Sally was beginning to cause a bit of a problem for me. One morning I headed down to my basement. I mostly stayed out of it since I couldn’t abide the cobwebs. I had a few things stashed down there – mostly bits and pieces the previous owner had left behind. There was a package of mousetraps, of course. Some Shell No Pest strips were down there along with a big hammer, a baseball cap, (I had brought up the bat that had stood next to it to keep under my bed for protection right after Pearl, my bloodhound, died), a few old paint cans, and a growing pile of shredded paper. I considered the latter and decided the mice might as well stay comfortable for awhile, so I left it alone. Besides, I could ask my daughter to clean it out when she came at Thanksgiving. She was always on the lookout for something to ease her guilt for not coming to visit me more often. The paint cans were so old, they’d gotten lightweight. The other thing that was down there was a putty knife. I’d seen Sally had one around, so I picked it up. (Heart glad I was to find I had one!) I climbed back upstairs and settled on my porch.
See, I’d moved from the yard to my porch by now. I thought it best to leave some of the crab grass just in case I ran out of things to do. Like I said, Sally was causing a bit of a problem for me. If I stayed indoors, I wouldn’t know what was going on across the street. If I sat out on my porch it might start tongues flapping about comparisons I wasn’t willing to have made. I wasn’t on any account going to let a woman best me. If Sally was working up a sweat, I’d at least pretend to. I had started by sweeping twenty-five years worth of dirt through the porch cracks. It took a surprisingly little bit of time to do. If I had known that, I might’ve done it sooner. Then again, why do what would just need to be done again the next year? The wind mostly took care of the upkeep of that porch anyway. I swept over the same two feet for about half an hour, but my arms began to feel stiff, and Sally was so much in and out of her house, it was hard to keep track anyway. Still, I would have hated to miss anything, so I had to get creative. That’s why I had hunted for something to bring out with me to the porch. I sat with it in my hands for awhile, but then it occurred to me that I might raise suspicions, just sitting like that. So I figured I’d scrape with it like I’d seen Sally do. No one could fault that. After all, that little woman was beginning to make a name for herself. Every day folks would stop and check on the old Johnston house. She must have met everyone in a two-block radius in record time.
Friday was a very long day. The Johnston place was as quiet as the suburbs. At the moment I was scraping peeling paint with the putty knife. Fanny Sniff had been sitting on her porch most of the week, watching Sally and the boy. If that woman ever lifted a finger in her life it wasn’t enough for anyone to detect any movement. It was almost an embarrassment to live next to such an idle woman. However, there was one thing at which she excelled. It would be no exaggeration to put her in an Olympic contest of the greatest busybodies that ever lived. She would win the gold.
to be continued . . .