No one knows why he came to the house so early. Caroline had had to grab a robe, which in itself wasn’t easy. She hadn’t worn it for a while (she and Thomas slept in the nude) and was forced to just about dive into her closet, plowing her head through blouses and jackets and pants and skirts in search. Thomas had merely stretched his long hairy limbs and said, “What the hell?”
The pounding had awakened them, her first. Alarmed, she’d rushed to the window, which really didn’t show the front door, but she recognized the maroon Buick which Philip kept polished at all times. “I think it’s Phil Potts. It’s his car.”
Thomas reached for his cell phone. “Phil? No kidding. At 6:15?”
The pierce of the doorbell sounded.
“Jesus Christ!” Thomas,pulling on trousers, lost his balance and toppled onto the bed.
“Why don’t you get that thing fixed? It’s alarming.”
Caroline, starting out the door, turned back. “What? Why don’t I get the doorbell fixed? You spend enough time here that if it bothers you so much, you can call someone in.”
Thomas peered out the window. “It’s Phil’s car all right. What? It’s your house, that’s why. Jesus. You remind me of that fact often enough.”
She sank onto one side of the bed, watched while he rifled under it for shoes.
“I didn’t know that it bothered you so much – my having a house when you don’t.”
He looked up. He looked ridiculous, she thought, his hair thinning on top, his nose too sharp or too long maybe. She hadn’t thought about it before.
“You had to say it, didn’t you?” Another round of pounding. “You’ve been feeling so goddam superior all along, haven’t you?”
He’d found one loafer, given up, grabbed his tee shirt which he wore as an undershirt. She’d not liked the idea that he wore undershirts either, like some old man. Thomas was right. She did feel superior to him, hoped he hadn’t noticed. She liked sex with him.
“I’ll get the doorbell fixed,” she said. “In my own good time.”
They stared at each other across the bed.
“And maybe,” she added, irritated, “when you get that book published and make a fortune you can buy you own goddam house and have the doorbell play Aida or something so everyone can be impressed. So, if there’s pounding going on at –” She glanced at the clock—“six thirty in the morning, you can turn to whoever’s in bed with you at the time and see how impressed she is with you. With your house. With your doorbell. With you.”
He found his other shoe, shuffled into his shirt.
“Your socks,” she said.
A car started outside and she went to the window. “He’s gone,” she said. “Phil Potts.”
“I’m gone too.”
“I wonder what he wanted.”
“I said I’m going too—I’m talking to you, Miss Superior, with your house and your screeching doorbell. I said I’m leaving you.”
“Yes I heard you. Don’t you wonder why he came so early? Phil Potts?”