“Help yourself to anything in the garden,” Moira said, wrapping her thick black hair up in a paisley turban. “Leave the stuff on the mantle alone.”
There was nothing of interest on the mantle, Larsen discovered, when Moira had pulled out of the driveway. Some candles, a brass bowl on a pedestal foot, and a switch probably for getting fire from the fireplace to light the candles, he decided).
Absently carrying the switch with him, he checked out the raised-bed garden. Too bad Alicia couldn’t come house-sitting with him…. He was lonely…. He scraped the switch along the roundness of a full-bodied pumpkin, then tapped it once… twice… a third time.
The pumpkin disappeared and a woman stood before him–Young, lovely, luscious, with tawny skin and amber eyes, hair short and smooth and orange except for that one perky green cowlick in the center.
“Hi,” she said, in a rich contralto. She was ripe and ready and they were in bed before you could say, “Bibbidy-bobbidy-boo.”
Goldie, he called her. She didn’t call him anything. She was a girl of few words.
After several hours, Larsen asked if she were hungry.
“Moira fed me before she left,” Goldie said, “but you have something, if you like.”
Out of consideration for Goldie’s feelings–assuming that she had any–Larsen fixed himself a cheeseburger without the bun or, of course, lettuce, tomato, or pickles.
After several more hours, Larsen fell into an exhausted slumber.
He woke alone. “Goldie?” She wasn’t in the bathroom. She wasn’t in the living room.
“Goldie?” The kitchen door stood open. She wasn’t on the deck. Footprints began at the bottom of the deck steps and proceeded down the beach.
“Goldie?” Larsen followed the footprints past two more beach houses, until the stars were blotted out by electric lights and the surf was muffled by juke-box music.
And there was Goldie, seated at an umbrella table at a beach-front dive. Seated on the lap of a leering blond man, rather. As Larsen watched, Goldie kissed the man wetly, then moved to the lap of another man, who pulled her close as she twined her arms around his neck. A third man massaged her back, and she arched her body and laughed.
“Goldie!” Larsen shouted.
She looked up, her round face silhouetted by the illuminated clock on the wall behind her. The clock’s minute hand ticked forward to join the hour hand in standing straight up. Midnight.
Without a flash or a puff of smoke, Goldie was gone, and a full-bodied pumpkin lay on the sand.
Larsen took it back to the house. He put it on the table, with the switch on one side of it and a butcher knife on the other. It was a long, long time before he made his choice.
He had thought she might make a pie but, in the end, she was nothing but a tart.