet tooth to marry Mrs. Sheridan. But the question of just how much of her he could stomach supplied their friends with an inexhaustible fund for deliciously malicious gossip. Judging by a few ill-repressed facial contortions resembling that of a man with indigestion, he did seem to be stuffed at times, feeling physically sick at the mere sight of his wife. But, too far east is west, and when the Polish belle had immigrated to America and they were introduced, he instantly knew that she was the one he had always wanted.

3.
They were about to give one of their famous dinners again. Mrs. Sheridan, hustling and bustling about, giving impossible commands to the cook as to the proper method and perfect angle of slicing a voluptuous piece of buffalo mozzarella, at the same time calling out impatiently for the maid to hurry up with the arranging of the flowers, and simultaneously thundering at the delivery boy for being late and spoiling the freshness of the ordered baked goodies, swearing to God that she would not be charged for stale and soggy buns, was, in a word, getting ready to entertain a few friends; about forty people.

In spite of the rich array of curses and an almost hysterical excitement, her heart within her abundant breast was dancing with joy at the mere thought of the forthcoming event. Her one great talent was to Entertain, which deserved to be spelled with a capital “e.” A handful of her less shallow guests once paid tribute to the success of one of her parties by calling her Mrs. Dalloway, a compliment that was at first lost on someone too busy with organizing parties to ever pick up a book. When one of the guests tried to save the situation by adding that Mrs. Dalloway was nothing less than the Perfect Hostess, under her mask-like makeup, Mrs. Sheridan went all red with delighted embarrassment. And indeed, besides being given the chance to boast of her beautiful apartment and obscenely expensive china and cutlery, her aim was to give pleasure and to see people satisfied and happy under her roof.

She wanted to fold everybody under her vast pink shawl as under the wings of a huge dove.
These occasions were grand affairs. A posh crowd, arrayed with designers’ clothes, glitzy cars, and glitzy wives, was to dine and drink way too much good liquor there that night. In Mrs. Sheridan’s house, as in an enormous blender, new money was to be mixed with old. Bankers and lawyers who had made a sufficient amount of money not to care; retired ambassadors; famous Italian wine-makers; factory-owners, along with people who had simply chosen their parents right and were brought up in wealth and in the spirit not to care, were to be mingled. This was further spiced up with Mrs. Sheridan’s yoga teacher, who was the most popular wellness guru of one of her frequently visited wellness farms, and with some “sweet” people she had met on the golf-course the other day.

And, last but definitely not least, the finishing touch to this curious mixture was an army of scrupulously dressed staff that would have satisfied the most finicky English lord entertaining in his country-sized country house. White-gloved and fleet-footed, they kept serving the never-ending flow of Martinis, champagne and caviar before dinner. The lights were low, the jazz played by a live-band was sexy and mellow, and there was a general buzz of voices chatting amiably, the well-bred harmony of which was occasionally disrupted by the shrill laughter of ladies whose spirit rose in direct ratio with the amount of champagne they consumed on an empty stomach.

Mrs. Sheridan looked around from time to time, and contentedly observed that the olives were plump and juicy in the Martinis, and that the champagne was golden and bubbly—not having gone flat, thank goodness, despite the murderous ignorance of a maid who had earlier been accused of deliberately intending to spoil Mrs. Sheridan’s affair by opening the champagne bottles in advance, as if they were red wine in need of breathing!

The guests were assembled in the living-room for cocktails while the finishing touches were being given to the dinner-tables outside in the garden. Time seemed to slide away smoothly, riding on the waves of aperitifs, and, indeed, dinner had to be served soon, the hostess reckoned uneasily, though a few couples hadn’t arrived yet. How impertinent of them, always late and always nearly upsetting the flow of her parties. Really, it cannot be such a huge favor to ask of people to try to be on time once in a while. And those submissive “wifeys”… sure enough, Mrs. Sheridan would know how to discipline her husband in their places; she would know how to make them leave their desks on time. It was completely inconceivable to her how most husbands were not like Mr. Sheridan, nor would they ever want to be, and how they could not be told when and what to do, especially not for the sake of a dinner invitation.

Though it has to be added that Mrs. Sheridan’s glamorous parties always had something more in store than regular swill-and-gorge affairs. They were sometimes simply smooth and elegant, but they often turned out to be rather scandalous. With such extravagant mix of extravagant guests, who knew what a liquor-ridden evening would amount to? About a year ago, one of the factory-owners got into such an elevated state of mind due to an awe-inspiring number of Vodka-Martinis that he started breaking the glass after each finished drink—in the Greek fashion, he assured the raging hostess. It was hard physical exercise to restrain Mrs. Sheridan’s enormous frame from jumping on the insolent guest and giving him a motherly thrashing.

4.
The garden was of a semi-significant size the shape of an ostrich-egg with a pool in the middle resembling that of a quail’s. The layout was similar to a Japanese garden, but the selection of plants, the slender cypress in front of the fence, and a few picturesquely crooked olive-trees, also recalled a piece of Tuscan landscape. It was after the Asian fashion that lots of little lanterns were squatting on the lawn, half hidden behind some bushes and peeping out from among the shiny leaves like little girls engaged in playing hide-and-seek. The dinner tables were adorned with numerous candles and bouquets of fresh roses and tulips, and on every plate lay a few severed heads of edible flowers, testifying to the “up-to-dateness” of the hostess in matters of “gourmet vogue.” Beside every champagne-bucket a tray of recently deceased oysters were placed on a heap of crushed ice.

Well, it all looked so beautiful and complete that the dinner-guests, to whose enjoyment it was supposed to be destined, seemed to be no more no less than intruders stepping over the frame and walking into a still-life. The stars, whom Mrs. Sheridan’s kind intention it was to include in her affair by leaving the sky uncovered and abandoning the safety of a marquee, would have been more fitting guests, if, alas, they had not refused the invitation and hidden behind clouds instead. Whether out of divine jealousy or mere indifference, what had been made as perfect as possible by a human being was destined to be spoilt; as soon as the guests started to go outside and take their places at the tables, plump drops of rain began to spot the tablecloths. They impartially fell on the Dior dress of Mrs. Mikimoto as well as on the eternal “little-black-party-dress” that Mrs. Fitzpatrick always wore on such special occasions. They blurred the printed word of the menu-cards and diluted the mint-sauce on the duck-carpaccios; an array of thin rosy coins helplessly lying on great white plates.

The guests obediently sat by the round tables equally exposed and vexed. No one dared stand up and spoil the vision of the hostess that was to shape itself that night. In Mrs. Sheridan’s opinion it was either one of her enemies, or, which was practically the same thing, someone she had not invited, who was doing the rain-dance somewhere. Sensing catastrophe, she was whizzing around among the tables with the malevolently smiling members of her no longer stiff staff, bringing to mind ants and other species before a rainstorm.

“I should have known, I should have known.” She wailed and collapsed on a chair beside her husband, who, despite or thanks to the impending disaster, was in high spirits. “The little weatherman was right, I should have put up a marquee. I was too ambitious and I am punished for it.”

Realization of her own hubris or not, the raindrops continued to fall and it seemed that they were about to launch a further attack in the form of a proper downpour. They washed away the several coats of paint on the ladies’ faces, demolishing sensuous lips, long lashes and the almond-shaped eyes of all except of that of Mrs. Mikimoto. Dresses ruined, faces gone, they started to look alike; so many shivering creatures. Blankets and golf-umbrellas were brought to their assistance and they tried to huddle as close to each other as it was physically possible, heedless of manners and mores.

And then it happened. When Mrs. Sheridan summoned up enough courage to look around and gauge the depth of the catastrophe, she saw a bunch of childlike creatures, as carefree as ludicrous, laughing, singing and eating the soggy remains of the meal on her deluged lawn. The party worked.

5.
Mrs. Boniment arrived late at the club. She had an appointment with her other lady-friends to play tennis in doubles from eleven-thirty. She was pretty, fashionable, and always late. She used to infuriate the other ladies who, according to their own opinion, were not of the kind to be kept waiting.

But now they seemed perfectly at ease, sipping a chilled mohito under the shade of the club’s marquee, the weather being fresh and sunny after last night’s storm. They were talking about Mrs. Sheridan’s party, which they had all attended and the pleasure of which Mrs. Boniment had decided to forego due to a particularly ominous weather forecast. It was a swell party, they said. In fact, the most original party they could remember.

Family Affair

1.

Nobody actually eats in a “panoramic restaurant” on top of a rotating tower—the highlight of cities, or at least of those that have the honor of boasting of one—except for guys like Dick. It goes without saying that these places have bad food, they are a rip-off, and if they do have any clients those are sure to be tourists. Dexter was sure of this, as he sat sipping his third Campari-soda, catching a second glimpse of the same church down below, due to the monotonous rotation of the restaurant that his brother Dick had picked as a dinner-destination to get together with him. Dexter had a feeling of déjá vu as he caught sight of the greenish steeple again; three hundred and sixty degrees in sixty minutes.
Dick was always late. And he was always late because he was with a woman. Ergo he was always womanizing. Well, let it be said in his defense that for an aficionado whose objects of interest numbered something like three billion, time was indeed pressing, life sure was short. Not only was he therefore excusably late, but such circumstance furthermore explained his obligation to devour women at a Don Juanic pace. Yes, time was running short, good ol’ Dick had just celebrated his thirty-seventh birthday. And besides being possessed in this way, what was there to say about him? His possessions amounted to a cat, an apartment of insignificant size, and a mediocre job that promised him enough money on which to starve to death if he ever reached the age of retirement before venereal disease got him.
What Dexter was unwilling to accept as his brother’s greatest character trait was the latter’s claim to being an artist and not merely a dilettante dabbling in women. Not only did he have a mission, but he also had style, he asserted. He had several times explained his theory of womanizers to his little brother, and each time Dexter was unable to detect the alleged hallmark of Dick’s alleged style. Apparently there were womanizers who said that the motive of their search was to find The Right One; the embodiment of an ideal they carried in their imagination for their entire lives. Now, with such a vision they had set out on a quest, encountering women who quickly turned out to be Not The Right One after a passionate night lit up with candles and fuelled by champagne. Of course none of the victims were undeceived as to their unfitness; however noble the quest might be, one had to be wary of wounded feminine pride. So this type of womanizer kept up the sentimental front all along and explained his disappointment and his urge to keep on looking with some corny version of a dead first love or the hauntingly sweet face of a mother passed away in childhood. In the end, the ladies actually felt sorrier for these brazen-faced individuals than for themselves.

The other type was the macho. He was the irresistibly masculine, rough, handsome bloke, who did not for a second intend to settle down and he would not for a second let any woman nurse any such hopes. He had no ideal, he was simply interested in Woman. As an epicurean of sorts, he lived for the enjoyment of all different female forms, shapes, sighs, reactions—everything appertaining to Woman.

While Dick’s claim to praise was based on his masterly fusion of the two by belonging to the second type who acted as the first type due to strategic reasons, according to Dexter the whole thing boiled down to honesty; the second sort was at least honest to both himself and others, while the first was fooling everyone, himself included. And if something, Dick was worse than all of them because he was dishonest with his eyes wide open.

2.
After a German couple had been thoroughly gouged and finally seen off, the only occupied table remained that of Dexter; a dark spot in the whole well-lit restaurant with a twinkling candle to keep him company. He was sitting there—a handsome bundle of nerves more off-putting than attractive—stroking his right-hand thumb after having burnt it with the bulb of the long-necked lamp that had been intruding upon his face till he could not take it anymore. Yet the longed-for darkness did not pacify; his thumb hurt, his stomach was rumbling, his head was swimming from the Camparis, his brother was late. The worst of all, however, was the reason why he was late—no, not the well-known fact that he was womanizing, but the specific female individual, the current object of his interest. Was there really no limit? Was this person, his own flesh and blood, so completely devoid of even just a shred of decency? Was he really dating their stepmother?

Their dad had been dead for a year now, and Mimi was still a decorative, blooming being. The fact that she had got married to a man twenty years her senior had never surprised people as much as the fact that Mr. Milroy had chosen her of all women as his second spouse; the late Mrs. Milroy had been the sine qua non of a Lady. And Mimi? It would have been easy to say that Mr. Milroy had deliberately chosen the opposite so as to escape the haunting memory of graceful Emily. It would have been equally understandable to say that he had instinctively chosen a natural spontaneous lively person who was the opposite of depressed and depressing Emily. But to have chosen an ungraceful artificial poseur, to have given the remainder of his years to this bad imitation of a lady, seemed to puzzle everyone.
Mimi was, in all fairness, harmless and well-meaning enough; an ensemble of a short shapely little body in short pink skirts, a face caked with make-up, and hair sprayed to the hardness of rock. And old Mr. Milroy had had a good time with her. She used to make him laugh when she gave herself airs and acted her part badly but enthusiastically. Then, her appreciative audience had lost its one and only member, and she was forced to look for a different role and to find a different crowd. Impersonating the respectable widow proved to be an interlude, however, as she was soon rescued from the nigh fiasco she was making of such performance by the stepson. Or, to be more precise, the equally scandalous behavior of both mourning son and widow metamorphosed the whole farce and made her adopt a role unconventional enough to lack precedents conveniently at hand to measure her performance by.

3.
Dexter could quite clearly remember the first time he had noticed something Oedipal in their behavior towards each other. He was standing on their plush lawn, small-talking with blue-haired blond-eyed Günther the neighbor. Dexter, for reasons unknown to his companion, kept a physical distance bigger than politeness usually called for. He had stupidly partaken of the unprofitable pleasure of olives diabolically stuffed with garlic and he was desperate to preserve his decorum face to face with one of those individuals whose excessive personal hygiene reminded one of hospitals and of one’s own “uncleanliness” even without the added emanation of odorous cloves. In any case, there they were, on the lawn, Dexter strangely resembling a garden-gnome placed side by side with this cubic masterpiece of the Teutonic race. But for the unintentional charm that the non-native clumsiness of his English phrasing produced, Günther’s chat would have been about as light as an interrogation. Dexter’s attempt at feigning nonchalant ease was to let his eyes roam around the other members of the party while being cross-questioned.

Dick was at the other end of the garden, helping the caterers serve the cake. How nice of him, really! Dick for all seasons! A Male Angel in the House! Of course he gained the admiration of the older generation. But, better still, all the young ladies swarmed the cake station, naturally attracted to sweets like many little bees, and so they were buzzing around him as around a giant carnivorous flower. He didn’t miss any occasion to touch each milky hand that eagerly held out a plate for a first or second helping. He was charming. That white summer outfit became him, and it seemed worth the sacrifice to be elegant in long pants and sleeves despite the heat. The sun’s rays adorned his handsome face with little beads of sweat as he stood bending over the huge fluffy sponge-cake, destined to celebrate their father’s seventieth birthday. He was so busy with his project to please that he had gallantly given up on the selfish delight that he could have derived from the admiring glances at the owners of those luscious hands. He had to content himself with the pleasure of touch.
At one point, though, when he brushed a hand of almost unnatural silkiness and heard a peel of childlike laughter, he was so thrilled by that touch that he had to know who it belonged to. He was visibly shocked at recognizing Mimi as the owner of that hand.

4.
It seemed to Dexter that from that time on, the quality of his brother’s and his stepmother’s handshakes and looks at each other became different. As to a change in himself, he certainly refrained from kissing Mimi goodbye or hugging her upon meeting. At first he had found it fortunate that it was generally easy to avoid insulting an obtuse person such as she was with resorting to the limited variety of transparent excuses like, for example, one’s having caught a cold or being in a great big hurry. And she really didn’t notice. But then Dexter soon began to think that her blessed ignorance of his reticence was actually more unfortunate than otherwise; he often wished she had noticed because it could have served as a hint and it could have prevented what ensued.

Then their father caught a cold. He got worse. A week later he was dying. All the relatives, close and distant, loving and calculating, were there; loitering around the big house, drinking gallons of coffee, leaving cigarette-butts on the once plush lawn. Though Dexter was stricken with grief, the aloofness between Mimi and Dick did not escape him. Was it their bad conscience? Or were they just biding their time? Were they actually waiting for dad to…? Was he supposed to tell their father before he was gone so that he wouldn’t die cuckolded by his own son? Or was he simply to stay out of it and go into therapy instead? Who had the Oedipal complex after all?

The sudden heart-failure that took their father one night without anybody having had the chance even to say goodbye had put an end to Dexter’s Hamletism. They buried Mr. Milroy and he buried himself in work; ostrich-like, he stuck his head into business-contracts and tried not to think of whether Dick knew that he knew that Dick knew that he knew. A year passed and nothing had been out between them yet. Then a message from Dick that he wanted to have dinner. Why not try that rotating restaurant? Why not, indeed? Eight-thirty? Eight-thirty it is.

Eight-thirty it had been long time ago, and Dick was still nowhere. Was he late because he was his old self without a shred of bad conscience and without the need to have one anyway, or was he late because something had happened and he had not enough skin on his face to show himself?

5.
It’s around midnight. The dark spot in the well-lit restaurant now boasts of two occupants. Although it’s way past closing-time, the waiters don’t mind; the handsome fellow who arrived an hour ago has just ordered a second bottle of the most expensive champagne on the list.
“Ah, don’t be such a …Dick, listen…”
“My dexterous little brother, you should mind your own business and not meddle with other people’s emotions!”
“Me meddling? You emotions? You surely don’t want me to believe that you have your emotions involved this time? Anyway, define emotion!”
“You have a low opinion of me and no mistake. But what exactly makes you think I don’t have my emotions involved?”
“Well, let’s see. Maybe you conceal it so well that it is only your dazed targets that are hawk-eyed enough to notice. Or we may define your emotions as pre-coital sentiments that belong strictly to the first act. And I think your performances are one-act plays.”
“What a pig I have for a brother!” Dick laughed. He seemed perfectly at ease and not in the least offended.
“Whatever. I would be lying if I said I didn’t envy you a little.” Dexter conceded.
“Gosh, old boy, it’s no different from anything else, really; it’s simply a question of dedication and lots of practice. Okay, I have to admit that just as with other things once again, the beginning is difficult. As an initial boost I can lend you a hand, though. Do you want me to give you some tips or hook you up with some fine ladies I know?”
“Since when are you so helpful? Are you trying to compensate for something?”
“What makes you so mean all of a sudden? Is it the liquor or you have something to say to me?” Dick was surprised, a bit hurt, and more than a bit annoyed by what seemed to him a nasty insinuation on his brother’s part. Dexter was also surprised by his own daring. Whether it was the alcohol that had loosened his tongue or not did not matter at this point. Hamlet was ready to perform.
“Don’t get your temper up or I might think it’s the liquor making you aggressive. Anyway, tell me about Mimi. How has she been? Have you been in touch with her lately?”
“In touch? Well yes, I have and I don’t know why you haven’t. In fact, you have just been preaching about emotions. Words words words. And when it comes to acts, it’s you who behaves like a callous cad; with dad gone and all, she is having a hard time, you know.”
“I’ve been very busy. And I am also hurting because of dad.” Dexter said lamely.
“Excuses don’t help poor Mimi who is all alone now, with nobody to console her.”
“What about you?”
“Well, you know I am not the consoling type. Or only until the first act, remember?” Dick winked at his brother good-humoredly.
“That’s quite an indecent thing to say about your stepmother…”
“First of all, the reference to the first act has been to me and not to her, so there’s no need to accuse me of indecency. Gosh, where’s your sense of humor, anyway? Second of all, she is not really my stepmother anymore; dad is gone, and the most painful thing for her would be to keep on regarding me as a son and so to be reminded of the lost father every time she sees me. But if she thinks about me as a good friend—since there really isn’t, strictly speaking, any blood-relationship between us—the case is much more soothing for her. I am simply a broad shoulder to cry on.” Dick explained with wonderful fluency and persuasiveness.
“Good God. You’ve really got it all figured out, haven’t you? But the crux is—at least so it seems to me, but maybe I am over-scrupulous, complicated, emotional, traditional, stick-in-the-mud—so the crux is, if you both cease thinking about each other as family, then what stops you from behaving as you usually do in the company of pretty women?”
Dexter would have liked to think that his sudden flush and the wet mark his palm left on the table as he lifted his hand to give emphasis to his words were all part and parcel of warming to his role; decidedly not elegantly phrased, certainly far from cool calm and concise, yet he felt he was getting closer. If only his heart was not thumping so! He wanted to look as if at ease and he folded his arms, uncrossed his legs, then crossed them again.
“She is not my type…”
“But you don’t even have a type! I mean every female is your type in some sense.”
“Dexter, don’t work yourself up about it so! You interrupt me in the middle of my sentence before I have time to round it up in a mediocre joke.”
“There is nothing funny about…about…”
“What!?” Dick asked in a sharp tone.
The time has come. Say it. Take verbal revenge at least posthumously. Express yourself. Get it out of your system. Exorcise it. But but but. But if you say it out loud you create it, it exists. Maybe it has never been there and it will be you who creates it. And if it already exists, saying it out loud will not make it vanish. What good is revenge anyway? It won’t resuscitate dad! I am imagining things. There are no ghosts. This is not Denmark. I am not a hero. I am sick. I am drunk.
I feel sick. Slow down this bloody spinning thing!
“I feel dizzy! I’m going to be sick!”
Dexter stood up, knocking over a glass with pinkish ice-cubes that had completely melted away by then, and burning his hand on the candle-stump before it also fell onto the floor, got extinguished, and rolled away towards the exit. He bumped his knee against the table. A quick curse, and he was rapidly limping towards the corridor on which the lift—the only means of entrance and exit to the place—and the washrooms were also to be found. But as he was about to reach the beginning of the corridor, the door of the female washroom opened and a figure of a woman appeared in a tight-fitting black velvet dress with numerous rows of pearls around her neck. Dexter gave a shriek and, instead of going to the washroom, he darted across the corridor, aiming at the lift. The arrow pointing up was lit, the numbers were rapidly blinking, thirty-two, thirty-three…forty-one…and finally the well-known sound that announces the arrival of the lift. The door opened and presented a woman whose enormous diamond-earrings sparkled in the glaring neon light inside the cabin. Dexter uttered a girlish scream, and violently pushed her out of the lift and, with trembling hands, pushed the “close” button.

6.
The night man’s testimony was of some importance when it came to piecing together the events that preceded certain other events. He specifically remembered the man who had rushed out of the lift across the entrance hall because the latter was limping like some wounded animal and was shaking his hand into the bargain. Then he pushed the glass-door open and ran out onto the street. He was looking around, in search of something, probably a taxi, when a huge black limousine stopped in front of the building. The driver jumped out and hastened to open the door for a lady wrapped in mink. As the chap with the limp looked at the woman he gave a loud cry and started running across the road. And that was when it all happened. A big brown truck was racing down the four-lane road. The driver didn’t notice the man running across, only when it was too late for his slightly worn brakes to stop the truck. He wasn’t drunk, but he swore to God that a person running across such a wide road with cars in sight had to be drunk or crazy or both.

7.
The funeral was kept simple. Only close relatives and a handful of friends. The man in black in the front was Dick, and the woman next to him with a huge rimmed veiled black hat was Mimi. The hat, in fact, was so big that after the ceremony, as they were getting into the black limo, she had to take it off because it would not have fitted into the car. As she was unveiling herself, it got stuck in one of her enormous diamond earrings. Dick came to her rescue.
“I think you should also take off your mink because we have a long way to go and you might get hot inside the car.” He said to her tenderly.
“You are right, my dear. Can you help me with that, too?” She inquired with a mischievous smile and a twinkle in her eyes.
“With anything you want. With great pleasure.” His eyes twinkled back at her.
He peeled off her coat and patiently waited while she was adjusting her tight-fitting black velvet dress that had ridden up to the middle of her still shapely thighs. Everything arranged and adjusted, they got into the car and the driver closed the door.
“Where would you like me to take you, Mr. and Mrs. Milroy?”
“Just drive on, George, my dear, and close the window-screen, will you?”