By about seven, the sky had darkened enough that Mr. Adams was squinting hard at his crossword puzzle and Mrs. Adams had given up on her needlepoint, staring instead at her husband with amused eyes.
“Come on, old man,” she said. “It’s officially night. Let’s go inside.”
“Oh, alright,” grumbled Mr. Adams. “I need to Google a few of these clues anyway. I swear, whoever writes this crossword is either getting smarter or just obnoxiously obscure.”
Mr. and Mrs. Adams both got out of their rocking chairs with ease and grace – ballroom dancing and standing in lecture halls for hours kept them spry – and headed into the house. Their home was warm, cozy and lived in. It wasn’t filled with antiques, nor did it exclude technology from within its walls, but nevertheless, the furniture was worn and squishy and the clutter looked homey and comfortable.
Mr. Adams went right into his study and began to search furiously for the answers he was missing. Mrs. Adams went into the kitchen and put water on to boil. She made herself a cup of tea and sat down at the kitchen table, picking up the latest novel she was reading. Before she finished reading a page, however, the phone rang shrilly.
Now, Mr. and Mrs. Adams were the kind of people who had an answering machine and expected people to leave messages if they ever wanted to speak to them. They didn’t like picking up the phone when it rang, because it seemed to them both that people usually called when they weren’t in the mood to talk to them. This is one of those unnatural occurrences that seem to plague people who enjoy relaxing at home – the phone always rings during dinner, or when they’re in the shower, or when the film is reaching a particularly engaging point.
So Mrs. Adams, as usual, raised her eyes from her book and waited for the machine to kick in so she could hear who was calling and decide whether or not she wanted to pick up.
“Hi,” her own voice rang through the house. “This is the Adams residence. Please leave a message, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. If this is an issue regarding academics, please call our offices at Valley University and leave the message there. Thank you!” A shrill beep sounded. Then-
“Uh – Caroline? Dan? Anyone home?”
Mrs. Adams leaped from her seat and grabbed at the phone. Mr. Adams emerged from his study, his face white. He stared at his wife as she spoke into the mouthpiece.
“Marty?!” She shrieked.