The driver scuttles out, black suit, black shades, white shirt, black tie—a caricature of driver. He looks at the house and shifts his shoulders as if a personal expectation has been fulfilled. He moves to the rear passenger door, opens it. A woman emerges, back straight, face blank. She’s older than Renie, younger than Victoria, but everyone is younger than Victoria. She is overly fashionable for the country, wearing form-fitting dress, showing what might have been curves twenty years earlier, but now seemed to be more gristle than fat. White pearls, maroon fabric. Bony joints, knobby knuckles and knees. Big glasses on a chain.

She approaches the porch and stops in the shade to look at Renie. She has the demeanor of a woman who works mostly with women, and consequently, doesn’t like them. Her stare is frank and appraising.