Sequence: Give a Dog a Bad Name (part three)
The screen door was unlatched. A red-haired girl, seated on the wicker, got to her feet.
“Is it a bad time, Nora?”
“No, Florrie. I’m putting the kettle on.”
The keys came out again. The girl crossed her arms, holding them tight above her waist, shuffling to wait close at her friend’s back. In these cramped neighborhoods spring sunshine was slow to penetrate, cold shadows falling early in the afternoon. Pequot Avenue would not begin to swelter until mid-July.
Florrie went herself to the stove, lifted the kettle and carried it to the sink.
The Hueys’ downstairs comprised, with this kitchen, a dark and shuttered little dining room, luminous white disks that puzzled Rose until her adjusting eyes recognized these as china plates in a wall cupboard, an interior door, firmly bolted. Adjacent, a staircase. But another door next to, and a step up from that of the kitchen, exited the landing. Air flowed palpably warmed here, from a parlor lit by windows.
“I’ll come with the tray, when the tea is ready.”
This she obliged Nora by entering was a jumble, a woman’s assemblage of cozy bric-a-brac, of rainbow glass and crochet-work; its windowsills lined with flowerpots, its brown sofa draped with a pink coverlet. The curtains were yellowing eyelet lace, the painted floorboards, pale green. The rug, patterned in red ferns, or feathers, looked and smelled brand new.
Florrie’s voice was low, but within the compactness of the Hueys’ quarters, not low enough. “Mrs. Durco…what’s she want?”
“How’s your mother getting on?”
There was a silence, but the girl might have―if unoffended by Nora’s tacit refusal to tell her business―answered with only a shrug. When Florrie spoke, her voice was offhand.
“She wants to see it over with, Mam.”
Rose found that she was going to hear most of their conversation. She sat, inching farther into the corner of the sofa nearest the kitchen wall; not because she wanted to eavesdrop, but to avoid the appearance of wanting to, should Nora―or Florrie―lean round the kitchen door to check on her.
“What do you think, then?” Nora asked.
“It’s all right, isn’t it? Gimp had a bad time with it, but me…I guess I would never know the difference. It’s getting nabbed I worry about.”
Give a Dog a Bad Name
(2016, Stephanie Foster)