Unpredictable [Repost]

Prompt: Clothing (or lack of)

blue-striped-beach-umbrella

Jerry’s new next-door neighbours asked him to pitch in on a proper fence between their two properties, to replace the old post and rail, spruce fence that was falling in on itself. So Jerry paid less than half (since his was the “back side” of the fence) and the neighbours built a six foot high, cedar lattice-topped privacy fence.

They were leaving their side untreated, they told Jerry, because they liked the natural aging of cedar, but he should feel free to paint or stain his side as he chose.

So it was while he was applying a coat of semi-transparent wood stain and sealer to the lattice top of his side the fence, that he saw who he thought were his neighbours, Sandy and Ron, pulling weeds in the big old shrub and flower border up against the back alley.

He couldn’t really tell if they were Sandy and Ron at first, because all he saw were two big asses, one a little narrower than the other, one sunburnt already, as they were experiencing a summer-like spring. They were uncovered, and it was harder than you might think to recognized asses and limbs without clothes on. When they stood, and Jerry was able to examine their faces objectively, he saw that yes, they were Sandy and Ron, his new neighbours.

Now Jerry had seen many bodies in his seventy years, that’s for sure, but it was the context this time, of folks he barely knew and had seen in pants or shirts or skirts or dresses, now with every body part hanging out. And body parts just hang there. We forget how body parts hang, Jerry thought. It seemed impractical to Jerry, evolution-wise, to have hanging, vulnerable parts, that could expose one to injury or impede flight from danger. It seemed a better design to have all those dangled parts housed internally.

But then, Jerry didn’t believe in a god or creator anymore; and a woman’s breasts were usually attractive to men, which was undoubtedly helpful when propagating the species, and probably a man’s penis revealed things about him that primitive women might have found educational.

“Jerry!”

It was not his neighbour Sandy’s voice, but the voice of Lily-Rose Roades, the young high school teacher who resided in the bungalow next to Jerry on the other side.

She was in the back lane. He ducked instinctively when she called his name, so Sandy and Ron wouldn’t see him peering through the lattice, and waved at Lily-Rose, who was holding a covered casserole dish.

He stepped off the ladder and they met at the gate, which was part of the old spruce fence, and hung on one hinge.

“I’m just going to say hello to the new neighbours,” Lily-Rose said. “I’ve never lived in a neighbourhood before, you know. So this is what you do, right?” And she held up the casserole, which was in a white Corning ware casserole dish decorated with blue flowers. “I just loved the jam and pickles you brought me when I moved in.”

“Oh, thanks again, and definitely what you do,” Jerry said.

Now Lily-Rose was a grown woman, and didn’t need protecting, but Jerry was old-school and chivalrous in his way, and didn’t like the thought of Lily-Rose inadvertently bumping into Sandy and Ron and their hanging parts.

“Do you have time for a cup of tea, a beer, or one of my famous Harvey Wallbangers?” Jerry asked. It was only 3 pm, but a weekend.

Lily-Rose had never tasted a Harvey Wallbanger before, which is a cocktail made from orange juice, vodka, and Galliano liqueur. They sipped their drinks on Jerry’s covered patio, and looked up when Ron appeared in the lane. He was poking his head around the tall fence. They could only see his uncovered face and torso.

“Hey neighbours,” Ron said, “care to join us for happy hour? Clothing optional.”

Lily-Rose happily took herself and her tuna and bow-tie pasta casserole into Ron’s garden, and she and Jerry joined Ron, Sandy, and their bits at a small round plastic table shaded by a blue striped umbrella.

She kept her clothes on, and so did Jerry.

The world was getting more and more unpredictable, Jerry thought. He had never felt comfortable with surprises, because in his experience they were so rarely pleasant ones. But Sandy and Ron seemed to be nice folks, and he was startled by his fondness for Lily-Rose, and a body was just a body. He started to think, for the first time in his life, that unpredictability might not be a bad thing after all.


  • Original Prompt: Fence, June 26, 2016

Melody Harp

Prompt: Melody

vintage diner

The early bird dinner special at Brenda’s Fine Diner started at 5:00 pm, and on Saturdays Jerry Plankton made it a habit to go in for fish and chips. Sometimes he went with a date, but ever since Dorito Samuelson had passed on, Jerry found himself dining alone, since younger people, like his neighbour, Lily-Rose Roades, seemed less comfortable eating dinner at 5:00 pm, despite the value.

So he sat alone, in a booth near the window meant for four customers, sipping on a hot cup of coffee while he waited for his order to arrive. He was ok on his own. He had Wednesday’s newspaper and the Costco flyer to read if he liked, but mostly he liked looking around Brenda’s Fine Diner and seeing who was there and what they were up to.

Bernard, his next-door neighbour but one, was hosting a group of young people, so obviously some of them were not appalled and offended at the idea of an early bird special. There was a teenage boy and girl— perhaps the boy was his newly-found grandson— and a couple in their twenties, one long, lanky, and dozy, and the other slightly plump, pretty, and chatty. Bernard presided like a lord with his lieges. He was such an odd duck, driving a taxi at his age, living with his cats and birds, and his strange involvements in the protests at the zoo. Jerry wasn’t sure it was a dignified way for a man of Bernard’s years to behave. But then, he was seated at a crowded table for five, while Jerry sat alone in a booth.

He saw the church group of about six older men, which he avoided. They sat at the big booth near the entrance, allegedly discussing Bible passages or church business, but mostly gossiping and telling mildly off-colour jokes. They erupted in laughter every so often, which invariably ending with one of them coughing.

It was all so predictable. Even the older woman in a pair of jeans and a sweater, sitting alone at a small table near the kitchen doors. She was discreetly smoking a cigarette— strictly forbidden, but like most of the folks that evening at Brenda’s, she was a regular. She always brought a paperback book, ordered bacon and eggs (despite the time of day— regulars had certain privileges), and didn’t bother to look around, as Jerry did.

All the same people, every week, and Jerry could see the waitress, Brenda’s granddaughter Chillie, approaching with his plate heaped with fries and two pieces of battered haddock. As usual. As ever.

Chillie set the plate down, and Jerry breathed Don’t say it! but she did, as she always did: “Hope you’re hungry!” Jerry exhaled and forced a cheery smile.

He decided to put malt vinegar on the chips, to be radical and edgy, then set the bottle down and got to his feet.

He walked towards the kitchen and stopped at the table where the woman was starting to salt and pepper her 5:15 pm breakfast. 

“Hello,” said Jerry. “I’m Jerry, and I am eating fish and chips alone in a huge booth by the window, and was wondering if you would like to share the booth with me.”

The woman looked up, startled. She looked at Jerry, then at the booth, then at her plate of eggs and bacon, and she set the salt shaker down.

“We don’t have to talk, if you don’t want to,” Jerry said.

“That would be strange, not talking,” said the woman. “If you could carry my glass of water for me?” They toted her dinner over to the booth and set it down opposite Jerry’s seat.

When she was reasonably settled, and had a paper napkin in her lap, she reached her hand across the table with an almost-smile on her face and said, “My name is Melody. Melody Harp. I have a slight problem with communication, as you will find out if we speak.”

They shook hands. “Oh, I hope we will speak,” said Jerry. “Everyone has problems— you don’t know mine.”

Melody took a sip of water. “I don’t suppose I can smoke at this table.”

“Probably not,” said Jerry. “But then, you are eating.”

She looked up sharply. “Do not presume to dictate what I do and don’t do,” said Melody.

“Oh no, I would never presume,” said Jerry, deeply delighted. He had no idea what might happen next.

Unpredictable

Prompt: Fence

blue-striped-beach-umbrella

Jerry’s new next-door neighbours asked him to pitch in on a proper fence between their two properties, to replace the old post and rail, spruce fence that was falling in on itself. So Jerry paid less than half (since his was the “back side” of the fence) and the neighbours built a six foot high, cedar lattice-topped privacy fence.

They were leaving their side untreated, they told Jerry, because they liked the natural aging of cedar, but he should feel free to paint or stain his side as he chose.

So it was while he was applying a coat of semi-transparent wood stain and sealer to the lattice top of his side the fence, that he saw who he thought were his neighbours, Sandy and Ron, pulling weeds in the big old shrub and flower border up agains the back alley.

He couldn’t really tell if they were Sandy and Ron at first, because all he saw were two big asses, one a little narrower than the other, one sunburnt already, as they were experiencing a summer-like spring. They were uncovered, and it was harder than you might think to recognized asses and limbs without clothes on. When they stood, and Jerry was able to examine their faces objectively, he saw that yes, they were Sandy and Ron, his new neighbours.

Now Jerry had seen many bodies in his seventy years, that’s for sure, but it was the context this time, of folks he barely knew and had seen in pants or shirts or skirts or dresses, now with every body part hanging out. And body parts just hang there. We forget how body parts hang, Jerry thought. It seemed impractical to Jerry, evolution-wise, to have hanging, vulnerable parts, that could expose one to injury or impede flight from danger. It seemed a better design to have all those dangled parts housed internally.

But then, Jerry didn’t believe in a god or creator anymore; and a woman’s breasts were usually attractive to men, which was undoubtedly helpful when propagating the species, and probably a man’s penis revealed things about him that primitive women might have found educational.

“Jerry!”

It was not his neighbour Sandy’s voice, but the voice of Lily-Rose Roades, the young high school teacher who resided in the bungalow next to Jerry on the other side.

She was in the back lane. He ducked instinctively when she called his name, so Sandy and Ron wouldn’t see him peering through the lattice, and waved at Lily-Rose, who was holding a covered casserole dish.

He stepped off the ladder and they met at the gate, which was part of the old spruce fence, and hung on one hinge.

“I’m just going to say hello to the new neighbours,” Lily-Rose said. “I’ve never lived in a neighbourhood before, you know. So this is what you do, right?” And she held up the casserole, which was in a white Corning ware casserole dish decorated with blue flowers. “I just loved the jam and pickles you brought me when I moved in.”

“Oh, thanks again, and definitely what you do,” Jerry said.

Now Lily-Rose was a grown woman, and didn’t need protecting, but Jerry was old-school and chivalrous in his way, and didn’t like the thought of Lily-Rose inadvertently bumping into Sandy and Ron and their hanging parts.

“Do you have time for a cup of tea, a beer, or one of my famous Harvey Wallbangers?” Jerry asked. It was only 3 pm, but a weekend.

Lily-Rose had never tasted a Harvey Wallbanger before, which is a cocktail made from orange juice, vodka, and Galliano liqueur. They sipped their drinks on Jerry’s covered patio, and looked up when Ron appeared in the lane. He was poking his head around the tall fence. They could only see his uncovered face and torso.

“Hey neighbours,” Ron said, “care to join us for happy hour? Clothing optional.”

Lily-Rose happily took herself and her tuna and bow-tie pasta casserole into Ron’s garden, and she and Jerry joined Ron, Sandy, and their bits at a small round plastic table shaded by a blue striped umbrella.

She kept her clothes on, and so did Jerry.

The world was getting more and more unpredictable, Jerry thought. He had never felt comfortable with surprises, because they were so rarely pleasant ones, in his experience. But Sandy and Ron seemed to be nice folks, and he was startled by his fondness for Lily-Rose, and a body was just a body. He started to think, for the first time in his life, that unpredictability might not be a bad thing after all.