From The Ghost Writer
Carla and Rose left at eleven, excited and giggling like two teenagers off to the mall by themselves for the first time. They each wore jeans and low-cut tops. Each sported high heels. They both looked mighty sexy. Both kissed Murph bye and bid him have a good day of work. Fred had prepared the car and was at the ready.
Murph had started work after the ladies left him at the breakfast table. By the time they’d finished eating, their towels had completely slipped away from their bodies so they both sat naked before him. He’d watched them swim and had himself eaten while they’d played in the pool. Keelah had come out to clean and wash the table. She’d come out a second time to set it for lunch.
At one Murph had a tuna tommy down with French fries. He was reminded of when he was eighteen and working in Manhattan. Every day he ate lunch in a coffee shop. “Tuna tommy down,” the waitress called out for his order. That place had the best goopy tuna laced with celery and mayo. The fries were always crispy and hot. He’d relished that meal, ate it every day for weeks at a time.
Should have kept that job, he thought, finishing up his sandwich. It had started as a summer job, full time. He’d completed his first semester at Queens College, having begun in mid-year because he’d graduated high school early. They’d offered him ideal terms, any twenty hours. He could pick the days and times, and they’d pay him his full time salary, teach him the business and give him raises regularly.
Should have done lots of things, he thought, and not done lots of things too, he thought. This one, not keeping this job, was a minor regret, one not even making the regret scale. He hadn’t thought about it in forever, and he wouldn’t have thought about it now if the tuna hadn’t been goopy and laced with celery, if the juices from the tuna hadn’t run over his plate like they had there.
Keekah cleared the table and again reset it for later. She brought him freshly brewed coffee the way he liked it and asked if there were anything else he needed or wanted. He said no and went back to work. She told him to call out if he changed his mind, but he was ensconced in his work, the telling of Rose’ s story. Thus far, Rose had gotten through the dealings with her family, but they had not started with her husband’s story and her marriage. Rose’s husband had died from a coronary some ten years ago.
Murph’d only recently begun a narrative, but Rose had not addressed what she wanted as an end product, so he felt as if he were shooting in the dark. In fact, Carla, always the more direct, always more brash, blunt and much less unafraid, had told Murph she would query Rose about the desired end product. In part, that was why he’d made the meeting for the two of them.
He’d had no idea it would move in this direction. Brunch a week ago had led to the weekend here now, to Rose and Carla’ s skinny dipping and sleeping together without him last night, to their doing whatever it was that they’d done, to their skinny dipping for him to see this morning, to their letting their towels fall away from their naked bodies in front of him at the breakfast table.
Goddamn, he said to himself. He wanted to get this project under his belt without any complications. Didn’t seem as if that was happening.
About three, Keekah and Keelah came out on the deck. “We’re going swimming,” Keekah said.
“In the raw,” Keelah said. She winked at Murph. “We’re not drawing the curtains either.”
“Hot tub after the pool,” Keekah said. “There’s plenty of room.”
“Have fun,” Murph said. “I have work to do.” He watched them as they went in and disrobed by the pool. He watched them head into the water. He saved his work in case he was unable to get back on track, but he told himself in no uncertain terms that he wasn’t going into the hot tub.