4 p.m., Sunday, July 16, 1978

The white house with the gray trim at 33 Harper Road is the home of Elizabeth and Edward Martini. They were newlyweds when they moved to East Bedford, a Central New Jersey township, in 1957. They are both forty-four years old. Liz Martini, née Sprezzante, is a homemaker. Ed is an attorney in private practice. Liz is an accomplished cook. She makes homemade pasta. Last week, her skilled hands produced two pounds of pappardelle. Ed likes to work outdoors. He planted the juniper bushes on either end of the driveway and the impatiens and tulips along the front of the house. Liz and Ed have two children. Their son, twenty-year-old Jerry, is spending the summer backpacking through Italy and Switzerland with three Rutgers University friends. He has sent Mom and Dad postcards from Milan, Venice, and Geneva. Jerry called collect from Zurich and promised to call when he arrived in Montreux. Their daughter, eighteen-year-old Deb, is spending the weekend in a Sandy Hook beach house. Deb will begin her freshman year at Oberlin College in September.

The woman in the green culottes and yellow halter top at the kitchen counter is Liz. She is tenderizing six veal cutlets for saltimbocca alla Romana. The stainless-steel mallet hits the pink slices again and again. A glass pitcher, half-full, is also on the counter. Liz pauses to pour herself another gin and tonic.

Ed enters the kitchen. He is wearing a blue bathing suit and a short-sleeve button-down paisley shirt. He watches his wife for a few moments. He doesn’t say anything. Liz doesn’t say anything, either. Ed takes a can of beer to the backyard. He stretches out on the cedarwood chaise longue by the built-in pool. A squirrel loiters on the diving board. Pine needles float on the water.

Although it is a hot day and the central air conditioning is running, the kitchen window is open. Ed hears Liz’s meat tenderizer. 

Although he is right-handed, Ed holds the beer can in his left hand because of the metal splint on his broken right forefinger.

Joel Allegretti is the author of, most recently, Platypus (NYQ Books, 2017), a collection of poems, prose, and performance texts, and Our Dolphin (Thrice Publishing, 2016), a novella. He is the editor of Rabbit Ears: TV Poems (NYQ Books, 2015); The Boston Globe called Rabbit Ears “cleverly edited” and “a smart exploration of the many, many meanings of TV.”

Art by Bob Schofield @anothertower

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