ADVENTURES IN DOMESTICITY
And so Amanda finds herself faced with the prospect of posing as Lee’s wife. For Lee too, this is something new – he’s never had to play house with a real housewife before, particularly with one who brings props for the house they will be using as their pretend home with her.
The buffalo’s head brings it home to him that, unlike for him, this assignment is something new for Amanda. She’s had to continue to lie about where she is going and what she is up to to her mother, having fallen back on her previous invention of her new “club” to explain why she’ll be absent for at least the day.
She throws herself into the assignment almost as soon as they arrive, telling Lee that she’s going to check that the removal men know where to put everything. Lee can only stand there and stare after her as she goes sprinting towards the house. Surely she’s getting a bit too involved in all this? It’s not as though it’s even remotely real! Certainly he’s never had to worry about what piece of furniture goes where or how everything is arranged. That’s not his job. Nor should it really be Amanda’s but she’s quickly taken it upon herself to sort it all, keeping busy, her own natural instincts shining through.
Already the whole assignment is feeling a bit different from any other he has worked on before and he doesn’t like it. He reluctantly retrieves Dotty’s offering to follow her into the house. It’s going to be a long three days.
Amanda busies herself with all the jobs that need doing to turn the house into what will be their “home” for the next few days – unpacking boxes, putting the shelf paper down, arranging flowers and washing glasses. It might not be their real home but that doesn’t mean that it can’t look nice.
Lee, meanwhile, dedicates himself to the task of nailing Dotty’s buffalo’s head to the living room wall.
As Amanda comes into the room to put a vase of flowers down on the coffee table, she notices that Lee still looks like he did when they first arrived. Surely he’s done something while she’s been sorting things out? She glances round but can’t really see any evidence to suggest it.
Lee is surprised she’s even asked. “Are you kidding?” he responds, pointing to his handiwork.
“Maybe you ought to take a break,” Amanda quips. After all, she doesn’t want him getting too exhausted from the sheer exertion of it all!
Lee merely shoots her a look before going to pour himself a drink, even as Amanda assesses the furniture and furnishings. “Who picked this stuff?” she asks, even though Lee doesn’t appear particularly bothered by any of it.
“That’s Government Issue Suburban Grouping,” he tells her. “We do this kind of thing a lot, you know. This stuff’s been used before.”
When Amanda discovers a mark on one of the sofa cushions she looks pointedly over at him. He’s certainly right about that. “Cigarette burn?”
“Bullet hole,” he tells her.
As Amanda absorbs this rather disturbing fact, Lee turns his thoughts to how they can get to know the people in the street.
Not that Amanda is worried about having to meet anyone. This is suburbia after all. As if on cue, the doorbell rings.
“That’s probably the welcome wagon now,” she says brightly, handing him the offending cushion and heading to the door. As Lee quickly rearranges the sofa cushion and grabs his drink, forcing a pleasant smile to his lips, a whole host of people start piling into their living room. It seems that Amanda was right – here on their doorstep are the very neighbours they need to get to know!
They’ve bought everything for an impromptu party with them, plunging Lee and Amanda into their domestic cover head on. Amanda quickly assumes the role of hostess to the unexpected gathering even as Lee plants himself firmly in the kitchen mixing up strawberry daiquiris.
Somehow, however, he has to try to contrive a way to have a chat with Harriet Rosemont whose name was on the gunrunner’s body. The question is how? He’s not going to be able to achieve very much standing in the kitchen whipping up daiquiris. He’s not enjoying himself at all, even though he sees Amanda making the best of it and being her usual friendly self.
If this is what life in suburbia is like then he doesn’t want any part of it! It’s definitely not for him! Not that Amanda seems to be paying much attention to how he’s feeling. She wants him to light the barbecue when he’s finished mixing the drinks.
“You’re really doing very well,” she tells him encouragingly. “Really.”
He turns and glares at her, at which point she beats a hasty retreat back to the party. She’s not going to linger any longer in the kitchen, especially if he’s getting annoyed with her.
Having come to the conclusion that it’s best to let him stew alone for a while she goes to offer more chips to the neighbours and give them their drinks. If Lee won’t get a chance to come out of the kitchen to talk to people any time soon then maybe she can somehow do some investigating of her own? After all, she might be able to find out something useful that would help him with the case.
As Amanda goes about seeing to her guests she finds herself chatting to one of the neighbours whose more than happy to make small talk about her and Lee’s life “together” before being approached and accosted by Judy Wainwright who decides she needs rescuing.
Excusing herself and following Judy across the room, she is introduced Karen and Harriet. Alarm bells blare through her mind. Harriet is the woman Lee mentioned about needing to speak to just now.
Also it appears that Lee, without her knowledge, has already had a chance to tell Judy that she is keen to get involved with the neighbourhood. There’s no mention of Lee being as eager, of course. By his own admission he has absolutely no idea about everyday life nor, it seems, any real willingness to embrace it.
“Well, you know, I am very anxious to become involved with the neighbourhood and I’d like to get to know everybody,” she tells them, not wanting to seem unfriendly. “But unfortunately I am looking for work.”
She notices Judy’s eyes light up at this. She has the perfect solution: join the troupe of Connie Beth girls!
Harriet seems a little reserved at the suggestion, but Judy thinks Amanda would be perfect even though Amanda isn’t quite sure what that actually means.
The ring of the doorbell, however, heralds an abrupt end to the party proceedings when Lee opens the door – expecting to see yet another party guest – and finds a policeman standing there looking for Frank Bodine.
As Lee calls Frank over he listens to what’s being said, hoping that it might have some bearing on the case.
It does…..the body of Betty Bodine has been discovered and it’s not good news.