Chapter 3: Dolce Far Niente
Part 9: Matthew Stubs His Toe
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SOON AS they’re outside, Belinda says, “That’s a straaaange pair.”
She puts her hands in the pockets of her coat. In the right-hand
pocket, she feels a small card. She pulls it out, glances at it,
puts it back.
“They are, aren’t they?” says Matthew.
“They’re nuts, you know.”
“Well, I wouldn’t go that far.”
“I would. I can’t stand him.”
“Sorry. I should have said no when he asked us to join them.”
“He made me so uncomfortable. In fact, I can’t think of anyone who has ever made me more uncomfortable. He finds fault with everything. Even if he doesn’t say anything about it, you can see it. There’s a look on his face as if he smells something rotten.”
“You’re right. He’s a lot like BW, isn’t he?”
“Yes, he is! Was he the model?”
“No, at least not consciously.”
“The difference is that BW can actually be funny. Harold has the weirdest sense of humor I’ve ever encountered.”
“You liked that business about the kid under the table.”
“Yes, I did. That I liked. It was quite insane, but completely appropriate. I definitely liked that, and for a minute there it almost made me forget the rest. Well, not for a minute. More like a second. And it may only have been because it got us out of there. But when he called the little woman a Luddite I decided right then that I despised him and nothing could make me change my mind. The wife thinks he’s a scream, though. There’s another weird one.”
“She’s not getting something from him that she wants,” he says.
She may not even know what it is, he thinks. Liz didn’t. Or claimed not to. All she said was, “It’s not this.”
“The next thing you know,” he says, “she’ll be going to some kind of counselor. And it won’t be long after that before she starts telling Harold that she’s discovered she never loved him. It’s a short step from that to complete lunacy.” Matthew is awfully close to telling more of the truth about himself than perhaps he ought to. “I’ve seen it happen before. People start cleaning up their lives and before you know it they’re left holding nothing but the pieces. It was only ignorance that held the whole thing together. A brick of compacted sand. It comes crumbling apart.”
The brick that is me wouldn’t last two weeks if I admitted all my anxieties, my disappointments, my wishes—I’m sure of it.
“God!” says Belinda, still on the subject of Gwen. “Those clothes! And she was out to celebrate, for God’s sake. I think I’m going to go home and burn every sensible piece of clothing I own. I’m going to start going to work in leather dresses and big boots. I am not going to become like that woman, ever.” She runs her hands up the lapels of the coat, pushes the collar up. “I don’t know,” she says, apparently subdued. “I may not keep the coat.” A long pause, and then suddenly she flings it open. She takes a deep breath and says, “But I am sure as hell keeping this dress.”
“I HAVEN’T SEEN a single cab,” says Matthew. “Maybe if we walk
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Reservations Recommended is published in paperback by Picador, a division of St. Martin’s Press, at $12.00.
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Copyright © 1990 by Eric Kraft
Reservations Recommended is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, dialogues, settings, and businesses portrayed in it are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
First published by Crown Publishers, Inc., 201 East 50th Street, New York, New York 10022. Member of the Crown Publishing Group.
Now available in paperback from Picador USA, a division of St. Martin’s Press.
For information about publication rights outside the U. S. A., audio rights, serial rights, screen rights, and so on, e-mail Alec “Nick” Rafter, the author’s earnest agent.
The illustration at the top of the page is an adaptation of an illustration by Stewart Rouse that first appeared on the cover of the August 1931 issue of Modern Mechanics and Inventions. The boy at the controls of the aerocycle doesn’t particularly resemble Peter Leroy—except, perhaps, for the smile.