“Yeah,” said Portman. “I told them all about the thug that broke into your house, roughed you up, threw beer cans all over the place, and stole your refrigerator. It’s a good thing Rebbecca is out of town, or she might have gotten hurt, too.” Mr. Portman gave Robert a conspiratorial wink.
Robert did his best not to allow an exuberant grin of relief to break across his face. For the most part, he was successful.
The interview with the police did not take long. Robert explained that he didn’t get a good look at his attacker because he was dozing when he was hit. The police explained that they couldn’t do much without a description of the suspect, but asked for a description of the refrigerator just in case. They also advised Robert to watch the classifieds for the next few weeks to see if his refrigerator went up for sale. In that event, he was to contact the police immediately. Robert assured them he would. He thanked the officers, who took their leave.
After they’d gone, Robert turned back to the Portmans’ house. Mr. Portman was sitting on the front porch, waiting. Robert joined him.
“Thanks for covering for me,” said Robert.
“No problem,” said Mr. Portman. “To tell you the truth, I called the cops on you. But then I saw the refrigerator running around before they showed up, and I knew you were on the level. Sorry I wasn’t as helpful as I could have been.”
Robert waved off the apology. “You couldn’t have known,” he said.
Mr. Portman got up and opened the door. “Rebbecca’s still frozen in the kitchen. Want to see her?”
They went in. When they got to the kitchen, Mrs. Portman was there, sipping what appeared to be a whiskey and eyeing the frozen pillar that lay on the floor. Robert knelt beside it. He dug in his pocket for the heart of Crutchford and touched it to the hoary surface. There was a loud poof and a cloud of mist burst from the surface of the ice. It dissipated in seconds, and when it was gone, there lay Rebbecca, warily looking around the room.
“Jesus, how the hell did you do that?” said Mr. Portman in wonder.
Rebbecca’s eyes spared Mr. Portman a glance before settling on Robert. “What happened? Where am I?” she demanded.
“We’re in Portman’s kitchen,” said Robert. “As to what happened, that’s a long story.”
“Are we safe?” asked Rebbecca.
“Yes,” Robert replied. “Crutchford– that is, the refrigerator– is no longer a threat.”
Rebbecca sat up, massaging her arms and legs as if trying to bring them to life. “Long story or not, I want to hear it,” she said.
Mr. and Mrs. Portman exchanged glances. “Um, I think Ellen and I don’t want to hear it,” said Mr. Portman. “If the fridge is gone, I’m satisfied. I’d like to forget most of today ever happened.”
“Fair enough,” said Robert. He and Rebbecca exchanged pleasantries with the Portmans and then were shown to the door, not unkindly. They made their way down the walk to the main sidewalk. There they paused and looked at each other. Evening shadows were falling.
“You really do look bad,” said Rebbecca finally. “Maybe you should go to the hospital or something.”
Robert shrugged. “I’ll go see a doctor tomorrow. Right now I really want to tell you about my day.”
“Alright. I definitely want to hear it. Why don’t we go to my place, order a pizza, and you can tell me things.”