After ushering Redmond inside, Annette, beaming with happiness said, “Red, I’m–we’re going to have a baby.”
Redmond Gardner was overcome with innumerable sensations. Joy, fear, and guilt were all present, and reduced him to shedding a tear. “I’m-I’m,” he paused. He couldn’t find the right words. “Oh God! We’re having a baby!” He kissed his wife like never before. It was a new beginning, the beginning of something he could be proud of.
“I didn’t want to tell you over the phone. I just wanted to see that expression on your face,” said Annette, blushing at the sight of her husband’s pride. “I wanted you to find out here, with me, and no one else.”
Those last words rang in Redmond’s ears. “No. One. Else.” he thought. They sounded so heavy and full of sadness. On what should have been one of the happiest days of his life, Samantha Flint lingered in his thoughts. What he had done could surely not be forgiven, he thought. Once confident in his wife’s capacity for love and compassion, he felt his assurance dissipate in the eyes of the woman before him. He had hurt her, and she was none the wiser.
Annette shook him from his thoughts. “You know, I’m surprised you didn’t hear it first from Louise. I’ll admit, I told her and my mother first, but you know Louise. She can’t seem to keep anything to herself, even something like this!” said Annette with a laugh.
Yes, it’s very hard to keep something like that to yourself, thought Redmond, very, very hard.
“Lou, bring me a beer, would ya?” said Michael Falcone.
“Get it yourself!” cried Louise, “If you couldn’t tell, I’m in the middle of something!”
Their marriage was a rocky one. The Falcones were in love, or so they told themselves. They had liked to believe that their coarse treatment of each other was the odd way they showed their affection. “After all”, Louise would think, “Michael’s Italian.”
“You know, after all I’ve given you, you’d think you could wait on me once in a while! I’m not asking you to be my maid, for God’s sake! A little appreciation would be nice!” shouted Michael. His voice was deep with a hint of a New York accent.
“A little appreciation would be nice…” mimicked Louise, in a nasally tone. “What about me! All I do for you! Do you know how many times certain people have called, and I’ve made excuses for you? You’d be dead alongside Uncle Mario if it weren’t for me! Don’t tell me I do nothing for you!”
“I’m not sayin’ that,” he barked. “Just act like my wife and get me a friggin’ beer!”
Infuriated, Louise shot back, “That’s all I ever do is act like your wife…” The thought of her sister crept into her mind.
“Lou, you know I love you. Your sister and I were through a long time ago. Jesus, I married you, not her!”
Louise Falcone turned away. “You married the next best thing…” she said. Her voice was soft and indifferent now.
Michael Falcone returned to his armchair, thinking about the life he led with the woman he married. Was it love? He thought he knew.