(The Princess is not the color of medicine!)
The Alter, no matter the time of day, always features fresh-baked baked-goods, so when I barreled thru the doors looking for something sweet, they didn’t let me down. Even better? The barista behind the counter didn’t bat an eyelash at my slightly grubby outfit, which earned her a generous tip after I paid for my chalice of coffee and a raspberry bear claw the size of my face.
While I waited for the shout proclaiming my order fulfilled, I moseyed over to the altar in the corner. After all the events at Nevermore today, lighting a candle for luck and offering up a handful of Kona coffee beans up to the Fates couldn’t hurt. Some well-timed serendipity might come in handy shortly if today’s events were any indication.
Looking at my watch, I decided against eating my treat on the spot, as I still had an outside chance of beating Beatrice (Wood’s not-so-secret-secret-informant) home, thereby avoiding Wood’s wrath when she spilled the beans about my adventuring.
My plan, such as it was, worked for about one-hundred and twenty seconds after I turned into the Lavender Lady’s alley. Just long enough for me to let out a victorious whoop when I discovered Beatrice’s spot holding nothing but dead leaves, pull the Princess into her slot, shut off the engine and start casting about for my stuff.
Fortunately, the approaching bright twin beams of a silver Audi illuminated the Princess’s interior nicely, allowing me to figure out where I’d set my phone.
Abandoning my half-eaten bear claw and coffee dredges, Beatrice and I alighted from our respective rides at the same time, her face split by a grin (knowing she’d busted me). Pulling some chutzpah up from somewhere around my left knee, I attempted to hoodwink my her anyways.
“Would you believe I came out here to think?”
With a sideways glance at the Princess, then at me, she let loose a laugh, “That explanation might hold water if; your backseat wasn’t filled with boxes, your coat not covered in crumbs and one shoe wasn’t crusted with what is hopefully mud.”
Still in stitches, she leaned back into her car and grabbed some tied off plastic bags, all which sported the logo of my favorite comfort food joint, off the passenger seat.
“It was an exciting day in the alley?”
Chuckling, Beatrice landed the final blow, “I gathered. Ms. Hettie called this afternoon to warn me about some mentally unbalanced car thieves who stole the back alley eyesore, the Pepto-mobile, but left her Impala untouched.”
Sputtering for a split second, “Eyesore? Pepto-mobile? The Princess is a cotton candy classic!” Stroking her pink hood soothingly, “Don’t let that delusional old bag of bones get you down. She thinks sweatshirts with embroidered geese are stylish.”
Highly amused over our indirect verbal skirmish, Beatrice moved on, “Come on, let’s get out of the dark and damp. I bought dinner from The Diner On The Corner.”
Honing in once again in on the takeout bags, my mouth started watering, “Pie?”
(You can never have too many sweets on a day filled with disconcerting information.)
Throwing her own PULP tote over her shoulder, “Only if you can honestly tell me those boxes aren’t heavy.”
Hand over heart, “Sarah did all the hefting. The most substantial thing I heaved was this tote, and it’s mostly scarf now.”
“Yeah…” Giving Beatrice an abbreviated version of today’s events, we walked up the path towards the back of the Lavender Lady. She laughed at my description of Leo’s hat in all its snaky glory and my plan to shock my cousins.
When the curtain above our door twitched, I shot a toothy grin at it, Pepto-mobile my ass.
Once inside, Beatrice headed straight back to the kitchen while I removed my grimy shoes, sodden socks and sticky coat in the hallway (the raspberry jam of my bear claw nailed it). When I finally finished (and tossed the PULP tote with its pilfered promotional folders into my room), I joined her in the kitchen.
Beatrice, having shed her own outerwear, stood at the counter, dishing up our dinner. After she declined my help, I walked over to the old radio. Turning it on, I fiddled with the dials until the static resolved itself into the classic strains of Sinatra’s Glad To Be Unhappy. Apparently, KARB’s DJ agrees with my theory, that sorrowful Sinatra songs sound best on rainy days.
The clink of porcelain on Formica pulled me from my reverie, turning from the tuner, I joined Beatrice at the table.
After leaning over to smell the bowl of goodness in front of me, I made my opening gambit, “So, is PULP sending you any place interesting soon?”
Beatrice gave me a wry smile and put her spoon down, “Nope. So why did you split hairs with the doctor’s orders?”
Waffling for a moment, I finally cast my (metaphorical) cards onto the table, “I’ve been going stir-crazy, and Little Ben emailed about some boxes, and it seemed like the perfect reason to leave the house. Plus, I got to take off my slippers. It was just an errand, not a FLYT fare so…”
A shrug finished my sentence, and a bite of my stew filled the conversational void while I waited for Wood’s not-so-secret-secret-informant to declare my fate.
Nodding thoughtfully in time with the radio (Diana Krall’s version of In The Wee Small Hours of The Morning), Beatrice sipped her red wine (btw I got a glass of two-percent milk, per Wood’s instructions) then spoke, “I have a proposition for you.”
With a mouth full of stew soaked biscuit, I could only nod.
Summing up my conundrum, “Our friendly doctor wants to make sure you don’t overdo it. But your well enough to chafe over sitting at home, correct?” At the end of her question, she started playing with her wine glass.
Unwilling to spit my food at her, I nodded again.
Watching the swirling liquid, she continued, “Did you know I have a second job?” Not waiting for an answer, she went on, “And it requires a driver. Since you’re the pro, what do you say? I can make sure you don’t over-do it, you can wear shoes again, and we’ll both stay in Wood’s good graces.”
Gulping down my mouthful, “How do you feel about pink?”