Vogel’s Wife

Vogel’s wife left him Saturday afternoon; now it was Monday morning. In between had come Sunday, a veil of whiskey and bewilderment, and though he did not feel up to teaching today—running a multimedia lecture on J. S. Bach’s improvisational fugue technique—he was glad to have something to do. His footsteps tapped their crisp assent down the buffed floor of Chandler Hall as he walked its main corridor at 8:00 a.m. In the midst of this, the loneliest period of his life, there was still something nice about being alone in the music department early; a feeling—despite the ancient, exposed pipework and leaded windows and the building’s pervasive fustiness—of renewal and possibility.

But he wasn’t alone. He turned the corner into the office, and there at the copier, her back to him, running off what he assumed was the sheaf of tablature he’d requested for class later, was Penny Ayler. He opened his mouth to speak but found his voice caught in the usual adolescent way, so, also as usual, he opted for mandarin silence, letting her notice him as he went into the adjoining kitchen and made coffee.

“Hi there,” came the musical chirp.

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