Part of this blog's emphasis is to encourage the creative process and tell a good story. On that note, I am pleased to post a short story by Jacob Greenbaum, titled A Tale of Whoa!
She stood in the doorway and confronted him with the setting sun highlighting her hair. The sun was streaming through a big bay window that looked onto a large backyard, now littered with patches of greyish-white snow, partly torn green garbage bags, and a swing set that still functioned, provided some elbow grease was applied in generous measure. In front of the bay window was a small kitchenette, a pail placed under a hole in the ceiling to catch the drip.
Moving forward from there, a hardwood floor with a pair of white roller skates lying on their sides, their toes pointing at each other. A brown, faux-leather couch, sturdy, yet showing some lumps, stood front and center in the living room. The same room that her body was barring him from entering. He was fixated on her hair and wanted to burrow his nose in it.
“You said you’d be here an hour ago."
Lise was a petite woman dressed simply in grey baggy non-descript jeans and a blue sweatshirt sporting Property of Alcatraz in white lettering. Moving down her legs, your eyes ended at pink fluffy bunny slippers. A large metal pail filled with soapy water stood juxtaposed by her right calf, and she was holding a damp mop, its business end pointing at him.
“Well, what’s your excuse this time?”
Rahim knew better than to answer right away. Glibness did not work with her, not anymore anyway. Rahim fingered the bling-bling around his neck, and stroked his newly acquired moustache. He smoothed the wrinkles on his black Armani shirt, his long manicured hands moving slowly, palms down to his navel. He smelled his fingers. They smelled nice. Civilized. Living large.
“Let’s go inside and talk about this like two civilized people instead of my freezing my ass out here,” he said.
“Didn’t have time to dry your hair?” she said.
“I was late as it is, tried to get here as fast as I could. Are you gonna let me in? I gotta use the bathroom.”
“Try the concierge, no wait, that’s not a good idea. Shelley’s over there taking a nap. She can’t stand the smell of detergent. To tell you the truth, neither can I.” The clunk clunk of the washing machine provided counterpoint to their dialogue.
Lise wrinkled her nose the way Samantha Stevens did in Bewitched and smiled.
“Maybe, you’d better come in, hon,” Lise said.
She tossed him the mop, and startled, he grabbed it, keeping it well away from his body. He looked like a Kalahari Bushman, spear at the ready. She turned around, bent over, and curled her fingers around the metal handle of the pail. Its tarnished silvery finish side by side with the gold around her left hand caught Rahim’s eye. She felt his fingers over hers.
“Let me get that,” he said. “I’ll play the man, for once. North American man at least.”
“Thank you,” said softly and then her head swivelled away from him, followed by her body.
Lise, unencumbered, moved smartly to the kitchenette and motioned for Rahim to hurry up. Rahim sauntered in, sidestepping puddles caused by the dripping mop head.
“Do you smell that?”
Her eyes scanned the room. “Oh, for heaven’s sake, don’t leave the mop dripping against the wall. Put it in head first, into the pail. Well, do it.” He did.
“It’s coming from the fridge,” she said.
He took off his shirt and folded it carefully over a chair. He then stood up straight, and walked with purpose to the fridge, moving one end away from the wall with a broad shoulder. He peered at the backside of the fridge, lint hanging here and there like clothes on a line. Rahim put the back of one hand against the fridge and then patted it- like someone’s behind.
“It’s warm, but not that hot. No loose or frayed wires. I hear it humming. Bet the fridge is okay.”
He remembered getting the fridge with her just a few months ago. Getting a fridge in some crowded box of a shopping center packed with kids wiping their runny noses and screaming at the top of their lungs. Doing this for his Lise when World Cup playoffs were on TV. At least he didn’t go to a bar to watch it. He wanted to watch it at home with Lise and explain the finer points of the game. The finesse, the moves. Scoring.
She opened the fridge, the light went on, and the food felt cold. As it should.
“Then where’s the smoke coming from?”
They walked through their home hand in hand checking every electrical appliance. The smoke, both agreed, was strongest in the kitchen, where they both ended up after going through every room.
“If it’s not in here,” Rahim said, “then it must be outside.”
Lise went to a window, opened it, and craned her head up down and all around.
“Rahim, c’mere, look, there’s smoke coming from Apt.203, just below us.”
Lise went to the phone, called the concierge and informed her about the smoke.
“The concierge thinks it may be a fire and she’s going to check it out. I’m going too. Let’s leave the mopping alone for now.”
“Fine with me”
Lise, in the lead, went to the door, turned and put her hand on Rahim’s chest, his bare chest.
“Maybe, you’d better put your shirt on. I don’t mind but Mrs. Smith is over eighty, and she’s down the hall.”
Indeed, it was a fire in Apt. 203 as Rahim and Lise discovered when they entered, courtesy of the concierge. A fire caused by a teakettle left on the burner after the tenant had vacated the premises. Rahim noted the faint smell of hashish in the apartment and smiled to himself. Lise was pleased that the stay at home tenant in Apt. 203 had worse housekeeping habits then her.
Both of them were back upstairs on the couch, exhausted after their shared adventure, mopping, and doing the laundry.
“Thanks for your help,” Lise said.
“Yep”. Rahim was stifling a yawn.
“I was at the gym, Y’know. “
“The gym?” Lise asked.
“Why I was late, the hour late, the wet hair, Y’know.”
“It’s ok, “she said, and looked at her watch. “We don’t have to pick up Shelley for another hour.”
Rahim got up from the couch with new reserves of energy. Lise looked at his rear, got up, thought about putting on her bunny slippers, rejected it, and followed Rahim in her bare feet to their bedroom. She grabbed a hairbrush.
He looked at her. She brushed her hair and smiled.
Jacob Greenbaum writes about faith and technology. He resides in Montreal, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright ©2011. Jacob Greenbaum. All Rights Reserved.
Publisher's Note: This is a work of fiction. While the author might have been inspired by some true-life events, names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or locales is entirely coincidental.