It was 7:45pm and Candy only had 15 minutes before Nessa and Moses arrived.  She knew they wouldn’t dare be a minute late and thought maybe they might be about five minutes early.  She had brushed her red hair into long silky perfection.  It draped down her back and laid on her dark blue dress every strand moving in unison with the turns of her head.  Ernie was tying his black tie with his black suit while brushing what remained of his hair.  

Then at 7:49 the doorbell rang and Candy went to answer it herself.  She had sent all of the servants home.  Being that all of her servants were Afro-American she didn’t want Nessa or Moses to feel uncomfortable.

She told the children – Tim, 15, Edward, 12 and Mary, 16 – to sleep over at a friends’ house and come home on Saturday.  She didn’t want any distractions while she assessed Nessa and Moses.  

She decided to entertain them in her living room and not the sitting room.  Her living room was her oasis filled with her prized figurines, vases, and plants.  The carpet and furniture were all white but it was time for the rooms yearly cleaning, which she would do a few days after Nessa and Moses’s visit.

Candy was happy to see that Nessa dressed in all white.  She had the most beautiful white hat and Candy wondered how much Moses had spent on it and if they could really afford such a luxury.  Moses had on a simple brown suit.  Candy noticed his shoes were shiny as if just shined but there were still noticeable scuffs.  Once they were fully inside Ernie was beside her ushering them into the living room.

“Would you like some tea or coffee?  I know that usually comes after dinner but I figured we could have some now.”  Candy said this to ease the tension she felt in the air.  Moses and Nessa sat on the couch next to one another with barely an inch between them.  Candy saw Moses touch Nessa’s knee as if to settle her breathing.

“I’ll have some tea.”  Nessa said in the most high-pitched voice Candy had ever heard from an Afro-American woman.

“I’ll have some coffee.”  Moses chimed in it seemed only to be polite.

“Candy, you can bring me some coffee too?”  Ernie sat in the loveseat and watched Candy disappear into the kitchen.

“Nessa, it’s good to meet you.  I wish I could say I’ve heard a lot about you but Moses and I haven’t been talking about much besides work and sports.”

“Oh, well, I haven’t heard much about you either because Moses hardly ever talks about work.  He’s not a big talker.  More the silent type.”

“Oh, so it’s not just me?” 

At that point Candy came in carrying a tray with four cups.  She handed the tea to Nessa and the coffee to Moses, sat on the loveseat with two cups of coffee and handed one to Ernie.

“It’s not just you what, dear?”

“It’s not just me that Moses doesn’t speak to.  He’s not much of a talker.”

“I talk when I need to, speak when spoken to or of.”  He turned his face towards Nessa but she looked away from him at Candy.

“I’m so glad you let us come to your home.”  Nessa knew they would not have been invited if Candy did not want to see them.

“Well, I’m so glad you could come.  Did you find the place ok?”

“Yea, well, Moses can figure out how to get anywhere in New York.  That’s part of the reason he’s such a good cop.”

“Well, good.  I know he must be very good to have ended up with my Ernie as a partner.  When Ernie told me Moses would be his new partner I knew Moses had to be one of the best officers in the precinct.”

“I won’t argue with you Mrs. Avery.  I’m certain you speak the truth.”

Candy was delighted Moses accepted the compliment and agreed with her.  She thought he’d make a fine partner for her husband – agreeable.  People hiding ambition reject compliments.

Candy turned to Ernie and smiled.  “Well, how about we go into the dining room and I’ll bring the food out.  You can bring your tea and coffee in there.” 

Moses and Nessa took their cups into the dining room.  It was a long square table but there were two place settings on one side and two place settings on the direct opposite side.  Moses thought it strange that Candy and Ernie decided not to sit at the ends of the table.  Even Nessa thought it weird that they would sit facing one another like equals.  Candy brought out whole baked chicken legs, asparagus, and mashed potatoes.  

“You can serve yourselves.”  Candy took her spot next to Ernie right across from Nessa.

Moses placed a chicken leg on Nessa’s plate before placing one on his and Ernie did as he saw Moses do and placed a chicken leg on Candy’s plate.  Nessa put some mashed potatoes on her plate.  She was not sure what the long green stem looking thing was but she knew she had to try it.  She took three stems and placed it on her plate.  She thought three was enough to seem polite.  Moses did the exact same things she did and then she realized that Ernie and Candy had done the exact same things as her as well.

“So, Moses, now that you’ve been a patrolman for a bit how do you like it?  What is your most favorite thing about it?”  Candy wanted to get right into it.  She invited them to assess Moses intentions and she needed a bit more information to feel completely satisfied.

“Well, honestly Mrs. Avery, the best part about it is having a partner.  Ernie and I don’t talk much but I think we suit one another pretty well.”

“I think we’ll do just fine Moses.”  Candy knew that that was the last question she could ask Moses about work.  Ernie had decided he liked Moses as a partner and she was beginning to warm up to him as well.  She even had to admit that Nessa impressed her.  Candy thought Nessa looked like a well-kept woman and she could tell Nessa had never held a job.

The conversation turned to what Ernie and Moses often talked about – sports and weather.  Candy decided not to have a side chat with Nessa.  There was nothing they needed to discuss.  She thought about whether she would ever have them over to the house again and she couldn’t see why that would ever be necessary.  She was certain Moses was happy to have made it as far as he had and there was no desire to move any higher.  Candy said goodnight to Moses and Nessa and as they left she saw them growing old together as she would grow old with Ernie.

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