It was one of those late Spring days when life wraps its fresh sweetness around every tree branch and bud; its tendrils wind through the grass, full of earthy, musky fragrance. The air nearly sings out loud with the intensity of the lushness of hope. No one in his right mind can stay indoors on those days because doing so would be like whacking himself with a wet fish; slimy, crazy, and slightly painful.
After I’d finished my breakfast burrito with hot sauce and two cups of coffee, I sauntered out to the front lawn. I had to cut down since my stomach started giving me trouble. Coffee used to be my mainstay for breakfast: four cups and a piece of toast with orange marmalade. I suppose, though, after awhile an old leather bag gets so soft it gets loose at the seams. That was my stomach. Loose at the seams. So I had to cut down, you see, from four cups to two.
I turned and looked at my house as I had done every day for the past week. Although I’d grown kind of fond of the weathered look my house gave the property, I had been feeling more than a little pressure to fix it up. The drip that burst the pipe came over a month ago in the form of chocolate. Sally had brought me some frosted brownies without the frosting and some cardboard squares of sample paint colors. Since she had them with her, I looked through ‘em. It’s kind of like buying a lottery ticket, only not as exciting. I chose gray with dark gray trim so it would hide the dirt. Sally said she’d get some neighbors together if I would supply lunch. That was asking a lot, I tell you, but being the generous person I am, I consented. About a week ago now a bunch had come and painted my old house. Sniff had played the lottery, too, but she chose white with green trim. I secretly hoped for a little dust storm.
I started down the street at a slow pace. Being the unofficial monitor of the neighborhood did not require speed. Gladys and Manny and were back from Marv’s Café, already poking in the garden they had planted. Julie was already at work and Ashley was heading out the door. Over the winter she’d gotten a job at the flower shop five blocks away. I cleared my throat in that friendly way I have, and she waved back. We all started choking on fumes as Sweet Beat rode past on his Harley. I made a mental note in my monitor’s mental notebook. The boy was up before noon. I looked at Manny and he raised his eyebrow (he had just the one that went straight across the top of his eye sockets.). I scratched my chin in response.
I was still puzzling over that when a child’s voice made me stop in my tracks. I was, by now, in the alley behind Sally’s house and could hear a conversation as clear as weak tea with no sugar.
“Do you think they’ll ever know, mom?”
He laughed then, and mused, “To think all this could have been mine.”
Sally chuckled, too.
“Yes, Court, in another time and another world it would have been yours. Still, your great great grandpa, my great grandpa on my mother’s side, may not have been the type to care one way or another about the fortunes of his descendants.”
“He did leave the stock. You’ve got to give him credit for that.”
“Yes, Court, for that I would thank him if I could.”
“Why don’t we use it?”
I nearly fell over.
“We like our independence.”
The boy persisted, “How much are we worth again?”
Sally answered without a moment’s hesitation. “We’re priceless.”
to be continued . . .