He leaned his bike against a tree at the road verge in front of her home, but hesitated to climb the stone steps to the wraparound wooden porch. When he reached the last step up, Curt held on to an elaborate Victorian post and waited for the palpitations to subside. Toward the yard below him, he looked through the leafless winter canopy of trees that filled the view.
Claudia’s father was an administrator for the Kaymoor mine and her neighbors were bankers, and city politicians. He scanned the neighborhood his coal miner father had once called illusory: spotless fancy homes built from the wealth of black coal. Recalling Claudia’s note on which she wrote her parents had No objection for him to visit did not relieve him of being out of place.
Shortly after pressing the electric bell, the door groaned when it was partly opened. A middle-aged woman wearing a plain blue cotton dress leaned to one shoulder against the stained-glass door. “Yes, sir, how can I help you?”