Are You Jealous (part one)
Gabriel heard Eva’s voice…her put-on voice, he called it. She spoke this way to delivery people, sing-song, thanking them, ushering them out the door.
He heard the door close, slue into its frame with a rush of air followed by the metallic thunk of the bolt hitting home. He heard silence, then rustling. Eva talking to herself about scissors. Next, she was on the phone. He guessed she was speaking to Presby. He heard her say, “I did get your email. Fad, you know I have no attention span. Ha. I didn’t know it had a calendar. Oh…”
Gabriel heard uneven, muffled footsteps, with something labored about them, as she climbed the stairs. She approached, and her conversation approached, growing more distinct, Eva interspersed with microbursts of Presby. “McFadden!”
Oh, Gabriel said to himself. McFadden, now.
She laughed. “Well, it sounded funny. I don’t know what you call those things. I know you said bushings.”
He kept his back to her. She had broken his concentration, but he kept his back to her. McFadden Presby. Could anyone on earth have such a name? Eva rang off. She placed the clock on Gabriel’s desk…near, almost touching, his right hand. She leaned over him, and straightened his collar. She placed her phone in front of his keyboard.
It was her little habit. She was always tucking her phone under Gabriel’s eyes, at the dinner table, on the coffee table. At his desk, while he tried to work. She would tap an arrow in a box, a video or song would play. He would have to love it, for her sake.
For her sake, he loved all Eva’s mannerisms. But they irritated.
He found himself looking at a cipher, which spun into a logo. The logo was muted gunmetal, spare in design. The logo faded. McFadden Presby stood before a leather armchair. The chair was a fixture; yet, in the auction house videos, Presby never sat. He pivoted. He occasionally stepped, one pace to the left, one pace to the right. The chair acted as Presby’s magnetic center; he hovered as a gyroscope hovers. He had a pair of eyeglasses which he never wore, but held, and gestured with, inviting his audience to see his point. Presby imparted the esoterica of the antiques trade in a sonorous voice…the accent sounding British. After a while, one noticed something continental about the vowels.
Gabriel supposed Presby had got the name from someone’s luggage tags. His real name was probably Klaus. Having decided this, Gabriel had come to think of Presby as Klaus. It was childish…it didn’t help.
“What do you think?” Eva asked.
Are You Jealous
(2015, Stephanie Foster)