(Read the other chapters here.)
“Well, we did it, Ms. Tinsdale,” the guy with the clipboard said, leaning down into Taiwo’s Prius passenger side window, not giving me the remotest chance to get out. “Just need you to say if a couple of items stay or go—we saw all the post-its.”
I turned to the mover, taken aback by the his breath, spicy and ripe. Then suddenly unsure, wondering if it was my own breath causing the offense and said, “Give me a minute, please. Thanks.”
I didn’t want to start crying. So, I simply turned to Taiwo and said, “You’re certainly good at your job,” which made him laugh.
“So, that’s it. I’m good at my job, eh?”
I got out of the car, “Like I said, you’re good – And…” I walked over and unhooked the “For Sale” sign from the post, handing it to him, “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome, Ms. Tinsdale. As always, it’s been a unique pleasure.”
As I walked toward the moving truck, all three movers were either leaning or sitting on the tailgate. Larry, Moe and Curly immediately came to mind. There was no sign of Benny.
“Well, looks like that’s it, ma’am,” the one with the clipboard, said.
I looked at my watch. It was past noon. “All right, then. I might need to ride with my stuff,” I said as Benny pulled up in his BMW—nicknamed Sienna, and leaning out the window, began yelling, “I’m too beautiful to do heavy lifting this early in the morning.”
“Don’t worry,” I said, seeing no need to remind him that it was indeed 12:35pm, “no heavy lifting here. Just get me to Baltimore in one piece.” Benny and I had been friends since God was a Solid Gold Dancer. At least this is what he tells people.
“You ready to do this, Chica?”
“I’m ready–siked, really.”
“Siked, what are you, ten?” he said, fiddling with Sienna’s radio. He kept at this, having no concern about the moving van, the same one stuffed with my life, its engine running, ready to head out.
“What I am is truly tired,” said, waving for the van’s driver not to pull off with all my earthly possessions.
“I understand. It’s a lot to deal with. I mean those bloomers of yours were in a real bunch. But guess what?”
“I’m okay, Benny, really.”
He ignored me. “You just need to rest, Base Camp Two things, get yourself geared up for the next phase,” he said, eyes glazed over as if reciting his own personal mantra: “The summit’s within reach, just take things slow, rest up, then, and only then, get started again….”
I was about to slap Benny, when the moving van began backing up my one way street to pull up alongside Sienna.
“Excuse me, ma’am,” the man with the clipboard began as he hopped out of the van. “It’s gonna take about forty–minutes to get there–you don’t still need that ride, do you?” As soon as he asked this, the skinnier of the two movers, the one who had not done any actual moving, other than the lamp and potted plant kind, came up to him and asked in what I recognized as a West Virginia accent — all twang, hamhocks and chewing tobackee, “Smoke break, daddy?”
I looked back at Benny, and he at me.
“My wife’s boy. She’s a good woman,” clipboard answered as if this explained everything. Shaking his head no to the boy, he told him, “Not yet, go on now and wait in the truck, Poe.” Then looking at me still sitting in Sienna, and Benny now at full recline, he asked again, “Ride, ma’am?”
“No, I think I’m good.”
“9107 Saint Calvert St, Baltimore, MD – That’s East Baltimore, ma’am?”
“Right, Baltimore–Eastside,” I said.
“That’s right,” Benny echoed. “My girl’s moving to the Eastside,” he began singing “to a deluxe apartment in the sky-y-y.”
The man glanced at his clipboard then back at me, “Ma’am, it says here, two-stories?”
“What it is,” I smiled broadly, “is a three-story, Queen Anne, open space eat-in kitchen with a back staircase that leads to servants’ quarters. Practically, historic,” I finished, exhaling deeply.
Grimacing, he said, “Sounds nice. But you know three floors is more money?” I looked over at Benny, my lips pursed, admonishing him for causing the confusion.
“Of course, it is,” I nodded, suddenly shaky, overcome with a sickening sense of dread. So much so, that if I hadn’t been one hundred percent sure Glory was at that very moment conducting impromptu baptisms in the spiritually purifying waters of the Hawthorne Town Square fountain, I would have asked Benny to hand over his cell phone, and placed a call to the woman “who is very supremely herself” and asked with much humility, “Please, please, pray for me, Mother.”
to be continued…
Willett Thomas is the president of Write of Passage, Inc. She earned her MA in writing from Johns Hopkins. She has received artist fellowships from Blue Mountain Center and the Millay Colony. She was selected as a Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation fellow for the District of Columbia, and is the recipient of the 2008 Maureen Egen Writers Exchange award for fiction.