Walter Mencken 11 a.m., May 24
- Community Blog
Just South of the Base
Come on Noreen; let’s get moving the ceremony starts in a half hour. Dick’s cackling voice bounced off the linoleum floors and bounded down the hallway to where Noreen was pulling the pink foam curlers from her hair with one hand, while the other maintained tension on the curler bending her eye lashes into submission. Give me a minute sweetie she called, the high pitched voice almost doll like whistling through her pursed lips. Some of his friends called her Betty Boop just because of her voice, and if they could see her right at this moment, they’d see every line, every spot, and every flaw in her once immaculate complexion. The thought caused her to lose her breath a little bit, and to tear up, what am I going to do when he’s gone, she thought. How am I going to take care of everything?
Sammy brought us bouquets from the garden, Dick shouted from the foyer, I’m going to soak the Times in some water and wrap it around the stems to keep them fresh. My mother taught me that trick when I was just a boy.
What are you talking about Dick? She called out. We don’t have time to water the garden before we leave, and the ceremony starts in a half hour. She wasn’t sure he heard her, but it wasn’t really important one way or the other. At least not more important than getting her make up on right and styling her hair. A woman must keep up she said to herself, smiling in the mirror to make sure there was no lipstick on her teeth.
I’m making some coffee, want some? He couldn’t tell if she answered or not, but assumed it was a yes. Do you want some sugar in that sweetie ha ha ha; hey do you want some sweetness sweetness? He chuckled to himself as he turned into the corner into the kitchen making his way across the room to Mr. Coffee- their faithful friend for 12 years now.
He picked up the pot, scalded coffee painted on the bottom, perfuming every cup in a way no instant coffee could ever achieve. Geronimo he said as he attempted to pour it neatly into the delicate china coffee sups she insisted they use. God, those things date back to our wedding day almost 50 years ago, and no amount of soaking could erase the memory of the hundreds, no thousands of cups of brown ambrosia they’d shared.
Noreen, snap it up, he yelled, as he turned down the volume of the small TV suspended in the corner of the kitchen. Breaking news, El Camino Real shut down between the 78 and Mission- trailer truck suspended over the onramp, and hazardous cargo rolling uphill towards the mortuary where they were headed. Noreen, get moving! We’re going to have to go up Fire Mountain to make it on time. There’s an accident.
He sat down at the table after neatly placing both coffee cups on separate plastic laminated place mats that were aligned at a 90 degree angle to the table’s edge. The cups were seated perfectly on the matching saucers.
He jumped up again, and opened the fridge, grabbing a handful of the creamers they’d skimmed from the coffee shop and poured some into the china creamer. Out of the corner of his vision, he saw that the sugar packets had left a trail across the countertop, and already the ants from under the sink were beginning to rally.
The rectangular table had four matching chairs, in the same inexpensive wood. An oil cloth covered the top, the red and white checks reminding him of the waitresses at the lunch counter in the dime stores when he was a kid. He never liked the malteds, always order the milkshakes- chocolate or strawberry.
The salt and pepper shakers were both shaped like the Washington Monument, a souvenir from a vacation years ago. A little figurine of the Virgin Mary and a baby lamb sat next to a low dish full of artificial roses, and a blown glass poodle from Olvera Street. So much easier to dust them, then to worry about thorns and water and having to let a real dog outside to pee.
A box of stationary and a roll of stamps were sitting in an old ashtray, unused for years, in the shape of a cornucopia. Bet kids don’t even know what that is, I could maybe have some fun with that. Hey, sonny, what’s up with the cornucopia? The last time I saw it was on the china cabinet behind the silver candlesticks.