The morning of Wednesday was certainly a good one. Solomon Fray was very much pleased with how things were going – his car being back from repairs again and the prospects of a great new business deal he had been angling for for a while now looking good. His spirits were really high. He even complimented Janine on breakfast – the latter was surprised though evidently flattered – and merrily joked around with David, his 9-year-old son, while lavishly scraping the butter and strawberry jam onto his toast.
This breakfast scene and moment would appear to some occasional witness as a peaceful one; such an observer would be deeply convinced that there is no other close-knit family in the world more happy than the Frays. However, the idyll came to an abrupt end with the ringing of the telephone. A hardly noticeable and involuntary crease appeared between Solomon’s brows as Janine casually threw away her napkin and rushed into the hall to answer. There was something about these telephone calls Solomon hated: their unpredictability and anonymity, the very short moment before picking the call of not knowing who you would be speaking with and to what purpose – so unbearable for people with an unclean conscience. If Janine had not so harshly insisted, he would have gotten rid of the damn landline long ago, for he was perfectly OK with his mobile. Now, the old feeling of foreboding creeping all over him, he stiffened in his chair, automatically chewing on his toast, but much slower. It suddenly tasted like ashes on his tongue. He strained with all his might to make out something of the ensuing conversation without really knowing what he was so frightened to hear.
Janine returned to the kitchen a while later with a slightly confused expression on her face. Her husband scrutinized her mien thoroughly before daring to ask in his most casual tone, “Who was that, Jan?”. Her eyebrows arched a tiny bit at this unexpectedly warm address that she was not used to from her husband before she answered, “It was Molly, Molly Gleemors. Remember her? We studied together”. At that instant Solomon’s stomach lurched as if the breakfast was fighting its way back to his mouth. Just the look of the food on the table nauseated him and he dropped the rest of his toast on the plate. Actually there would not have been anything harmful about news of Molly Gleemors if not for the fact that he spotted, or rather was spotted by, that very woman yesterday in a mall. And one may say there is nothing much lethal in sighting an old acquaintance while shopping, were it not for the fact that Solomon had been accompanied by one young and strikingly beautiful lady, who was definitely not his wife. The said beauty was burdened down by all kinds of shopping bags and packages full of expensive clothes and jewelry.
“Oh, yes, quite vaguely but I do remember her”
Solomon was astonished himself at how calm and controlled his voice sounded, while he constantly fought the waves of sickness rampaging up from the bottom of his belly.
“… didn’t realize you’re keeping in touch. What did she want then?”.
“Oh, actually not so much,” Janine continued with her meal, “but she invited me to lunch today. Was so eager to tell me something but wanted to make it a face-to-face”.
Solomon Fray felt like griping the table for support because he felt weak all over, his muscles having turned to jelly. He suppressed the momentary frailty and impulse. Thoughts were racing in his head but he had to act cool and not seem too interested.
“When was the last time you did something together;… Years ago, I guess?”.
Janine had stood up and was at the kitchen sink cleaning the dishes and saying her goodbyes to their son, David, who was leaving for school. Everything appeared normal; it was their usual morning ritual. No one looking in would have taken the least note that, at that very moment, the world of Solomon Fray started to crumble.