Sequence: Give a Dog a Bad Name (part two)
The sign was not lit, but sunlit, a shaft hitting the bottom of the “H” and the top of the “O”; these half-letters illuminated, formed a glyph. Durco told himself he saw a bridge over water. His wife’s reflection coming suddenly, a ghost in the glass cabinet…just when he’d been thinking of her…startled, then embarrassed him.
He could work another thing out, make himself understand why. But he’d been running behind the bus all day; he was through thinking. “Rose, listen, you’re not doing anything…”
“I’m watching you, Joe, that’s all.”
Like he’d done something…what had he done? Went to see Harvey, left her for a minute. He couldn’t remember what he’d said just before.
“You and me are going to Florida for a couple of weeks.”
She stood framed in the archway, between the dining room flooded in bronze afternoon light and the darkened living room. Rose did as she’d said, she watched him. For years, he’d seen the lines of her face settle, until an adamant furrow divided her brows, and her lips creased tight at the corners. Nothing in her face changed at his words.
“We’ll see Julie. Don’t say no.”
“You go,” she told him. “You won’t spend as much money.”
Nora’s way home took her from the back door of the Armistice House, along the alley, out onto Monroe Street, then south to Pequot Avenue. Rose had come close to missing her, and would never have known it, if they hadn’t found each other by chance.
“You wanna look at this?”
The manager of the Village Grill (what village, Rose asked herself) held a newspaper. It was folded to a square, page twenty-four on top, rooms-for-rent ringed down the column in pencil. One of the three who’d got up in a hurry―“Jeez, it’s after four already!”―had left it on the seat of the booth. What were they late for, at this time of day? The theater, maybe, a movie, second shift at…Rose couldn’t guess. She had never had a job. But she took the question seriously, as she might have searched her memory for a crossword clue, just to pass the time. A factory…a hotel. She knew the name of the man who’d nodded, lifting a hand to her on his way out, waggling his hat, and saying, “Ma’am”. He had been the boisterous talker, the one with the loud laugh. Sammy.
Sammy’s newspaper, maybe, that Norman had given her. Sammy’s loss, if he’d had a room picked out.
Norman, empty carafe in hand, saw Rose look up at him, and tipped it side to side.
Give a Dog a Bad Name
(2016, Stephanie Foster)