Tag Archives: worry

1.15 Sweet and Sour

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Rolling down the window of sickly pumpkin colored hybrid, “Talking on your phone again?” The opening salvo.

Returning fire, I gestured with my phone, “Sure looks that way.” I opened my email, hoping the glowing screen and obvious inattention would spark the idea of leaving me alone.

No such luck, “Well, could you follow me to the cottage? I have some work to do.”

Seriously, he wouldn’t lift a finger for me unless something caught on fire or froze and now he’s Mr. Fix-It? Pulling patience up from my socks, “Ben, it’s after five, couldn’t it wait until tomorrow? And shouldn’t you be giving your dad a call? You know he wants weekly updates, I am sure he’d like to hear how the cost saving measures went.” Hoping my invoking of the Dad card or my current unemployment status would make him leave (petty I know, but the man was leaning on my last nerve).

Funny thing, Ben wouldn’t look me in the eye. Maybe he did feel bad about letting me go. Normally he’s too focused on his goals to notice other people. “Dad and I switched update days. So since I am free to put in some time tonight, I want to get the new hot water heater installed. I will need your assistance to finish tonight.”

Got that wrong.

Diverted by indignation of his expectation of my participation in the installation I went on the offensive, “Ben, I don’t work here anymore. And my lease, which runs through the end of the month states all non-emergency repairs need to either be completed or halted at the end of the business day, five.” Yes, I reread my lease after he delivered the eviction notice. Ben wouldn’t do anything unlawful, but annoying? Absolutely.

Changing tactics he huffed, “I would have expected more dedication from you.”

Really? The loyalty card? Wrong play. Planting my hands on the hood of the Princess, I leaned towards him. “Ben, until four days ago, I worked here for over eighteen years. You let me go to finance one of your projects. Fine. But I am not going to give you free labor for improvements you should have made to my cottage years ago.”

Retreating he puffed, “Well if you refuse to help, I will do it tomorrow.” With that last wild jab towards my conscience he pulled away, leaving me alone in the dark (dusk doesn’t last long). Leaning against the Princess I discovered that I felt reluctant to return home at this moment. The word “no” didn’t always seep into and saturate Ben’s brain and I didn’t want to get roped into a cottage improvement project. Even the chill spreading through my bones and the tingling of my toes on this clear autumn night could not propel me forth.

“I could convince him to leave you know.” I smiled when I herd his voice, the man in the sleek grey suit leaning next to me could indeed pull such a feat off. Joseph sounded bored with the very idea; I knew better. I rolled around his idea in my mind, but the sugary coating of it dissolved too soon and left nothing but the sour center which sucked the sweetness away.

I leaned my head back and stared at the stars while mirroring his dispassionate tone, “I am not sure you could. He’s sunk a lot of money into two large projects that I know of and I’m not sure he really can afford to live outside Nevermore.”

Turning towards me, “It wouldn’t take much.”

Rolling my neck so I could look him in the face, “It would leave Nevermore without a Caretaker, the Residents alone and wouldn’t guarantee they’d rehire me. But I appreciate the thought.”

“Well, the offer is a standing one. Just ask.” I smiled, he nodded then departed. A man of few words, Joseph.

An involuntary shiver wracked through me, convincing me that I should head home. Winding my way through the lanes, trees and gravestones, I stopped when I turned the last corner to my cottage – Ben’s hybrid stood in the drive and every window in the cottage glowed with light. Did he think I’d fall for this obvious flanking technique?

Stupid. Adult. Behavior.

Turn the other cheek my ass. Should take Joesph up on his offer. See how he liked my end game!

Thankful of the Princess’s small turning radius I decided to hit the Rusty Hinge for dinner and a very aggressive game of pinball instead. Just as I completed the maneuver and pressed the go pedal, I thought I caught sight of Joseph watching the cottage out the corner of my eye. Of course when I looked back it was only old Hugh standing there (Hugh Grunbaum providing a perch for crows since 1953).

Nope. Not worried about that at all….

1.14 Ointment Meet Fly…

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(A very civilized contract signing!)

I couldn’t hide the grin spreading across my face. The relief at landing in such unexpectedly pleasant surroundings was palpable (with this many books and the promised freedom to borrow would help save a tremendous amount of money – up side? It will keep me from actually acting on any impetuous impulses – in my defense I haven’t ever actually stolen anything – just keeps the mind limber to think how you might try). We both knew she had me, so why act coy? “I would love to move in!”

We settled on terms:

Money: a very reasonable amount.

Move in Date: as soon as I wanted – in fact I left with a set of keys.

Parking: In the alley where it was acceptable.

Schedule: Beatrice’s travel dates.

No fuss, no muss.

I couldn’t pin down the nagging sensation that I forgot to ask Beatrice something, but relief overwhelmed all other emotions quickly. If it was important I would think of it again.

One interesting fact, Old Town where the Lavender Lady resides is only a few minutes from my previous employer. Driving up to the cemetery I spotted a knot of Residents hovering just inside the wrought iron gates.

Right – ointment meet fly.

Pulling over to the side of the drive a bit farther down the lane from the gang (I didn’t want the Princess dinged by the inattentive bereaved) I flexed my toes and waited for the pins and needles to recede to manageable levels and for them to catch up. While I waited I stuck my hands free device in my ear and pulled my phone out of my pocket. When I exited the Princess the Residents started peppering me with questions.

“What is going on?”  “What’s Little Ben doing to the cottage?”  “Why are your things in boxes?”  “Why aren’t you  working in the utility shed?”  “Why did Ben make the rounds this morning?”

I leaned against the pink door letting them slowly peter out. Trying to talk over them would only mean I’d have to repeat myself (I found most people couldn’t talk and listen at the same time). I’d intentionally put this adulting step off; they don’t take change well and I didn’t know how best to sugar coat the news for them. So I just followed my Aunt Pearl’s example and pulled the bandaid off fast, “Ben laid me off last week and I have to move out of Nevermore.”

Wind whipped around us, blowing my hair into my eyes and stray leaves around my knees. Shouting above the noise, “We will work this out. Now stop!” Immediately the wind died down to a persistent (if annoying) breeze and another round of twenty questions started.

“Why?”  “Will you still visit us?”  “What will happen to Nevermore?”  “What is Little Ben going to do now?”  “Can we visit you?”  “Will he hurt my squirrel?”

We stood and talked, and talked and talked – me reassuring them I would not be far away. Yes, I would come and visit them. Yes, they could visit me. Yes, I would explain any changes Ben made to Nevermore. By the time they dispersed, only a gentle breeze blew and dusk settled in around us – I longed to take out my camera, the left-over light of a Fall day made for excellent pictures. But my heart wasn’t in it. I retreated further from the idea when an orange hybrid pulled up next to the Princess.

This should be entertaining.