Valerie shifted her sleek, well-oiled legs to the left for a slightly
different exposure to the sun. She flipped through pictures in Vogue magazine. She said, "What are you doing with all those eggs, honey?"
Thomas said, "I'm going to smash
"We need those eggs for brunch tomorrow
with the Joneses."
"I've decided we're not having eggs."
Thomas was a prominent real estate
lawyer in New Orleans, and he was squinting in the early afternoon
sunlight. Valerie was his wife. She said, "Well, don't make a mess,
baby." She adjusted her sunglasses with the sculpted tip of one
finger, and turned the page in Vogue magazine.
Thomas began sticking golf tees into
the back yard and testing the wind with a wetted finger. He was
wearing flip flops and a bathrobe, and his hair was standing up
all over. Two dozen golf tees. They were all over the place, little
white polka dots in the closely shaven green grass. Thomas put his
hands on his hips when he was done, and he surveyed his work: lined
up nicely, plenty of room to maneuver in between -- practical yet
elegant. "Very good. Perfect. Yes."
He turned to the two dozen eggs in
cartons on the patio by the door.
Valerie turned the page in Vogue magazine with one hand, and with the other she wound her fingers
through the eighteen-carat white gold chain that hung loosely around
her sleek and well-oiled neck. Her new white gold pendant hung on
the chain. Valerie said, "Tommy, you know it says right here that
staying up late and drinking causes water retention and irreversible
damage to the skin around the eyes."
"Yeah, I just worry about you, baby."
"Thank you, baby, that's very sweet."
Thomas was crouched over, moving from tee to tee, his bathrobe flapping
open as he scuttled to each polka dot and placed a shimmering white
egg on it. Two dozen tees. He was careful to place the eggs small
end up for good balance. He said, "Does it mention anything in there
about manipulative wives who screw their husbands out of thousands
of dollars to buy ridiculous jewelry?"
Valerie wound her fingers through
the gold chain, glinting in the sun. "No."
Thomas stood up. He squinted at the
eggs on tees. They shimmered white and brilliant in the early afternoon
sunshine, stretching out before him like a winding trail through
the dark velvety grass. "Lovely," Thomas said to himself. "That's
Beads of sweat were beginning to
show on his lip and on his forehead.
Valerie shifted her shining legs
to the right for a slightly different exposure to the sun. "Tommy,"
she said. "That looks beautiful, all those eggs on the lawn. You
could have taken a picture of this and put it in the auction last
Thomas grimaced. It was a high-priced
fundraiser last night for the Art Museum, and event called Art of
the Egg. Artists from all over submitted works with the theme of
"Egg" - paintings, jewelry, sculpture, performances -- it was an
elaborate party. Thomas and Valerie went every year. "Ridiculous
event anyway if you think about it," muttered Thomas.
He walked gingerly through the rows
of eggs to get to the little white out-building on the other side.
He said over his shoulder, "Do you think I could have gotten five
thousand dollars for a photo like that honey?"
Valerie scrolled slowly through the
pages of Vogue magazine. "I doubt it."
She loved the new line of winter wear,
"a return to the classics", said the article. "Winter wear," mused
Valerie. "My god, we'll have to travel to somewhere cold just so
I can wear it."
Thomas emerged with a clatter from
the white out-building. He was carrying a long shiny black bag of
golf clubs. He wound a careful way back through the eggs on their
delicate perches, back to the patio side of the lawn. He set the
bag down next to the bed of pansies and selected a driver from the
bag. "Hello darling," said Thomas to the golf club.
He tested the weight in his hands,
gripping the handle firmly. Then he stepped up to the first tee.
He took a deep breath, gazed down at the shimmering white egg. His
feet were shoulder width apart . . . knees bent . . . arms straight,
firm yet supple. He cocked back, the golf club high in the air,
glittering in the sunshine. Then . . . SWING . . . WHACK . . . THUMP.
Valerie looked up from the Vogue magazine. Thomas was standing in his flip- flops and bathrobe which
needed very much to be retied around his waist. He was still holding
the golf club in his follow-through pose, examining his first shot.
There was a messy trail of egg debris -- pieces of shell, gooey
egg white -- all along green grass, and a yellow smattering of yolk
right in the middle of the little white out-building. Valerie said, "That was a nice shot, baby. I didn't think egg yolk would fly like
that if you hit it."
"Thank you. It was a nice shot. I
wasn't sure if it would fly either." He strolled over to the black
shiny golf bag and considered his next shot while he wiped the egg
goo off his driver with a dish towel from the kitchen.
He considered how much he'd like to
take a shot at Valerie's new 18-carat, white-gold pendant. He thought
he would use the driver for certain in order to get the most distance.
He imagined the pendant glinting in the sunshine as it flew north
over the fence, toward Mississippi. Thomas pursed his lips and pulled
the nine iron out of his bag.
Valerie flipped through the pages
of Vogue magazine. She wondered how old Calvin Klein was
now, smiling from the glossy pages of the magazine. She wondered
if he wouldn't have bought her the matching earrings to her new
gold pendant. On purpose.
"Oh Calvin . . ." she mused.
"What?" said Thomas. He was poised
in his black bathrobe with his butt in the air and a golf club suspended
over his head.
Valerie shifted her sleek well oiled
legs. "Nothing. Tie your robe, baby."
"I can't. I'm concentrating."
Thomas gazed from the white wall to
SWING, WHACK, THUMP.
The sound reminded Valerie of the
sound Thomas's head made last night at the auction when he passed
out onto the table in front of him with a bourbon and water still
in his hand. They were talking with the Joneses at the time; everyone
smiled and pretended not to notice.
SWING, WHACK, THUMP.
Valerie had straightened the collar
and smoothed the back of Thomas's tuxedo while he began to snore
softly face down on the white table cloth, so at least he would
look like a well-kept drunk, and she smiled gracefully and went
to watch the bidding at the auction.
SWING, WHACK, THUMP.
"Art of the Egg," she mused, sitting
in her chaise lounge in the early afternoon sunshine. She wound
her fingers through the gold chain and flipped the pages in Vogue magazine. The yard was strewn with pieces of egg. Thomas was tilting
his head and squinting at the little white out building splattered
with bits of runny yolk. "It is sort of like art," he said. "Ronnie
LeBlanc has a painting in his office that looks kind of like that."
Valerie said, "He should have sold
it at the auction."
She didn't see Thomas cringe when
she said that. She only heard the swing, whack, thump as the remainder
of two dozen eggs were blown to bits in her lovely back yard.
Swing, whack, thump, and Valerie set
her Vogue magazine down on the short, green grass, shifting
her legs and her sunglasses, just slightly, just sexy. She sighed
and held up the gold chain that hung loosely around her neck
Swing, whack, thump. She let the pendant
spin slowly at the end of the chain, catching the sunshine. It was
a lovely thing, a gold pendant of an egg, exactly the size of Valerie's
well-tended, candy-apple-red middle fingernail, handmade by a famous
local jeweler. The egg was shaped perfectly with a scrolling design
etched in the smooth surface, and it was wonderfully heavy. But
really: five thousand dollars?
Valerie watched Thomas in his flip-flops
and bathrobe in the early afternoon sunshine, leaning on a golf
club, examining his handiwork. She thought with a sigh, "I always
did lose my head during the bidding."