I found this sign taking Mrs. Lebondowsky home later today…
I found this sign taking Mrs. Lebondowsky home later today…
(The flyer I found laying around in the foyer of the building…)
A sneeze tickling my nose and sent my mind down an odd tangent – I wonder how often Dear Frank is chagrined by something Mrs. Lebondowsky does because her relief on not being judged for indulging her curiosity was crystal clear.
This unproductive line of thought helped distract me from the monstrous sneeze threatening to alert someone I was definitely someplace I oughtn’t…
…Dear Frank should consider himself a lucky man.
Can you imagine if Mrs. Lebondowsky’s ‘Dear Frank’ was married to me? His current wife may occasionally cause him consternation with her busybody leanings, but ‘Dear Frank’ would drop dead of embarrassment within a week of marrying me.
Especially if he ever asked why I came home covered in dust!
Picture his scandalization during my explanation of how I found myself in the basement of the Historical Society building, peering over the tops of musty/dusty cardboard boxes – so I could sneak a peek out a cobwebbed rimmed window.
Dear Frank’s ticker couldn’t take the strain. As it is my own can barely tolerate it, due mainly to Mrs. Lebondowsky texting me, she’d needed another half hour, which caused my phone to chirp loudly during my attempt at stealth.
After peeling myself off the ceiling, which took more than a few heartbeats to accomplish, I refocused my attention on my skulking.
(Even better? The fright scared away my sneeze: thus rendering my next bit of musing – on whether or not I could be charged with murder if I killed Dear Frank with mortification – moot.)
Rising slowly up on my tiptoes using the cardboard boxes in front of me for balance, as the last thing I needed to do was knock them over or break my neck while perched on the top step of this rickety step ladder. I finally caught a glimpse of the items the bucket brigade, just beyond the windowpane, was shifting from the brimming truck to inside the building.
You’d think the human chain would be handing off items in the other direction since Little Ben failed to renew their lease… But in light of the club’s vote, the decorations adorning the buildings and the conversation in Aarti’s library – the cots, sleeping bags, propane stoves, propane, toilet paper, pots pans and so forth moving inside made sense.
Worrisome and alarming sense.
When Mrs. Lebondowsky and I got our first gander of the twin brick buildings housing the Historical Society and Naturalist Club, forty minutes ago, my foot lifted off the gas of its own volition, causing the Princess to roll quietly to a stop. (Which isn’t as dramatic as it sounds – Nevermore’s speed limit is only five miles per hour).
Mrs. Lebondowsky awed tone encapsulated the sight perfectly, “Wow.”
“Seriously.” Gripping the steering wheel, I leaned forward. “Who knew snowmen could look that creepy.”
“Perhaps they’re only unsettling due to the cute pictures behind them?” Mrs. Lebondowsky’s answer didn’t contain a note of conviction. Her second held a fringe of hopeful doubt. “Maybe they’ll look less menacing when we get closer.”
Pulling the Princess into the only available curbside parking spot Mrs. Lebondowsky and I continued to take in the bedecked brick buildings at the end of the lane. “Would you mind if I headed over to the Historical Society while you take care of business next door? I need to drop off some notes with Aarti.” Since she’d paid for a block of time, I’d typically wait in the car until she finished…but I was more than a little curious about what was happening myself (and I actually owned a salient reason for stopping by).
Gathering up her things, “Go ahead, dear. I’ll probably be a half-hour or so. If I beat you back to the Princess, I’ll text you.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
Walking down the lane framed by a multitude of cars, we drew closer to the ghosts of snowmen past that now dotted the grassy verge before both buildings (with a significant number congregating around the city planning boards). The wooden cutouts, which ordinarily graced the area during the holidays, usually wore friendly faces, top hats with poinsettias in their bands, corncob pipes, carrot noses, and the occasional scarf.
Now each erstwhile snowman sported a matte black finish and lilac lettering listing a significant fact about the buildings or the Historical Society itself. The feature Mrs. Lebondowsky and I both found sinister, was the realistic crimson eyes painted on each of the upcycled snowmen (and much like the Mona Lisa, the eyes followed your every move).
She and I both agreed that the snowmen did not become less unsettling upon closer acquaintance. Though the creepiness of silhouettes was brilliant. They both drew the eye towards the Society’s objections while simultaneously repelling them onto their and Naturalist’s grievances.
(As the snowmen weren’t the only repurposed holiday decorations festooning the buildings.)
Strung across the structure’s crowns were a pair of banners proclaiming ‘Protecting Yesterday – From Today – For Tomorrow’ and ‘Don’t Pave Over Paradise’ who’s messages I’m sure would morph to ‘Merry Saturnalia’ and ‘Happy Winter Solstice’ should a fierce wind happen to invert them.
Then there are the white, purple, and red strands of twinkle lights edging every corner of both edifices. Spotlighting not only the important architectural features; but the blown-up photos, placed in every window, of the most adorable fuzzy and feathered denizens that call Nevermore home.
(Mazy will be ecstatic when she sees that someone other than her and I are looking out for her squirrel buddies.)
After we rushed past the shadows of malevolent snowmen, our paths diverged.
On my way up the stairs to the Historical Society, a multitude of sounds reached my ears; jabbering, laughing, scraping, and the groaning of humans and springs alike. Curious, my feet swerved over to the side window in the entryway – which only offered a narrow view over the fence – featuring a pallet of bottled water.
Weird, the Naturalist’s theme last year was ‘Dismiss Your Dependance on Single-Use Plastics’….
Recalling my mission, I turned away from the window, tucked away these peculiar details in the back of my brain, and moved towards the quiet of the Rye’s Historical Society’s main office.
(I unfortunately lost the credit for this photo – but I did get it from Unsplash but the words are mine.)
(Turns out Yarn is the closest to rope we had in our apartment…)
Wood: “You going to give me a hint about what’s happening here?”
Me (plastering on a serene smile): “Nope.”
Wood (walking into the Office while giving me the stink eye): “You know the drill.”
Thank the gods above and below for Beatrice’s contribution to today’s soiree was airpots of strong black coffee and jam-filled pastries from The Alter. I’m going to need every iota of sugar and caffeine present in my bloodstream to fast-talk Wood into staying put.
Especially since I knew that he knew, we’d actively conspired against him (in the nicest possible way).
Wood immediately started the familiar routine of unpacking his instruments on the side table, loudly not asking any more questions about why the apartment not only smelled of chicken but of bacon, barbecue and brisket as well. He also visibly restrained himself from questioning our decision to relocate our kitchen table to the living room and dress it in its Sunday best. Even the ringing doorbell and the words ’special delivery’ which carried clearly through the Office door a minute later (heralding the arrival of the twelve tubs of mac’n’cheese from the Rare Records Room) failed to elicit any comment.
While we followed the familiar checkup routine I wracked my brain for a bright idea on how to stall Wood for forty-five minutes: he already knew how to solve the Chinese finger trap in the pen/pencil mug; locking him in the office set a poor precedent (plus he could always just climb out the window); slipping him a mickey won’t work because neither Beatrice nor I own a bottle of knock drops, and bonking him on the head is just plain rude.
After entertaining and rejecting each ludicrous notion in turn, positive if Wood placed the cool disc of his stethoscope against my temple, all he’d hear was static, my conscience finally proffered the perfect solution.
Wood (patting me on the shoulder): “I pronounce you fit for FLYT.”
Hopping off the desk, I pulled my blouse on over my tank, closed my eye, took a deep breath…and fell on my sword.
Me (blurting to his back): “I broke our agreement. I left the house, drove to Nevermore, and ran around before you okayed it.”
The night I showed up bruised and battered on Uncle and Aunt Pearl’s doorstep, I scared the ever-loving crap out of them, and they (unsurprisingly) required an explanation for said injuries. Whilst the incomplete (but truthful) account I gave Wood, was enough for him, we both knew it wouldn’t cut the mustard with either Uncle or Aunt Pearl.
Which meant I needed to secure the silver-tongued services of Wood…and they didn’t come cheap.
In exchange for persuading Uncle & Aunt Pearl not to call Earl (family friend and Rye police detective), I promised to follow every order, suggestion, and hint made by him until he pronounced me sound in wind and limb. Well acquainted with my inability to layabout idly (even when sick as a dog), he requested I put up my signed copy of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets as collateral (the second book in my complete run of signed first British prints).
And here we are.
Wood (turning towards me, a sly smile lighting his face): “Man, you really don’t want me going out there yet, do you.”
As much as I love the Princess, the car in the new FLYT ad is drool worthy!
The most interesting door I delivered a fare to this week!
It belongs to Slide, a guitar store here in Rye.
(photo credit here, words are mine)
One of my first FLYT fares – a nice lady of a certain age wearing (you guessed it) diamonds, pearls and the cutest pillbox hat – wanted me to drop her off at this door. Not a clue what lays beyond the threshold, but she confidently strode (in sensible heels) thru the door.
I think my career with FLYT might prove more interesting than I first supposed…