(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

In Phillip’s narrative, the thoughtless sexual behavior of Phillip and his girlfriend, Veronica, causes Veronica’s father to have a heart attack. Though shamed, sorrowful, and vexed with Phillip, Veronica, on learning from her mother that her father will survive the attack, demands sex from Phillip.

At the outset of the story, Phillip and Veronica are having sex on the rug in the living room of her family home, surrounded in the dark by her family’s expensive paintings and furnishings. Because her parents are in the next room, Veronica says what they are doing is crazy, but she responds eagerly to his touch. Phillip bites her neck, and she kisses his ear. While they are copulating, Phillip imagines that the furnishings are observing and reacting to them. Venting his lust, Phillip crushes Veronica’s willing body under him, and—naked, satisfied, and exhausted—they both fall asleep.

Morris Cohen, Veronica’s father, enters the living room to ask Veronica to tell her boyfriend to go home. From the other room, Veronica’s mother can be heard complaining about her husband’s lack of decisiveness. In the dark living room, Mr. Cohen accidentally steps on Phillip, pressing him into Veronica, who experiences a climax. Their secret tryst exposed, Phillip and Veronica fumble around as the outraged Mr. Cohen upbraids them. Phillip stumbles into the blinds, breaking some glass, and hearing the noise from the safe vantage of the other room,...

(The entire section is 518 words.)