He walked ahead of her, pushing the pace. “Simon,” she said. “I
shouldn’t have said that. I was just thinking of how you never know, you
know?” But he ignored her, and to his irritation she said no more.
At the apartment building he unlocked the lobby door and swung it
wide so he wouldn’t have to stand holding it for her and headed up the
stairs. She called his name again from the landing below, but he pushed
on. Jiggling the key in the lock, he was a full flight of stairs ahead of her.
He smelled faintly a rancid citrus odor and glanced at his shoes, looking
for orange pulp as he jostled the key, and just then the light in the narrow gap under the door went dark.
Someone was inside the apartment.
At the same time that his mind was understanding this, the key
engaged and the door swung to show the dark of the large front room
of the apartment. He looked toward the suitcase. Someone had come for
the suitcase. But the room was empty. Anny’s steps echoed in the stairwell behind him, and he thought of someone harming her, of someone
causing a miscarriage of the baby, of the death of the baby, and flames
ran through him in sheets.
To his left lay the dark hallway to the bedroom. He sensed someone
there. Close. A man. He could tell it was a man. Big. He gripped the
spoon in his pocket, and as he slammed the door wide he turned and
moved forward, ducking low and leading with his shoulder to carry the
man hard into the wall. And as the man came off the wall screaming
and they both fell, Simon brought the spoon around. They landed on
the marble floor with a brutal impact, but the man fell under Simon for
the most part, cushioning him, and Simon got the spoon into the flesh
of the man’s face while the man grunted and screamed and rolled away.
Back in the doorway Anny was screeching. He wanted to tell her to
get the hell out of here, but the breath was out of him. He lunged to get
hold of the intruder again and cut off the path toward Anny. He came
awkwardly onto the man’s trunk and rammed the spoon into his ribs
once and again while trying to gain leverage to strike harder. “Stop!”
That was what Anny was saying. Then the light came on.
Simon’s head was above the intruder’s chest, and he looked up the
man’s nose. He had his leverage now, but he knew the nose. He knew
who this was. Still he swung one more time with the spoon, punching
toward the kidney.
Dennis screamed horribly. Then he kneed Simon and rolled and
kicked and kicked. Simon rolled the other way until he came against the