There was talk of a duck hunt, but Christopher wasn’t in an outdoor mood. He loitered by his pile of luggage, gathering size and grandeur as the porter returned, trip after trip. He would take his rest, he thought, gazing out the window, feeling warmed and sedated by the sun, but more so by the general ease with which the journey had progressed—beginning to end, like a whim it took shape and sort of just emerged, friends calling friends and enticing each other with the secrecy and quietness of the whole affair. Robert, a lover he saw only briefly now here and there, hadn’t been included in this little impromptu, yet meaningfully selective summer outing, and it made him happy. This was the result of a concatenation of events beginning with his alumnus acquaintance Geoffrey Turner’s senatorial election, something which had fractured their broad circle of friends into a twisted, not at all neat united states of egos—alliances made between husband-and-wife teams with others of hardly distinct political and historical shades; inscrutable and inane when viewed from the outside, which is why everybody pretended to be good friends on every level, and if not good friends then pals de jure, differences being set aside to save face and to prevent the whole structure coming undone.
“We are friends,” thought Christopher. “We are old friends.” He wondered where Thomas and Andy were at that very moment, whether they were getting ready for an afternoon of mindless violence and gunsmoke or doing the sensible thing and kissing up to Sherman, who had received top billing in the new case, would be shortly assigning titles, dispensing budgets and moving into his new corner office—easily twice the square footage of anyone else’s on that level.
Cadence stumbled into the room, nearly taking one of the paintings with her. Behind her the bellhop waited awkwardly with his Bennett Winch blue leather briefcase.
“Please don’t twist that,” said Christopher.
The bellhop looked only with greater intensity and awkwardness at the probably drunk Cadence, now inadvertently flashing other guests moving down the corridor.
“The bag, please don’t twist the leather,” he said more emphatically, pointing. Cadence, still giggling threw herself back onto the bed.
“He doesn’t speak our language, Christopher, you’ll have to show him.”
Christopher stepped over his bags to smile sardonically at the bellboy and rescue the abused bag. “Thank you,” he said, closing the door.
“Aroused?” said Cadence, lifting her skirt to reveal a corner of her underwear pressing into the plump, pale shape of her hip.
“Yes, very,” he said, whisking shut the curtains. “Those ducks will have to wait.”