Early Bird Special

Image: Pixabay

“What a lovely little bistro, Edward.” Miss Rose Lee smiles at her distinguished looking suitor, as they are being escorted to their table. She’s happy for having used Seventy+Match.com, a mate matching service for people over 70 years old, and finding a fine gentleman in Edward Finnerman. As a long-time widow, Miss Lee has taken a while to find someone who might measure up to her late husband.

After seating them, their hostess says, “Only the early bird special is being served at this time. Let me get your server to take your drink orders.” She leaves them with a short menu.

“That’s different. Did you say you’ve been here before?” Rose asks.

“It is a fine place.” Edward gives the impression he’s been at the small restaurant before to make her think she is being taken to a quality café. He knows the restaurant only from having passed by it a few days ago, noting it just opened and offers early bird specials. Being new makes it look clean, too. A perfect place to have a first date with his recent lady friend, he thinks, and without spending much money.

A long-nosed man with droopy lids approaches their table and bows. “I am Rinaldo, your server for the evening. What libations may I serve you both?”

“Why, thank you, Rinaldo. What a romantic sounding name. Do you have a recommendation?” Rose is charmed by him.

Edward clears his throat and utters, “I think a small glass of Mogen David would be good for each of us.” Edward gives the menu to Rinaldo and thanks him as a sign of dismissal. He wasn’t counting on adding wine to the tab, but at least he’s getting the early bird special.

Rinaldo nods and takes the menu, murmuring, “Very good, sir.” He walks away.

“It’s so cozy here, isn’t it?” Rose beams at Edward.

“Yes, and good service too.” Edward sees Rinaldo with a large tray holding two covered dishes and two little wine glasses.

Rinaldo sets down the tray on the fold-out stand next to their table. He places their food and drinks before them, uncovering the two plates at the same time with a flourish. He bows and announces, “Today’s early bird is free-range robin, locally caught at sunrise. Enjoy.”

He leaves the two diners staring at their plate of a tiny roasted bird.

Dealings in the Ceiling

Image by Anna

Charlie thinks he is doing his boss a favor when he mentions the sound of scurrying feet above their paneled ceiling.

“I don’t like that. Reminds me of what Johnson, that guy two doors down from us told me last month. He was eating his lunch and suddenly this monster rodent lands in his soup. He lucked out that his bowl of hot liquid got that disease monger good. Ugh.” His boss shivers and continues, “I want you to put some traps up there now. Go to that hardware store a block from us. They should have something appropriate there.”

“Why can’t Ernie do it? He’s the Facilities guy.” Charlie looks around as if Ernie would appear.

“I’ll give you three reasons why . . . first, he’ll take weeks to get to it . . . he’s always got a more serious problem to deal with. Second, he’s afraid of heights so he won’t climb a ladder. That will add even more weeks because he’s going to have to find help; and third, he’s out sick today, so who knows when he’s coming back.”

Charlie regrets speaking up and catching guff from his boss again. As he walks inside the hardware store, he asks the guy behind the counter for help and buys a few mouse traps.

When Charlie returns to the office, his boss tells him he doesn’t want the details. “Just take care of the problem,” he commands.

Charlie places the ladder right under the area where he’s been hearing the muffled sounds. While holding a plastic bag that contains the traps and other supplies, he climbs the ladder and carefully pokes out a tile from the dropped ceiling. He sets the tile aside, along with his bag, inside the plenum space.  He uses the flashlight on his smart phone to scan the surface. He can’t see anything over a foot from where he is, although the smell reminds him of sweaty socks.

As he reaches to place the traps in different parts of the ceiling, he hears a scuffling. From where he is, the sound seems heavier than the light scrabbling of mice. The hairs on the back of his neck stand out. His breathing is strained. As he prepares to scramble out of the area, he sees a large rat with red-rimmed eyes suddenly appear before him.

Lo and behold, the rat speaks, “Shh. I’m just bunking here for the week so I don’t have to take guff from my boss. You feel me?”

The Accident

Image: Pixabay

Vera loves wearing sandals, enjoying the variety of style from simple flip-flops to high-heeled, open-toe gladiators. One day, as she walks through a spring art exhibit, a big elephant statue fell from its perch onto her big toe. The surprise, the pain, the astonishment. Since then, she’s never been the same.

Every day, she seems to slump more, as if shrinking in stature, until one morning, she barely makes it out of  bed. Her whole body is dragging on the floor. Then, out of nowhere a little creature crawls out of her big toe and collapses. Known to its family as Tetra 12, the ant-sized being is ancient and, sadly, its existence is soon ending.

The Custodian

Image: Pixabay

Image: Pixabay

The clock strikes five. All the worker bees in Suite 320 suddenly come to life, shutting down their computers, tossing their empty coffee cups. Others lock up their drawers as if afraid somebody might steal their company-issued office supplies.

“Bye, Henry.”

“Have a nice weekend, Linda.”

“TGIF!”

Farewells among colleagues are exchanged; they give and accept their goodbyes like eager squirrels storing away their nuts for winter.

Less than five minutes later, the whole office is cleared. Sounds of rolling wheels break the silence as the little man behind a gray trash barrel comes in. As Head Custodian, he rips up all the computers, along with the desks and pitches them into the bottomless barrel. He has determined this last batch of worker bees does not work hard enough. They will not have a place to work when they return on Monday morning. He wheels away to the next floor to decide on the fate of the group in Suite 420.

Adored Face

Part 3 of 3, see Part 2

Image: Pixabay

Image: Pixabay

Ron surveyed the unit, satisfied his studio apartment looked tidy. He ran to the daybed to make sure he put in new sheets. This might just be the night. A light tap on the front door prompted him to straighten his shirt and greet his guest.

“You look great.” Ron swallowed, as he noticed the top two buttons of Ronnie’s blouse were undone, allowing a glimpse of cleavage.

He took her hand and led her inside. “I thought we could have our dinner first and then relax over there on the couch.” He gestured for her to sit. “Here, please.” He pulled out a folding chair from the makeshift table, made up of two TV trays facing each other.

“Pretty candles.” Ronnie commented on the centerpiece.

Ron thanked her, glad he decided to buy the two red votive candles instead of settling for his little electric lantern, seeing that the dancing flames looked more romantic than a LED.

He took out the meatloaf and mashed potatoes from the oven, relieved he had gotten to the grocery store on time before they ran out of dinner entrées. “I hope you like it.” He placed the food on the table and sat across from her.

“Thank you for making dinner. You’re quite the cook.” She beamed at him.

“I admit I’m a man of a few hidden talents.” Ron hemmed and hawed, as he bit into the meatloaf and found it to be dry. “Oops, forgot the music.” He got up and turned on the radio to a station that played instrumental music.

They ate mostly in silence, smiling at each other between bites.  After they finished, Ron served cupcakes, which they quickly consumed. Almost bounding out of his chair, he guided her to the sofa.

“I’d like to read to you a poem I’ve been working on all week.” He took out an index card from his shirt pocket. Clearing his throat, he read:

“Roses are red, violets are blue,
Every day and every night, I think of you.
You opened the door to my heart,
Which I gladly give to you in a cart.
One slam is all it takes to make me say bye.
Then I cry because I’m a sensitive guy.”

Ronnie sighed and wiped an eye. “That is the most beautiful poem anyone has ever written for me.” Ronnie cupped his face and kissed him on the lips. “I adore your face, Ron.” They both held each other’s eyes. She started unbuttoning her blouse.

He placed his hand on her arm, interrupting her reveal. “Ronnie, I have something to tell you about me.”

She looked at him expectantly.

“I . . . I . . . ahem . . . I’ve never done it. I’ve never met anyone who liked me enough to . . . “

Ron felt Ronnie take his chin so he was forced to look her in the eyes. She smiled at him and said:

“Daisies are yellow, carnations are pink,
Let me tell you what I think,
You bring out the poetry in me
Flowing so naturally.
I see it as a sign
For you and me to entwine. “

Though they fumbled at first, Ron finally had his cherry burst.

With a flourish, Cupid bows after recounting his latest accomplishment to his rapt audience. “Thank you, all, for your loving attention. I’m overjoyed to see yet another match come together so well.”
hearts

[To read the beginning: see Part 1]