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CHAPTER THIRTY TWO.
They always drove used, beige American cars. Unmarked could be many things, but never exotic. Only the marked dressed outlandishly, she’d read. To these, standing out in a crowd was purposeful; for the subversive, bland was the order.
Such was the descriptor of the vehicle and driver she’d registered that Easter Sunday morning in 2002, just missing it pull away from her curb opening her own car door and stepping in.
She’d always been able to know a face, particularly one which had become the object of her fixation. And, this white haired balding Anglo-Saxon profile staring straight over the steering wheel was unmistakeable through her side view mirror, the sedan slowing briefly at her corner Stop sign as she passed by heading toward the boulevard.
Her white trimmed navy sheath suit with the covered buttons all the way down the skirt looked smart, her dark hair fluffed full with the last gasp of peri-menopause. If only the side entry shed were not completely overrun with garbage in bags, too many, the stench of rotting food wafting upward through its confined space every winter thaw.
She’d been a good seven years shy of early retirement from public ed and spring, still the season of accelerated chaos, over the more recent five (and, final) years had morphed into rehearsal and production for the school musical, interrupted most inconveniently by Easter vacation.
This year, the living room floor cluttered with the customary foamboard and prop pieces, she’d been invited out. Private studio parents, Ukrainian first generation Americans, he a urologist and she mother to three sons, members of the west side country club for the wealthy elite. Would she meet them for Easter brunch?
Their eldest son her student, readying for high school, was most enamored of the liquid chocolate fountain, driven by soy oil and some obscure solvent. She, recently diagnosed gluten and soy intolerant, would pick at the lavish buffet, a tiny salad, some fruit, relieved to eat sparingly so as to be more comfortable in public dressed in her white buttoned navy sheath.
Congruent with the formality of the grande dining room, tables set several feet apart like the upper classes preferred, his mother – who always spoke in hushed, rapid delivery – would choose this luncheon to disclose to her a history with the NSA. His father, a Venezuelan, confirmed.
Even her tax accountant and his wife, seated just a table away, he, feigning nonchalance, deliberately sniffing around the buffet well within her field of vision, would never be the wiser.
Listening to this revelation, she wondered whether the stink in the side shed had so put off her curious visitor that he’d made a hasty exit, never to return. Perhaps he had placed a bug on her wall, some high tech chip capable of recording her every utterance, her goings and comings, or perhaps that had merely been his plan until he’d caught a whiff of the decay. She’d been reading his best seller, published soon after 911 and thought, sitting there over brunch that, if he had placed one, it would be well hidden from any chance of her discovery; he was certainly impossible to trace, though she’d made several attempts at locating contact info. On the way back home across town, she’d settled for one fleeting hope that he might have considered the foul mess residue from a renter, and herself the lady of the manor.
* * * *
Fifteen years hence, the shed was still a catch all for the loose ends in her life. It had, however, taken on a more refined character, transformed to reflect the subtle but evolved nature of her existence. Gardening tools, political yard signs, several Green Blender boxes, and a large cluster of dug up dahlia bulbs now filled the space formerly suffocated by trash.
He’d published several more books, and she was reading his latest, a novel, one or two chapters at a time before sleep in the wee hours after practicing her trio program on the new Steinway. He’d won a prestigious award, his acceptance speech archived on YouTube, he, standing in classic grey suit, slacks draping the kind of body which preferred boxers to briefs. She marveled at his vitality, and wondered if he played tenor sax like the hero in the novel, or whether this was merely a nod to the former leader of the free world.
The world had come at quite a price, anymore, bond or free; as for herself, she could no longer fit into the white buttoned navy sheath, which had faded to maroon.
© Ruth Ann Scanzillo 1/20/17 All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Thank you for reporting all ghost written plagiarisms.