Audrey didn’t like blindfolds. They never failed to dredge up memories of pinning tails on donkeys and whacking piñatas and hiding in closets. For her to allow Carl to wrap a dishtowel around her head, she had to believe some good would come of it.
“Okay, hon,” Carl said. “Happy anniversary.”
Audrey removed the blindfold and gasped: a painting. He’d remembered. He’d stuck a big bow on the corner of the frame.
“Oh, my. Ohhhh—Carl. I love it.”
“It’s called Vineyard Twenty-Six,” Carl said.
“Vineyard Twenty-Six. Wow. I don’t suppose there was a Vineyard Twenty-Five… no, what am I saying. This one’s perfect.”
“I thought of that, too, dear, I really did, but apparently twenty-five is no longer available.”
“Somebody bought it?”
“No, she ran over it with her car.”
“Oh.” Audrey tried to visualize that: the tempestuous artist-supermodel backing over the canvas with a what—what do artist-supermodels drive? “Well, this is better, anyway. We’re starting our twenty-sixth year of marriage with Vineyard Twenty-Six.” Between the hug and kiss, she said, “It’s almost too perfect.”
Carl was still smiling. “What d’you mean?”
“I don’t mean too perfect,” Audrey said. “That’s silly, right? Like saying ‘a hundred and ten percent.’ I mean it’s almost too—I mean the actual art. It’s very—”
“Don’t you like it?”
“Are you kidding? I love it! I was just thinking, if I were going to paint a vineyard, I’d probably tone down the blue of the sky. It’s a little distracting.”
Carl’s smile faded. “I like the blue. I like how it sets off the clouds. Joe and I picked this one especially because of how the colors give you a heightened sense of reality.”
“Oh, they do, they do. So Joe went with you?”
“Yeah. He’s got a pretty good eye, turns out. Had a little tête-à-tête with the painter.”
“She was there?”
“Samantha? Yes, she was.”
“Wow. You guys drove all the way out to Forest Grove. You must’ve taken the twenty-six.”
“Then it really is perfect. Vineyard Twenty-Six on the twenty-six. The Sunset Highway.”
Carl snorted. “You make it sound like we’re halfway dead, dear. Drivin’ down the Sunset Highway.”
“That’s not what I meant.”
“Maybe I’m a year or two farther down the road than you are—”
“Oh, so I guess I’m on the Sunset Highway and you’re on Sunset Boulevard.”
“Excuse me? Now I’m wearing a leather miniskirt in a different state?”
“You’re in a different state now than you were ten minutes ago.”
Audrey wasn’t sure how that had happened. Maybe it was the blindfold. She went into the kitchen and reappeared with a wrapped gift. “Actually, we’re all going to be in a different state next weekend,” she said. “The state of Washington. Happy anniversary.”
Carl got a Seattle Mariners tee shirt and four tickets in the upper deck behind home plate. He was thrilled. As they went upstairs to get ready for their evening out, Audrey assured Carl she did not have a leather miniskirt in her closet.
©2010 Pam Wells