Friday, May 16, 2008

The Neighbor (Part 1)

“Sandy Connors and Mrs. Bee”

Spinning tires ripped through patches of colored leaves, kicking them up to create a wake of dust and orange colors. She was rushing along, faster than usual although she didn’t know why. She was on her way home from school, cycling the same route she had taken for the past three months since starting back to school: the same boring streets, the same boring houses … the same boring town.
She was in the final stretch of her ride. In the distance she saw a strange object and as she drew nearer the small figure grew into a massive open end of a moving company truck. She wondered what was up. Maybe someone finally bought the old Spinner house? It was the only empty one on the block … only two doors down from her own home. The truck looked empty. It was just sitting there as if it was beckoning her to pedal right into its big open mouth.
“Not today!” she thought to herself.
Closer and closer she came never turning her head to check for cars exiting the many driveways dotting tree-lined Forest Avenue, where she lived all of her 13 years.
Sandy knew she was riding a bit dangerously but taunted fate because something needed to happen … something to distract her from thinking about him. Something did. It was a huge boulder.
She caught it with her peripheral vision. She learned to use it recently. She just hadn’t mastered it yet. That’s because of him. He made it difficult for her to concentrate. She couldn’t wait for her business with him to end.
Her hands automatically squeezed the hand brakes. Loose gravel and leaves formed a carpet under the dirt-bike causing it to fishtail and leave the ground in a sideways sweep, landing Sandy sprawled out at the curb staring up at the huge piece of granite in front of Mrs. Beecher’s lawn.
Sandy was more embarrassed than hurt. She lay there for a few seconds staring at the monstrosity. She slowly moved her fingers, the ones that were practically pointing to the rock. Her head was resting on her extended arm and her view from that angle was as if she were using her arm as a rifle sighting in on Mrs. Bee’s new lawn ornament. It sort of looked like a huge mountain in the distance if she eyed it with a squint.
Slowly Sandy turned her head hoping to not find an audience. Everything remained quiet. There were no cars coming. There was still no activity around the empty moving van. It seemed as though the “coast was clear”. Her daredevil antics appeared to have gone unnoticed. As she began to untangle her knotted legs her attention was drawn back to the strange rock. This time it caused her to let out a shrilled scream.
From over the top of the boulder came two hands grasping its rough edges as if someone was on the other side scaling it. Following the gripping fingers, Mrs. Bee’s head popped up with her eyeglasses falling to the tip of her nose.
“I see you met my new friend.” She said. “I haven’t named it yet but Gibralta tends to top my list, so far. Get up dear. Are you okay?”
“Yes, Mrs. Bee. I think I’m going to live. At least nobody saw my landing. I would have crawled under that thing if someone had.”
Sandy managed to pick herself up and as she stood there brushing the dust off her school uniform she looked at her favorite neighbor and asked, “So, did it fall from the sky?”
Mrs. Bee chuckled as she came out from behind it. “No, my child. If it had, this monster would have sunk itself deep enough to pull in my front porch. That would have been terrible, don’t you think?”
Many times Sandy sat on the old porch swing with Mrs. Bee. As a matter of fact, Sandy’s old photo album that she keeps under her bed, up in her room across the street, had at least one picture from each year growing up, of her and Mrs. Bee together on that swing.
“Oh, thank God that didn’t happen Mrs. Bee. Where would we sip lemonade in the summer and hot cocoa in the winter?”
Arm in arm, the two friends slowly climbed the old wooden stairs, where at the top step sat a cigar box, which had attracted a swarm of flies that relentlessly bombarded themselves into every exposed side.
Sandy didn’t notice, she just couldn’t wait to hear more about Mrs. Bee’s new lawn ornament.
(Where did the rock come from? What was in the box? Who was the mysterious "him" she was thinking about and what kind of business with her did "he" have? ... Stay tuned!)

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