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The residents of 44 Cherry Street were obeying the “Stay in Place” order brought about because of the Covid-19 crisis, and each one was inventing ways to stay sane. It was unusual for everyone to be home all the time, and the walls were closing in. There was only so much Netflix a person could watch, and each of them had already watched the Tiger King series.
Neetu, the newly minted Hindu on the ground floor had stocked up on baking supplies and was baking cookies as fast as she could. She started out with cinnamon balls, a super sweet recipe she had learned when she lived in Brooklyn next door to a Hari Krishna residence. Every Sunday, the Krishnas hosted an open house where they showed neighbors around their creepy residence building and described the torturous schedule they kept. Their diet was based on white sugar, and they served visitors these cinnamon balls as a refreshment. Essentially these uncooked balls were sugar and cinnamon rolled in sweaty hands and served on a paper plate with some Kool Aid. After constructing these treats, she distributed these around the building, keeping the appropriate social distance from her neighbors, but was disappointed later when she put out her trash to see uneaten balls dumped into the big blue containers. She moved on to baked cookies she remembered from her childhood (Biscotti, Hermits, and Rugulach), and was pleased to see that these were retrieved quickly from the hall where she left them for each resident. It probably wasn’t wise to eat the unsanitary cinnamon balls anyway.
Across the hall Elrod was staying as drunk as possible, which was not easy considering his enormous capacity for alcohol consumption. The woman he had been expecting from Russia had not yet arrived even though he had sent her the initial thousand dollars for her plane ticket and several hundred more for emergencies that she had encountered, delaying her arrival. He had printed out a copy of her picture from his Match account and taped it to his refrigerator door. Even though the quality of the print was bad, she still looked good!
Because it had been weeks since the date when he had first expected her, his spotless apartment had lost some of its neatness and was beginning to look like it did before he had cleaned it. Also he had lost the initial zest for cleaning he had felt when her arrival seemed imminent. It was a nuisance to go all the way outside to take out the garbage and recycling, so he had hauled one of the new huge blue roll-out bins into his living room and just kept it there. He left the lid up so he could toss empty beer cans and pizza boxes into the bin without getting off the couch. Occasionally he would root around in the bin to retrieve an empty Mountain Dew bottle to spit tobacco into. He still felt pretty good about the state of his apartment, though, because he had not moved his lawn equipment back in. When the time came, he could clean it up in a flash, simply by rolling the garbage bin back outside to the curb. Once the crisis was over, though, he would be ready to move on from this little Russian Sweetheart. Even though she looked like Angelina Jolie, he was losing patience with her, and he saw lots of other ladies on Match he could woo.
Upstairs, Frederick and Ellie were getting closer. She prepared food for him every day and joined him for meals. Frederick was developing a real fondness for salads composed mainly of Jello, and casseroles swimming in Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup. He wondered if his gut would be able to tolerate roughage after the crises were over. He still missed Lorraine, but he was beginning to lose hope of her being found alive. He could see the Black Mountain police cars driving back and forth in front of 44 Cherry Street with their windows rolled down, waiting to catch a whiff of her decaying body so they could arrest Frederick for her murder.