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Second Call


I no sooner put the receiver back in the cradle and the phone rang. Flopping across the bed like Charlie the Tuna, I should move the phone to my nightstand but that’s too sensible; I lovingly spoke to the caller, knowing their true identity.

“Hi Mom, how are you?” I really didn’t want a two-hour phone conversation considering it is almost nine, but I’m sure Mom has something important to say.”

“Bobby, I didn’t wake you, did I? I know it’s late.”

“No, I just got off the phone with Steve.”

“And, how’s my friend? Steve’s a good guy.”

“He sure is.”

Her motherly sonar queried my passive verbal feedback. “Bobby, there’s something you’re not telling me. I can hear it in your voice. Call it a mother’s intuition. What’s going on?”

“Mom, there are lots of things going on.”

“Is everything okay with you and Steve? You didn’t have a fight, did you?”

“The opposite - Steve proposed.”

“Proposed, so soon? You don’t seem happy about this and why the rush?”

“Happy? I’m very happy. I’m still in the state of shock. Yeah, Steve and I are rushing things but we’re adults. We know what we’re looking for in a spouse.”

“You accepted his proposal? I really like Steve but you just started dating.”

“Mom, I know it has been a flash-in-the-pan courtship but I accepted Steve’s offer. He’s moving here and we’ll be buying a home.”

“Bobby, this is a wonderful change in your life, yet you sound like you lost your best friend. You’re not still brooding over your ex-husband, are you? Tell me what’s wrong.”

“Mom, I have work issues. With everything going on at the corporate level if they shut the company down, I won’t get my pension. This is very upsetting. Steve heard from a friend that my company is filing for bankruptcy. I won’t have a job or a pension.”

“Why do you care? You’re getting married and Steve has a good income. What’s the glitch? So, you’ll find another job. Bobby, stop worrying about work. You’re getting married and we have a wedding to plan.”

“Actually Mom, Steve and I thought we’d have a private gathering with Father Joe. It will be after Christmas with you and Dad, the four of us.”

“You don’t want a big reception?”

“No because I did that the first time. We’re older; a one-on-one with Father Joe and the courthouse is good enough. Then, we’ll all go out for dinner.”

“Well, if that’s what you want.”

“It is - I don’t need all the hoi polloi, been there and done that.”

“When I get there, we’ll shop for a new pantsuit. You’d look lovely in a pantsuit. Haband sent your father an email. I’ll have your father send it to you.

“Bobby dear, have you thought about going on a cruise? Dad and I can housesit until you get back or we could go with you. The food on a cruise is to die for. I kept telling myself, once over the lips forever on the hips but that didn’t stop me from sampling the cakes, pies, and homemade breads. The cheesecake was out of this world.”

“Mom, you can stay at our house but there is no reason to housesit. There are no kids or pets. We’ll all go on a cruise but let’s plan that later on down the road after we get settled into our new place.”

“You’re right; we can go to the Bahamas in the summer. Bobby, I called because watching the news, you’re getting snow. The faster Dad and I can get back to Florida the better. I won’t travel in the snow. If it is snowing or you could get snow, we may not come for Christmas.

“If we get there and snow is forecasted, we will leave right away. I don’t like icy roads, had enough of that when we lived in New York.”

“The roads were pretty slick coming home tonight but the weather reports on the radio and television said the storm should end in a few hours. Next week should be warmer with no chance of snow. Mom, it would be so much easier for you to fly. I could pick you up at the airport. The flight takes about ninety-minutes. It’s really much safer than driving.”

“Don’t talk to me about flying. I’ve never been on a plane. Your father is a good driver.”

“Planes are safer.”

“Says who?”

“There are fewer plane crashes than car crashes.”

“Bobby, that’s not the point. When a plane goes down it usually kills all the passengers. I’ll take my chances in a car. Dad and I will check the weather and we will figure out when we’re leaving. Right now, the plans haven’t changed. I won’t travel if there is a threat of a snowstorm.”

“Mom, this New York weather will pass. It’s a fluke.”

“Fluke or no fluke, I’m not visiting in the snow. Why don’t you and Steve come here for Christmas? You can go to the beach and play bingo with us. Did I tell you I won but I had to split the pot three-ways?”

“Mom, Steve can’t get time off. Be glad I’m not moving to California. You know he lives in California.”

“I forgot about that. Where will you live when you get married? Move here to sunny Florida. Steve will like sunny, no-snow Florida. Talk him into it. If his company can move him to North Carolina, they can move him to Florida.”

“Mom, Florida is out of the question. His company doesn’t have an office in Florida.”

“I guess I should be happy it’s North Carolina. If you moved to California, I would never see you. It would take your father six days to drive us there. There is no way I am sitting in a car for six days.”

“If you’d get on a plane you could go to Ireland. We could go to Ireland.”

“When I’m eighty, then I’ll get on a plane.”

“Mom, you are eighty.”

“Well then, eighty-five.”

“So, what color dress should I buy?”

“You look pretty in green.”

“An Irish green?”

“Bobby, it brings out the sparkle in your eyes. You have brown eyes but at times they look green, when you wear green.”

“You don’t think white would be more appropriate?”

“It’s up to you. We’ll shop and I do want to go to that thrift store you’re always talking about but I still think you should order a nice pantsuit from Haband’s catalogue. It would look lovely on you. They have petites; you wouldn’t need to hem the pants.”

“Mom, they don’t carry a size two. When you get here, providing it is not snowing, we’ll hit all my favorite discount stores. I can’t believe I’ve never taken you to Diane’s Discounts. I bet I’ll find a dress there. Steve wants pictures. I need a special dress.”

“Hey look, you need to get up early for work and my show is coming on. Call me tomorrow on your lunch hour. I have to tell you about Judge Judy. We need more Judges like her. Love you and Bobby, I’ll see you soon.”

“Love you, Mom and give my love to Dad. I’ll try to call you at lunch, if not it will be the weekend.”

‘See ya later alligator.”

“After ‘while crocodile.”

The second conversation was officially over and my bottle of wine was empty. Thinking to myself, surely I’m not going to die tonight. I should call Vinny and give him a piece of my mind. He started all this idiotic confusion and the over-zealous religious bell ringer piggybacked the ridiculous chain of events. Add sleep depravation into the equation and you have bizarro world, my place of citizenship. Yeah- they’re both going to get a taste of my holy hell.

Leaping out of bed, talking to the walls, “I’m going to call that damn store. The bell ringer was a nice gal but she needs to watch what she says to their customers. She scared me to death with all her religious gibberish.”

Grabbing the laptop, searching for the store, the number popped on the screen. Picking up the archaic push-button telephone, punching the numbers I waited for a human voice.

A young man answered the call on two rings. “Grocery King, how can I help you?”

“I’m sorry to bother you during a snowstorm but I have a concern.”

“Should I connect you with the Deli, Bakery, Meat, or Produce department?”

“No, it has nothing to do with them. It’s about the bell ringer.”

“The bell ringer?”

“You know, the one from the Salvation Army wearing a faux-fur coat with matching white hat. She’s a pretty-young girl with long-red hair. I saw her around seven-ish.”

“I’m the assistant manager and I have been here since five. The only bell ringer is an old geezer. Maybe you called the wrong store. Try the one on Mountain Road.”

“You’re located on Fourth Street, right?”

“Yes, we’re on Fourth, but I’m telling you, there was no girl here ringing a bell. The guy is still here and he’s about seventy, no hair, and has about four teeth in his head. Try our other store. Maybe you thought you were at this location.”

Feeling stupid, “You could be right. I’ll call the Mountain Road location. You’ve been at your store all night, didn’t go on a dinner break?”

“Manager’s usually don’t get breaks. The only bell ringer was Barry. You better call them soon because we’re getting ready to close all the area stores. May I ask, what was your problem with the bell ringer?”

“She talked about religion.”

“Lady, it’s Christmas; everyone is talking about religion. Do you have a problem with that?”

“No, I don’t have a problem with religion; I’m Catholic.”

“Nope, you’re wrong. You do have a problem, a big one. My father is the pastor of the Morning Son Lighthouse Church and you Catholics need to read the Bible. You added more books to God’s holy word. If you read the Bible, you would realize your religion is all wrong. Jesus warns people about changing God’s holy word.”

“Is that so? We added books to the Bible, the Bible we don’t read. Interesting - why would we do that? Son, if you did your Bible homework and researched the timeline, you’d know if it weren’t for Catholics, you wouldn’t have the Bible you so inaccurately claim we don’t read. At least we agree on God and Jesus - Merry Christmas.”

Click - conversation over.”



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