“So, what have you done today,” Diane said. She held her coffee in both hands, right thumb through the cup handle. She was gazing at the line of the shadow moving down the mountain, slowly bringing the Valley from the dusk to a brand new day. She was speaking to Hank who had just staggered into the kitchen in his bathrobe. Since his retirement from the Post Office four years ago, this had been his uniform de-jour.
“I’ve got freaking out of bed,” Hank said. “What else is there before coffee?”
“That about says it all,” Diane was not in a bathrobe. She was wearing her traveling clothes, rubber sole shoes, spandex waisted jeans, and a loose sweat shirt (bright blue) with “Gramma: Queen of my World” scrawled in childish mauve across the chest. She had not put on her bra and probably was not going to, though there was a couple in the suitcase beside the door. Benny, the dog, lay beside the suitcase because suitcases meant long trips in the car with windows open and smells changing by the minute.
Diane lifted her coffee, whiffed a sniff of its rich darkness and sipped the now tepid lushness.
“Jesus,” Hank said. He shook the coffee carafe. “Didn’t you make any coffee?”
“I been drinking coffee since four AM.” The shadow of dawn had just touched the nipple tips of the hills she called Two Breast Whore, because they looked so completely like an eighteenth-century Spanish artist’s idea of female anatomy, complete with stone nipples, and because they were so passively open to sky, elements and imaginations of sick old men.
“Well, whoopty-doo to you,” Hank said.
“Coffee’s in the fridge.” This is something that Hank needed to know.
“Water comes from the faucet. Coffee maker’s plugged in. Bring water and coffee together in maker and push button. Simple pimple.” Diane said. She filled her mouth again with the bitter lush of warm coffee.
“Well, Jesus,” Hank said, more in puzzlement than disgust. For forty-seven years, the coffee had been on and hot, the bacon cooking, when he came into the kitchen.
Then he saw Benny sitting beside the suitcase, tongue hanging out, grinning.
“We going someplace?” he said.
“I haven’t seen Angie or Will in over a year.” Diane said. This was more a reason and an excuse than it was an explanation. But Diane saw it as all three. Angie was the grandchild who scrawled “Gramma: Queen of my World” on the sweat shirt.
“Well, Jesus,” Hank said. He stood frowning at the wheels churning in his still uncoffeed head. “And just like that, you expect me to wake up and get ready to drive two thousand miles. At the drop of a hat?”
“Two thousand one hundred and seventy-five miles more or less,” Diane said. “And all I expect of you is to make a pot of coffee.”
“Well, Jesus,” Hank said. The uncoffeed wheels had finally churned what was happening through his foggy head. “You can’t abandon us like that.”
“I’m taking Benny,” Diane said. “And I ain’t abandoning,” Diane said. “I’m leaving.” She slugged back the rest of her bitter drink with full satisfaction. The dog wagged his tail at the mention of his name.
“Well, Jesus,” Hanks said.
She stepped past the fat guy in the bathrobe, lifted her suitcase and said, “Come on Benny.” She let the dog out the door ahead of her, stepped through, slammed the door shut and did not look back.
The Prius purred to life, she rolled down Benny’s window, and a few minutes later as she passed the Two Breasted Whore, now fully exposed to morning, she waved fare-thee-well.