44 Cherry Street: Valentine’s Day Approaches

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Even though Lorraine had been married and divorced four times, she had not given up her romantic spirit. She just knew that one of these days true love would come to her, but still, when Valentine’s Day approached, she couldn’t help but feel a little blue. Everywhere she looked there were red hearts, cupids, and displays of chocolate gifts to offer one’s lover. It was at times like this when she felt invisible and lonely.

She looked good for her age, in fact, she looked good for any age. Her hair was wild and gypsy black and framed her face well. And her face looked taut and alive, especially with the tiny bit of work she had had done recently. She had put on a few pounds since her painful break-up with her last boyfriend, but her clothes were stylish and well-cut, and no one would ever know. She’d give a million dollars to be taller, but her height could not be helped. Five feet three was not too short, but her weight would have looked better on a taller frame. Besides, clothes looked so much better on a tall, skinny woman.

Lorraine cruised the internet for a potential suitor, but Match was full of duds. Her last date with that cheap-skate John Kelly left her disgusted. He had used a very old picture of himself, so she barely recognized him when they had met at City Bakery. The men in her supposed age group looked fat and old, and since she guessed they were probably using older pictures, she gagged at the thought of what they probably really looked like. One man caught her eye briefly: cute, living in the Asheville area, and loved the same things she did, so she winked at him. He wrote back quickly, “How much do you really weigh?” She was so enraged that she threw a shoe at the wall and left a zagged crack. “How dare he? What a pig!”

She had received an e-mail from Chifferobe inviting her to a VIP Wine and Chocolate event at the store in Cherry Street Square, and she would definitely attend. Saturday night before Valentine’s Day! What a depressing night. She hoped Stephanie had stocked up on lots of wine and chocolate, because she planned to pig out.

Lorraine got up from her desk and turned on some music. She secretly loved Beyonce and blasted “All the Single Ladies” at top volume and began strutting her stuff around the apartment. Her movements started out slow and controlled, but as she got into it, she threw her arms up, wiggled her butt, and spun around and around. As she turned to face the living room window, though, she stopped in her tracks and almost had a heart attack.

Looking directly into her second story living room window was her new neighbor Salty with a bemused look on his face. His face was inches from the glass.

She clasped her dressing gown closed where it had slipped off in her dance frenzy, turned off the stereo, and jerked the window up. “What the hell are you doing?” she demanded.

Salty’s face was bright red and he smiled coyly at her. “I could ask you the same question,” he replied. “But I’m just washing your windows.”

Lorraine looked down and saw that Salty had hooked up some scaffolding and was suspended in the air above Cherry Street with a squeegee and bucket of suds in his hands. She apparently didn’t here the creaking of the scaffold with the music so loud in her apartment.

“What possessed you to wash my windows?” she asked, still embarrassed that she had been seen dancing in her living room.

“It started early this morning,” he explained. “I was having coffee at The Artisan and I noticed that their windows were dirty, so I got some cleaning supplies at Town Hardware and came back and washed their windows. I saw how much better the place looked with sparkling windows, so I decided to wash the windows here at 44 Cherry Street. When I’m done here, I’m going to wash the windows of every small business in Black Mountain.”

“I suppose that is very kind of you, “ Lorraine began. “But last time I saw you you were in distress because you had hurt your back lugging all that equipment up the front steps into your apartment. Aren’t you afraid you will hurt yourself again?”

“No, I’m not afraid. I already twisted my back badly at The Artisan, and I can’t stand upright. I figured that since the damage was already done, I might as well just keep washing windows. I can do this while bent over.”

Lorraine noticed that Salty was bent over so that his face was pressed close to the window, but his butt was waving in the air behind him. “Aren’t you in pain?” she asked.

“Oh yes. Of course I am. But I might as well finish what I started. And don’t the windows look better!”

“Well, be careful,” Lorraine added before closing her window and letting Salty finish. “But even though she hardly knew Salty, she knew he would not be careful.”