Sitting in front of the Senior Center I had a fifteen-minute window before my next fare. Still full from my Aunt’s excellent spread I left my turkey and Havarti on rye in my lunch box. Deciding instead to act on her intelligence. Sarah answered her phone on the third ring.
Sarah (trying hard to keep her amusement in check and failing): “Sooooo how was your night?”
Me (laughing with her): “Oh shut it.”
Sarah: “Why were you guys dressed like the Three Musketeers last night?”
Me (exasperated): “Pirates, we were pirates. And Wood thought it the perfect moment for payment on a delinquent bet.”
Sarah’s only response – laughter. I sincerely hope she’s somewhere where Little Ben can’t overhear her. Speaking of that pain in the….
Me: “So how’s Little Ben doing this morning?”
Sarah (imitating Little Ben at the end): “His Highness is pitching a fit and falling in it, ‘I stayed up all night, and they still got away.’.”
Me: “Does he have a clue?”
Me: “Well that’s a relief. But I had a different reason for the call.”
Sarah: “Oh yeah? What’s up?”
Me: “I need to know when Tiffany Grindle is scheduled to arrive at Nevermore.”
Sarah (whistling): “You don’t ask for small favors. I suppose you don’t want to tell me why you want to know.”
Me (trying hard not to sound too desperate): “I know, I know. I promise it’s nothing compromising and it is important…”
Sarah: “On one condition.”
Me (very wary): “….Okay.”
Why do all my friends have to be smart? Or in this case crafty. Sarah, being one of eight siblings (plus an endless network of cousins), knows precisely when she holds a trump card. It’s one of the reasons why I love and fear her.
Sarah: “Well it’s more provisional in flavor.”
Me: “Still not resting easy over here.”
Sarah: “When Big Ben gives you your job back…”
Me: “Sarah, he approved my lay-off.”
Sarah (going on despite my interruption): “When Big Ben sobers up from whatever Little Ben has laced his whiskey with, I would like you to open Tiderington vault. I’ve always wanted to know if the rumor that Helena was buried wearing all her diamonds is true.”
Me (startled): “What?”
Sarah: “To gruesome? Okay…. How about opening the Lenfest mausoleum to see if old man Gus laid his books to rest after he read them to pieces.”
Me: “Seriously? Substantiating rumors?”
*Sigh* So Sarah may know when she holds a trump card, but her ultimate use of them may need some work. Perhaps its the difference between being a twenty-something and a thirty-something.
Sarah: “I’ve been working here for eight years, and I’ve heard all kinds of things about the place. Just once I’d like to see with my own eyes if any of the stories are true! Tell me, is there really a giant crypt underneath the main house? Or a cellar full of bottles of cognac? Is the Gray Man real? Why are there no burials under the old willow in the middle of Nevermore? Is the Masonic cenotaph really the doorway to their meeting hall?”
Me (rolling my eyes on the other end of the line): “Where on earth did you hear that? And do you think this is the best use of a favor?”
Sarah: “Yes! These questions have been burning in my mind since I heard them on the playground! I gots to know!”
Me: “Since grade school? And here I thought you’d ask me for something sensible, like renting you the apartment over the maintenance center, so you could move out of your folk’s house.”
Sarah (jubilant): “Yes that! Could you do that? Then I could explore…I mean, be on call whenever you need me!”
Me: “Of course this is all dependent on Big Ben hiring me back, which again I must state, he approved.”
Sarah: “Pish posh, you’ll get your job back. Simon’s started a pool on when it’ll happen, and all the dates are taken! And if you feel bad about the slim possibility that you won’t be able to hold up your end of the bargain….Well, then you can…..get me fifty bucks worth of those homemade marshmallows from the candy store we stopped at up on the way home from the Fall Foliage Tour!”
Sarah: “Yup, marshmallows. Do we have a deal?”
What’s the old saying? Crazy like a fox? Yes, Sarah’s crazy like a fox.
My car was going to smell like candy floss again.