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Theresa Platt (she had been Terry Sheehan) watched her husband across the breakfast
table with eyes that smoldered. But Orville Platt was quite unaware of any smoldering in
progress. He was occupied with his eggs. How could he know that these very eggs were
feeding the dull red menace in Terry Platt's eyes?
When Orville Platt ate a soft-boiled egg he concentrated on it. He treated it as a great
adventure. Which, after all, it is. Few adjuncts of our daily life contain the element of
chance that is to be found in a three-minute breakfast egg.
This was Orville Platt's method of attack: first, he chipped off the top, neatly. Then he
bent forward and subjected it to a passionate and relentless scrutiny. Straightening--
preparatory to plunging his spoon therein--he flapped his right elbow. It wasn't exactly a
flap; it was a pass between a hitch and a flap, and presented external evidence of a mental
state. Orville Platt always gave that little preliminary jerk when he was contemplating a
serious step, or when he was moved, or argumentative. It was a trick as innocent as it was
Terry Platt had learned to look for that flap--they had been married four years--to look for
it, and to hate it with a morbid, unreasoning hate. That flap of the elbow was tearing
Terry Platt's nerves into raw, bleeding fragments.
Her fingers were clenched tightly under the table, now. She was breathing unevenly. "If
he does that again," she told herself, "if he flaps again when he opens the second egg, I'll
scream. I'll scream. I'll scream! I'll sc----"
He had scooped the first egg into his cup. Now he picked up the second, chipped it,
concentrated, straightened, then--up went the elbow, and down, with the accustomed little
The tortured nerves snapped. Through the early-morning quiet of Wetona, Wisconsin,
hurtled the shrill, piercing shriek of Terry Platt's hysteria.
"Terry! For God's sake! What's the matter!"
Orville Platt dropped the second egg, and his spoon. The egg yolk trickled down his
plate. The spoon made a clatter and flung a gay spot of yellow on the cloth. He started
Terry, wild-eyed, pointed a shaking finger at him. She was laughing, now,
uncontrollably. "Your elbow! Your elbow!"
"Elbow?" He looked down at it, bewildered, then up, fright in his face. "What's the
matter with it?"