Elrod has lots of Cleaning to do
Snow was falling on Cherry St. but it wasn’t sticking. All of this was a reflection of Elrod’s state. He felt cold and lonely and rejected. He had borrowed $1000 from his friend Rick who took it from a shoe box hidden under his bed. It was Rick’s nest egg for a rainy day, and he loaned it to Elrod with the understanding that Elrod would pay back the money in just two weeks time.
Elrod had been desperate for the loan because the most beautiful woman in the world had messaged him on Facebook and swore her love for him. He didn’t know the source of his good luck; how did she find him? How did she decide so quickly that she was in true love with him? They hadn’t even met. She was crazy about him, though, and wanted to come to Black Mountain and move right in with him. All she needed was the $1000 for her plane fare from Russia, where she lived. Elrod did not have the money, but managed to talk Rick into lending it to him.
First, the truck…
Texts flew back and forth between the two love birds for days while the details of her flight were planned. Her flight was to come into the Asheville Airport last Friday night, and Elrod had had lots to do to prepare for her arrival. First his truck had to be cleaned out. As it stood, there was so much inside the cab of the truck that there was no room for a passenger. He called in sick to work and spent a whole day cleaning out his truck. He felt like Indiana Jones on a dangerous archeological expedition as he unearthed layer upon layer of debris from the front seats of the truck. The top layers were easy, as they were recent. He enjoyed McDonald’s burgers and sweet tea and would just toss the wrappers and empty cups onto the passenger seat. He ate bananas and added the peels to his right. The same with apple cores. All the junk mail that he picked up from his box at the Black Mt. post office was tossed aside there too. He stored tools and bottles of glue, spackle, and paint remover on the floor. Empty, crushed Budweiser cans added to the mix. Also empty Beanie Weenie cans he had filled with tobacco juice.
As he excavated the layers of junk in his truck, however, he found living things. The decaying food and wet paper had created a perfect growing medium for young plants. Something green was sprouting there. Somehow there were worms (or were they maggots?) squirming under the top layers. He found whole colonies of ants as well as quite a few cockroaches. The biggest surprise to Elrod, though was a large mouse nest with a family of cute babies back by the heater under the dashboard. He carefully removed all this stuff and emptied a whole bottle of Lysol Spray into the interior. When he was finished, he gazed through the shiny window into the truck and was amazed at how beautiful it looked. The seat, though, while stained and damp, could be covered up. He would throw a Mexican serape over it, and it would be good as new.
Next, the apartment.
He called his sister in Leicester and begged her to bring her sorry ass to Black Mountain and help him clean up the apartment. She did so grudgingly, and they hauled all the lawn equipment and the larger tools to her travel trailer. She took him to Walmart to purchase some bedding that wasn’t gray and stained, new towels, and a couple of kitchen tools. The two worked all Wednesday night to make the apartment presentable. Nevertheless, Elrod lay awake all Thursday night anticipating the arrival of this gorgeous woman who looked like Angelina Jolie, but with more meat on her bones. He hoped she would like him once she had met him. He also worried that this could be more of a commitment than he had ever had.
And then, himself.
Friday afternoon came and Elrod quit work early to go home and spruce up. He took a shower and put gel on the quiff of red hair that stood up on his head and drained a whole bottle of cologne over his body. He stopped at Ingles and bought a beautiful bouquet of blue mums to give to her. He got to the airport early and sat at the bar waiting for the arrival of her connecting flight from Charlotte. He drank one expensive Bud after another and waited for the arrival of Miriam, his queen from Russia. The flight was delayed several times and as it got later and later, he had run up a prodigious bar tab. His eyes were crimson as was his face. He looked as if he were on fire. Finally the flight’s arrival was announced on the loud speaker. He got up unsteadily and clutching the now wilted mums, moved to the area where those coming off flights walked to get their luggage. He stood nervously, moving from foot to foot, scanning the faces of every woman who came down the hallway. As the first crush of passengers had passed him, he wondered if Miriam were on the plane still, gathering up her things or even having second thoughts. Could she just stay in her seat and return to Russia? Finally, the trickle of passengers stopped and no one else came down the hall.
He wondered if she had missed her flight and texted her to see what was up. No reply came. He went to the desk and asked the attendant to check on her flight information. After carefully scanning all the information on the American Airlines website, the attendant looked sympathetically at Elrod. There was no one named Miriam on any flight roster. She would not be showing up. Not today anyway.
Elrod walked sadly and unsteadily to his truck. He tossed the flowers onto the pavement. He then drove directly to the McDonald’s near the airport, ordered a large Whopper meal and threw the empty wrappers and cup onto the floor angrily. He’d show her! He’d make his truck even messier than before. And he was glad, in a way. He was definitely not ready for a commitment.