A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
Later that night, the misty, spring drizzle turned into a storm, driving needles of rain against the tall windows of the loft over the river. Emily and Dreyfus sat on the floor, close to the fire — like superstitious tribesmen afraid of the angry gods. Dreyfus had come home too late for kebabs, so they settled on bread and cheese and several trips to the kitchen for whatever else they could find. It was their second bottle of wine, and they were tired from talking around a conversation that had started with:
“I have to go to Paris for a week or two.”
Normally, Emily would have shrugged it off. Dreyfus was always going somewhere for some reason. But there was something wrong. There were too many details. Dreyfus didn’t talk a lot about his job – to anyone. In fact, he usually said nothing, and his standard response to even the most casual inquiry was “Insurance is boring.” But for the last couple of hours, he’d been rattling on with way too much information. Finally, Emily had had enough.
“This is bullshit. Are you lying to me?”
Dreyfus thought about it. “Not really,” he said, and then considered his answer. “Well, sort of.”
“Okay.” Emily took a drink, “You should have told me that in the first place.”
Dreyfus stopped his glass in mid-air and tilted his head like a question.
“Do you hear yourself?”
Emily looked back, a little angry. And then her face softened. “Fair play, Sinclair. But that doesn’t excuse you from wasting the entire evening talking like we’re on a blind date.”
Dreyfus cut a piece of bread and dipped it in honey. He shrugged and took a bite.
“Okay, give me one good reason why. Just one good reason and I’ll shut up about it.”
“Alright.” Dreyfus exhaled, “I’ve got something to do, and I’m not sure about the laws in this country, but I’m pretty sure if you don’t know what I’m going to do you can’t be arrested for it. How’s that?”
“See what I mean?”
“Good reason,” Emily said. “Now we’ve got that out of the way. You want to tell me, and I want to know, so … What’s going on?”
Before Dreyfus could answer, Emily turned her head and pointedly looked at him. “You’re not going to murder somebody, are you?”
“No.” Dreyfus cut another piece of bread. “I’m going to steal a painting.”
“What painting? You don’t know anything about art!”
There was a pause.
“Okay, the guy on the telephone.”
“Simon’s an old friend, and I owe him a lot.”
“Twenty years in prison’s a lot.”
“It’s a long story.”
“I’ve got time,” Emily said and pointed to the wine.
Dreyfus poured both glasses.