The Dinner

The California sun was just touching down as they entered the restaurant. Los Gatos is a town that always seemed to have dropped into California to sooth the homesick Easterner’s need for that New England environment.  Large Oaks shaded the alleys between the  trendy small shops which  offered the unusual and unique item. The streets were narrow and the restaurants and shops were tucked together in the center of the town.

“It is so nice to be out of the house with the boxes and the mess,” she said as they pulled the chairs in toward the table.  “ I will miss Los Gatos,  Well maybe not. Los Gatos always was my  connection to the East Coast.  Did I tell you that when we first arrived in Almaden  one of the ladies in my Club said that I should go to Los Gatos when I was homesick for the East Coast?”

“No, he said.  

There had been weeks of scrambling for a move from the West Coast to the East Coast. Tall boxes, medium boxes, book boxes, and any other type box one might dream of lived on the sea of carpeting.  It often appeared to me to be the New York Harbor.  Tomorrow would be the end of the boxes and all else.  The green yard, gardenias and the swimming pool with no lounge chairs or “toys” would stand alone naked in comparison to the yard so carefully watched after weekly for over ten years. They were out to dinner to end the California experience and begin the first step of the move to Washington DC.

“The movers will be there in the morning.  They are arriving at 8:00.  Will you have your office ready at that point?  She asked knowing it was a TNT question. 

“Don’t start,” he said. 

“I’m not starting I just need you to consider that what doesn’t get done will be thrown out!  We have to be out of there.  You, I and the  kids are on a plane that evening.  They are counting on us being off the premises  for the new owners.”

“It doesn’t have to happen that quickly. We have time.” His tenor of voice was determined as he smoothed the placemat on the oak table.

“No we don’t!  I have been taking care of everything and now it is down to the wire.  We are on a plane in two days.  We can stay with the Starks or get a hotel.  Which do you prefer.  ?  She was looking down at the table seeing the glasses just so, the salt and pepper, their wine glasses anything to prevent her from raising her voice.  

“You and the kids will go, I’m not going.” There was no affect in his voice no mark of emotion on his face.  This could have been a business meeting or a conversation with a neighbor or a command to the dog.

She sank into the chair as the waiter arrived and asked if we would like a wine list.  She thought to herself, I want the whole crate of wine. Slowly she found her voice through the desert of her throat. “What do you mean you are not going?”  Her hands were trembling unseen by him.  She felt her face flush.  

“I have to stay here.”

“Why”

“Im not ready to leave.  I can’t just pick up and move the business.  There are clients here and I need to stay.”

“You’re not ready to leave?  When were you going to tell me?  

“I’m telling you now.”

“When will you come East?  Where are you staying?  In a hotel?  We can’t afford a hotel.  Am I suppose to unpack the complete house?  What about the DC house closing?”  When were you going to tell me this?”  She repeated. She could feel the shake in her legs and torso.

“Look, he said softly.” She had a sense he noticed eyes on us. “Things like this happen all the time.  It turns out that I need to stay and finish out with OKI and I have a new prospect that hasn’t booked.  You don’t need me there.  The movers take it all in and I will come as soon as I can. “

“I don’t understand, Where will you stay?  We can’t afford to rent an apartment in the Valley and a move to DC.  I need your help.  You have said every time I asked if all was working out that we were ok.  NOW less than twenty-four hours left and you can’t go?  Where will you stay?” 

The small restaurant was filled with men and women some married some not and some married but not with their spouse.  Waiters calmly approached tables and asked the same questions they had asked of us.  It was all so calm, so sophisticated, reasonable calm.  No one could possibly see a marriage about to tear apart.

“I’ve taken care of that.  You are making too much out of this.”

“What do you mean you have taken care of this.  How long did you know you were not coming with us?  Why have you waited to tell me this.  What are you going to tell the kids?  Where are you going to live?”

“Calm down, I didn’t want to tell you until now.  I knew you would be upset.  I am taking a room in a friends house until I can get to the East Coast.”

She took a moment, so many things swirling.  “A room in a friends house?  Who is this friend? and why did you wait until the night before to drop this BOMB!” There were perspiration droplets on her forehead in spite of the cool air .   She didn’t dare move her hands for fear of loosing control.

“ I knew you would react this way so I thought leaving it until now was easier on us and the kids.”

“You didn’t say who the friend was?  One of the guys you used to work with at Oki?

“No”

“Then who?  Intel?”

“I’m renting a room in Anna’s house.”

“Your secretary?  What are you saying?  Are you seriously thinking this is ok with me? Have you been seeing her?”

“Don’t be ridiculous!  You are over reacting.  This makes the most sense.  She needs more of an income and I need a place.  It won’t be for long; two weeks or a little more”

She didn’t say anything else. They ate their dinner in silence.

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