This guy, seemingly of mature years, in conservative duds . . .


black wool pants, no pills;

reversible corduroy jacket;

cap, tucked under his arm;

clean smell, of soap and coffee

. . . he could be a cop or a property auditor, this guy she (wondering) spies, but doesn’t smell, from a white-curtained upstairs bedroom window, except he’s not carrying any briefcase, aluminum clipboard or spiral notepad, so he must be somebody else. Anyway, he walks, shaking his left leg between steps, up to her door, an oak door, glass rectangle in the center, and taps the brass knocker —softly, then hard, because it’s a big house:

canary yellow;

colonial, double-decker;

lots of windows with matching white curtains;

nothing unordinary, really.

The knocker, of course, is just for looks; most people use the doorbell. He remembers the bell, rings that too. Remembers because he has been here before, although not in many years, about thirteen, to be exact. Today is Wednesday, the twenty- fifth of October, in the year 1985. He pops his knuckles, first one hand, then the other. Was it mentioned that this guy is wearing shades?

mirrored lenses,

teardrop frame,

dime store quality

. . . he snatches them off (Look nice, you dummy), checks his straight dark bangs in the lenses. The door opens. Opens wide, in an easy, welcoming manner, but he doesn’t seem to recognize the young woman, straight faced, in a blue maternity jumpsuit and white socks, nor she him, although it’s remotely possible they went to grade school together or shared the front car of a roller coaster once. She cups her hands under her belly, feels the firm-feeling firmness there.

Second trimester, he estimates.

— Can I help you? Her eyes find his.

— Ah, hello, he says. I guess the Lanes don’t live here anymore.

— The Lanes? No, they moved out just before we moved in. I mean, we bought this place from them. Five years ago.

— Five years, hmmm.

She smiles apologetically, from the corners of her mouth, stretching her lips without parting them. Her face is enchanting . . .

square jawline;

fair skin, clean pores;

fine blond mustache hair;

aquiline nose, delicately freckled

. . . and other memorable features, which he hasn’t time to catalog, noticing the door closing gently now, as if to suggest that the conversation has finished, or perhaps only to conserve heat, although the temperature outside is merely cool. Dead leaves catapult across the lawn.