“So Lois what is it that you need to talk to me about?’ I asked it once her door was closed. I knew that leaving the microphone capsule at home would really piss Gwen off, but I didn’t care. It would probably be good for her in the long run.
“I know that my lease says that no one can stay in the apartment more than 7 days without being on he lease. But my son is coming to spend the summer in Aster. I would like for him to sleep on the fold out sofa in the living room. Do I really need to put him on the lease?” she asked.
“I think we can make an exception in your case. I put that in the lease to avoid boyfriends, who couldn’t be checked out, from staying in someone’s apartment. We don’t need some types here. I can control to whom I rent, but I can’t control who their boyfriends and girlfriends are,” I admitted.
“I thought it was something like that. So, as long as I keep him under control everything will be okay?” she asked.
“Just tell me a little about him, only because the other neighbors will ask,” I suggested.
“Johnny is a college professor at the state university in Capitol City. He teaches philosophy and some kind of ethics course as well.” Something about that set alarms ringing in my ear.
“Ah thats nice, so is Johnny Married?” I asked.
“Divorced, the whole world is divorced,” she said.
“Some of us more than once,” I said with a laugh. “How old is your son, and is he an only child?” I asked.
“I have two children a daughter who you met, and Johnny.” she said. Johnny is the baby. He is 35, some baby. My daughter is 38.” she said. After she said it, I remembered that the daughter had come to look at the apartment with her mother. My memory really was shit. I had a couple of concussions from explosions nearby, so maybe I could blame it on that. I would rather blame it on the concussions, than dementia which it probably was.
“Well, I don’t see a problem with your son, staying with you. Of course you will have to watch Gwen and Cheryl both are single you know?”
“Yes they are and so are you, but I think he is old enough to take care of himself.” she said.
“I certainly hope so, but when it comes to relationships, I’m not sure any of us are.” I replied.
“Well, it’s getting late, if that’s all you need I’m going to call it a night,” I said that as I stood to leave.
“That is all. I probably should tell you how much I am enjoying living here. I feel very safe with you and Cheryl living here.”
“Oh why is that?’ I asked suddenly interested.
“Well I know about you. of course everyone does,” she said.
“Yes, I suppose they do,” I agreed.
“Cheryl just seems really confident. She has one of those take charge personalities. I mean that in the very best of ways. I feel very safe here. That’s important to me.” Lois said quietly.
“Well, I’m glad you feel safe. I honestly do all I can to maintain a safe environment for us all.” I admitted.
“I know,” she said as I slipped out the door.
Back in my apartment I got to wondering why her son would want to come spend the summer in his mom’s cramped apartment. It had a really strange feeling. I knew that not all conspiracies are real, but then again some are. I didn’t feel threatened, so I didn’t make a fuss about it. Besides it was Lois’s problem not really mine. I could very easily ignore him.
I had no idea how exhausted I still was until I hit the bed. I slept without the pain meds even though I did feel the leg a bit. I almost got out bed in the middle of the night to take a pill, but I managed to make it through. I had over twenty of the Tylenol with Codeine left. I wanted to save them so I switched to OTC Tylenol. I did it to save the Codeine, just in case I had a really bad night.
The next morning I drove the cruiser to Helen’s Place. I had a bacon egg and cheese sandwich on a flat bread roll. The potato fritters were always amazing, They were especially good after I had missed them a few days. “Hello there, sorry I was busy in the back when you came in.” Cheryl said when she came to my table with more coffee.
“I didn’t know you had a back,” I said laughing.
“It’s what I call the upstairs. We are storing things there at the moment. Helen and I are trying to decide what to do with it.”
“I’m sure you two have discussed catering really small events up there, meetings and the like,” I said.
“Also putting in a kitchen up there but I think that is a bit too much trouble. But this place is making a bunch of money. Helen really is glad she listened to us and opened it.” Cheryl said.
“That’s good, I would hate to have given her bad advice, not that she would listen to me anyway.” I said.
“Oh shit Maxine, she thinks you walk on water. When I told her you had been shot, she cried for hours.” Cheryl said it almost in disgust.
“Hey, Helen feels things more than you or I. You need to cut her some slack.” I said angrily.
“Easy, Maxine, I know you two are friends. It just doesn’t do any good to get all teary.” she said.
“Well I don’t know, if it helped her or not, but knowing that she was concerned helps me.”
“Okay, okay, I get it. So are you headed for the mall to walk?” she asked.
“No, I’m headed to the mall to hobble,” I said.
“Well get a good workout but not so much that you have to go back to the hospital. In spite of all the tough bitch talk, I like having you around.” Cheryl said smiling.
“Good because I plan to keep on being around for a while longer,” I replied.
“I just noticed where the hell is your delta cup?” she asked.
“I can’t manage it and the crutches, so I left it at home. I would rather have left the crutches.” I said with a laugh.
“Knowing you, I’m surprised that you didn’t,” Cheryl commented.
“I can’t walk on the leg just yet. I still have stitches and when I put all my weight on it, the leg hurts like a bitch,” I informed her. She could tell from my voice that I had been testing it.
“Then don’t put your weight on it dummy,” she suggested.
“Thanks, that was helpful,” I said.
“I do try. Now do you want a coffee to go?” Cheryl asked.
“No thanks, I won’t be long. After that I plan to go home and drink a gallon of my own blend of coffee.” I said.
“Well, I’m sure you think it is better than restaurant blend, It probably is as a matter of fact, but our is hot and you don’t have to make it.”
“Sounds good but no thanks, I am off to the mall,” I informed her.
“Be careful and have a good hobble,” she said smiling. “See you at one.”
Even though the ride to the mall in the car was much warmer, it was not nearly as much fun. I began at the downstairs door where I always entered. I began to walk using the crutches to keep most of my weight off my leg. I put enough weight on it to make myself move it. Even though it was painful, I kept at it. I knew the difference between the pain which threatened to rip a stitch, and the one that was just stiff muscles. I finished one complete lap, top and bottom. I usually did three.
“What did you do to your leg Maxine,” the tiny dancer asked.
“Had a bit of an accident. Got a chunk of my calf muscle missing.”I said.
“Are you going to be doing physical therapy?” she asked.
“No, I’m just going to walk here and do some stretching exercises,” I replied.
“When you can walk on it without screaming, come see me. I can teach you some good muscle building exercises from my dance instructor days.,” she said.
“You do know, that I’m going to take you up on that,” I said.
“I certainly hope so,” she said smiling warmly. I watched her walk away gracefully, while I hobbled to the exit where my car awaited me.. The one lap wore me out, as well as left my leg in pain. I resisted the urge to go to the codeine.
The drive home was very uncomfortable. I could not find a position which did not hurt, I must have showed how much my leg hurt because Lois asked, “Are you alright.” when she passed me on the way to the mail box.
“I’m fine the mail hasn’t come yet,” I informed her.
“It never is on time when I’m waiting for something,” she said.
“One of life’s many perversities,” I agreed. “You know I never see the college kid.”
“Ah you mean Sarah Ellen, I know she leaves after you go out to breakfast. She comes home about five and slips in very quietly. She never plays her stereo loud or has parties. Sometimes I forget she is here,” Lois said. “Now that you are back, and school is almost out, she will probably be around some, when you are here.”
“How does she get along with Cheryl?’ I asked. I was a little worried that Cheryl might be hitting on her and worrying her to death.
“I have no idea Sarah never mentions her, or much of anything else. She mostly says, ‘HI.’ then locks herself in her apartment. If she goes out, I don’t know when, or if she comes home at all. I think she has a boy friend.” Lois admitted
“That’s nice everyone needs a boyfriend,” I replied.
“Or at least a special friend,” she said with a knowing smile.
“Or that,” I said in agreement.
By noon I had caught up on all the news and was bored. Not so bored that I wanted to rush out and get into any old adrenaline rush situation, but too bored to sit still. I got my crutches and hobbled out to the car, I stopped by McDonald’s for burgers and then I stopped at a Hopin for a Coke. After assembling my picnic, I drove to the marina. I got to watch the fishermen, the sailors, and the water skiers for an hour. It took my mind off the pain in my leg and my inactivity.
I was sitting on a hard wooden picnic table, when my purse began to play the Mag 7 theme. I was still going to kill Lucas one day for that. “Hello,” I said into the phone.
“Maxine, it’s Lois, you probably need to come back here, if you can.” she said.
“Okay, I’m on my way. It’s going to take about fifteen minutes, can it wait that long?” I asked.
“Sure, I don’t think it is urgent. It’s just something you are going to want to take care of personally, I think.” She said.
“I was pretty sure she wanted me to ask what it was, so I didn’t. Might as well have a little drama,. I thought. Hell, after the Gulf of Aden I didnt even rush. Whatever it was, would still be there when I got to the apartment building.
Everything looked pretty normal when I pulled into the parking lot. When I got out of the car things began to go a little strange. For on thing Sarah Ellen followed a man from the walkway, which lead to the gate. She was dressed in only a bikini. She was also screaming at a guy in jeans and a dirty work shirt.
“Isn’t it a little chilly for a bikini?” I asked..
“I want you to shoot this pervert,” she shouted.
“Shooting is so noisy, and so final, couldn’t I just cut his balls off?” I asked. She realized that I wasn’t taking her seriously.
“I have been doing aerobics, and ran out to check the mail, he to follow me inside when I went back through the gate.” she said shortly to get my attention.