It had started to rain outside. The water was sliding like lace curtains, one over the other, down his window as if to stop him from seeing out. But each curtain only blurred the long driveway and the three cars that were parked in front kept running all together like his watercolors on folded paper. Then the water would slide down and the driveway would uncurl and the cars would fold up and separate again until the next drop splashed and the next curtain fell.

He could name the three cars by looking at the silver statues that stood on the front of each of them. He knew the one with the silver ring and the silver marble inside it was a Buick. That was Mrs. Chandler’s car. His mother called Mrs. Chandler Catherine most of the time and Mrs. Chandler called his mother Vi most of the time. His mother’s name was really Violet, but no one called her Violet. They just called her Vi. Of course when he answered the phone and they wanted to speak to his mother they would say, “Oh, hello, Alvy, is your mother there? Will you be a Sweetheart and tell her Mrs. Mallory or Mrs. Du Bois or Mrs. Chandler is on the phone?” He was always a Sweetheart and he would tell his mother. She usually was glad they called, but sometimes he felt sorry he told her because she would frown and say, “What does she want?” or “She would have to call now.”

Once when she was sitting on the sun-porch having what she called her “afternoon cigarette”, Mrs. Chandler had called. She asked him to be a Darling and tell his mother Mrs. Chandler was on the phone. He told his mother and she seemed very tired and she asked him, “Why didn’t you tell her I wasn’t here or something?” He told his mother he was sorry. He ran back to the phone. Mrs. Chandler was humming like she always did while she waited on the phone. Mrs. Chandler’s humming wasn’t really very pretty. It was too fast and jerky. He could almost see Mrs. Chandler’s fingers go rummp-rummp on a table-top while she hummed. Once in a while she would cough right in the middle of her humming too.