Twilight of the Superheroes

Twilight of the Superheroes by Deborah Eisenberg

Book: Twilight of the Superheroes by Deborah Eisenberg Read Free Book Online
Authors: Deborah Eisenberg
buildings, where the lights were almost all out. Had he been asleep? He blinked up at William, whose face, shadowed against the light of the night sky, was as inflected, as ample in mystery as the face in the moon. “It’s late, my darling,” Otto said. “I’m tired. What are we doing down here?”

LIKE IT OR NOT
     
     

    Kate would have a little tour of the coast, Giovanna would have the satisfaction of having provided an excursion for her American houseguest without having to interrupt her own work, and the man whom everyone called Harry would have the pleasure, as Giovanna put it, of Kate’s company: demonstrably a good thing for all concerned.
    “I wish this weren’t happening,” Kate said. “I’ll be inconveniencing him. And besides—”
    “No.” Giovanna waved a finger. “This is the point. He goes every few months to check on this place of his. He loves to show people about, he loves to poke around the little shops. So, why not? You’ll go with him as far as one of the towns, you’ll give him a chance to shop, you’ll give him a chance to shine, you’ll spend the night at some pleasant hotel, then he’ll go on and you’ll find your way back here by taxi and train.”
    So, yes—it was hard to say just who was doing whom a favor …
    “The coast is very beautiful,” Giovanna added. “You don’t feel like enjoying such things right now, I know, but right now is when your chance presents itself.”
    The whole thing had twisted itself into shape several days earlier at a party—a noisy roomful of Giovanna’s friends.
Harry had been speaking to Kate in English, but his unplaceable accent and the wedges of other languages flashing around Kate chopped up her concentration. She tried to follow his voice—he was obliged to go frequently to the coast …
    Had she left enough in the freezer? Brice and Blair were hardly children, but whenever they came back home they reverted to sheer incompetence. Besides, they’d be so busy dealing with their father …
    And was Kate fond of it? the person, Harry, was asking.
    “Fond of …” She searched his face. “Oh. Well, actually I’ve never …” and then both she and he were silenced, rounding this corner of the conversation and seeing its direction.
    Giovanna had simply stood there, smiling a bright, vague smile, as though she couldn’t hear a thing. And Harry had been polite—technically, at least; Kate gave him every opportunity to weasel out of an invitation to her, but he’d shouldered the burden manfully. And so there it was, the thing that was going to happen, like it or not. Still, Giovanna was right. And perhaps the very fact that Kate was in no mood to do anything proved, in fact, that she should submit gracefully to whatever … opportunity came her way.
     
     
    Over and over, now that she was visiting Giovanna, she’d recall—the phone ringing, herself answering … as if, listening hard enough this time, she might hear something different. Sitting on the sofa, shoes off … It was December 3, the date was on the quizzes she was grading. She’d almost knocked over her cup of tea, answering the phone with her hands full of papers. “Has Baker talked to you about what’s going on with him?” Norman had asked.
    It was the gentleness of Norman’s voice that stayed with
her, the tea swaying in her cup. What practical difference did Baker’s illness make to her life? Almost none. It was a good fifteen years since she and Baker had gotten divorced.
    She’d sent out her annual Christmas letter:

    Sorry to be late this year, everyone, (as usual!) but school seems to get more and more time-consuming. Always more administrative annoyances, more student crises … This year we had to learn a new drill, in addition to the fire drill and the cyclone drill—a drive-by shooting drill! You can tell how old all the teachers here are by what we do when that bell goes off. Anyone else remember the atomic-bomb drill? Whenever the alarm rings I

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