One night last summer Chet swerved his Lexus onto his own front lawn, crashed into the twenty-foot high willow tree there. After pulling himself out of the car, he decided to take a piss while standing directly in the still-beaming headlights. Across the street, lights went on in a few houses. Rachel, the woman he lived with, jogged across the yard and tried to get him inside. Someone called the police and, at age fifty-nine, he was arrested for the first time in his life. Drunk and disorderly. Rachel bailed him out in the morning. She drove the Lexus. “I’m never going to do that again,” he said, after they stopped along the curb in front of the house they shared. He was not more specific than that. There were muddy grooves in the lawn.
“Didn’t see that tree?’ she said.
“I saw it.”
“How fast were you going?”
“I just wanted to give it a nudge.”
“After they took you away, I backed the Lexus off the lawn,” she said. “Kind of surprised the thing is running.”
“They say it’s a good car,” he said, in an absent way. “I’m going to sit out here for a minute, all right?” She left him there. He watched her pull the front door shut to the house they shared. She was twenty years younger than Chet. He hung his head and when he looked up again, he considered the other houses in the neighborhood. He imagined going over to each one, knocking on the door, trying to explain. Instead, he got on his iPhone and looked up a number for a local landscaper. In a while, he exited the car. Inside, Rachel wasn’t waiting for him. Chet would never pledge to give up drinking. But when he wanted to go out, he could ask someone to pick him up. Or, he would take taxis.
Chet had any number of friends like liked to drink with. He and Tom Borchardt went out together about once a month. Tom would only have a couple of beers. It was all he wanted and he knew how to make them last. Tom was Chet’s age and a manager at the IGA store near the interstate. Chet imagined that Tom, like any number of his buddies, had a thing for Rachel. Tom liked to tease Chet, say things like, How did an old squid like you get someone like that?
It’s not like you think, Chet wanted to say. He’d rather make Tom laugh. Once Chet said, I’m Jack Lemmon to her. Save the Tiger Jack Lemmon, not JFK Jack Lemmon. Chet felt himself smile. He was drunk, and felt peaceful. He said, One day I’ll just be a lemon in her hand.
Lucky you, Tom said.
Chet and Tom went out together one night, and they sat in the Plimrose Tavern. Tom had to be at work at eight the next morning and had one Heineken and then half of another one. Chet knocked back gin and tonics. Tom drove him home. As Chet pulled himself from Tom’s mini pick-up, Tom said, “Hey, I think somebody left you something.” Outside the front door was a plastic grocery sack with something inside it. “Must be nice, all these good things waiting for you,” Tom said. Chet waved at him. At the door, Chet picked up the sack, then he went inside. Chet was drunk. Inside the sack was a cake box. He stuck the sack in the refrigerator and ambled his way down the hall.
At sunrise, Chet emerged from his bedroom and went to the kitchen. Somewhere, Rachel had music playing. They slept in different rooms these days. Insomnia for each of them was worse when they shared a bedroom. Chet made coffee and once it began to brew, he opened the refrigerator door. He saw the plastic sack and inside the sack was the cake box. He wondered if it was from a neighbor … to commemorate something. Perhaps his first year of not driving drunk. Thanks for not running over our children. Those fucking neighbors, he thought.
He opened the box and found a man’s shoe, a dress shoe with a scuffed toe and a worn leather sole. The pad inside the shoe had curled; even though it had been refrigerated, the shoe had a musty smell.
Right away, the shoe seemed ominous, he couldn’t explain it. He tried to understand what it was doing in a cakebox. He wondered if he ought to be frightened. He decided to take the box and the shoe from the kitchen table, place them on the floor. His mind raced. He tried to think of anyone who might have left him such a thing, perhaps as a wonderful, coded message. I still have the other one … you forgot them … when you spent the night with me. That night of magic. He wanted to smile at this. No, he thought. That wouldn’t be it. It wasn’t a shoe of his, anyway.
He stepped into the rec room carrying two mugs of coffee. The house had been built in the 60s; the previous owner had put a bar in one corner of the room. Mini-fridge, linoleum counter, three stools. On the counter, Rachel’s CD-radio played “Ave Mary A” by Pink. Though he liked the song, Chet halved the volume. He set a mug next to the player, looked over to the two solid white mannequins in the center of the room. Rachel used one male, one female; they were for her eBay store. The male wore gray shorts, no shirt. The female had on an orange, one-piece swimsuit. White visors rested on the crowns of their heads. He walked closer to the window that gave a view of the back yard, saw her standing in the grass, having a smoke, looking out to the houses in Clement Circle. The development was nice; big lawns, handsome young trees. Maples, oaks, willows.
Chet and Rachel had met three years ago, when she was thirty-five years old, at the public golf course. She hung around the clubhouse, rounded out foursomes. The club pro didn’t mind; she was pretty, even helped pour drinks at the bar. She nodded and smiled to Chet whenever their paths crossed. When he asked her to join him in a round, she immediately accepted. During their round, each tried to let the other win and it took forever. They began to date and he picked up the checks and after a while, she stopped protesting. He invited her to live with him; she said she’d need a week to think about it, but then called to accept a couple of days later. He promised life would be easy and simple and they wouldn’t place a lot of expectations on one another.
Not long after she moved in, his stock portfolio nosedived. The portfolio had been built from an inheritance left to him by his mother. When the news came, he made himself a stiff drink and went to tell Rachel, who was sitting up in bed, reading. He sat on the edge of the bed and tried to make light of things. He said that if the stocks took another hit like that, they both would have to get jobs. He grinned at this; her expression stayed stony. He knew enough about her; what happened to Chet’s investments was not an unfamiliar story to Rachel. She’d grown up around money, gone to good schools, done some traveling. Then one day her mother called her and said Rachel’s father had just been arrested for mail fraud and tax evasion. While her father did a year and a half in a medium security prison, Rachel married a wealthy, middle-aged lawyer who’d been chasing her for years. He cheated on her and after she left him, she married another man and cheated on him. When she moved in with Chet, she wanted them each to take a pledge of fidelity. Sure, he’d said. Of course.
He sat on the sofa, listened to another song by Pink, felt like switching to radio, something less challenging; a call-in sports show. He heard Rachel cough on the other side of the door and when she opened it, she said, “Oh.” He nodded in the direction of the coffee mug on the bar counter. Rachel was a slender, olive-skinned woman. Her brown hair held silver strands. She was barefoot this morning, wore black jeans, a brown and blue striped t-shirt. Mug in hand, she sat down on the sofa, a few feet from him. Chet could smell the smoke on her. Beyond the mannequins, the rec room window held lemon-colored sunlight.
In a minute, he said, “Somebody left a shoe in a box on our doorstep.”
“A shoe … right, my mother,” she said. “She called yesterday. I told you about it.” She hadn’t but he didn’t say anything. “She wanted me to find a certain pair for my father, she wants to surprise him. She thinks they might not make them anymore … these Florsheim wingtips he used to wear. She tried to explain it to me what they looked like. But it frustrated her somehow. We decided it would be simpler if she just dropped them off.” Rachel shrugged. “I guess one tells you plenty.”
Chet said, “I thought maybe somebody had a message for me. From one of the neighbors.” He thought she might ask about what time he got in last night. They sat in the quiet. He’d gone to bed without checking on her. He didn’t knock on her door when he’d been drinking, they had a rule about that.
“I don’t know what they could tell you,” she said.
He brought his mug to his lips. “So she wants to buy him an old pair of shoes?”
“Not old. Just better condition than what he has. She wants to get a deal. Of course, she didn’t say that. Those had to cost two-fifty a throw back in the day. She wants to get him going again. Get back out there. Legally or otherwise.”
“A pair of Florsheims usually don’t hold that kind of power.”
“She wants to tell herself she’s trying to get him going. That’s what I think, anyway.”
They drank their coffee, the CD played. “Where are they headed?” He gestured in the direction of the mannequins with his mug.
“Why paradise,” she said. “The clothes anyway. Those mannequins stay with me.”
“Well, they have to make a living.”
“Where is that shoe?” she said.
She left the rec room and in a moment he heard water running in the kitchen sink. He imagined Rachel’s mother, whose name was Audra Britt, carrying the sack to the door, leaving it there without knocking, then walking back to the curb, getting in her car and driving away. She didn’t approve of the relationship between Chet and Rachel, though she would never say as much aloud, certainly not to Rachel. Chet had tried to imagine Rachel’s reaction to the news that the family fortune had been lost and her father was headed for jail. Rachel had told Chet a little about it. She hollered at her mother, What will I do now! What can I count on! Rachel regretted it; she said she was more ashamed of that than anything her father had done. Not long after Chet told her about his falling stocks, she started her eBay business. A couple of times a week she drove the Lexus to second hand stores. The Salvation Army. She found other stores over in Walker County. At first, she took cellphone photos of the clothes she bought and posted them on her seller’s page. He offered to buy her a digital camera and eventually they went in halves. Rachel laid out a pair of pants or a sweater vest on the kitchen table and took photos. She listed the sizes, along with condition (like new, worn at the cuffs). Sales, at first, were slow. She decided that the clothes needed to be modeled, though she did not think it would a good idea for him or her to actually put on the clothes–even if they fit. She would hold up a sky-blue blouse, held the sleeves out with her arms, tucked her chin on the neckline. For a better built woman than I am, she’d write. Look at the beautiful color! He held up items, too: a black blazer, a madras shirt, khaki pants. Nice for casual times, she’d write. Some wear. Sales improved. She purchased the mannequins from a department store going out of business. Those helped. It seemed as if she was selling everything she brought in. She kept the mannequins in the rec room, liked to use the natural light from the windows. She usually took her photos when the sun was rising or setting.
He remained on the sofa, listened to the footsteps in the kitchen. It sounded as if she were limping. One quiet step then a heavier one. What was she doing, wearing the shoe? He squinted at the sunlight. He thought, She works at this. She’s solving things. She won’t need any one to support her. He felt sweat on the back of his neck. He didn’t love her, he probably never had. But he liked it that she was here. It still felt like he had a chance at something. He placed his hand on the back of his neck, told himself I worked, too, once. I worked at a lot of things when I was coming up. I didn’t love it but I liked it. I shined my shoes every night. I am not the man I was. What man can say that, Rachel? I’ve tried to take things more easily, enjoy my time. He felt drained, out of energy. She disliked his jumbled, needy, hangover talk.
He walked out to the kitchen, found her seated at the table. On the floor, near her bare feet, the shoe was outside the box. She shrugged and said, “I get it. I know this type of shoe. I’m getting all these flashbacks right now. When I was a kid, he slapped on the Aqua Velva. Then, at some point, he moved on to CK.”
What did he wear in medium security? Chet thought it, knew better than to speak it. He understood that she was already annoyed with him. He thought about saying, Maybe you can order me a pair. He sat at the table. He said, “Listen, I want to talk to you.”
She looked thoughtful.
“I am going to quit drinking,” he said.
She watched him and her expression wasn’t unkind.
He said, “I am. Starting today. I just … it’s just time to stop. I’m tired of feeling this way, you know?”
“It would be better for you if you quit.”
“I just want to be somebody else. Someone a little different.” She regarded him patiently. “What?” he said. “I’ve been thinking about this. It didn’t just hit me.” His mug was on the table. His arms were on either side of it; he held his hands in loose fists. “Goddamnit,” he said.
“What are you going to do today, Chet? Who’s making breakfast?”
“Just talk to me for a minute, OK?”
He exhaled. He said, “I’m sorry. That shoe, it got under my skin or something. Your mom is messing with me.”
“Right. She knew you’d come home drunk, find the shoe, flip out.”
He considered not saying anything else. He did not look at her when he said, “She put a shoe in a cakebox. She’s telling us something. Maybe I’ll start an eBay store.” He eyed his mug, shook his head. “I’m gonna take the Lexus out, have the guy look at it. It was gasping a little the other day.”
“I can do it. I wanna take this shoe back. I guess I don’t see them enough. They only live across town. It’s not like I’m mad to them.” He waited for her to add, Anymore.
Chet said, “The mechanic flirts with you. He did that last time and I was right there with you. He won’t pay attention.”
“Maybe he’ll do a better job if it’s only me.”
“We ought to go together. We ought to do more things together.”
“Going to see a mechanic?”
“No. We could ride out to your parents’ house together.”
She tilted her head. “Why?”
“You and me, it makes my mother uncomfortable. It’s who she is.”
“Your father won’t mind.”
“My father is OK with everything now. That’s sort of the problem, Chet. At least as she sees it. I think I’m begin–”
“I want to go out there with you.”
Her faint eyebrows narrowed. “No. You are just having one of … your days. I’m not in the mood for drama. I don’t want to sit around and listen to you and my parents try to get to know one another.”
“Well, I’m going, OK?”
In a moment, she said, “Fuck it.” She leaned down, stuck the shoe in the cake box, closed the lid, set it on the table and shoved it in his direction. He caught it before the box knocked over his mug. She said, “Take it. I’m not riding with you. Don’t bother me again today, either.” She stood, left the room. He heard her steps, a door close. He sat at the table and then he stood, picked up the box and went to the front door. Beyond the willow tree, the Lexus was parked in the driveway. The landscaper, a friend of Chet’s, had been of the opinion that the car crash hadn’t hurt the willow at all. The emerald-colored leaves swayed in a light breeze and he walked a quarter-moon path around it to get to his car.
He backed out onto the street, put the Lexus in drive. The box rode in the passenger seat. At a stop sign, he looked over at it, said, “Go to hell,” then went ahead. At the next stop sign, he glanced at the box again. The Lexus sputtered, leveled out. The mechanic’s shop wasn’t far, a mile and a half away and when he got there he saw a car occupied each space in the garage’s three bays. Chet parked next to a tow truck, made his way for the office, the waiting room. He flipped through the pages of a Car Buying Guide. On the TV on the shelf above the cash register, a reality-court judge seemed angry about something. He seemed to be chewing out both parties.
“What seems to be the problem?” a voice said.
Chet turned, nodded to the mechanic who owned the shop. Ben was his name. He had big hands, pale arms. Thin hair on top. He smiled at Chet. “Just seems to be missing,” Chet said.
“I can check,” Ben said. “In about an hour. You can wait or you can come back.”
“Lemme think about it.” Ben continued smiling. Chet said, “She’s not with me today.”
“Huh?” Ben said.
Chet watched him. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I’ll come back, OK?”
Chet pulled off the lot faster than he should’ve, waved in the rear view to the car he’d cut off, didn’t check to see the driver’s reaction. The smell of motor oil was still in his nostrils. At a stop light, he thought about how he had once dressed for work, the after shave he’d used. He’d been married before; he and his wife had both worked at office jobs. They’d had a good love life, for a while. He looked to the cakebox, imagined he should have taken the inheritance and started his own company. What could I have come up with? I just know how to show up. He exhaled, felt his shoulders sag, heard a car horn behind him, and pulled ahead.
The IGA where Tom Borchardt worked was not far away. Chet needed to speak with Tom. Traffic moved slowly for some reason; the drive to IGA lasted twice as long as it should’ve. The store’s lot was half full and after he pulled into a parking slip, he looked to the box and considered stuffing it into a trash can near the store entrance. He left it where it was, walked for the store with his hands in his pockets. The air felt cool inside the store and he went to the cigarette counter, asked the female clerk there if she could knock on the door to Tom’s office, which was adjacent to a display of by-the-carton Marlboros. She did this and when the door opened, she pointed with her thumb and Tom looked in Chet’s direction. Chet said, “Coffee?” Tom held up five fingers. Chet couldn’t think of what he needed, but he walked up and down aisles in the store. Then, he made his way over to the bakery, where he ordered a coffee and a chocolate donut. He took a place at a booth for two in the little restaurant there. On the wall above him were framed photos of past Employee of the Month winners. These were studio shots and he considered the expressions of the people in the photos. Then, without a word, Tom slid in across from him. He held a can of soda and wore a white button down shirt with a maroon necktie. The shirt was small on him. Tom’s soft looking gray hair was combed to one side, his mustache neatly trimmed. The thumbprint-sized faint patches of broken blood vessels under each of his eye sockets looked prominent in the bright light of the store.
Tom popped the lid on his soda. “I thought you’d sleep till noon.”
“I guess I have stuff on my mind.”
“Who brought you the dinner last night?”
Chet had a bite of donut in his mouth. After he swallowed, he said, “It was … a shoe. Something for Rachel’s eBay store. That’s the way it is around our place. Half-dressed mannequins. The odd shoe. I want to ask you something. No bullshitting around. If I need a job, will you give me one here? Can I get something like that?”
Tom frequently looked amused at what Chet had to say. He brought the soda to his mouth, said, “What kind of work are you thinking about?”
“I could wear a short and tie like you do. No problem.”
“Managers and assistant managers wear those.”
“I could go open collar. I could stock shelves. Absolutely. I am seriously asking you this.”
“Stocking shelves is where you would start.” Tom’s expression had changed. He looked a little more like a manager.
“What color shirt do I wear for that?”
Chet drew in a long breath, let it out. “All right. OK.” His voice was quieter. “Stock boy.” “Where do I apply? I mean, is there an application form?” He took a sip from his coffee. His hand seemed to be trembling. “How long did it take for you to get where you are?”
“Four years to make assistant manager. And that’s when this chain was doing really well.”
“I’m a quick study. When I have to be.”
“It’s really about stamina.” Tom had his elbow on the table, and the side of his face rested against his palm. “The official application is just … paper.” His eyes moved out to the store floor. He watched customers, employees. “Is this about your girlfriend?” Tom said. “If she wasn’t living with you, would you be wondering about a job?”
Chet felt indignant, yet he couldn’t find anything to say. “I don’t know,” he said. “Is that something you ask applicants?”
“I’m asking that as your friend.”
“Right.” Chet’s mouth felt dry. Beyond the restaurant area was an endcap display of saltines. “Stock boy,” he said. “I can’t imagine her liking that. Maybe she’ll see she needs to work harder, too. Maybe we can see if we actually have something in common.” His eyes went to Tom. Chet felt like adding, There. OK?
Tom said, “Hey, we’re having a sale on tilapia today. Big sale. We’ve got the tilapia market cornered back there. You like tilapia, buy a few pounds.”
“We had a chance to order so much and get a big discount from the wholesaler. Went a little overboard. It’s a trendy fish supposedly.” Tom smirked. “So we’ll all be eating it for a while. You’re funny, you know.” His voice turned quiet. “You’re full of shit, but you’re funny.”
“I’m not kidding you about working here.”
“Say the word, I’ll put you on.”
“Thank you.” Chet nodded, he exhaled.
Chet said, “I’m going to buy that tilapia now.”
“Aisle seven, straight back.”
Chet dropped his napkin and coffee cup into a trash can, went down aisle seven and asked for three pounds of tilapia. The young woman working behind the counter wore a hair net, had fingernails painted bright blue. The wrapped fish felt heavy in his hand and he asked if she could pack ice around it. She used a clear plastic bag for this. Chet picked out a pack of mints as he waited in line to check out and he paid for everything, then stepped out into the morning sunshine. He set the bag on the floorboard of the passenger side. He drove for the mechanic’s shop. “All right, a job,” he said, his voice soft. He cut his eyes in the direction of the box that held the shoe and said, “Stick that in your pipe.”
He sat in the waiting area while his car was up on the hydraulic lift in the garage. Someone had changed the channel on the TV, it was tuned into CNN. The sound was low and he watched with faint interest. From the garage, it sounded as if somebody were pounding on a metal pipe with a wrench, then the sound ceased. Laughter echoed. Chet had chosen not to work after getting his inheritance; part of this was because he was a normal human being who wanted an easy, good life and there was also the hope that a lot of free time would somehow produce a more fascinating, passion-filled existence. He could not say that had been the case. He thought of Rachel, what he had first hoped for when she moved in. Chet had learned some things through his only marriage. He and his wife had placed a lot of pressure on one another. They panicked when they were not happy; they worried they were not right for one another. He could not help but think of Rachel’s parents, they each had white hair already. Of course, they weren’t going to think much of him, an older man taking in their daughter, someone they had cared for so tenderly when she was a child. She was an object to Chet, a suggestion that his own aging process was not absolute, that he still could feel like a vital man. He tried to imagine himself as an eighty-year-old, stooped forward, his shaking hands stocking shelves.
He had already more or less decided he would not be taking the shoe over to the house of Rachel’s parents today. These people were strangers to him; the attempts at socializing were stiff and morose. At one of their rare get-togethers, Chet and Rachel’s father sat in lawn chairs in Chet’s backyard. The men were drinking beers and the woman were inside. Chet thought it would be all right to ask, so he said, Can you tell me about prison?
There’d been a pause. Chet was fairly certain he’d offended the guy and didn’t say anything else. Medium security, was the first thing Rachel’s father said. After another minute, her father said, I received a lot of advice before I went in. I was told to have all of my dental work done, get a thorough physical. The idea was medical care at medium security wouldn’t be so good. I found it to be decent, actually. The staff was quite kind.
Chet would’ve been interested for him to say more, but he didn’t.
“All ready,” Ben the mechanic said, as he stepped into the waiting area while rubbing his hands into an oily-looking rag. “Fuel line. I got the damages here.” At the cash register, Chet held over a credit card before Ben showed him the bill. After Ben handed Chet his receipt, he pulled Chet’s car out to the lot, then got out of it and walked straight for the garage. Chet guessed this might have been because the inside smelled like tilapia, though actually it didn’t. There was still plenty of ice left in the plastic sack. If anything, the inside of the car smelled like gas and oil. Chet drove for his neighborhood, understood the effects from his hangover were gone. He thought about a cold beer and he thought, Sure, I can always have that.
Inside the house, he put the tilapia away, then walked down the hall of Rachel’s bedroom and knocked on the door, which was already open a crack. He stuck his head inside; she leaned back against the headboard, the laptop stayed balanced on her thighs. He took a step inside, waited for her to object. He took a seat on the edge of the bed, an arm’s length from her bare feet. “I didn’t go to your parents’ house,” he said. “I went to the IGA on Harrison, applied for a job. I want to work. I want to be like you, I want to be working on something.” He faced a bureau as he spoke.
“What am I working on?” she said.
“Your store. Dressing the mannequins. The shoe .…”
“I see you are figuring things out, Rachel. You want a full life. I’m happy for you.”
“I’m not figuring out anything. What are you talking about?” He turned to her. She said, “What would you do exactly at the IGA, Chet?”
“I don’t know. Start at the bottom. Stock shelves.”
“You must be kidding. Are we broke? Tell me. Are we broke?”
“You’re having a very strange day today.”
“What’s wrong with applying for a job?”
“Are you telling me you want me to leave? Just say it then. Be a man about it.”
“That’s not what I am saying.”
“I am not working, OK?” she said. “I’m playing around, I’m dressing mannequins in used clothes. You’re seeing things that aren’t there.”
“What’s wrong with working? I don’t think I understand.”
“I don’t work, OK? That’s not how I want to live my life.”
“What you’re saying … it doesn’t sound good, Rachel.”
“I don’t care how it sounds. I want to be taken care of. I have interests. I make a little money with my store. I don’t want the pressure of owning a business. Come on. You’ve been on the wrong side of things all day today. Do you want me to leave? You didn’t answer my question.”
“No,” he said, right away.
“You want to work, work,” she said. “I don’t need to be dragged into that. What are you going to do, wear a uniform?” He didn’t answer. “You didn’t grow up rich, Chet. You don’t know what that’s like. You lucked into some money and you live easy. We live easy here. Even if this is a little less than what I’m used to. I’m not complaining though, all right? I know what I’ve got. My little store is pretty cool. I don’t mind sifting through bins of used clothes. I like to think about lives other people have. I’m not a snob. I don’t mind going to second hand stores at all. I think about people struggling and then I feel fortunate. Because I know I am not going to struggle. I am not going to do that. That isn’t me. What kind of work would you do at the IGA? Be in charge of something?”
“No,” he said. “I haven’t applied yet. Not officially. I don’t want you to leave, Rachel,” he said. “I was afraid of that this morning.” His voice turned quiet. “I’m not broke.” He didn’t say anything else.
“It wasn’t easy growing up rich,” she said. “We had a colonial style house, three stories, out in Woodlands. Our unhappiness was different than it is now. We all just kept asking for things and getting them.”
“You mentioned that once, I think.”
“My parents … well. I’m trying to hold onto something here. Men my age don’t understand. They want, they want too much.”
“All right,” he said. “Jesus.”
“I just want to start this day all over again. At this point,” she said. He nodded without looking at her. “Hey,” she said. “I’m not leaving, OK? And you’re not asking me to?” He shook his head again. He understood he was not going to feel any better today. It was just one of those days where that wasn’t going to happen.
“The box with the shoe is in the passenger seat,” he said. He was thinking about the next time he would go out drinking with Tom, if the subject of working at the IGA would come up. Chet was a bit embarrassed and of course he was losing interest in the idea now. He knew that Tom would not bring it up. If Tom felt sorry for him it wouldn’t do either of them any good for him to say it out loud. Not unless they had some knock down-drag out argument about something and Tom needed to get his attention. Chet could not picture this happening. What was there for them to argue over? “I bought tilapia for dinner, a whole lot of it,” he said.
She said, “I can go on line to look for recipes.” Her voice was returning to normal.
“OK,” he said.
“I can print some out for you. That OK?”
He said, “Did you find a match for the shoe? The ones your father used to wear?”
She considered his face. “I’ll be able to find something close to it,” she said. “I need to see it again, though.”
“I’ll bring it in.” He sat on the edge of the bed for a minute longer. He pictured the worn shoe on the kitchen table; the two of them looking at it, then Rachel searching for a comparable brand on eBay. It was remarkable what you could find on eBay if you looked long enough. “Let me know about that recipe,” Chet said. He stood, then left the room. When he closed the door, he did so quietly.