How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE

#BlogBattle Week 10

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This week’s prompt is …loop…

Threw Me For a Loop

I answered the ad though details were sparse. The 30th of May loomed large. A guy needs to have a place to stow his stuff. Carting it around in my car wasn’t my style and living out of a suitcase even less. Even cheesy motels added up to serious money in short time. Six-thirty worked fine, the creaky voice had said. I hadn’t given it much thought afterwards, but the voice had almost put me off.

* * *

The place stopped me in my tracks. I threw on the brakes and melted a couple inches of asphalt and overheated the tires. An unfamiliar neighborhood, this. I double checked the circled house number in the folded newspaper ad. Yup. The roadway mailbox read 1002. A perfect match! I smiled for the first time in maybe three months, my freshly shaved skin taut across my cheeks. Today my luck might change. Maybe. The turn-of-the-century mansion rose above rich green lawns surrounded by bountiful flowers of every color. Like a red jewel, it glittered high on the hill at the end of the driveway, each side safeguarded by young pines saplings. The lane seemed shorter than I’d thought.

The closest neighbors were a couple empty lots wide on either side. I suppose at one time older buildings had been torn down and the lots abandoned. I hauled myself out of the car and put on my suit jacket. It appeared nobody was home. The stillness, except for the twitter of birds, and the buzzing of bees, struck me right away. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. City air didn’t smell this good. The sweet scents of almost country cleared my head. I zigzagged up the crumbling cement stairs and rang the doorbell. The sonorous chimes echoed deep inside. I waited, back to the door, the imperfect, weed-riddled lawn yawned large.

My cell read 6:32 p.m. I leaned on the doorbell again, longer this time. Once white and perfect window frames begged scraping and fresh paint. Thuds and shuffles, unhurried, but steady, advanced towards the door. Afraid to scare whoever opened the door, I stepped back grazing my ear on the flaked paint.

Two locks turned, a chain slid through a chamber. The door opened a crack wide enough to display an shadowy eye. “Yes,” a reedy voice said.”

“Oh, hi. I’ve an appointment with Mrs. Alexander-Cook. We talked on the phone this morning? Name’s Talbot—Mike.” I almost pitched forward for a handshake but figured this wasn’t the time.

“Yes, you’re that young man. Come in.  Come in.” The inch gap widened and I slipped inside. So many windows at the front of the house. Leaded glass I presumed. “Follow me. We’ll sit in the parlour.” Thud. Shuffle. Thud. Shuffle. Her short steps dragged along the hardwood floor. I checked for rubber marks of her cane but found none.

As an impatient guy, I had the urge to pick up the bird of a woman and carry her in the hope we’d arrive before I turned forty. Paintings decorated the short hall walls. I thought I recognised a Matisse, A Woman Reading. It had to be a print. Who hung something of that value out in the open?

“Sit anywhere you like, Mike. A glass of lemonade perhaps. I took the liberty… Tell me about yourself.”

“Thanks. Can I pour for you Mrs. Alexander-Cook?” She had to be wiped after that painful shamble. How old might she be? Maybe a hundred? I half-filled two glasses and handed her one.

“Thank you. You sound a thoughtful young man.” She settled into a champagne sofa chair, brocade, and tucked the cane between the cushion and inside of the chair, feet inches off the floor.

I took a swallow. I hadn’t realized my thirst. “S-o-o-o good.” Even for a guy who enjoyed his brewskis, this tasted like ambrosia. I opened my eyes and caught the old lady scrutinize me, wearing the most divine smile, the brightest twinkle in her eye. For a fraction of a second, I recognized the beauty she had once been. The picture threw me for a loop. She wasn’t a hundred after all. Though her hair was white as cotton and face creased, her skin radiated pink as she blushed.

“Sorry Mrs. Alexander—“

“You can shorten it to Cook. Easier, don’t you think?”

“Okay. I’m 34, a soon-to-be divorced father of a four-year-old boy. I work downtown at Elliot and Elliot Engineering in Research and Development. For the past three months, I’ve moved from hotels to motels all nastier than the last. I’d held out hoping for a reconciliation, but my soon-to-be ex-wife refuses to reconsider.” I cleared my throat. Damn, how long would Christie’s unwavering alienation burn this raw? What about Junior and me? I squirmed in my seat.

Mrs. Cook raised an open palm, fingers curled and disfigured. “I’m 79 and have been a widow for almost five years. My children want to sell this house because I’m too old to live alone. Imagine that. My children treating me like a child.”

“I’m sorry Mrs. Cook. Does this mean—? I’m handy and enjoy fixing things, sanding, painting, keeping busy. Could work, right?”

Eyes aglow, she reached for her cane and slid her tiny frame out of the overstuffed chair. “Don’t you want to see the rest of the house? What if you don’t like it?”

Mike jumped out of his chair, placed their empty glasses on the coffee table tray and grabbed it. “Lead the way Mrs. C. Oops. That slipped out. No disrespect. Honest.” His ears bloomed scarlet, but Mrs. Cook giggled, a sound not unlike a gurgling spring.

“By the way I still enjoy cooking and am good at it. Do you like to eat?”

End

© 2015Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.

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Author: Let's CUT the Crap!

I'm getting a little LONG in the tooth and have things to say about---ouch---AGEing. I believe it's certainly a state of mind but sometimes it's nice to hear that you're NORMAL. I enjoy reading by the truckload. I'm a grandma but I don't feel OLD although I'm not so young anymore. My plan is to stick it out as long as I can on this lovely planet and only will leave it kicking and screaming!

50 thoughts on “#BlogBattle Week 10

  1. Hi!!!! It’s good!!!! Your head is not only good to bear your nice loops… but to write interestings tales as well!!!!

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  2. Sounds like a perfect match for both. 🙂

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  3. Have I just seen too many horror movies to wonder if there is just something ‘off’ about Mrs C? Or have I just come to expect you to throw an unexpected twist into the mix. I hope not … any young man who can see the beauty of a woman in old age is a prize.

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  4. I like this one a lot. It could be the start of a very interesting novel. You already have two great characters and an enticing setting.

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  5. This left me wanting to know more about the characters and their stories. That’s a good thing. 🙂

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  6. I smell a rat…I’ve read too much Stephen King I guess. Great beginning to something else. You always know how to draw out the suspense.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Two brilliant characters, intriguing setting – full of suspense.

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  8. Great beginning that really drew me in. Good one Tess.

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  9. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Threw me for a loop.. A delightful short story. Put your feet up and enjoy. Tess Karlinski weaves her magic.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Must be my “blood and guts” inner self, but that last line sounds ominous—did Mrs. C cook her previous maintenance guys? Great start to an intriguing story, Tess—certainly “pulled me” in!

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  11. Pingback: Loop #BlogBattle Week 10 Entries & Voting | Writing Rachael Ritchey

  12. Loved it. I was worried the lemonade was laced with some kind of drug and the poor guy would end up in the cellar upside down on the wall. I think they are a perfect match and this was a wonderful story.

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  13. What a touching story and a great solution!

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  14. Great story and characters, Tess. Grabbed my interest and curiosity. I wanted it to carry on 🙂

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  15. Ooooh I think something fishy might be going on here with Mrs C! 🙂

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  16. What a wonderful story. I hope there’s no dystopian Chapter Two!

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  17. Not a chance. Not my style. Thank you, Jacqui. Glad you liked this one. I have a crush on the young man and I get the feeling Mrs. C. does too. ❤

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  18. So brilliantly written Tess. The windowsills begging for paint will stick with me. I feel their friendship blossoming and a happy ending for both!

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  19. Oh I do hope it is THIS good and happy and pleasant and NO quirky and unpleasant turns. STAY happy!!!!!! 🙂

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  20. What a sweet solution to some very common, and all too familiar, life issues. If only there was an ad like that for my 85 yr. old mother in law, who is so conflicted about leaving her home of 60 years. Really enjoyed this one. Thank you. ☺ Van

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    • Thanks so much. My mom kept saying she would move after more than 50 years in the same house but could not although she looked at condos.
      Can she put an ad into the paper. I used to host international students for many years. I was working at the time but it does give you company if you want it and it’s a win-win for both parties and a reason to get out of bed in the morning knowing you can be useful.
      How about a university of college student. Their serious about their studies and would stick close to home. ESL students want to explore, especially boys; girls have lived more sheltered lives and stick close to home.
      There are nurses and medical students looking for a home environment. Etc. etc. Maybe this will help you come up with another idea. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • What she really wants is for one of her adult children to move back in (with or without spouses). She is very distrustful of strangers..for whatever reason ? Not even sure she’d welcome home health care. Right now, house is empty, she is in Independent Living apartment trying to decide if she’ll stay or leave. It’s so frustrating. Thanks so much for the suggestions..they are all so logical. She, however, is not. ☺ Van

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  21. An unlikely friendship blooms. Wonderfully done Tess, I like them both and seems they like each other.

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  22. I like how you develop Mike and Mrs C’s characters in such a short period of time. I have a good picture of both of them, as well as. the slightly neglected house. Thanks!

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  23. Lovely story, Tess! I want to go and meet Mrs. Cook! Can you take me there? 🙂

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  24. I’m thinking about it… Thanks, Rachael.

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  25. Oh Tess… that was such a lovely story. You’re so deft at pulling us into the scene that i didn’t even realize how absorbed i had become in this tale. What a nice way to finish off my evening. (Hopefully i’ll have the sense to not read anything else tonight, especially news…) Wishing you a thriving Thursday tomorrow. Mega hugs. ❤ 🙂

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  26. Lovely Teagan, thank YOU. I’m tickled you’re engaged. I’m uber pleased with these characters an how they have meshed. ❤ ❤ 😛

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  27. A sweet story! At least I hope it stays sweet. I never know when the story is going to twist and turn into something else. 😉 Here’s to hoping they stay happy!

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  28. Interesting. I like the description of the old lady’s walk. It really brings yo into the moment.

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  29. Thank ever so much for your kind comment. ❤ ❤

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  30. Now I want to know more, more! That’s a good sign by the way ❤ 🙂

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  31. Thank you, Christy. I confess. Mike shanghaied me somehow. I think I’m in l.o.v.e. How did THAT happen? o_O
    I do believe I'd enjoy fleshing this one out some more. ❤ ❤

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  32. I also wondered about the lemonade… And then about her age… I think this one could be the beginning… of something (not necessarily a beautiful friendship, but perhaps that too…)

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  33. Okay, when are you going to publish a full length novel, already?! 1,000 words is just not enough! 🙂 Great job! Of course my mind was making it science fiction. The Lemonade was a magic kind of brew, sucking out his youth and restoring hers, and all throughout the house are the skeletons of others who she has given the lemonade to.

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  34. I love yor style all your post are so entertaining and this one is no exception!! ❤ 🙂

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  35. Thanks a zillion, dear heart. Glad you like my scribbles. ❤ ❤ ❤

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  36. my favorite line, “as an impatient guy, i had the urge to pick up the up the bird of a woman….” it tells us a lot about both of them.

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  37. Lovely story Tess, I sense a strong supportive relationship growing between your two characters.

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  38. Yes, I think they will get along quite well. What a match, methinks. 🙂
    Thank you for reading and commenting. ❤

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