always loved Richie's hands. They looked like such man's hands. I
knew that I was guilty of gross gender stereotyping, but I kept my
mouth shut about it, and no one knew. His hands rested on the table
between us, the right one on top of the left. They were still.
Richie was always still. It was one of the things that had made it
hard to be married to him. I knew intellectually that he loved me,
but he was so contained and interior that I used to crave even the
most unseemly display of feeling. He was still now, sitting across
the table from me, telling me he'd met someone else. We were
divorced. It was fine for him to see other people. I saw other
people too. But this was a somebody else he'd met. This was more
than seeing other people. This made me feel like my center had
"Somebody, like walk into the sunset?" I said.
"She wants to get married," Richie said. "She has a right to
Richie shrugged. "I'm thinking about it."
"Three kids and a house in the western suburbs?"
"We haven't talked about that," Richie said.
"What about Rosie?" I said.
"She likes dogs."
I looked at the hamburger I had ordered. I didn't want it.
"Rosie would still want to visit," I said.
"I love Rosie," Richie said.
"Has Ms. Right met her?" I said.
"They get along?"
"Very well," Richie said. "Rosie loves her."
She does not.
"Rosie will remain my dog," I said.
Richie smiled at me. "We're not going to have a custody fight over
a goddamn bull terrier, are we?"
"Not as long as we remember she's mine."
"She's ours," Richie said.
"But not hers."
"No. Mine and yours," Richie said. "She lives with you and visits
I nodded. Richie was quiet.
"How long have you been seeing Ms. Right?" I said.
"About three months."
"You're sleeping with her," I said.
"Do you love Ms. Right?" I said.
"Her name is Carrie."
"Do you love Carrie?"
"I don't know."
"And how are you going to find out?" I said.
"I don't know."
Richie had ordered a club sandwich, on whole wheat, toasted. He
hadn't eaten any of it. The waitress stopped at our table.
"Is everything all right?" she said.
"Fine," Richie said.
"Can I get you anything else?"
"No," Richie said. "Check will be fine."
"Do you want me to have your food wrapped?" the waitress
"No thank you," Richie said.
The waitress looked at me. I shook my head. She put a check on the
table and went away looking regretful. Richie and I looked at each
"Whaddya think?" he said.
I shook my head.
"I know," Richie said.
He looked at the check and took some bills out of his wallet and
put them on the table.
"The thing is," he said, "I can't get past you."
"I mean, we're sort of spinning our wheels."
"You could call it that," I said.
"I mean this is a nice woman, and she's happy with who and what I
"But I can't get past you," Richie said.
"I face somewhat the same problem," I said.
"We need some kind of resolution, Sunny."
"I thought the divorce was supposed to be some kind of resolution,"
Richie smiled quietly. "I did too," he said.
"But it wasn't," I said.
"No. It wasn't."
"So what are we supposed to do?" I said.
"I'm serious about this woman."
I nodded. It was difficult for me to speak. The room around me
seemed insubstantial, as if I were drifting in space.
"But," he said, "I can't imagine a life without you in it."
"So," I said. "What the hell is this, a warning that you're going
"I guess it is," Richie said.
The room was nearly empty. There was only one other table occupied,
by three people calmly having lunch. The waitress stayed away from
us. Discreet. I looked at the money that Richie had stacked neatly
on top of the bill.
"I miss Rosie," Richie said.
"She misses you."
I was quiet. Richie was perfectly still, his hands folded
motionless on the table. We were so silent that I was aware of his
breathing across the table.
"Are we really talking about the dog here?" Richie said.
"No," I said, "we goddamned sure are not."
Excerpted from SHRINK RAP © Copyright 2002 by Robert B.
Parker. Reprinted with permission by G. P. Putnam and Sons, a
member of Penguin Putnam, Inc. All rights reserved.