It’s that time again. This week’s prompt is ...horde…
If you want to play, click below for the rules
You’re A Lifesaver
This isn’t the life Gracie had pictured. The newspaper scrunched between her hands crinkled and grumbled, but not for long. She heaved the wad across the room and glared at the ink stains on her hands. Greasy fish and chips in newsprint or wrapped potato peels never bothered her, but the stink of ink on her hands made her queasy.
No matter her disguise, someone always found her out. Time to move again. She hated starting over and hated to think how many times she’d been uprooted in the past three years. Her phone vibrated in her jeans pocket. The number seemed familiar but not the name. She picked up. Damn, a breather.
“Wait, don’t hang up.” A male voice, whiny, wheezing.
“I don’t need whatever you’re selling.”
“Gracie, it’s me.”
“I’m going to hang up now. Bye.” Hate strangers calling me by name. She flicked her thumb to hang up.
“Wait, it’s me, Bob. Long time.” He forced a smile into his voice. “Saw your picture in the paper today.”
“Bob? You’re the last person I want to talk to. How’d you get this number?” She strode from the kitchen into the living-room, kicking the clump of print out of her way.
“Hear me out, will you.” He puffed and rasped into her ear.
“Answer me. Who gave you this number?” Gracie wound her pony tail round a hand, a nervous habit from her teens. “Bob? Tell me!”
“Don’t want to get anyone into trouble—“
“Oh, you two are tight now, are you? No way. What lies did you tell her?” She yanked the handful of hair till tears sprang in her eyes and bit her lip, to not cry out. She released the hair. “What’s wrong with your breathing?” She prowled the living-room like a cat. “Not that I need to know, but you do sound peculiar.”
“I need a quadruple bypass but I don’t have the money.” A horn honked in the background and an eee-uuu eee-uuu of a firetruck screamed past, then silence.
Forehead pinched, she pulled the cell away and gaped at the screen, then brought it back. “Bob?”
“Yeah. I’m here. I needed a deep breath. So what do you say, can we make a deal?”
“How long’s it been? Five years? You tried fleecing me before the divorce and now you’re looking for a handout? This sound fair to you? She stomped into the kitchen and plugged in the kettle.
“Please, Gracie. You’ve won millions in the lottery and shared not a dime.”
“We were already divorced, remember? She slammed down a mug and ripped open a packaged teabag, her favorite, Lemon Thriller. The kettle whistled. She flicked the off switch. “How much?”
“I can be there in ten minutes.”
She frowned, nose wrinkled in distaste. “You know where I live? Oh yes— Mother.” Her hand sliced the air. “No. I’ll call my bank and have it couriered. Will two-hundred and fifty grand do?”
“You’re a lifesaver. I’ll pay you back. Promise.”
“No you won’t. Keep it. It’s yours.” Arrangements made, they hung up. Gracie rubbed her temples and removed the elastic from her hair. No point adding to the tension headache blooming at the back of her head. She glanced at the clock as a key turned in the lock. Right on time. Time enough to call her bank manager first. Punching in the number from her phone directory, she listened to her sister slam the powder room door and smiled. Girls will be girls.
“Bye, Don and thanks.”
Heloise rushed in. “Which Don? Your bank manager, Don? Have I news. You won’t guess who’s been hounding Mom—”
“She called? That’s a surprise.”
“Nope. Bob did. I can’t believe she gave him my information. Phone, maybe, but my address?”
“She’s almost 90, Sis. Getting soft.”
“Which reminds me. How would you like to live in Spain for a while? Everywhere I go, a horde of vultures awaits. Three years I’ve played cat and mouse with photographers and needy humanity. Someone always wants something. And now Bob. Time to leave town and move house while I’m gone. You call the travel agency and pick something you like and I’ll call my realtor. The sooner we leave, the better.
“So what’s Bob’s story? Mom said he sounded older than her, gasping for air and all. She couldn’t wait to be rid of him. Afraid he’d die on her.”
“So, that’s why she caved. Huh.”
“Saw you on the front page again. You’re quite the philanthropist—the childrens’ wing this time. ”
“I can’t do anything without a big deal. Why can’t organizations keep quiet like I ask? Even beg.”
* * *
A couple weeks later, Gracie toweled off after a refreshing swim in the pool one evening. The villa was magnificent. Maybe I’ll never go home again. Heloise stumbled down the steps towards her holding a cell as far away as her arm stretched.
“What’s wrong? Is it Mom?”
Heloise nodded like a dashboard bobble head. “Mom fell and broke an arm and hip. She’s not good.”
“How fast can we get a flight out?”
* * *
The funeral took place ten days after the sisters arrived home. They attended with their mother, who had been ensconced in a state-of-the-art wheelchair. She’d insisted on making the service though pain showed in her eyes.
Bob died of a massive heart attack. A life-long spend-thrift and drinker, he’d partied hard with his new found wind-fall and so-called friends. Everyone marvelled he’d lived to 67.
© 2015 Tess and How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.