Happy Labor Day Weekend!
Lorraine climbed the front porch steps to 44 Cherry St as she was admiring the new sapphire, ruby, and diamond ring she had just bought at Visions of Creation. She was wondering whether Frederick would even notice the ring and hoped he would not, as she had spent lots of money on it and they were supposed to be on a strict budget. Frederick didn’t care about material things at all and didn’t understand Lorraine’s love of beautiful things. She was determined to instruct him on how much better life was when surrounded by luxury. Even though her apartment was modest in size, it was furnished beautifully, and Lorraine herself wore Eileen Fisher clothes.
So engrossed in the ring and her thoughts was she that she bumped into a burly moving man carrying a large carton up the front stoop. Once she bounced off his prodigious belly, she came out of her trance and excused herself and hurried past him, almost hitting another mover coming back down the steps. They sure did smell ripe! She would have to burn her Diptyque Feu de Bois candle in the hallway to dissipate the stink. But what was all this activity about? Was she about to get a new neighbor?
The apartment across the hall from theirs on the second floor of the building at 44 Cherry St. had been vacant for some time, and Lorraine had enjoyed the quiet. She and Frederick had even started leaving the door to their apartment wide open, and her precious fur baby Suki would perch on the top step and act like a guard dog. As if that little ball of black fluff with her rhinestone collar would scare a thief! Now she watched moving men struggling with cartons and unattractive brown furniture as they climbed the steep staircase towards the formerly vacant apartment. “Oh, great. New neighbors,” she thought. “Bummer.”
Suki, in her usual place at the top of the steps was barking furiously at the movers and nipping at their work boots. They laughingly kicked her aside, making Lorraine furious. “You jack asses! Keep your big clod-hoppers off my dog,” she shouted from halfway up the stairs.
“Sorry, Lady,” one shaggy-headed mover said placatingly. “We just don’t want to step on her. Do you think you could maybe put her inside your apartment?”
Lorraine rushed into her living room slamming the door shut, concerned that maybe Frederick had died or something, as he was at home, yet he hadn’t done anything about the racket in the hall. But there he was, seated on the loveseat totally absorbed in A Brief History of Time, which he was reading for the third time. She wanted to shake him! Here was Suki getting battered by giants, and Frederick had done nothing! She wanted to maybe even kill him, but she had just bought that expensive ring and didn’t want to ruffle his feathers or dispose of his body. And she didn’t exactly want him dead, even though he had all that old-man smelling stuff that he had moved into her space. He really was a darling man and she loved him dearly, but there was a limit!
She lovingly picked up the barking dog and placed her on her favorite spot on an antique French Provincial armchair. Suki curled into a ball, settled quickly, and soon appeared to be asleep. “Frederick,” who’s moving in next door?”
“Huh? Someone’s moving in?” When Frederick was reading he was in his own world and nothing disturbed him.
“Yes, Frederick. Can’t you smell that body odor?”
He just grunted as he continued to read, and she reminded herself that he was so much nicer than she was. Of course he didn’t notice or even care, but she certainly did. Just then she heard a light tapping at the closed door. “Those movers probably want a drink or something, damn them,” she muttered under her breath as she hurried to the door before the tapping disturbed Suki. She flung the door open, and standing there was a short, mousy woman.
“We don’t support the Jehovah’s Witnesses,” Lorraine said sharply, about to close the door in her face.
“Wait!” the woman said. “I’m a Christian, dammit!! And your new neighbor.!”
Lorraine felt a little guilty for jumping to conclusions, so she invited the mouse to stay for a cup of tea. The mouse, who introduced herself as Ellie, accepted with gratitude. Lorraine led her to the small dining room table and got together the tea things and made a pot of tea using the Asheville Grey tea she had recently purchased at Chifferobe. Once the tea had steeped and Lorraine had poured it into her delicate bone china tea cups, Lorraine channeled Frederick and said, “Welcome to 44 Cherry St.! I hope you like dogs. So Ellie, tell me about yourself and what brought you here!”
Ellie smoothed back her shoulder length hair, graying unattractively and badly in need of a trim. “I’m so happy to be here!” she oozed. “I moved here from Illinois. I just couldn’t take it there a moment longer.”
“I totally understand!” responded Lorraine. “The weather there is so extreme! It’s bitter cold and snowy in the winter and hot beyond belief in the summer. I simply couldn’t live there myself.”
“Well, all that is true, but the real reason I had to move was that Illinois is such a Blue state.”
Lorraine choked on her tea. “Did you say Blue state?”
“Yes!” answered Ellie. “I just couldn’t live among people with no morals.”