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The Groaning Board

The Groaning Board

Titel: The Groaning Board
Autoren: Annette Meyers
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Chapter One

Smith, look at that!” Wetzon said as a bouquet of chrysanthemums exploded and streaked
across the sky. “We’re missing the fireworks.”
    “I don’t know why you’re always in
such a rush.” Smith shifted down and pulled the Jaguar into a parking place on Liberty Street. She was in her most maddening mode: running on her own personal timetable.
    Whistle, pop, pop, pop, whistle. Red, white, and blue colors burst,
forming a huge American flag. Held a moment, then melted into a brilliant arc.
    The boat basin off the World Financial Center, with its variety of crafts, could have been a painted set, except
that tonight almost every boat was a party. Glasses clinked, voices, mellow
with wine and summer and holiday, rose and fell.
    “Which one is it?” Smith demanded.
    “Let’s see, Laura Lee said the boat
sleeps six and is called Bread Pudding. Straight down, first right,
boat’s on the left.” Wetzon, following the directions, called, “Down here,
    “Hi, there,” someone cried as another
and another arrangement lit up the sky. Baby’s breath, on fire.
    “Hi, yourself,” Wetzon responded,
then looked back for her lagging partner, who would insist on wearing
high heels. As if she needed the height. “Here we are, Smith.” The Bread
Pudding was like the other boats, full of people on deck, conversation
flowing like the rippling water in New York Bay.
    “Well, really,” Smith said suddenly,
outraged. She’d come up behind Wetzon, breathing disdain.
    “Now what?”
    “Would you take a swim in the Hudson?”
    “What are you talking about? I’m not
interested in swimming. Let’s go.” Wetzon raised her voice. “Hello, Bread
    “Bread Pudding!” A woman’s voice. “Do you believe it?
Why not Crème Brûlée ?” The boats rocked gently against their moorings
and the dock, with soft, sweet chungs.
    Why indeed not, Wetzon thought, much
preferring the latter to the former.
    “Look at her if you don’t believe
me,” Smith was insisting. “Get out of there! You’ll get all kinds of diseases.”
Smith leaned over, yelling down at the water.
    She’s taken leave of her senses at
long last, Wetzon was certain, as she peered over Smith’s shoulder. What she
saw made her jerk back, almost losing her balance. Good God, there really was
someone in the water—a woman, in fact. She wore a long white dress and was
wrapped in garlands of flowers.
    “Oh, poor Ophelia,” Wetzon murmured.
    The woman wasn’t swimming; she was
floating facedown in the murky water.
    And then the entire sky erupted, showering
multicolored stars down on them.

Chapter Two

She slipped it into the flesh and with a small, vicious twist, removed it. That
she was angry was obvious. With an inelegant hand, she reached for the glass of
chardonnay from which she’d been taking steady sips. The glass was empty when
she set it down and turned back to her work.
    She inserted the sliver of garlic and
half a pitted niçoise olive into the slit the knife had fashioned. The perfume
of the room—if one thought garlic was a perfume, and Leslie Wetzon certainly
did—was Garden of Sensual Delights.
    “The cranberries give it a rather
sour flavor,” Smith said. “What do you think, sweetie pie?” Her voice wore a
glaze of silkiness that didn’t quite cover that characteristic edge of
impatience. Small tasting plates of food were arrayed in front of her on a
rustic antique table.
    Think? Wetzon ground her teeth as she
moved back to the table. “I think,” Wetzon said, “if you don’t decide on your
menu in the next ten minutes, I’m going to start screaming.” There was no
silkiness whatever in her tone.
    They’d been in the splendid kitchen
of The Groaning Board, the catering and gourmet food shop of the moment, since
three o’clock—well over two hours on a lovely April afternoon—sampling food
while the usually decisive Smith tried to make up her mind. And it was
infuriating that she seemed oblivious to the staticky tension in the room,
punctuated by the constant bleating of the telephone, which rang in the kitchen
but was being answered in the shop.
    A. T. Barron, Micklynn Devora’s
partner in The Groaning Board, had set up an array of main courses for them to
sample. All veal. Smith had insisted on veal. There was a chop in a
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