FRIDAY, DADDY (Short Story)
Guest post by David Bellin
What you’d expect for the price, Myron thought. Essentially one long room, maybe a parlor in the days when there were parlors, way before the old Victorian house had been chopped into these so-called apartments. A bed, a couch, a dresser, a table with two chairs, the basics, all with that picked-off-the-sidewalk look.
A two burner stove and mini refrigerator combination, a relic from some motel, filled a closet-sized alcove. The shelves above held the required few pots and pans. Myron found two tins of tuna inside one of the pots, evidently left by the previous tenant. A bonus, he said dryly, aware that he would use them. Every dollar counted now.
A door ajar next to the alcove showed a glimpse of the bathroom, which he didn’t bother to inspect, simply making a bet with himself there would be a plunger next to the toilet.
He shrugged and flopped on the bed, calculating for the hundredth time. Mortgage payments, car payments, living expenses for Rita and Thelma, rent and food here, and no job. Damn Marlena and that scene in the office. Walking right in, screaming in front of the whole staff, his manager, was she nuts?
Probably, he conceded. He should have seen it from the beginning, the intensity, the willingness – but it was part of the attraction, wasn’t it?
At least Marlena is one expense he would never have again. Along with the pleasures. It was certainly an adventure, he told the ceiling. He shifted on the bed, forcing his mind back to the calculations. The car payment could be delayed, the insurance, too, enough, maybe, to bring him through another month, two months if he borrowed from his brother. He made a gargling sound at the thought. But there would be a new job by then. There had to be. For all the joking about geeks and nerds, software engineers were in demand.
The divorce lawyers could be held off until then. They had enough experience to expect a delay. Thelma’s sixth grade graduation was a different problem, though. A present — alright, he’d borrow from his brother, just for that. Attendance was the real worry. Going as a family would be a charade, a nerve wrenching one, but if he sat on the other side of the auditorium there would be the questions, the looks. When did sixth grade graduation become such a big deal?
World I never made, he sighed, knowing he did make it, at least that part of it that found him here on this sagging bed in a shabby room, his future home. I didn’t need to snarl at Rita, he admitted. There was a chance she might be forgiving. Myron thought he had detected that. Trying to justify himself was where he went off the track, the attempt to explain men’s needs, women’s failure to adjust.
In this alien room, it sounded hollow. Marlena’s hips, that little rolling motion, the way her eyes could widen, so blue, so innocent if you didn’t know – he knew. There was never a moment when he didn’t know. Most men are sexually arrested at fifteen, eternal adolescents, he read somewhere. Alright. Shouldn’t Rita comprehend that? An educated woman, wasn’t there a way to see his side? That there’s a larger picture?
Somehow, “his side” was amorphous right now, a fog that he couldn’t negotiate and he returned to calculating rent, utilities, the car, thinking he could skip lunches until he had an expense account again or saw a church fundraiser luncheon. They were always good, the donations small, the portions generous —
So that’s how we get you back into church. He could hear Rita’s voice. Not cynical, even a little amused, as always when she coaxed him. Soft spoken, stubborn, persistent. He had learned to deflect it, to smile agreeably, as if it were a game.
In truth, he could have gone with them on a Sunday now and then, an hour of tedium, no sacrifice really, a gesture for Rita, Thelma, too –
Careful. This must be what Langley, the lawyer, calls the mea culpa factor. I see it over and over, Langley warned him. Suddenly you’re sorry, feel a touch of guilt and you know what happens? You start making concessions that you don’t need to, that will bleed you the rest of your life.
But you see, Langley, it’s my daughter I’m thinking about –
Give me a break, Langley interrupted. Give me a chance to win for you. Nobody’s going to starve. Your wife can go to work. No need to pamper her anymore. Every convenience store in town needs cashiers, the food packing company needs line workers – the ad’s in the paper, she can read – the hospital needs kitchen staff, or maybe she has some college? He snapped his fingers in triumph at Myron’s nod. Sub teaching then, always openings, good pay. See? Don’t fall for the poverty bit, she’ll get herself an income to help out. You don’t need to shoulder it all.
He’s right, Myron told himself with some vindictiveness now. I produced the income all these years, so let her have a taste of it, budgeting, managing. He began to calculate once more, his head squirming for a comfortable hollow in the lumpy pillow, his eyes closing.
He woke to darkness and voices. In his room? No, too metallic. A woman’s voice and a man’s – good grief, would he have to listen to someone else’s sexual encounter through the wall? No, walls were plaster and horsehair in these old houses, soundproof – the heating grate in the corner, then. Mrs. Rupp, the landlady, had proudly explained the old forced air system with its network of ducts and grates, the furnace originally wood fired, then coal, now natural gas, while showing him how to open the ornamental little wrought iron panel in the floor.
He groped his way there in the dark, bent down to close it, then recalled the loud screech the old metal hinges made. It would be revealing his presence, announcing that he might have been eavesdropping. He’d have to put something over it quietly, a pillow, there wouldn’t be any heat in June –
“ – you understand, Bobby, it’s not one of those excusable divorces. This is a typical sordid affair and I want you to realize it.”
The voice was Mrs. Rupp’s. At least he didn’t have to worry about unwanted carnal noises. Mrs. Rupp was in her seventies, easily, and used a four pronged cane to get around. But what was this about divorce?
“What the devil is an excusable divorce, Ma?” asked a male voice with a sarcastic edge to it. “Yours?”
“Mine, yes. No need to be snappy about it. Your father and I have both told you we were simply the wrong people, too different, too young when we married, both fooling ourselves. We tried. We stayed together far too many years. It became toxic, for us, for you.”
“And your marriage vows? Before God? You could break those?”
Mrs. Rupp’s voice dropped. “I will always wrestle with that. I will always pray for God’s mercy, and with some justification. You will not be able to do that. A sordid affair, Bobby – ”
“Will you stop saying that?” Bobby’s voice was tight with anger. “How do you know my marriage wasn’t toxic, as you call it? How do you know we weren’t totally wrong for each other, just like you and Dad? That it came to a breaking point in the same way?”
Just the one word, in the patient tone of a mother whose four-year-old has told a whopper.
“I’ll go get some more coffee,” Bobby said after a moment. Myron carefully sat down by the grate.
“At least allow that there were some cracks in our marriage,” Bobby remarked when he returned. Cups clattered, the only response. “Alright, alright, I know what you want me to say. Every marriage has a few cracks and they’re insignificant, you repair them and get on with life.”
“Good,” came the answer. “You’ve said it to me. Now say it to yourself and mean it.”
“You want me to make a confession out of it. Next, I say it to God, right?”
“And much more. The affair, the pain you caused, the remorse, the redemption you want – ”
“Ma! Remorse? Redemption? I’m a twenty-first century guy getting a divorce. No big deal any more. Probably a dozen of us in this one street alone.”
“And you think you can hide in the crowd? Cynthia will hurt less because there are others – ”
“Ma, please – “
“The kids? – ”
“Ma – ”
“The responsibility is yours, Bobby. A dozen other men, a million other men, what does it matter? We’re talking about Bobby Rupp. A solo act. Spotlight on you.”
“And what do you expect me to do?” The sarcasm had disappeared. Bobby’s voice was low and weary.
“Right now, you could pray. We could pray together. Remember?”
“Not that again, please.” Bobby sighed. “Listen, it’s late. Let’s get some sleep.”
“Yes, good. We’ll talk some more tomorrow.”
“About a sordid affair and remorse,” Bobby said in resignation.
“At seventy-three, I say what I think. I love you, Bobby.”
“I know, Ma.”
“Also Cynthia and my grandchildren.”
A grunt was the only response.
“And so do you, you darn fool kid,” Mrs. Rupp said after the sound of a door closing. “Forty-four and still a darn fool kid.”
I’m forty-four, thought Myron, finding the light switch, lifting a faded cushion from the couch to place over the grate in case Bobby returned. Enough talk for now.
Myron was almost giddy when he let himself in the next night. What a day, what a break! Last interview on the schedule, getting so tired of the forced smiles, the strained explanations of why he’s out of work and bingo! a colleague from an earlier job is now the manager here, a genial guy, asks no personal questions (had a divorce of his own, Myron recalled), simply interested in results and knows how good Myron’s work is, hired him on the spot, salary actually a few bucks more than the last job, offices bright and roomy and just a short bus ride from the apartment, a healthy walk, really, on sunny days.
A look around the room sobered him up a little – socks on the floor, underwear on the chair, shirt on the bed – this is where the healthy walk would bring him. Well, so what? It would bring him to independence. Couldn’t a woman see how years of nagging about picking up this, picking up that, all the rest of it, would erode a man’s affection, drive him to seek out some understanding elsewhere?
Well, he’d keep the place neat, on his own schedule. Fix it up a little, too, with some of his pictures from home — former home — the stadium shots would be good, and the photos of Thelma, especially the one where they were building a model of the USS Missouri – was she seven then, that wonderfully loving age? — faces pinched in concentration, almost nose to nose, while he embedded the gun emplacements around the bridge. Rita had tiptoed in with her camera, giving them a photo moment that lasted, spoiling the actual moment with a comment about Daddy buying toys for himself, not really knowing what little girls like.
I like watching his fat fingers with the tiny little ship thingees, Thelma had said. Myron laughed aloud now, as he had done back then, his arm encircling the air in a remembered hug. Rita couldn’t leave it alone. Well, we need some toys for small fingers to handle, she said. Didn’t even smile. Or did she? Myron tried to recollect the scene and gave it up. What’s the difference? Just one more example of putting me down, ignoring my feelings.
He looked around the walls, weighing the best place to hang the photo, no, two photos. Next week would bring a graduation portrait. And he could buy that present now, no need to squeeze the money on hand – he blew a silent raspberry at his brother – and no need for those leftover tuna cans. He stopped himself as he opened the cupboard door. A celebration tonight, a restaurant meal and then shopping, an Ipad mini probably. With a pink case. How Thelma would squeal with joy. Let Rita try to object.
Myron did a little two step into the room when he returned, still tasting the steak and lobster dinner, holding the showily wrapped gift in his arms like a dance partner. I’m light on my feet for my size, he informed the package. He blew it a kiss, bowed, placed it with care on the dresser and started to tidy up, two stepping all the while. Swooping down to retrieve a sock, he heard a voice below, faint beneath the cushion.
He continued around the room, his curiosity held in check for a few seconds. As the voice rose – it was Bobby’s – he shrugged and pushed the cushion aside.
“…the small things, Ma, you don’t understand, the small things, how they add up.”
“I understand how they can be exaggerated if you want.”
“If I want? You’re insulting me now.”
“Of course. You earned it. A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool’s back.”
“Now don’t throw Proverbs at me – ”
“Good, you remember the source.”
“Yes, I still know Scripture, and I know Solomon said it, and do you think any of his wives told him to change the furnace filter and gave him that look? The one you’re giving me right now?”
“The furnace filter? A 30-second chore? Lift out the old one, slip in the new one? That’s cause to run off with some floozie?”
Bobby’s voice grew high pitched with resentment. “Not the chore, the look! Head to one side, little superior smile – ”
Upstairs, Myron nodded. With Rita, it was shoulders hunched, a finger waggling, but the same little superior smile; he could picture it clearly.
“Yes, I’ve seen it on Cynthia. Bobby, it’s affectionate.”
“Ma, it’s degrading, and it’s not just the furnace filter, it’s mow the lawn, patch the screen door, the shutter’s loose upstairs, did you buy new faucet washers – and you’ll tell me all that stuff is part of life and it is, and I do get around to doing it all, but it’s her attitude, her constant reminding – did you know both boys laugh at me? Daddy forgot again, ha, ha.”
“And they laughed at Mommy for pushing her shopping cart into a cereal display. I was there. But if you’re worrying about keeping their respect, you’ll certainly keep it by abandoning them.”
Overhead, Myron visibly winced.
“You’re telling yourself fairy tales, deliberately,” she continued. “What I said before, exaggerating all the small things because you want to. What about at night?”
“At night, at night, you know what I mean.”
“I won’t talk about that with you.”
“So it was all right, then. Any problems were from your insensitivity, not hers. Don’t argue, I can read your face. I’ve been doing it since you took your first breath.”
“Look, I didn’t bring that subject up. I’m talking about – ”
“I know, furnace filters. And maybe you’ll tell me about the times you’re ready to go somewhere and she won’t get off the phone. Or you go to the mall to get coats for the kids and she drags you to housewares and curtains and bedding and whatnot first. Does she put her hair spray in the bathroom cabinet so you can’t reach your after shave? Or the pork and beans you like – sometimes there’s not a can in the house, right? And she gives you that look when your football game runs overtime? Am I on the right track? A bunch of terrible things like that?
Bobby’s voice rose again. “Make fun all you want, a can of beans, hair spray, but it shows a lack of regard for me and it adds up. It’s the accumulation, day in, day out, the accumulation!”
Myron’s head shake of agreement was stopped short by a small crash below.
“Ma? What are you doing? You can’t stand without the cane. Wait ‘til I pick it up for you – ”
“Thirty years of rheumatoid arthritis, Bobby. I know about day in, day out. Pain in every joint. Standing, sitting, lying down.” She stopped for a deep, rasping breath. Then, in a voice that penetrated as if there were no grate, no floor between, “That’s an accumulation, Bobby. You don’t have an accumulation. You know what you have?”
“Ma, please sit back – ”
Silence followed. It lasted so long, Myron checked his watch. Five minutes already. He laid down on the floor, his ear to the grate to make sure he wasn’t missing anything.
Finally, Bobby said, “I’ll get your cane.” He was measured and calm now. So was his mother.
“Yes. Come to the kitchen. Some warm milk? It always helped you sleep.”
“I remember. You, too, Ma.”
Myron woke from a restless night, fragments of a dream chasing around – trying on a jacket for graduation, the tailor having Langley’s face, Thelma’s voice through the grate, Friday, Daddy, then in the auditorium, all the men in identical jackets, could he push through without crushing the bow on the IPad Mini, push through, keep pushing, but to where? – he sat up, pawing at the air, Friday, Daddy, still sounding.
In the office, he found himself staring at the calendar so often he finally turned it around. After work, he indulged in another restaurant dinner, finding he had to remind himself from time to time he was enjoying it. At a nearby table, an attractive and smartly dressed brunette glanced at him, then held the glance deliberately. Myron looked away, while accepting the compliment with no surprise. He was no movie star, he knew that, and yes, he was even a bit, well, portly, yet he carried himself well and had in his face a boyishness – Rita’s word, in better times – that always seemed to intrigue certain women. Idly, he pictured himself walking out with the brunette. Good looking couple, people would think. They would do the same, he recognized, if it were Rita on his arm.
Raindrops began outside the restaurant, gathering into a steady fall by the time Myron reached the house, blurring lights and hushing street noises, a hush that continued inside. It was cool, tranquil and Myron welcomed it. He changed clothes and lay down by the grate without even thinking, dozing until the voices began, soft tonight, like the rain.
The talk was of relatives, a catalogue of uncles and aunts and nephews and nieces, their successes, failures, eccentricities (Uncle Herman and his sword collection brought a laugh, a little too extended, and Myron understood they were intentionally avoiding the subject); they reminisced about vacations, the Wichita Fair, Pikes Peak, the bike bridge across the Des Moines river, thirteen stories high; discussed the neighborhood, the old stores gone, overpriced boutiques in their place, a Starbucks on their own corner, imagine… finally, Mrs. Rupp brought the conversation around.
Bobby tried to fend it off. “Did you hear about the organic food store coming in where Huffmans’ bakery – ”
She went on, “That’s really what we were talking about last night, boredom. Sixteen years of marriage, an affliction sets in and it leads you to – what’s that woman’s name?” She continued without waiting for an answer. “Boredom is like a disease with no immune system to protect you.”
“I know where you’re heading with this, Ma. You expect me to pick up a Bible, or pray, and poof! an immune system.”
“No, not poof! You’ve been away from it too long. But a start, Bobby, just a start. Tomorrow – ” She trailed off.
“Tomorrow, I know. I walk into the lawyer’s office and I sign separation papers.”
“Or I call Cynthia first and ask if we can get back together. I don’t know that I want to do it and you can’t assure me that she’ll say yes.”
“Nobody can. I think she will, though, and I know that if I pray and you pray, we’ll be heard.”
“We’ll be heard,” Bobby repeated flatly.
“Don’t dismiss it that way. You’re churning inside and I see it. Who knows you better than I do? Churning inside. I want some relief for you.” The old lady’s steady voice was breaking for the first time.
“Please don’t, Ma. I’m an adult, I’m responsible for myself. I never should have come here. When you come home you’re always nine years old again – ”
“Oh! The poem,” she cut in abruptly. “You reminded me. Bobby, the poem.”
“What? You mean Longfellow? Ma, that’s a prayer. You’re forcing me.”
“Then forget I’m trying to help you. Do it for me. You used to read it so beautifully – remember the church recitals?”
“Thirty-five years ago. Let’s not –”
“It’s in the bookcase where we always kept it. Collected Poems – ”
“Yes, yes. The green cover. But Ma, please. ”
The old lady said nothing, yet whatever was exchanged in the looks between them brought the sound of footsteps leaving, returning, and then Bobby’s voice, reciting:
“Let us then labor for an inward stillness – ”
“No, wait.” He cleared his throat several times, then began again in a surprisingly pleasant baritone, light but perfectly modulated.
“Let us then labor for an inward stillness –
An inward stillness and an inward healing;
The baritone grew richer now, deeper.
“That perfect silence where the lips and the heart
Are still, and we no longer entertain
Our own imperfect thoughts and vain opinions,
Here he slowed, making each phrase slow and measured.
“But God alone speaks in us, and we wait
In singleness of heart, that we may know
His will, and in the silence of our spirits,
That we may do His will, and do that only.”
The final words fell into a stillness of their own, leaving only rain to be heard.
Rita would love that poem, thought Myron. He could Google it, print it out, Longfellow, Let us labor for an inward stillness, easy enough to remember, give it to her at graduation — if they sat together, mail it otherwise, a token of — something.
Mrs. Rupp’s voice came at last.
“You feel better now, different and better.”
“Ma, there are no miracle solutions here – ”
“Bobby. This is me you’re talking to.”
“A little better, then. Alright, more than a little. But Ma, be realistic, my choice for tomorrow is no closer.”
“Alright. Should we try some warm milk again? And Bobby, did you ever notice that it’s always the other person who’s not being realistic?”
Myron woke from another dream in the morning, a dream of talking to Bobby Rupp in a rainstorm that blotted out faces, tactfully trying to explain to Bobby how he knew so much about him and trying to worm out of him his decision for today.
At his office computer, Myron started to work, suspended it after a few minutes and typed Robert Rupp into the browser. Robert A. Rupp, the screen told him, teacher of high school mathematics, author of the widely used textbook, “Algebra Basics.”
So that was Bobby’s daytime world, numbers and symbols, the cold logic of equations, the interplay of assigned values. If anybody could solve a problem, it would be math teacher Rupp. And if anybody could be paralyzed by a problem it would be math teacher Rupp. In today’s example, class, can anyone here assign algebraic values to a wife, a mistress and two children? Oh, and a furnace filter?
Not funny, Myron, he told himself. We’re a pair of eggheads, a mathematician and a computer nerd, trying to navigate a landscape of the heart, not the brain. No signposts. MapQuest doesn’t go here. You and the lawyer’s meeting today, me and the graduation tomorrow. Do you sign the papers or call your Cynthia? Do I sit apart or ask to sit with Rita, and there’s a symbol for you, Daddy and Mommy side by side, the erring husband returning, seeking remorse and redemption as your mother puts it — do I really want that? Your crummy room is a symbol of its own, freedom. If I let it slip away now — teacher Rupp, I’m really curious about your choice and your Cynthia’s response. Okay, more than really curious. Let’s say eager. You’re not praying, are you? The way you read that poem last night –
Myron walked directly home after work, moving briskly, taking no time for a restaurant, stopping instead at a convenience store to buy bread, mayonnaise and milk, tapping his foot impatiently at the checkout counter.
His eyes went right to the grate when he entered the apartment, aware it was too early, unable to curb the reflex. He put together a rapid supper of the abandoned tuna and his grocery items and ate sitting by the grate. Gazing around the room, he was momentarily surprised by its neatness, then remembered he had picked up his things the previous night.
The voices came and Myron frowned. They were too distant to be heard clearly. He waited for them to come nearer. When they didn’t, he leaned down and pressed his ear tight against the metal. No improvement. Bobby and his mother were in some far corner of the room where their words could not be made out.
Tonight? he whispered at them? You had to sit somewhere else tonight? He stood up and walked softly into the hall outside, seeking another grate that might be closer. He found none. Back in the room, he resumed his place, straining to hear a word or two, or to catch the mood, but only a murmuring came through. He stayed for a while after the voices ceased, just in case they returned, then yielded and went to bed.
Sometime in the night, overtired and frustrated, Myron turned on his laptop. Maybe some TV reruns — the poem was still there from last night. He read slowly, not fully focused, silent until the line, ‘God alone speaks in us.’ He uttered that aloud, only vaguely aware he was doing so. “God alone speaks in us,” he repeated and continued, “and we wait in singleness of heart, that we may know His will.”
Myron tapped the screen, conscious now that he was talking. “That’s the point, God, singleness of heart. I’ve got a confusion of heart here, with no enlightenment from the math teacher downstairs, and I don’t know what your will is.”
He paused and considered his tone of voice. “I’m irritable, God. If I’m praying, irritable is a dumb way to go. Am I praying? Look, I apologize. I mean, I’m not proud of myself. I’m actually remorseful about everything that’s happened. Repentance, that’s the word, isn’t it? Sinners, repent, and I’m a sinner – God, I’m not comfortable with this. Sounds like pulpit talk and you know how long it’s been? I need time to think everything through. Thank you, amen,” he finished hastily and stumbled back to bed.
He woke at daybreak, irritability gone, anxiety in its place. This was Friday. Friday, Daddy. The anxiety grew, cramping his back and neck muscles on the walk to work. He stopped for breakfast, ordering coffee and toast without hearing himself, eating without tasting anything.
At the computer, he heard a voice behind him, felt a tap on the shoulder. “A little day dreaming on company time, Myron?” The voice was friendly, a co-worker passing by, teasing him about his screen. Column after column of Friday, Daddy filled the space.
Myron took a long breath, exhaled slowly, reached for the phone.
“Rita? It’s Myron.”
“Yes?” It was guarded.
“Will you, can you, save a seat for me at graduation?”
A pause, then, “Yes.”
“I mean next to you, sitting together.”
“I knew what you meant.”
“And, uh, I was thinking we could take Thelma for some ice cream after.”
“She’s been invited to a party.”
“Oh.” Myron steeled himself, then said, “Well, maybe we could go, just the two of us.”
Myron heard Rita take a long breath of her own.
“It’s supposed to be warm and humid,” she said.
“You mean a good night for ice cream?”
“If you’d like.”
Mrs. Rupp and Bobby watched the taxi until it turned the corner past Starbucks, out of sight.
“This was a quick one,” Bobby said. “Think it’s the new script?”
“Maybe. The alibi line is dramatic. Cuts right to the lies they tell themselves. You’re not a bad playwright for a math teacher.”
“And you’re a decent actress for a math teacher’s mother. But I’m still not sure of that last part, where we move to the corner of the room and my choice, my supposed choice, can’t be heard.”
“Trust me, you’ve got it right. They need to be keyed up toward a decision, but not get a push from what they think you did. They have to find it in themselves and even better, see that it’s God’s hand.”
“I wonder if he did.” Bobby pointed in the taxi’s direction.
“I wouldn’t be surprised. You gave your best performance yet with the poem.”
“Well, Longfellow. There’s a script writer for you. Listen, I think I better go now. The kids have Little League and if I miss it again, Cynthia may send me to that room upstairs. By the way, is it shabby enough or should I make another flea market trip?”
“No need. It’s depressing enough to make any man think of home.”
“Okay, then. Are you ready for another try? Shall I put the listing in?”
“Yes, and don’t get creative. It’s just fine as it as.”
“I know. Apartment available. Low weekly rent. No lease required. Ideal for mature gentleman between commitments.” Bobby chuckled. “You’re sure I can’t add Free Theatre! Original Script! Superb Cast!”
“Go on home, Bobby,” she replied, trying to look severe.
Friday, Daddy copyright David Bellin, 2013
David Bellin is a retired TV and advertising executive. He and his wife live in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Friday, Daddy is from a collection of short stories in progress. It’s the sixth selection to appear in these pages.
Bellin is the author of two novels: Sherman’s Chaplain (“A gem of a book – compact, hard but utterly beautiful” – Reader Views; “Very enjoyable, enlightening, thought-provoking work of historical fiction” – Civil War News) and The Children’s War, a novel of Northern Ireland, (“Contemporary fiction with something substantive to say” – Library Journal; “Arresting first novel…illustrates compassionate souls on both sides of a terrible struggle” – Publishers Weekly)