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The solution? Move Mom and herself into a big, rundown Victorian house with other two senior citizens, ...
The solution? Move Mom and herself into a big, rundown Victorian house with other two senior citizens, creating a communal household. And since the oldsters are very generous with their post-garage sale items, why not open a flea market upstairs?
Brit is Mr. Helpful-- until he discovers Mai's flea market is next door to his new, upscale apartment building. Besides, his plans include turning the Victorian property into a private park for his tenants.
Still, some folks think Life-with-Hot-tempered-Grandpa could have its charms.
And what about Brian, who disappeared on Mai's honeymoon?
ACCOMPANIED BY THE sounds of scolding robins and the swish-swish of a nearby watering system, Mai Fagan sneakered her way up the flagstones to the California-style house high above the Victorian heart of Dubuque, Iowa.
Brit Twitchell, owner of the low-slung house, wasn't expected home until Thursday. Half an hour ago, Mai's old friend, Kathy Anker, had pressed the house key into Mai's reluctant hand.
"Brit gives us his house key when he goes out of town," Kathy had said, "in case of an emergency at his apartment building. He wouldn't switch on the alarm without telling us."
Kathy had a dental appointment, so if Mai was in a big hurry to see her mother's possible new apartment, she'd have to get the key to the apartment herself. Kathy's instructions were simple.
"Go down the hallway to the kitchen, get the key to A-4 off the rack in the cabinet behind the purple glass dinnerware. Lock up on your way out."
"You will arrange bail for me, won't you, if Neighborhood Watch calls the cops?" asked Mai.
The cops, though, would probably take one look at her sweat-suited bod and scraggly, blond-tipped hair, and run. Still, it was a relief not to have to dress to impress.
When Mai had heard about her mother's accident, she'd left Kansas City in a hurry. Now her other clothes and possessions were heaped in her mother's living room.
Unlocking the Chinese red lacquered front door, she stepped warily inside, half expecting a burglar alarm to screech its fury throughout the quiet neighborhood. Peace, however, continued to reign.
Inside, the Twitchell house was a minimalist's dream, a Victorian's nightmare. Mairubbernecked her way along the bisecting white hallway, her soles squawking on the sleek marbleized floor.
Sliding glass walls on either side of the hall displayed the four rooms beyond them. On her right, the living room offered a gray stone fireplace stretching to the cathedral ceiling, gray carpet and off-white walls. That was it. No furniture.
If you looked closely, the gray-and-off-white dining room held furniture: a glass and clear plastic table, matching chairs, and a giant chrome chandelier that would look at home in The Museum of Modern Art. To Mai, the setting cried out for watercress, smoked salmon and chardonnay.
On her left, an office and a bedroom displayed off-white storage walls, no doubt hiding computer and home entertainment clutter. In the office, a couple of ebony drawers dangled from a glass-topped desk, and gray filing cabinets flanked the mini-blinded window. Central to the stark room, however, was the Herman Munster-size black leather desk chair. Visitors might sit in virtually invisible chairs, but the master would loom from the ghoulish depth of his black throne. The bedroom offered a king-size bed with white comforter.
A pair of penguins would feel right at home here, thought Mai. All it needs is a blanket of ice cubes.
An ant couldn't hide in the exposed rooms. With a shudder, Mai pushed through the swinging door at the end of the hall, into the kitchen. Not surprised, she found more white tile, white cabinetry and glass.
The entire back wall of the kitchen was glass, but she could appreciate its use here because it looked out on a garden secluded by a high white wall—a Betty Grable-John Payne Technicolor vision of immaculate grass edged in vibrant flowers and small, artfully shaped evergreens. A white-stone patio with a pair of white loungers bulged gracefully into the manicured lawn. In the center of the garden, a white fountain sent flares of sparkling water arcing into a circular basin.
The contrast between the cold artificiality of the interior and the breathtaking natural beauty of the garden drew Mai to the glass division between them.
Except there wasn't any glass.
Apprehensive and cautious, she stepped onto the patio. Had the house been broken into during Twitchell's absence? Perhaps that explained the decor, or lack of it—everything moveable had been stolen!
She paused, overlooking the enclosed garden, the only movement the spray of the fountain and a higher, sprinkling arch attached to a green garden hose attached to… a naked man!
With a yelp—more of a squeak, because her voice stopped working in the middle—she leapt backward into what should've been the doorway to the kitchen, but wasn't. Erring to the left, she instead backed over and into a large urn full of red geraniums.
Copyright © 2007 C.J. Winters.