It's an early-autumn day like any other in upstate New Hampshire: chilly, breezy, and fragrant. Well, fragrant if you happen to enjoy the scent of wood smoke billowing from every chimney in the village.
"You don't smoke," Clay admonishes his cousin's widow.
"Not those stale, nasty cigarettes Hatch likes," Marjorie responds. "But a smooth, carefully hand-rolled cigar..." She pauses as she takes a drag, "...is like the gentle caress of an accomplished lover."
A corner of Clay's mouth rises, though in truth he's uncomfortable hearing a woman speak so bluntly, so seductively. It is, after all, the mid 1950s and Clay's been a one-woman man in a small town all these years. Until now. But what’s adultery stacked up against the multiple murders that have recently plagued this sleepy hamlet?
He settles back into his chair and swallows his scotch--nearly choking on it. As he struggles for air, he manages to sputter, "Soda...there's no soda in it."
"There's supposed to be soda in it?" Marjorie asks.
Clay wonders if she's hurt by his reaction. Guessing she is, he says, "No, no. Scotch this good doesn't need soda." He sips gingerly the second time around.
And as he and Marjorie settle into their coy game, outside the razor-thin windows the first snow begins to fall, bringing with it an appearance of unearned innocence and silence echoing the eternal silence that has already frozen their river-bound valley town.