Liz woke up at three A.M., when she recognized Danny’s car rumbling into the driveway. It had a hole in the muffler. Then she heard the car turn around and speed down the street. In the distance, the tires kept squealing as Danny tore up and down the streets of the subdivision. She waited for the crash, but the car returned. Again, Danny backed out of the drive-way and went zooming down the street, the tires screeching. Someone will call the police, she thought, terrified.
“What’s Daddy doing?” said Melissa, a little silhouette in the dim light of the bedroom doorway. She was dragging her Cabbage Patch-style doll by an arm.
“It’s all right, sugar.” Liz got out of bed and bent down to hug her child.
“Kiss Maretta Louise, too,” Melissa said.
Liz held onto Melissa, her free hand untangling the little girl’s hair. To be fair, Liz patted Maretta Louise’s hair too.
“He’s just having a little joy ride, sweetie,” Liz said. “There’s not any traffic, so he has the street all to himself.”
“Daddy doesn’t love Maretta Louise,” Melissa said, whining. “He told her she was ugly.”
“She’s not ugly! She’s precious.” Liz herded Melissa back to her own bed. “I’ll stay in here with you” she said. “Let’s be real quiet so we won’t wake Michael up.”
The car roared into the driveway again, and the door slammed. Danny worked the four-to-midnight shift at the tire plant, and for the past several Friday nights he had been coming in late, usually drunk. Liz worked all day at a discount store, and the only times during the week she was with Danny they were asleep. Weekends were shocking, when they saw each other awake and older. They had something like a commuter marriage, she thought, with none of the advantages. Liz didn’t love Danny in the same way anymore. When he was drunk, he made love as though he were plowing corn, and she did not enjoy it.
“I’m home!” yelled Danny, bursting into the house.
On Thursday after supper, when Michael and Melissa were playing at friends’ houses down the street, Liz tuned in to Sue Ann Grooms, a psychic on the radio.
“Hello. You’re on the air.”
A man said, “Could you tell me if I’m going to get laid off?”
“No, you’re not,” said Sue Ann Grooms.
“O.K.,” the man said.
“Hello. You’re on the air.”
A woman with a thin, halting voice said, “I lost my wedding ring. Where can I go find it?”
“I see a tall building,” said Sue Ann. “With a basement.”
“You must mean when I worked at the courthouse.”
“I’m getting a strong picture of a large building with a basement.”
Sue Ann Grooms was local. Liz’s brother had been in her class at school. Her show had been on for nearly a year, and people called up with money problems, family troubles, a lot of cancer operations. Sue Ann always had an answer on the tip of her tongue. It was amazing. She was right, too. Liz knew people who had called in.
Nervously, Liz dialed the radio station. She had to dial several times before she got through. She was put on hold, and she sat in a kitchen chair while music played in her ear. When Sue Ann Grooms said, “You’re on the air,” Liz jumped. Flustered, she said, “Uh —is my husband cheating on me?”