He was eating his supper when the telephone rang. He knew who it was, but he did not want to answer. He continued to chew his food and swallowed the mass of meat and gristle. The phone stopped ringing; she had answered it. He placed his knife and fork neatly beside his plate and hung his head in his hands. The call was important, but he really wished that she had not answered.
She sauntered into the dining room, which was always kept as one of the neatest rooms in the house; everything had its place. Her husband sat at the end of the rectangular oak table; he had shoved one of the three candle sticks away that adorned the table as a center piece. He eyed her slim figure. Her round, perky breasts stretched the fabric of her red nightgown taut; her milky, white skin so silky and smooth. Her raven hair flowed gently down the open back of her garment. Her green eyes met his, piercing right through him.
"Herman," she said, "your brother is on the phone. He wants to speak to you."
Herman hesitated, but then lifted his hand to grasp the receiver of the cordless telephone.
"Hello?" he said into the phone.
On the other end he heard static.
"Good evening, Mister Adams," the voice said. It was his brother.
"So it is business, then?" Herman asked.
"Is that really such a surprise?" his brother asked.
"No, Bob, it isn't."
"I am calling in regards to our meeting tomorrow. Is noon alright with you?" His brother's voice was light and business like.
"No, Bob, I already told you that I'm supposed to be at the mortuary tomorrow. I work a real--" Herman was cut off, mid-sentence.
"Great, so, I'll see you at noon," Bob said, obviously ignoring what Herman had said.
The line clicked, and then after a moment Herman heard the tell-tale buzzing. He angrily gripped the phone and punched the button with his finger. He laid the handset on the table beside his plate and pushed his plate away.
"Finished already, darling?" his wife asked.
"Loretta, I just know that Bob is up to no good," he said and then excused himself from the table.
He walked into the living room, eyeballing the old faux leather couch that sat across from his favorite recliner. As he sunk into the cushions of the easy chair, he could feel that they were old and did not hold up like they used to, but regardless, it was still comfortable. He glanced at the cheap plastic clock that hung on the wall. He had always dreamed of owning an old style grandfather clock, but gave up on that dream years ago. Time had no relevance to him anymore, but it was nearing eleven at night.
The mortuary demanded a lot of his time, always being on call as the town undertaker; he basically ran the place alone. It had been the family business until his brother, Francis Robert Adams, his older brother, made business the family business.
Loretta entered the scene, her flowing hair drifting lightly behind her. She glanced at her husband, today's paper spread wide-out in front of him. His long legs were propped on a red, suede footstool. His black suit clung to his form; she admired his always lean figure. He lightly licked his long, thin fingers and turned the page.
"Well, my dear, I am going to retire for the night," Loretta said. "Unless, you need anything else."
"That will be all, dear," Herman said, without even a glance up from his paper.
Loretta turned and walked up the dark steps, disappearing into the inky blackness to the guest room, where she spent time when she wanted peace and quiet, or if she wanted to read. She heard a faint whine, the sound of the bathroom door shutting. Herman continued to read, and then his pager began to vibrate. He did not even have to look at it; he knew what it was. It was the call center. Someone had died.
Upstairs, Loretta heard the car door slam and then the faint purr of the engine as it backed out of the driveway. Herman was on his way. The hearse never slept.
She lay awake in the darkness, her mind wandering the vast expanse of torrid thought. Her hands began to wander. Oh, how she missed her husband. How his job had consumed him.
As the night went on, she found herself in the throes of self induced ecstasy.