(As we rejoin our heroes, they are on the last stretch of highway to Brewster, where they will meet for the first time their archenemy, Letitia Mortimer, the fiend who stole Aunt Harriet’s treasured NKC Needle Knockers trophy, and make their plans for stealing it back. Isn’t this getting exciting? Finally? Or not.)

Neither of them had much to say after that. Carolyn seemed to feel that I had done the dirty to her erstwhile inamorata by getting him involved in wrestling, a sport of which who knew she wouldn’t approve, and I felt that I had helped a friend out of a ticklish financial situation with panache and daring. We were at an impasse. Silence reigned.

She shifted in her seat from time to time.

I held the wheel sometimes with my right hand and sometimes my left.

She crossed her legs and filed her nails with a high, whiny rasping that sounded in the otherwise tomb-like quiet of the car as if a dozen midgets had taken a dozen lumberjack saws to a forest of parking meters.

I retaliated with a wheezing nasal exhale that whistled “The Volga Boatmen” off-key.

She frowned and gnashed her teeth. “You know I hate that whistling thing you do with your nose,” she growled.

“And you know I don’t like that grinding noise you make when you sandpaper your fingernails.”

A grim silence descended on the Turd Furdus like a ballpeen hammer on the rigid skull of a Republican echo chamber. Carolyn seethed. I glowered. The road shimmered. A fog thickened. Overhead an owl screeched and was lost in the tall green pines. Then, finally, when the end was surely near and Brewster loomed blackly beneath the arch of the last violent Catskill, Hemingway relinquished control over my story, saying he couldn’t do a thing with it.

I knew how he felt.

As we swung gracefully around the hairpin curves of the road down to Brewster, I thought I ought to remind Carolyn that we were going to be Letitia’s guests for the entire weekend and that she had better not get anybody’s back up before we had accomplished our mission since we couldn’t accomplish said mission if she got us thrown out on our respective asses. But I restrained myself. It was, I thought, up to her to make the first move toward reconciliation.

So I waited.

She didn’t make any move toward reconciliation.

I waited some more.

We were now at the bottom of the mountain and wending our way through the winding cowpaths that passed for streets in Brewster, and still she said nothing.

We were on Mortimer Street, sliding down toward the gate that marked the Mortimer grounds. The lack of a move toward reconciliation rang inside the hollow of the car like a barrow of banshees banging on brass balls. I couldn’t understand what she was waiting for.

Finally we were there, through the gate and passing down the Mortimer driveway toward the Mortimer house, just barely discernible through the band of Mortimer trees that lined the Mortimer lawns. I decided that Carolyn’s lack of remorse was unacceptable under the circumstances and I was determined to read her the riot act in no uncertain terms. I slammed the car top a stop in front of the porch. “Carolyn,” I began.

She turned toward me for the first time in hours, smiled, and patted my knee maternally. “It’s alright, Ponsie,” she said. “I forgive you.”

“What?!” I spluttered. “You – But – I -”

“There there,” she said, and kissed my forehead. “That’s my brave little man. Now get out of the car.”

Which is what she did and I followed her, fully intending to bean her with Aunt Harriet’s front side marker light, but then she, um, stretched, arching her back and raising up on her toes, her long legs quivering, her magnificent bust expanding and, well, I forgot what I meant to do. Besides, there was the house.

“Doesn’t that house look -”

“Familiar?” Carolyn finished. “Yeeees. Seems to me I’ve seen it before. It looks just like – “

“The Addams Family house.”

She snapped her fingers. “That’s it! Only…spookier.”

She was right but there wasn’t any reason for our unease that I could see. Unlike the Addams Family house, these yards were well tended, the lawns trimmed and edged, and there were flower gardens all along both sides. The sun was out and the house was painted a bright canary yellow that caught those rays and tossed them for a 5-yard loss. Yet despite all that cheery, rambunctious joie de vivre, looking at it sent chills down my spine. Maybe I was thinking about the dog.

“Have you seen Brutus?” I asked, glancing nervously around the front yard. He could have been hiding under the peonies.

Carolyn had wandered toward the house and was standing near a startlingly orange hydrangea bush. “Not yet, but I may have found his tracks.”

I stood next to her and looked down where she was pointing. “Where? I don’t see anything but those holes in the dirt.”

“Those aren’t holes,” she said. “Those are the marks his pads left.”

“But…but…that’s impossible. They’re HUGE! He must be – “

“As tall as you. Yes.

“I feel faint.”

“Relax, Ponsie. You got nothing to worry about.”

“Easy for you to say.” It was, too.