By Mary Heath
Chosen tales from the Massachusetts assessment.
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Additional resources for A Good deal: selected short stories from The Massachusetts review
But I had no memory in forty years of having addressed a single sentence to my father's back. "Nobody knew it, Mommy never, you never. " "Her husband, Harry Abrahams. He was a nice man. He had some temper but when he wasn't mad. . " He twirled the string of the blinds in his hand. " He looked at me briefly, to check my face. All I knew about my face was that it felt very red, hot, inflamed with confusion. " I managed to ask. I think I was stuck somewhere between laughter and a huge chest-clearing shout, a massive bleating beyond good or bad taste, beyond a son's discretion.
This Frieda, you could tell from a hundred yards, knew her antiques, her armoires, her netsukes; a hundred to one she kept sachet in her bureau drawers. Pop introduced us but not until he had pulled everybody into the hall so that we wouldn't impede the next bingo round. "You look as if you've won enough for one day," I said to Frieda as pleasantly as I could. " She laughed and shrugged self-deprecatingly. Even her teeth were a cut above the hotel average. Her winnings had gone into a delicate purse that closed with a businesslike snap of finality.
When we visit, we take him walking once around the building as if "outside" were a destination in itself. He's got his hata pale yellow golf hat for our summer visit, a formal fedora for the winter, the kind the FBI used to wear before they started passing as hippies and stoned collegians. "Come on, let's go for a walk," I suggest as soon as I see my wife and the kids sinking into torpor on his roommate's bed in the room on the fourth floor. This time we have brought him a little radio with earphones because the room-mate complains about noise, any and all, after 8:30 and the management will not "mix in," either out of scrupulous fairness or their (correct) suspicion that reason is destined for defeat here among the elderly with their habits that have turned to stone.