“Blast!” Luella sang out from the bedroom closet, loudly enough for Edgar to hear.
Edgar tipped the newspaper down, turned his head on the bed pillow and looked over his glasses at his wife. In the gloom of the unlit closet, she was a vague and harmless shadow. “What is it, dear? And why don’t you turn the light on?”
She stood still, hands on her hips, staring at the closet floor. “I’ve ruined my gardening shoes. They’re completely mildewed. I’m surprised we didn’t smell them before this. I don’t need the light, thanks.” She sighed. “I suppose I’ll garden in my bare feet from now on. Hmmm . . . sounds like a book title, doesn’t it? Barefoot Gardening for Fun and Profit.”
With a monumental effort, Edgar Rawlins managed not to scream at the top of his lungs. “I suppose so,” he breathed, and pretended to return to his reading. He knew Luella’s need to pounce on ambivalent replies.
The hunter sprang. Luella stepped out of the closet and to the foot of the bed in a trice. In a composed voice that didn’t fool Edgar, she asked, “You suppose I’ll garden in my bare feet, or you suppose it sounds like a book title?”
Edgar-the-prey folded, laying his paper on the threadbare flowered comforter. “The latter, of course. I don’t expect you to garden in your bare feet unless that tickles your fancy, Lu.” He didn’t add that he remembered—with a pleasurable stir of warmth in his belly—when it had tickled her fancy (and his) to garden in her bra and cut-offs, racing for her shirt slung over a rose bush when unexpected company drove up.
There was no point in bringing it up, he thought. Nowadays Luella wouldn’t risk being caught in any stage of undress—not because her figure wasn’t still lovely (it was) and not because she was of above-average modesty (she wasn’t). Luella wouldn’t risk being caught in her ten-year-old Maidenform bra, graying and held together by two safety pins.
His wife smiled in embarrassment. “Ed, I know you’d buy me new shoes in a minute if I asked, but I’d hate to. I’d hate to be such a spendthrift. These were perfectly good until I ruined them . . . .”