A PIG IN A POKE

As soon as Briana Jeffries woke up she knew her AC had broken down. Her townhouse was like a sauna. She called the landlord then got ready for work. Stepping outside, she was enveloped in a cloud of oppressive heat. 

Briana’s townhouse didn’t have a garage – only street parking. Slipping off her suit jacket, she adjusted her shoulder bag and began walking to her car. With every step a bead of sweat rippled down her neck and back until her blouse clung to her drenched body. She cursed her high heels and pantyhose but the real estate agency where she worked demanded appropriate attire. 

I really should switch to McConnell Realty. They’re much more casual than Dalton & Banks” she thought as she got into her car and switched on the AC. Sure, the commission she earned was great but she wasn’t truly happy. And dealing with that smarmy, perpetually tanned Joe DelVecchio was nauseating.

First on the agenda was the Monday meeting, then Briana’s client at 10:30. With six houses to show, it was going to be a long day. As soon as she entered the office, Joe was all over her. “Looking steamy, Briana. Nice lipstick. Looks all pouty. I’m gonna call you BJ. Know what that means?” 

What a dick. The only reason Joe was tolerated here was the older female clients adored him and he could charm the panties off them – and probably did if it meant making a sale. Ignoring him, Briana sat at the mahogany table between Grace and Harold. 

Attention!” Charlotte Dalton announced. “We have a large number of elderly couples today. Briana and Joe, I want you working together. 

By day’s end Briana was sick of Joe but he insisted on walking her to her car. “Let’s get a drink, moisten that beautiful BJ mouth”. Involuntarily Briana licked her lips;  Joe moaned. 

“No, Joe! I just want to go home, take a shower and go to bed.” She immediately regretted her choice of words. Joe pressed Briana against her car whispering “You read my mind” and she felt his clammy hand between her legs. Calling him a “disgusting pig”, she shoved him away and drove off. It was at that moment she decided today was her last day at Dalton & Banks. 

Unlocking her front door, Briana was thrilled to find the AC working and the house delightfully cool. Locking the door, she kicked off her shoes, peeled off her damp clothes and headed for the shower. Closing the bathroom door, Briana entered the shower and stood under the cool water, relaxing, unthinking.  Suddenly she heard a noise outside the bathroom. She listened intently; there it was again. SOMEONE WAS IN HER HOUSE!! Without even turning off the shower, Briana lunged to lock the bathroom door just as Joe DelVecchio burst in, knocking her backwards into the shower. Slamming the tiles, Briana’s head cracked open, blood swirling down the drain. 

Briana was right. That was her last day at Dalton & Banks. 

NAR © 2019

FLORENTINE FOOT WASHING

When my sister Rosemarie graduated high school in 1965, our parents surprised us with a trip to Italy and Sicily. 

First stop was Rome where we visited my mother’s cousin Concetta. She lived in a quaint apartment building with a balcony. The first thing Rosemarie and I noticed was Concetta had a pet chicken on the balcony. Having never seen a live chicken, we spent a good portion of the day playing with it. After a while, my parents suggested we go shopping. We didn’t want to leave the chicken but our parents made us go. 

By the time we returned it was early evening and Concetta had prepared a wonderful dinner of stew and homemade bread. All the curtains were drawn and we felt very grown up as we sat at the candlelit table sipping wine just like  adults. The next morning Rosemarie and I were anxious to play with the chicken, but she wasn’t on the balcony. When we asked where she was, Concetta laughed and said “What do you think dinner was last night?” 

We were shocked and started crying but our parents explained the chicken wasn’t a pet; Concetta bought it as a special treat for our dinner. Needless to say, it took me and my sister a very long time to eat chicken again!

Our next stop was Florence and we stayed in an exclusive hotel. My parents had one room and Rosemarie and I shared another. The rooms were exquisitely decorated with expensive furnishings and rugs. In the bathroom was a claw-foot tub, an elegant sink, a toilet and an odd-looking fixture we’d never seen before. It was about the size of the toilet with faucets and a small sprinkler in the middle of the bowl. When we turned the faucets on, water shot out straight from the  sprinkler. We immediately turned off the water trying to figure out what this thing was. 

After much thought we decided it was for foot washing. Tossing off our sandals we turned on the water and bathed our feet. We dried our feet with small paper towels and pulled the lever expecting the towels to flush away. Well, they didn’t. In fact the foot washer filled with water and overflowed as Rosemarie and I tried desperately to stop the water. Before we knew it the entire bathroom floor was covered with water which leaked out into the bedroom, soaking the rug. We watched helplessly as the flood entered the hallway drenching the carpet. A maid saw what was happening and began screaming at us in Italian. People came out of their rooms, including our parents. The carpet was ruined and our parents had to pay for the damages. It wasn’t until a week later when our parents relayed the story to relatives in Sicily that we learned what a bidet was. Everyone had a good laugh at our expense! 

Talk about embarrassed! What did we know about bidets? I bet they’re still talking about us in Florence! 

NAR © 2019

WHAT GOES UP

My cousin MaryAnne was finally getting married which meant my mother, sister Elisa and I had to go shopping for new dresses and shoes. When shopping day finally arrived we all climbed into Mom’s car – even Dad who followed us everywhere. 

So off we went to Macy’s, happily chatting about what kind of dresses we wanted to get – grown up ones this time. Dad said maybe he’d look for a new suit but Mom reminded him he had a perfectly good one reserved for weddings and funerals. Maybe a new shirt and tie but that’s it. We weren’t the Rockefeller’s after all. Dad grumbled something and Mom informed him that she would happily turn the car around and take him home. She was in charge and we knew today was going to go her way. The rest of the ride to the store was quiet and sullen. 

Finally Mom pulled into the parking lot and we excitedly jumped out, running for the entrance. “No running!” Mom screamed after us. “This is a fine department store and you are to act like young ladies at all times. And we stay together. No wandering off. Is that understood?”  And we hung our heads and mumbled “Yes, Mom.” 

Once inside, Mom told Dad to meet us back there in exactly one hour and off he went to the men’s department. Mom, Elisa and I went to the elevator to get to the 2nd Floor. The elevator was being serviced so we had to take the escalator, but the up escalator was also being serviced. 

Well, isn’t this dandy?!” my mother huffed. “How are we supposed to get upstairs?” 

The repair man replied “Up the down escalator.  Just walk up and jump off. See – everyone’s doing it.” 

“That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen. I’m not doing that. We’ll just have to come back another day.” 

“No, please!” we pleaded. “We’re here already. Come on – we’ll help you.” 

Reluctantly Mom agreed. We stepped onto the down escalator and started climbing up. It was actually quite easy – until we got to the top. Elisa and I jumped off but Mom couldn’t do it. This stoic, practical, fearless woman suddenly looked like a hamster on a wheel, all the while screeching “Help me! Help me!”  

No matter how many times we told her to just stand still and ride the escalator down, she just didn’t get it. People kept jumping by her like gazelles on the Serengeti while she huffed and puffed, treading water. Elisa and I got on the escalator, held Mom’s arms to keep her steady and rode down to safety on the 1st Floor. Mom was mortified. 

Smoothing out her dress, Mom walked to where Dad was dutifully waiting for us. “Perfect timing! Did you girls have fun?” 

Mom gave Dad the most withering look . “This store has definitely gone downhill. We will not be coming back here any time soon. We’re going home. Everyone to the car. Now!” 

NAR © 2019

SCARY HOUR

We woke to a muggy summer day. My husband Bill was away on business so it was just me and our two rambunctious boys – Billy, who was four years old and David, two. 

At 6:00 AM on the dot the boys came racing into my room, screaming their usual “Mommy! Wake up! We want breakfast!” 

“No way!” and I greeted them with big hugs. “You should make breakfast for me!” They jumped on the bed laughing. “That’s silly! We don’t know how to cook!” 

The boys ran to flip on Sesame Street while I made pancakes. Billy asked if we could go to the beach. 

You know, I think the beach is gonna be really crowded today. How about we plan our own beach in the backyard with the the sandbox, pool, and lots of toys to play with … and we can even have a picnic! Sound good?” And they nodded approvingly. 

Around noon we headed out to our make-believe beach, carrying a basket of PB&J sandwiches. The boys played all day getting sufficient filthy. Before dinner we hosed off and ran inside to the bathroom for a proper washing. Billy showered while I bathed David in the attached tub. Grabbing a towel, Billy ran to his bedroom. 

Mommy, there’s a spider in here” Billy called out. 

“Buddy, I’m busy with David. Get a tissue and squash it’ I answered. 

“But it’s really big!!”

Thinking I better go in and check things out, I wrapped David in a towel and went into the bedroom where Billy was in his tent. 

“Where’s Spidey?” I asked. Billy pointed to his bed. 

Placing David with Billy I examined the bedspread until I spotted it – a brown recluse! Using my ‘Mommy Voice’, I told the kids to “stay put”. I raced to the kitchen, grabbed an empty mason jar, removing the cover and lid on the way back. I braced myself, then in one fell swoop I covered the spider with the jar. Reaching for the thin lid, I gently slid it between the bedspread and the jar, praying the spider would oblige and crawl down the jar. IT DID!! Placing my palm on the bottom of the jar, I carefully eased my other hand between the bedspread and the lid, turning the jar upright. I grabbed the screw-on cover, trapping the spider. 

Grasping the jar I slumped to the floor just as Bill returned home. “Where is everyone?” he called from downstairs. 

“Up here, Daddy! Mommy’s Wonder Woman!” 

“Is that so?” Bill asked

“Say ’hello’ to my little friend” I said as I raised the jar for Bill to see.  

Later we talked about how that brown recluse could have found its way to our Manhattan house. Then I said “Didn’t Jim borrow our suitcase when he went to Arizona? The little bugger must have crawled in while he packed for home.” 

“That suitcase is safely locked in the storage closet” replied Bill. “It better not have brought its family along for the ride! Tomorrow Jim’s gonna have some serious cleaning out to do.” 

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NAR © 2019