excerpt from Love Among The Tomatoes  

"All of Mr. Vincenzo's wives have disappeared under unusual circumstances.…and I'm afraid I'm going to be next," she said, looking more forlorn than ever, "unless you help me, Mr. Durwinkel."

This actually put me at ease. Women who want their husbands' favor seldom make a point of having sex with their stepdaughters' paid escorts, at least not intentionally. Accidents happen, of course, but premeditated sex was not likely on her mind. I took a chair opposite her, and in my best Freudian manner I crossed my legs and clasped a knee.

"These aren't my real tits," she said.


"No. I've had seven operations over the last four years."

"Good Lord. Is that even possible?"

"If you go to Mexico it is," she said. "I used to be a thirty-two A."

"Thirty-two is nice," I said. Older women and flat-chested women make the best lovers, is my private theory, but she wasn't there to hear about me.

"And then I noticed a coolness between Frank and me."

"Frank is Mr. Vincenzo?"

"One and the same. Anyway, each time I noticed a coolness, I went and got myself bigger tits. Each time, Frank perked up some, but then went right back down to being cold."

"Maybe he has things on his mind."

"I doubt it."

"He seems to have very extensive business operations."

"He delegates a lot. People generally do what he says."

We'd pretty much hit an impasse vis-a-vis Frank and his personal preoccupations. There wasn't much more to do but to drum my fingers on the arm of the chair and hope that she'd remember some midnight errand she'd meant to do, and then shove off to do it.

But this was too much to hope for. As is so often the case when women are in my presence, she reached behind her top and started to undo things.

"Oh, don't worry," she said, top coming down, as she noticed my squirminess. "This isn't what you think it is. I know all about you. And I want your professional opinion. Shouldn't this turn Frank on?"

I calculated the possibilities of Regina entering, of Mr. Vincenzo showing up, of even the butler butlering his way back. But mainly I stared, completely transfixed, at the sight before me.

"The man's an ass," I said. "But don't tell him I told you so."

"You think so?"

"Beyond a shadow of a doubt," I said. I tell women that their husbands are asses all the time. They seem to like to hear that. And besides, it's absolutely true. Husbands, as a class, are more densely populated with asses than any other sociological subset that I'm aware of. "But we shouldn't be too harsh," I went on. "Maybe it's his diet. Does he get enough spinach, enough legumes? Or maybe it's his circulation. Does he have hardening of the arteries?"

"No. That's the problem. He doesn't get at all hard."

We weren't on the same wavelength, but that was okay. I'd made her feel better.

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