And then it was Saturday, with their luxurious routine blown out of the water because they had to tidy up the house and be gone by 11.
“Next year,” said Andrew, “we’re staying in a hotel.”
“Yes, dear.” Annie was collecting towels. “Will you sweep the downstairs hall? The broom is by the door.”
But Andrew sat down, distracted. “We could stay for another month, you know, while Warren’s off. There must be a hotel around here with an empty room.”
Annie looked at him. Unable to tell if he was serious, she said the first thing that came to mind. “I’d miss Chloe.”
“We’d send for Chloe,” said Andrew, guileless, returning Annie’s gaze. “She’d arrive in a car, wearing a hat and gloves. We’d tell her it’s not that kind of hotel.”
“You don’t want to live in a hotel with Chloe.”
“We’d get a family suite. One room would be Chloe’s.”
The towels in a laundry bag, Annie sat herself on Andrew’s knee, her arm over his shoulder. He wrapped his arms around her waist.
“This is fun,” she said. “But we have to be out of here in an hour. And August at home is fun. The pond water is finally warm. The peaches are divine. The thunderstorms are fantastic. And if I don’t show up at work Monday, I’ll be fired.”
“Then you get unemployment.”
“The witches would fight it. All the way to the Supreme Court.”
“You think? What a story—”
So Andrew swept, and brought the little table and chairs back indoors. Then, tumbling his clothes into his duffle bag, he had another thought.
He found Annie in the kitchen, emptying the dishwasher. “You are getting paid for this time,” he said.
“—Most of it.”
“Most of it?”
She could hear the italics in his voice. “I haven’t worked there for a year. So they gave me three days with pay, two without.”
“Goddammit.” Said more in despair than anger.
Annie leaned against the sink. “And that was only because when I started, Jaime insisted that I write them a nice letter confirming the terms of my employment, and give them a copy. So last month I brought in my copy, and they pointed out that they hadn’t signed it.”
Andrew was sitting at the table, his head in his hands. “I’m going to firebomb that place.”
“Don’t!” Annie squatted below him so she could look him in the eye. “Don’t hand them a fabulous front page.”
* * *
Starting home at 6 p.m. without spending time at the beach required that they be barflies who didn’t drink. This proved easy enough; Andrew carried his laptop in its shoulder bag, keeping it out of the hot car, and as they revisited their favorite joints, the waiters, especially, were fascinated. If after the first demonstration Annie was bored, she read or took a walk. When she returned, they were still staring into its screen, talking about it.
“Save a hundred bucks a week from your tips and you’ll have one of these before next summer,” Andrew told Francisco, the grandson of a Portuguese fisherman, whose father owned the waterside café.
And Francisco, who at sixteen had had enough fish to last him into eternity, computed this, his brown eyes deep under his brows, a half-smile aimed toward the screen.
* * * *
Six o’clock, time to head west. Annie eased the car onto Route 6. Andrew cracked open sodas and filed them in cup holders.
“Do you want to come back?” he asked.
Here at least traffic was moving. Eastbound, the cars sat becalmed in the sun. “If we can be airlifted into Truro . . . do you?”
“Mm.” Andrew shrugged. “There are lots of places to visit. Lots of beaches to stay off of.”
In fact, New York was still the only place where he felt truly relaxed, but Schuyler was moving up, its routine not quite routine, its stories unfolding just outside the door.
“Junk rock?” he offered.
He liked to see her out of the corner of his eye, totally focused on the driving, breathing bits and snatches of junk rock n’ roll (no Beatles—they shared a decade of fatigue with the Beatles) that she knew from the first chord.
He should wait until he was driving to talk to her, but he wanted them to discuss this in daylight, so he held on until they’d got across the bridge, till only numbered highways stretched before them.
Then, as soon as an ad started, he turned off the radio.
“Listen,” he said, “I’ve got a plan.”
End of Book One
Copyright © 2015 Debby Mayer