Leonard and his bohemian girl had enjoyed TV dinners at her East Village apartment. She’d dismantled his bouquet, tossing stems of carnations about the place, including on her mattress. The lamps were draped with hand-painted scarves. Like her, they were neither pretty nor ugly but colorful in a way that pleased Leonard.
His Uncle Lou had promised free cheesecake. Now, here they were in Lou’s red-and-white-checkered-tablecloth trattoria of knotty pine. Beside them squatted a cigarette machine, the kind with the shiny silver knobs you had to pull hard, with miniaturized art from the cigarette packs slipped between cards of yellowed plastic. The chime of the telephone lingered in the air after the ringing stopped, which made his girl laugh, perched on a red chair in her yellow party dress. Leonard surreptitiously pocketed his clip-on tie. Tonight might be his own lucky strike, he still believed, in that pretty spring tableau before everything went so wrong. In this moment, shy Leonard’s success appeared nearly completely certain.