Chul Moo placed a lock on the nursery. “The room is not healthy,” he said to his wife Hyo.
“I find peace in that room,” she pleaded. She collapsed in a chair, face cradled, and sobbed. Chul Moo stared at her, then retreated to a wood-working project in the garage. He knew Hyo would not go there. He removed the design for the baby crib from the back of a tool drawer. He tore it into small pieces. He sometimes wondered if he wouldn’t be happier with someone like Margot who worked long hours as a chemist in the isolation of a laboratory. Later that evening he and Hyo would meet with her and her husband Clayton, at Fritz’s. Chul Moo frowned and sighed. I suppose she’d like me to be more like Fritz, he thought, who seemed to know everything about women.
That evening, they were greeted by the smell of dinner, Rachmanioff in the background, and Fritz’s usual wide-open arms and playful teasing. He pinched Chul Moo at the door. “Oh smile you big beautiful hunk.” Chul Moo felt ill. “Well, I guess that will do.” Fritz said, assuming a studious look at Chul Moo’s face.
Chul Moo would not be with any of these people had he a choice. Hyo befriended Margot, who worked with her at the lab. Both worked with Fritz, who had, as only someone like him could, ingratiated himself deeply into their personal lives. His wife was so vulnerable, he thought. Margot’s husband, Clayton, a dark Brazilian who taught Tango, was almost as bad as Fritz, with his boisterous laughter and those wide sweeps of his thick arms. Margot could not be more different than her husband, he thought. He would prefer to have dinner alone with her. He glanced again at his watch.
When the moment came, Fritz raised his glass, insisting the others join him.
“I’m going to be a Father!” Fritz looked from one to another of his guests. The thought was so preposterous that Chul Moo found himself smiling with the others.
“You’re adopting?” Chul Moo asked.
“No silly,” Fritz said. “I’ve managed to get your wife pregnant. “And for that matter,” he said, turning to Clayton, “Your wife too!” Only the women smiled.
Fritz was in no hurry.
“Poor boys,” he said, locking into their gaze, “Low on octane?”
“Quite the man,” Margot said.