“A portal in the coal bin?”
Doris sat up. Her hair stuck out in a hundred directions. Her eyes were puffy. She needs a couple cups of coffee to get her started, and even then the sun had better be above the horizon.
“You ever been in the basement?”
“I don’t know I’ve seen all the rooms above ground.”
“A steel door. Set in concrete. Duke says on Summit Avenue it’s no big deal. All the old-time rich guys had one. That was him, banging on the door.”
“Duke.” She swiped at her hair. “How does he look?”
“What you mean, how does he look?”
A guy leaves your sweetheart forty or fifty million dollars, you can’t help but hope he looks like a monster. Dead isn’t enough. Rottingly dead is what you’re after.
“He’s dead. He could be worse.”
Doris pushed the duvet back and got out of bed.
She’s a creature of habit. First thing in the morning it’s always the same. Onto the scale. Then to the mirror. Self-examination. Hands through her hair. Over her ribs, to her hips.
I try to resist. Usually fail. What I want to do is come up behind her, run my hands over her belly, to her breasts. Lift. Seperate. As the old bra ads had it. She doesn’t love it but she tolerates it. Sometimes she’ll lean back against me and I’ll nuzzle her neck.
It takes so little to make me happy. Just a bit more and I’m ecstatic. If she says, “Charles, I’m thinking, breakfast can wait,” I melt with joy. I lift her up and set her back in bed before she has a chance to change her mind.
Okay, I couldn’t resist. I took hold of her hips. She grabbed my hands, focused on my eyes in the mirror.
“What does he want this time?” Doris said.
“He thinks he done me wrong. He wants to make it good.”
“He made us rich. How’s that bad for you?”
She insists the money is ours. Maybe she feels that way. Everything is in her name. I don’t want to say we should get married. It never seemed necessary before. Now it could so easily be interpreted as a grab for the dough. For all she’s said about the money being ours, she’s never mentioned marriage either.
“Duke says he wants to take me on as a project. With his pals in the underworld. Make me rich. Too.”
She pulled my hands tighter around herself and gave me another look. I tried to figure out what it meant. Skeptical? Curious? Doris is not really an open book.
“How’s that going to happen?”
“Some aptitude and personality testing for starters. Then we take it from there. He’s got all the top people on his team.” I paused. “What do you think?”
“The top dead guys? I think next time you hear him knocking, put a pillow over your head.”
Tomorrow: Rent money or meth money?