Â Â Â "Super."
Â Â Â Madelaine shuts off her treadmill. "I'll be honest with you, Agnes. My daughter doesn't like my friends, and she doesn't like many aspects of my life. But you, she'll love. You're the kind of person she's been after me to get to know."
Â Â Â "I get the picture," says Agnes.
Â Â "When you have a daughter, you really will."
Â Â Â When Mrs. Blair Stanhope and Rolf return to the gym, Mrs. Stanhope, furious, says, "This idiot destroyed the battery."
Â Â Â "What can I say?" says Rolf. He is unconcerned. "I told you I'm not a mechanic. Next time you'll believe me."
Â Â Â "He connected positive to positive, then negative to negative. There was a spark, and the battery blew up. We could have been killed. The final connection is supposed to be to the engine block."
Â Â Â "You're such an expert, you do it next time," says Rolf. "Give the engine a tune-up while you're at it. I'd like to see that: you in your suit and high heels under a car, covered with grease." He savors the image. "I'd really like to see that."
Â Â Â "You're sick," says Mrs. Stanhope.
Â Â Â Agnes calls Barbara to get the scoop on Sarah Wegeman's expulsion.
Â Â Â "She broke into the administration building," says Barbara. "She found out that kindly Miss Clavelle has holdings in South Africa. Isn't that a riot? I don't know what the big secret is. It's been in all the gossip columns. I knew it a week ago."
Clara Barton. Vince Lombardi. Dorothy Parker. Benjamin Wohlford. Great Americans all, with attractive rest areas named for them on the Thruway. Ben Wohlford? Merely the inventor of the rest area, the jazz age visionary who saw that there was no need for a motorist with as full bladder ever to leave the highway.
Â Â Â Agnes shoots up to Kinderhook, New York in one of the Wegeman Mercedes. The quiet is unearthly. The drive train of this magnificent vehicle seems far, far away. She can't stop stroking the leather seats.
Â Â Â Miss Clavelle's school is a sprawling and impressive facility, half ivy-covered Gothic Revival and half tinny modern. Agnes is supposed to meet Sarah Wegeman in the student union. She recognizes her immediately. She is standing in a kind of midway of social activism, a gauntlet of card tables with exhibits decrying racism, sexism, genocide, vivisection, date rape, and bad things done to the rain forest. The woman manning the tables are short-haired and serious, seemingly in competition to see who can wear the ugliest eyeglasses, dressed in formless tops and orthopedic shoes. They are, for all that (Agnes can't help noticing) stunning creatures. They have taut, milky skin and great bones. Their bodies are toned from skiing and dancing. All in all, they are finely wrought.
Â Â Â A handful of Clavelle students read the pro-choice pamphlets or leaf through the violent pornography, but mostly the activists chat among themselves. Sarah Wegeman is at the display calling for more funds for AIDS research, the one with the slogan, "What the FUCK is going on here?"
Â Â Â Agnes introduces herself. Sarah is happy to see her. "When mommy told me you were coming, I was psyched. I can't believe you're here. Do you know how many times I've watched the tape of you disarming Geister? That was amazing." She calls for the attention of her comrades. "Hey everybody, this is the woman who saved my father's life and spurred enrollment in our self-defense classes by almost twenty percent!"
Â Â Â Agnes is greeted warmly. She is considered a heroine. Sarah leads her from table to table. Every cause hands her some literature. The Nicaragua people give her a plastic shopping bag.
Â Â Â Sarah Wegeman is by far the least stunning of the creatures. As Agnes has already noted, she looks just like her father. She's tall, maybe five-ten, and she has her father's flat features and heavy brow and broad rubbery mouth. She
Christopher Martucci, Jennifer Martucci