nice young man and as a Christian woman I can hardly leave you out there in this devil’s darkness.” “Yes, ma’am, thank you so much.” He moved toward her with a slow gait and climbed the steps to her porch. “I only want to use your phone. I don’t mean you any harm.” “Your eyes don’t give me a chill, so I s’pose you’re all right. The phone is in the hall just through the front door. You go make your call, and I’ll make us a nice cup of tea. I have carrot cake, too, made fresh this morning.” She nodded and smiled, showing him a mouth full of widely spaced, stained teeth. He followed her in as she hitched her way to the kitchen. She pointed to the phone in the hall as she passed it. He looked around the dim hallway. A tall staircase disappeared up into blackness and he heard a creak from above. ‘Probably a draft,’ he thought. Seeing movement out of the corner of his eye, he turned, but when he looked toward it he saw only an empty room that faded into darkness. The only light came from the left, where, he assumed, resided the kitchen. He reached for the receiver and lifted it to his ear. Dead. He rattled the hang-up buttons: nothing. Following the cord from the phone to the wall, he could see no problem there. He jiggled the buttons again but nothing happened. He returned to the porch, shaking his head. She came out through a door on the left of the porch carrying a tray with two steaming cups rattling on saucers and two plates bearing the promised carrot cake. “Your phone is dead, ma’am.” “Oh, please, call me Miss Eva. Everyone around here does,” she said with a sweet smile.