A grape happened to be resting on the tablecloth when Mrs. Keller entered the room. Jeremy had left it there, and now was gone. Outside, a snowman had been built by local children. Some of them spoke English, but they all spoke Spanish. Some had never seen snow before. The mother of one of them was forced to work three jobs to support her children. One of these jobs was at a hotel, another at a bakery, and the third, her main job, was in the customer service department at Best Buy. She didn't know her coworkers well, but they admired her. Reggie, the eldest coworker, admired her more than he admired anyone. He often told her about his brother, who had been to Vietnam—not in the war, just on vacation one year in the late eighties. He had brought back a souvenir Buddha statue for Reggie, who now kept it on his desk, next to a framed photo of his three daughters in ski outfits. They weren't very good skiers, but they tried. To be fair, they rarely had a chance to practice, so many of their hours were filled with various clubs, lessons, sports, parties, play rehearsals, and other activities. Of the three daughters, the youngest, Audrey, was the finest playwright. She had written five plays by the age of fourteen, and now was working on her sixth. It was about a friend who had moved away with her family when the two girls were in fifth grade. It was the first of Audrey's plays to be based on true events. After that, all of her plays would be based on true events, personal experiences. The friend who had moved away was conceived during a hailstorm and owned a banjo. The banjo had been given to her by a traveling salesmen of the kind only found in certain modern day fairy tales. He had gotten the banjo from his lawyer, the esteemed Harold Cartwright of Bangor, Maine. Maine is known for its lobsters, but lawyers are popular there as well. Ditto banjos. One day the mayor of Bangor was eating lunch at his desk when the red phone rang. On the other end was Senator Snowe, calling to confirm their plans to attend the upcoming Yo-Yo Ma concert together, along with their respective spouses, children, and other guests. Yo-Yo Ma was the favorite musician of the mayor of Bangor's dentist's receptionist's Marxist-Leninist wine-selling singer-songwriter boyfriend, Jeff. On the night of the concert, Jeff had to work, so he couldn't go. All night at work he cursed his luck. As a boy he'd often been seen to take walks near the lake behind his house, where he befriended a duck. He named the duck Raymond and fed it baked potatoes. When fall arrived and the duck flew south, it passed over rural Tennessee, where a congressional race was heating up between an incumbant Republican and a young Democrat named Peter Wing. Peter Wing's parents were in prison for some reason. On the day of the election they were released to wide acclaim. Sadly, their boy did not win, but they all went out for pizza anyway. This embarrassed Peter somewhat, but not too much. He was 29 and a bachelor. It's not that he didn't want a relationship, there just weren't that many attractive girls in the town where he'd been born and raised and gone to college. One of his professors, Professor Judith Salad, Ph.D., was not bad looking, and obviously not dumb, but Peter was skeptical that any romance between them would last, seeing as how she was nearly 90 years old.