Another Section of A Possible Novel
She had started watching these mystery programs with her grandmother on Sunday nights and looked forward to it. Her grandmother was at her best this way, in the dark, with the intermediary of a good story, and she actually talked to her during the commercials. “I went to Los Angeles once,” her grandmother said, because one of the mystery programs took place there. “It seems very ugly when you’re driving through it but off of the main roads it was really quite heavenly. We had some friends, an old fraternity brother of your grandfather’s who was a judge, I believe he’s retired now, they had the most marvelous place. It was up a very steep hill — you cannot believe how steep the hills in Los Angeles are. So steep you can almost reach out and touch the slope in front of you. And their driveway! What a driveway! What flowers!”
During the next program, which took place somewhere in Maine, she said “Maine is beautiful of course, and we have been to some absolutely divine houses there — but there’s really nothing to do there but play tennis, and when I say nothing to do but play tennis, I am not exaggerating. I mean, you can go — sit on a rock, I guess. But the water is just absolutely breathtakingly cold. I jumped in it once — once only! Right before I said, “How cold can it be?” Ha! Well, Wendy,” she took a sip of her second drink and then set the glass back down next to the nut bowl, empty except for three peanut halves. “I just about almost died. I grew up swimming in Rhode Island and that was surely very cold but this was — well! It was almost like jumping into this drink!”
She talked though the advertisements, for Geritol, for Princess Cruises, then for American Airlines and then for Ritz Crackers. After the Ritz Cracker ad there was the little pause and Wendy felt a tingling in her toes that the story was going to start again. She loved these stories, all about a murder and then who had done it. She loved the clues: This person was mad about a will, this person had been wearing a green dress, and a witness had seen someone in a green dress running across a lawn at dusk, but the person in the green dress had no reason for having killed the dead person, did not even know them. It was complicated enough to hold her attention but it wasn’t hard, and all these people sewn into this little world, the nice tight limits of it all made her feel warm and safe.