Fear came to 44 Cherry Street with the outbreak of the Corona Virus. Ellie set up a lab in her apartment and using essential oils crafted a whole line of sanitizers. On Guard was used as the basis, because of its germ-killing properties. She made it her business to roam the building and wipe down every surface with her blend of aloe vera and essential oils. She posted a hand-lettered sign on the front door of the building telling people that the building was closed to visitors and that residents should take off their shoes at the door and sanitize their hands before they touched any surface in the building. She washed her own hands so frequently that they dried and shriveled until they resembled the hands of a chimpanzee.
Ellie stepped up her care and concern for Frederick, poor thing! He still had no idea where his wife Lorraine had gone. The police had done little to nothing to find her, as they still believed that he had done something dramatic to Lorraine.The police believed that her body would soon start to decompose and his guilt would be revealed to anyone with a nose. In his apartment at 44 Cherry Street Frederick went over the days before her departure again and again in his mind, and still could not understand what had gone wrong. Lorraine had said that she didn’t want to host Thanksgiving dinner and that was it. He certainly didn’t care that much about where he ate turkey and wished she had not gone away. Was that all it was? Did he do something horrible that he could not remember? He didn’t want to eat and couldn’t sleep, but Ellie kept him supplied with foods from her native mid-west. She had grown up on chicken and dumplings, jello “salads”, and casseroles made with Campbell’s soup and she brought some of her concoctions to Frederick’s apartment every night. Thanks to Ellie, Frederick was not starving and, in fact, was packing on the pounds. If Lorraine ever returned, the two of them would hardly recognize each other as both had grown extra large.
Downstairs, Elrod was waiting impatiently for the arrival of his match.com girlfriend. He had borrowed money from everyone he knew to pay the thousand dollars she asked for to pay her airfare from Russia. He had wired her the money and cleaned the lawn equipment from his living room, but one thing after another had delayed her arrival. First it was problems on her end, but recently it was the ban on travel from foreign countries that kept her away. The money he had borrowed had to be repaid. His friends were about as strapped for cash as he was, and they were pestering him to pay up. He had his own financial concerns, of course. He called in sick for work at least twice a week and still had to pay for his supply of beer, cigarettes and chew. He still had a good supply of Beanie Weenies and Lance crackers in his kitchen cabinets, so he wouldn’t starve, but paying back the money was a huge burden. Now he had no idea when she would get to Black Mountain. He thought that maybe he should move on, as there were so many sexy babes on Match that were messaging him.
Neetu was doing her part to combat the virus by burning extra incense and chanting all day. She and Elrod were no longer on speaking terms, of course. No one likes being dumped, and Elrod had dumped her for this phantom woman who might not even exist in real life. When she passed him in the vestibule, she turned her head and acting like he wasn’t even there. Elrod, on his part, was usually so drunk that he didn’t register that anyone else was there, so his ignoring of Neetu was not intentional.
Meanwhile in Mexico, Lorraine was basking in the sunshine on the sugar-sand beach behind her casita at El Dorado Royale. The resort was operating as usual in spite of the threat of illness elsewhere, and as she and Chappie didn’t watch television while there, they had no clue about the pandemic. When she overheard other guests talking about the Corona Virus, she vowed to stay away from Corona Beer. “No point getting exposed to a beer-related illness,” she told Chappie. “Let’s just stick with Champagne.”
Chappie had his driver take him to the nearby town every morning to conduct business. His friends usually went with him, dressed in their black camo. outfits and carrying their big guns wrapped in colorful beach blankets. They looked vaguely like a group of poorly dressed Soviet men on their way to a yoga retreat.
Lorraine didn’t miss Chappie when he went on his business trips because the concierge and butler assigned to their casita took good care of her. She loved Mojitos, and they kept her glass filled at all times. For meals she could either go to one of the restaurants on the resort or order from room service. Mostly she chose room service because walking a straight line proved to be too difficult. She could also order more than one dessert at each meal without feeling at all self-conscious.
She had asked Chappie in the past what sort of business he ran, but he was always evasive. As long as he brought her expensive gifts when he returned from his business trips, she was satisfied. Her curiosity grew, though, as she ran low on romance novels and the only ones he could find for her in Playa were in Spanish. “So, what business ARE you in?” she asked again.
“I have told you before. I am in the pharmaceutical business. You have heard of Big Pharma? Well I am the Biggest Pharma,” he explained. “I am muy successful,” he laughed. Lorraine was so proud of him! She wondered if he could get her some diet pills. Even her hands were getting fat.