An Unexpected Revelation
It was now mid-October, and the day was prematurely cold and dark with a strong west wind. Dr. Narrison left a half hour early, and suggested that the others follow his example. As they left the building, Sandy asked Calvin,
"Is it going to be like this all winter here?"
"Much worse. It's a good thing I'm driving you home or you'd be out there struggling to keep your skirt down with all the winos watching."
"You're projecting. They're so interested in their Thunderbird that they wouldn't even notice me. I am properly grateful for the ride, though. Particularly now that you've got the top on your car."
Dr. Narrison's Cadillac was scraping and thumping over the deep ruts in the parking lot when they got into the MG, and he was still in sight, heading north on Clark Street, a few minutes later. When they passed Belmont, Calvin said,
"That's funny. I thought he turned west on Belmont to get to his old folks' home."
"Let's follow him."
"We're pretty conspicuous in an MG, and I think he's the sort of man who'd know if he's being followed."
"Just for a little bit, then. He seems to be going our way, anyhow."
Dr. Narrison turned on Addison, near Wrigley Field, and, just as it looked as if they would lose him in traffic, he drew over to the curb and parked. Calvin, reacting quickly, pulled into the parking lot of a small liquor store.
Sandy got out immediately, and was rewarded with a view of her boss jaywalking rather dangerously as he crossed to the other side of the street. He then entered a three-storey brick apartment building. When she got back into the car and pointed out the building to Calvin, he said,
"I bet you want me to go up the fire escape and peek in."
"No, but he might just be going in on an errand. Let's wait a few minutes to see if he comes out."
"He might see us from a window."
"No he won't. He'll never think to look. Besides, we're mostly hidden by the sign."
While they were still arguing that point, Dr. Narrison emerged with a woman they had never seen before and headed away from them down the sidewalk. Calvin exclaimed,
"She's pretty good looking. I wonder who she could be."
"Could she be a prostitute?"
"No. It's our Clark Street subjects who look like, and probably are, prostitutes. That woman's almost elegant. Besides, if you go to visit a prostitute, you stay there with her. You don't take her out."
"You talk as if you've done it."
"Anyway, they won't walk far in this wind. Look, they're going into that restaurant!"
"It looks like he has a girl friend. He must be even more vigorous than I realized."
As Calvin started the car, Sandy said,
"Let's go in there and have dinner and just run into them, as if by accident."
"You can't be serious!"
"But I am. We're only eight blocks from work, and that looks like a nice little place. We could both just be hungry and decide to stop there."
"Are we just going to march up to their table and stand there, hoping to be invited to sit down?"
"Exactly. I can go on chattering indefinitely in an inane way. He'll have to invite us to sit down if they want to eat themselves."
"What if the table only seats two?"
"We can pull up other chairs. You'll see."
Sandy, knowing that Calvin would follow her, got out of the car
For Sandy, it was only a matter of unleashing a side of her personality which she had suppressed since coming to Chicago. At a church supper at home she could be just as flighty, gossippy and gushy as the next woman. When Dr. Narrison, with his continental manners, stood up abruptly at her approach, she touched him lightly on the arm and started talking. It wasn't long before he introduced them to Rosalie Morales, and Sandy found that she could get Miss Morales to talk freely. Then, faced with two women who looked as if they might go on indefinitely, Dr. Narrison had no option.
As they took seats in the rather intimate red-lined booth, Sandy saw that Calvin was amazed at her performance. She was, in fact, delighted at having finally done something that really surprised him. She then toned down a little and drew Rosalie out as much as possible. As it became increasingly obvious that the relation between Rosalie and the doctor was an amorous one, the latter showed no embarrassment, nor, for that matter, any particular pride.
Dr. Narrison, for his part, acted as if any elderly fake psychologist, resident in a nursing home and running a bogus business, would have, on the side, a youngish foreign woman with a definite attractiveness and charm, but, in all probability, no legal right to be in the country.
When Sandy quietly complimented Rosalie on her dress, Rosalie whispered back,
"I'm only a waitress, but Goodman buys me presents."
It was said laughingly, and led to a half-whispered conversation while Calvin engaged Dr. Narrison on their side of the table. When Sandy asked Rosie where she was from, she replied,
"From the worst place you can imagine. A little village in Mexico with no electricity or sewage. An American named Johnson bought me from my parents when I was thirteen and smuggled me across the border. He lived in San Francisco and had a family, but he set me up in an apartment."
"But you speak so well. Did you go to college here?"
"No. Johnson taught me English, and he constantly brought me books to read, whole piles of them on every subject. I had nothing to do most of the time, so I read and took walks around the city. I also met Johnson's friends, many of whom were interesting. Johnson's wife eventually found out about me and forced him to drop me. I was twenty two then, and I had a reasonable education. But I had no degree and no work permit. So I've worked illegally ever since."
"Well, I had a hard time getting a job myself. I was about to leave the city when Dr. Narrison hired me."
"So he's both our benefactor. He made a will leaving me everything, and even gave me a copy to keep. I'd marry him, of course, but he prefers his retirement home."
"It is funny that he lives there. He's so vigorous."
"He says that it's the only place where a man can really rest. I think it'll help him to live many years."
When the food came and the conversation became general, Sandy found herself warming to her boss. Quite apart from her gratitude to him for hiring her when no one else would, he had taken their intrusion with very good grace. Indeed, he told some quite funny stories about two old sisters named Ursula and Rebecca at his retirement home. And then, into the bargain, he was obviously good to Rosalie.
Still, no matter how gentlemanly he might be at times, she knew that that really meant nothing. The literature was full of cases of horrible criminals who struck people as charming when they were, so to speak, off duty. She was trying to reconcile these thoughts when the juke box came on and a couple near them got up to dance.
To Sandy's great surprise, Dr. Narrison asked her to dance. Not only that, he danced very well, without the stiffness of most older men. She found herself saying,
"I would've expected you to dance to Strauss waltzes. This is a cowboy song."
The doctor seemed to be amused as he replied,
"This suits me very well. You have to realize that I've never been a gentleman. It's just that the manners of a very ordinary European strike Americans that way."
Sandy was then spun fast and expertly. As she was eased out of her spin, she noticed that Calvin was dancing with Rosalie. The doctor, looking in the same direction, said,
"Rosalie loves dancing. I'm glad she's having a chance to dance with Calvin."
Sandy replied, quite sincerely,
"I don't think he dances any better than you. Perhaps not as well."
After the obligatory return compliment, Dr. Narrison added,
"You and Calvin will have to come out to one of the dances at the retirement home."
"Will we meet Ursula and Rebecca?"
"Certainly. When you dance with the gentlemen in wheelchairs, you'll sit in their laps while they spin their chairs."
It was only then that she realized that he was joking. When she recovered herself, she asked,
"Don't some retirement homes really have dances?"
"They probably do. It would be pretty grotesque, a bunch of women in their eighties dancing with each other."
"Are you one of few men in your place?"
"We account for about ten per cent of the total. But my friend, Paul, and I are the only men who can get out and around to any extent. The others would be better off dead."
As much as she was enjoying herself, Sandy had within her a critical element which never turned off. Even as she wondered whether the doctor would not casually undertake the task of expediting the process for those he considered already half dead, she replied,
"It might not be so bad to sit in a wheelchair and be waited on. There are days when I'd settle for that."
The music ended just then, but Dr. Narrison led the way to the juke box and had Sandy make the next selection.
The impromptu party stretched on for another hour in that fashion. They let Dr. Narrison pay the bill without any serious objection, and, when they were back in Calvin's MG, he asked,
"Did you enjoy yourself?"
"Very much. He was really quite charming. And I liked Rosalie."
"I guess that's the first time you've seen that side of him."
"I knew about it already. He was a bit like that with Samantha. I think he likes young women."
"I guess he does. Rosalie's quite attractive. She's also done a remarkable job of educating herself."
After they had put together the pieces of Rosalie's history that she had given them, Calvin said.
"She also has a side that's not so good. She really feels contempt for poor people who haven't done what she has. She thinks there's no excuse at all for ignorance or the things that go with it."
"Well, I'm sure a lot of people in her position do feel that."
"I also found out something for you. She said that Goodman was a German officer. She's very proud of it."
"Does that mean he was a Nazi?"
"It may have been in the first war. I didn't want to probe too much. Even if it was the second, there were millions of men in the services who weren't really Nazis. They said 'Heil Hitler' at the right times, but their hearts weren't always in it. Rosie, though, wouldn't care. I think she may have Nazi inclinations herself."
"He's never said anything like that to you, has he?"
"No. I'm sure he doesn't want it known that he was a German officer. I suppose he would have impressed that on her harder if he'd thought there was ever a chance of our meeting her."
"I think he tells her a great deal. Perhaps everything."
"Yes. I wouldn't mind knowing a little more myself."
Sandy was quite pleased that he felt that way.