This is a close up of a Marshall Arts piece

Neetu was cleaning her apartment at 44 Cherry Street. Ever since she had become involved with Elrod, she had had a hard time keeping the apartment looking and smelling nice. Elrod was inclined to dropping his dirty socks on the floor and the smell of his nasty feet permeated the cushions where they sat on the floor and every other soft surface. No matter how vigilant she was about cleaning, stray smelly socks would turn up in corners and under furniture. Who knew anyone would have that many single socks? 

I love this tiny hand on a Marshall Arts piece

She lit more of her Champa incense and the fragrant smoke drifted towards the ceiling. Even though Elrod had such amazing sex appeal, she was getting tired of cleaning up after him. She was happy that she had asked him to have his little Super Bowl bash next door at his own apartment. She didn’t want to have to rinse and recycle all those beer and Beanie Weenie cans that he and Rick would throw everywhere. She was going to have to weigh the pros and cons of having Elrod in her life. Maybe it was time to call it quits.

Jim reading the words on one of Marshall Arts pieces

Meanwhile Elrod was walking on air because he had received a text from a woman he didn’t even know and she was HOT! She must have known him from before or from a past life (as Neetu would say), because she was already in love with him, or so she said. Maybe he had met her at a bar when he was drunk and had made sweet love with her. Musta been that. She had told him that she wanted to marry him. He didn’t think he was the marrying kind, but those big hips made him ready for anything!

Elrod stared at the screen of his phone. This woman whose name was Miriam lived in Russia now, but she must have lived in Black Mt. sometime in the past because otherwise how would she have known she wanted his body. That’s what she said, anyway. He heard another ping from his phone and there was another picture of Miriam. Only in this picture she was wearing no clothes. He felt his blood run hot through his body.

Alicia does the art work on the Marshall Arts pieces

She just needed $1000 for plane fare, that’s all, and he had to come up with some cash. He had been slacking off at work and leaving at noon because he was tired and ornery. He didn’t like the boss telling him what to do. By Golly he had been a carpenter for thirty years and he knew what he was doing. He didn’t need to be told how to measure and cut. He could just guesstimate and do the measurements by eye. If he was a little bit off, the customer would just have to live with it. He was close enough. If the boss saw the gaps, though, he made Elrod take down the board and redo it. But now he was going to have to swallow his pride and stay at work for the entire workday. But he needed the cash fast. Miriam might not wait forever.

Owl carved from gourds

Elrod had a history with women. He had fallen in love with Neetu in a flash. When they had met in the hallway the night he had slipped and fallen in the vestibule and she had helped him up, he was already engaged to a woman named Crystal. Poor girl had health problems and Elrod had stood by her side while she was in the hospital. Elrod really didn’t know what was wrong with Crystal. She must have told him, but he couldn’t remember what she had said. He had been afraid that she was pregnant, but at 56 he was too young to be a father. And she wasn’t pregnant anyhow. He had run back and forth to Mission Hospital with cigarettes and whiskey hidden in his coat for her, but after she was released, he didn’t hear from her for weeks. That was disrespectful to him! He was finished with Crystal, even though she explained that she hadn’t called him because she had been in jail. Durn fool should have known better. 

Papier Mache bird heads to mount on your wall.

Now he was on fire. Miriam was the woman for him. He knew it was so because she looked so good. Sure they had never talked, but could be that she didn’t speak good English anyway. They would have to rely on the language of love. She would have to find a job when she got here, because even though she was hot, he couldn’t be expected to support her. He wondered whether she spoke good enough English to get a job. She had told him in English about the thousand bucks. 

Marshall Arts Event
Rebecca and Mary with Jim at the Marshall Arts event

First thing, though, he had to break it off with Neetu and then clean up his apartment. Miriam probably wouldn’t want lawnmowers in the living room. Maybe Neetu would lend him some money? He’d ask her before he broke up with her.

Happy Valentine’s Day!