Chapter One

Only time will tell if she heard, heard them warning bells.

"What are you wearing?" he asked.

She said, "I'm wearing a white shirt with a little camera, green and black, on it, and black pants, and socks the color of the green in the camera, and a pair of black fuzzies I got for six dollars."

"What are you doing?"

"I'm sitting on my computer chair that swivels."


"I would be lounging on the bed, but it's made. A couple of years ago my mother gave me a matelasse bedspead, exactly the kind they used to have, and I felt bad that it was still folded up unused, so this morning I finally made the bed with it."

"I don't know what matelasse is," he said. "Is it some kind of silky material?"

"No, it's cotton. It has a floral pattern, kind of puffed. Like in bed-and-breakfasts."

"Ah, a puff pattern. I'm relieved."

"Why?" she asked.

"Silk is somehow...I think of those phone sex ads on TV, or Victoria's Secret. You know that catalog?"

"I get one about every month."

"You do?"

"But I'm not really a silk kind of girl. Someone gave me this exotic chemisy thing, a robe, silk with lace. He said, the person who bought it for me, said, "So what, throw it away, if it starts to fray." But I don't know, I thought I might want to wear it again. So I took it to the drycleaners. It came back with the buttons missing."


"And the guy who gave it to me called the manager, who claimed he never saw my robe or the buttons, or me. I hate liars."

There was a pause. "Do you still give them your business?"


"Where do you live?"

"North Carolina."

"Noth Ca-ro-line-a?"

She laughs. "You do that well."

"I know. But I have a New York accent."

"Your voice doesn't sound like New York. Did you grow up there?"

"I was born in New Hampshire."

"Ah, well, that explains it."

"Explains what?"

"Why your voice sounds more like New England than New York."

"I live in a condo on Rockaway beach."

"How nice."

"It is nice," he said. "From my living room, I can hear the ocean. There's a nice breeze blowing through the curtains."

"Sounds lovely."

"I enjoy it."

"What color are the curtains? I'm visualizing."

"White. Kind of see thru curtains."

"Like sheers?"


"Tell me more about the room you're in."

"Okay," he said. "I'm sitting at my computer in my living room. The room isn't big, but the big windows make it look big. The walls are white. There's a large balcony. I'm retired, so I don't need a lot of rooms. Tomorrow, I should clean."

"How often do you clean?"

"What month is this?"

She laughed. "November."

"Already! What time is it there?"

"Um--five-thirty," she said.

"Is it dark there yet?"

"Almost. Is it dark there?"

"No," he said. "I might have to go soon. I'm cooking a chicken."

"What hand are you holding the phone with?"

"Left," he said.

"So you must be right-handed."

"My right hand is stirring the pot."

"I don't hear anything. What kind of chicken are you having?"

"The plucked kind. There's sauce on top. It's a mystery chicken."

"Life itself is a mystery."

"I haven't told you what I'm wearing."

"A chef's hat?"

He laughed. "I am wearing, well, a bathrobe and flip flops."

"Any buttons?"


"You have a nice laugh."

"Thank you. That was one button, if you're remembering the story about me and Christa."

"Who could forget it?"

"You liked it?"

"It was different told it well, I thought."

"I told it to Maria Flook, and she put it in her book! I didn't know she would put it in her book! Did you read it?"

"Just the parts you put on your blog."

"I'll send you the chapter about me. Is my accent understandable to you?"

"Oh, don't worry about that," she said. "Your accent is different from what I expected."



"I didn't know what to expect when I called. You have a nice laugh, too."

"Thank you. Talking into a computer is strange. There's kind of an echo. My temperature dropped about fifteen degrees when this speaker started ringing."

"Where did you read my first post?"

"On the Court TV message boards."


"About a month ago. It was the Christa thread and you were talking about being on Court TV."

There is a pause. "Yeah."


"I'll tell you about that sometime. What they did to me."

"I'm having trouble hearing you. Do you have company?"


"It sounds like a bunch of people are running down a hall."

"Don't know. I gotta go anyway, my chicken is ready. Can I call you after I eat?"

"Sure. When will that be?"

"Twenty minutes."

"Don't gobble your chicken."

"I'll call you in twenty minutes. And then I want you to tell me about the chain of events that led you to flirting with me."

"What? It was the other way around!"

He laughed. "Do you have a photo you can send me?"

"Uh, not sure."

"I'll ask you again. Later."

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