INSIDE HER, blood began to flow. Herbert's reflexes had thrust his fat buttocks hard into her belly at the same instant that the stump of duck thigh he had swallowed was ejected like a slung stone from his windpipe--its lodging there had been what prompted Amandine to leap behind him and vigorously administer the ever-reliable Heimlich maneuver.
Herbert had attracted her attention as soon as he and his wife, Marsha, began ordering their meal, he speaking with a stutter like a pneumatic drill, she with a lisp that suggested a woolen gag: a counterpoint of sounds that Amandine found positively fascinating, quite unlike the impression they had made upon entering--just another overweight American couple.
Dorothée had just been telling her to abandon the object of her obsessive worrying. Colette had previously recommended email, Béatrice the telephone. Amandine had not told them she was pregnant, she explained her unfeigned anxiety by the fact that more than two weeks had already passed since she had been promised a letter and none had arrived. The man had returned to America at the end of his tourist's stay, during which he had engaged with her in a passionate affair. Amandine had decided to tell Béatrice, Colette, and Dorothée about it, since they were all friends and, as such, had met at this bistrot on the Left Bank; one which, incidentally, I am happy to recommend: Aux Fins Gourmets, 213, boulevard Saint-Germain, phone 01 42 22 06 57.