Chapter 9

Jenny closed the door and leaned against it. She was so glad for Hank, he never judged, just accepted them the way they were, and most important he kept his opinions to himself. A smokey haze hung over the living room and she opened the windows and turned on the kitchen fan. The telephone rang in the stillness of the house and she snatched it before it rang again. Jim would probably be fast asleep by now anyway. Tiredly she said, “Yes?” She studied the mess on the table and counter, thinking ahead to the rush at breakfast, and began to stack the dirty dishes and glasses in the sink.

“Well what did you think?”

“Oh, Ted, You were terrific. Are you sure you want me to have that beautiful coat? I won’t hold it against you if you change your mind. I know you were nervous and being put on a spot. I’ll understand, honest.” Tiredness and doubt crept into her voice. She had seen the hint of a change in his face on TV. Instinctively, her hand flew to her own face, where she first saw the small line below her eyes.
“I’ve worked it out with the producers. Mom is to have the clock, Babs and I are going to Hong Kong, and you are getting the coat. Now, that’s a promise.”

“I feel guilty taking something that costs so much money. Really, Ted.”

“I think I can change all that. There’s a little catch.”

“Oh, I was afraid of that.” Her heart sank.

“Oh, it’s not that bad,” he laughed. “You and Jim will just have to pay the luxury tax, is all.”

“The tax? I thought you won everything, fair and square.”

“The producers will not give the cash value of any of the prizes, I checked, I can come up with the rest, but I think the tax on the coat is a little pricey. You understand where I’m coming from.” He got quiet.

“What will the tax be, Ted? I think you know, don’t you?”  Jenny held her breath. She could always tell when he was lying.

“It’s about ten grand,” he almost whispered.

“Oh, I don’t think……Jim knows some pretty important people……I’ll have to get back to you. Bye, Ted.” She sank to the kitchen chair and stared emptily into space. After a few minutes she got up slowly and went into the living room   She sat down on the sofa and stared at the coffee table. After a while she picked up the unfinished pitcher of martinis.