Norma Jean greeted me as I waved to the blur of Tammy’s teal Thunderbird flying into the sun. I closed and locked the etched glass front door and petted my dog. “Doctor Claytor said I’m not any worse girl. I guess that’s good news. So I’ll just have to try harder to stay awake...Scooby snack?”
Norman Jean charged into the kitchen to the counter where I keep a big jar of dog biscuits.
I handed her the treat as she lurched up, grabbed it in her massive jaws and ran to the green Oriental rug under the kitchen table to relax upon while feasting.
I climbed the stairs to the master bedroom and flipped the light on in my walk-in closet. I tugged a green laundry basket off the top shelf, over the rod and lowered the folded blankets and sheets to the floor. I carefully opened the layers of the Christmas flannel fitted sheet and pulled Mike’s manuscript out. I placed it on the off white carpet. I groped around for the reassurance that my own manuscript was neatly concealed inside the Harry Potter blanket. Yeah, that’s right. I like Harry Potter. Actually, I wish I could channel J. K. Rowling. I replaced the laundry basket onto the shelf and grabbed Mike’s manuscript.
Propping my feather pillows up, I snuggled in bed to read. I reached over to the nightstand and fished out a red pen. I went through chapter one and circled all the places where Mike was telling and I thought I could rewrite it, showing the reader how the characters are integrating within their world. It is my strong point. That and dialogue. I know how to shiver naked on the icy bridge. Feel all the way to my bones, the humiliation of my husband’s affair. The evil glee of plotting revenge on the boss.
I’m going to have to retype this whole manuscript. I wish I had his computer disc. If only he’d typed it into a computer. This was an old fashioned typewritten manuscript. Just the way Ernie Hemingway began his before Momma interrupted him with coffee. That he didn’t want.
If only I could channel Hemingway. And he could dictate to my muse. Or J.K. Rowling. Now wouldn’t that be something. A romance novel written by a man, Mike Taurus, an old man at that and revised by one of the literary greats of his time, or my time. Harry Potter meets the Old Man and the Sea on Make Believe Island.
I lay the manuscript beside me, covering it with one of the pillows. I drew the white blanket up from the foot of my bed and covered myself. One chapter was enough for today. If I revised a chapter every day, I’d be done in three weeks. But then I need to type it too. Maybe I should just skip the red pen and type directly. Yeah. Maybe I’ll use Alphie. Whoever invented portable word processors, I love you. Then I can upload it every day to my computer, but hmm...maybe I should get an external flash drive. That way I can take the little external hard drive with me and nobody— Perry nor Tammy, could steal it off my computer’s hard drive. Yeah. That’s it. I’ll get a flash drive. I was getting sleepy. Really sleepy.
I reached on my nightstand for my stereo remote control and clicked the power button, C.D. and play. I ratcheted up the volume. I’d left one of Momma’s Dean Martin C.D.s in the player. I borrowed it from her Corvette, while she had gone missing. It felt comforting to me. “That’s Amore” played. My tummy growled. I wanted pizza. I tried to conjure up my dream weaver. But he was an Englishman not an Italian. And I could never conjure him up anyhow. He came to get me when he wanted me. Darn it. I miss you Ashley. If only you were real.
I had an image of the T.S.A. guy from Dulles. Tall, dark and deliciously mysterious.
No use. I couldn’t sleep. I heard the rumble of my garage door opening. Jumping up, I darted inside my closet with Mike’s manuscript. I quickly replaced it in the Christmas sheets, straitened the shelf, switched the light off and shut the door.
I slipped my fingers thorough my hair and plucked a lose curl I’d shed and carefully placed the single strand on the knob.
I crept down the stairs and booted up my computer, in the built in niche in the living room. Peeking out from the living room window, I caught a glimpse of black moving up my front steps. Great. Here come da judge...here come da judge. He looked as ridiculous as Flip Wilson. I loped over to the front door and opened it for him.
“Hey Oh-Donna. How’d it go at the neurologist?”
As if he didn’t know. I’ll bet he was onsite, peeking through a two way mirror or something. Just because people are watching you doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be paranoid.
“He said I hadn’t changed.”
“He? You were supposed to see a lady, Doctor Claytor!”
Just as I suspected. He had some scheme going, involving this lady neurologist. “You’re right, it was a lady. How’d you know?”
“So did she give you some medication?”
Perry ignored my question. That answered volumes.
“No. She never even mentioned it. Surely there must be something she could give me...? Well, but if I don’t have an infection, I guess there isn’t anything to treat but the symptoms and Ibuprophen or Aspirin takes care of that.”
I grabbed two plastic grocery bags from Perry. Carrying them into the kitchen, I asked, “So what’s for dinner?”
“Baked chicken, green bean casserole, Rice-A-Roni and blueberry cobbler.”
“Yum! Are you stuffing the chicken?”
“With cranberry bread crumbs, walnuts and sausage.”
“Naturally.” He unzipped his robe and waddled back to hang it in the foyer closet.
“Perry, what’s the E.T.A. on dinner?”
“Can I borrow your car?”
“No.” he rejoined me.
“No. Nobody drives my Caddy.”
Tammy sprinted in. “Especially not a brain damaged sleepy girl like you.”
“Hello Tammy.” I grumbled. I would have protested her childish rudeness but what argument could I make against the truth?
She opened the refrigerator and pulled a strawberry yogurt out. She peeled the lid off and stuck her tongue in, while fishing a clean spoon out of the dishwasher.
“Tammy, let me borrow your car.”
She huffed haughtily. “Where do you need to go Oh-Donna?”
“To Best Buy. Or Comp City U.S.A. Or Costco. Maybe even Wal*Mart would do.”
“Eww...I wouldn’t be caught confused in any of those places. No way.”
What a snobby witch. Those are decent middle class stores and I enjoy shopping in all of them. “Well then take me to the Ford Dealer on Route Seven. I need to buy a new S.U.V. anyhow.
Tammy said, “Yeah, that’s right...Perry said you hit a deer...you didn’t save the meat did you? Eww...”
“Tammy, I nearly got killed that day. Stop making dumb jokes.”
“Who you calling dumb, sissy-girl?”
“You’re the sissy-girl.”
Perry said, “Outa the kitchen. You’re in my way.” He was at the sink with his hand up the chicken’s butt.
Tammy opened the French doors and carried her yogurt out onto the deck. The dog ran out with her. Before I headed to the living room, the blinking red light on the answering machine caught my eye. I pressed play.
A man’s disembodied voice said, “Hello Orpha. This is Kent Cortez, T.S.A. We met at Dulles International Airport. I had to ask you to remove your suit coat, remember? I’m very sorry for that, but we have procedures to follow. I’d like to make it up to you. I was wondering if you’re available to have lunch with me tomorrow. Give me a call. My number is seven oh three, five five five one two seven seven.” Beep.
As I scrolled the caller I.D., I grabbed a sticky pad and pen from the drawer. I wrote Kent’s number down and then punched redial. I stepped into the living room. Okay, should I be spooked, worried, appalled? The T.S.A. screener looked me up. Is he some sicko stalker getting his jollies from making ladies strip, using his position to get off on? Or is he a sweet gentleman, truly sorry for the embarrassment? Oh God, how embarrassing. He thinks my name is Orpha. Well, it is. But I go by Donna. He read it on my license...