I was in Cafe de Flores, drinking coffee and talking with a friend, Madeline from Albany, when the man sitting next to us put down the paper he had been reading, stood so quickly that he was unsteady on his feet, and rushed out the door.

“He’s in a hurry,” Madeline commented. She had a high-pitched voice that carried quite a distance, and the other diners looked up as well. Our waiter pursed his lips and blew through them, making the familiar sound of Parisian disdain. He took away the half-finished coffee, the untasted ham and cheese baguette, but before the waiter could take the paper I reached for it.

It was the New York Times from two weeks before, the Tuesday, October 29 edition.

“Stock Prices Slump $14,000,000,000 in Nation-Wide Stampede to Unload,” I read.

“Daddy must be so upset,” Madeline said. “Bet he’s going to cut my allowance. And I just ordered a dozen new frocks.”

“Just a dip. It’ll right itself,” Jamie said when I went back to our room on rue Froidevaux, across from the old cemetery. “Dad must be nervous, though,” he admitted, after he had thought about it for a moment. “I can’t go back yet, Nora. We’re okay.” When we made love that afternoon, rolling naked in the warmth of the early autumn weather, Jamie seemed a little preoccupied. “Don’t worry,” he repeated so often that I began to worry.

Two weeks later Jamie had a letter from his father explaining that his monthly income would have to be reduced a little, but otherwise all was well. People will always buy bread. Two months later there was another letter, saying that the Tastes-So-Good Bakery had almost defaulted on a loan and staff were being laid off.

“Come home,” his father wrote. “It’s time.” Jamie grimaced and tugged at his ear, the way he did when he was upset. “No,” he said back to the letter.

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