The Missing Hours, a short story, Part 3-The Visitor
That may not have been my best strategy, she thinks after hanging up the phone. Sighing she rises from the side of the bed and circles the room. She makes the decision to forget the failed phone conversation by soaking in the tub. She walks into the bathroom adjoining her bedroom, leans above the over-sized bathtub, and turns the faucet handles to run warm water into the tub, adding a few drops of Chanel to the swirling stream.
She hears a knock on her bedroom door as the returning housekeeper looks in on her. Calling through the closed bathroom door she responds, “Don’t worry about me, I’m planning to relax at home tonight. I won’t need anything; going to take it easy.” She hears the housekeeper’s muffled response and then the sounds of the older woman retiring to her quarters on the other end of the mission-style ranch house.
The tub is full and she is ready to step in when she remembers the book she is reading. Wrapping herself in a giant bath towel she goes in search of it. Not finding the book in her bedroom, she moves on through the house toward the living room where she comes upon the handyman, who is working on the floor in the main entry. He looks up when she walks out towards the front hallway. Embarrassed, she explains to him that she needed something to read while taking a bath. She spies the book beyond him on an end table in the living room and sidles past him over to the table to grab the book and then hurries back to the bathroom, holding the ends of the towel down around her thighs.
Well that will give him a thrill, she thinks as she tosses the towel to the floor before stepping into the tub. She sinks into the water and begins reading, spending the next half hour soaking.
Rested and with the water cooling, she gets out, drains the tub, and dries off with the towel she had earlier thrown on the floor. She slips into a comfortable caftan, then sliding her feet into mules, she heads back out to the main part of the house, thankful that the handyman has finished and is gone.
She moves toward a chair near a telephone stand in the den to make a few phone calls. After all, he told me not to leave the house, that doesn’t mean phoning someone is off-limits. She talks to family and friends, catching up. One male friend tries desperately to convince her to join a group for a party but she pleads exhaustion and declines.
Finishing her phone calls she decides to treat herself with a dish of ice cream. Today is a reason to celebrate so she allows herself three scoops. She brings the bowl to the living room to watch some television shows. Relaxing in front of the television is something she rarely gets to do.
Halfway through the second sitcom she hears a knock on the front door. She knows the housekeeper won’t respond since she shooed her away, so she sits and ponders whether or not to answer.
I’m not expecting anyone, maybe they will just leave. She thinks, turning her attention back to the show.
But, what if it’s him! Would he use his key or wait for me to open the door for appearances sake?
She sits still for a moment longer trying to decide what to do but thoughts of him have her running to the door after a second knock. She looks through the peephole. It’s not him. Turning to lean against the door she wonders what his brother is doing here. Maybe he has a message from him. Does he know about the baby?
Curious she opens the door.
“Well, hello; to what do I owe this pleasure?” She smiles, batting her eyelashes. He is still fun to tease, she thinks as she moves to open the door to let him in, he blushes every time. A second man on the porch is revealed as the two men shuffle to make their way through the doorway. She hesitates not allowing them inside. Her arm holds the door at an angle as she stares over the brother’s shoulder.
“He’s helping me out, acting as my chauffeur, driving me around and stuff. His name’s Vinny. I told him he could come in.”
She is unsure as she inspects the other man. She’s seen him before here and there. He’s always running errands for both brothers, taking care of roadblocks or problems, which she loosely translated as meaning reporters or unwanted groupies. It was okay being around him when she was at a party or event, but for some unknown reason she is uncomfortable and nervous to have Vinnie in her home. For one thing he is massive, almost as wide as the door itself; but the main reason she is wary is his face. His eyes are flat and lifeless, like a shark’s, and he wore a permanent smirk on his face as if God had struck him on the back of the head and the expression stuck.
Reluctantly she opens the door wider and attempts a smile to welcome Vinny in as well, “Well, if you insist.”