The Intruder

by Ruth Z Deming

The Metropolitan Opera was playing "Turandot" through my rather lame Sony speakers on my late grandmother's marble table top. Everything was filled with dust. Even a pesky fly who stopped by. When I had trouble falling asleep I would turn on my radio. Classical was calmer than rock.

"Music expresses that which cannot be said."

That would be our Jazz man.

"BP with the GM." Bob Perkins with the Good Music. Even my friend Judy Diaz who moved to Colorado revered the man. He sounds like he has mashed potatoes in his mouth. My mashed potatoes, and I swear this is true, are cooking in my crockpot. There is so much water in there it will take a week to cook. I can smell them from upstairs in my bedroom.

Carefully I walk down the six stairs that carry me into the kitchen. Opening the oval glass cover, I inhale the smell of the soup. Chopped onion, garlic from a small jar, Russett potatoes, chopped into slices the size of apples - and no! - apples are not in the soup, but Uncle Ben's Brown Rice is.

Looking inside I envision a Cruise Ship. A regular Manhattan skyscraper floating along. You've seen them advertised on PBS television. A rough-looking man who looks as if he once captained a pirate ship, says:

"While we can't all be together in these trying times, you may unlock a certain number which will sustain us until these difficult times are through."

What is worse is that this woman - his cohort, his mistress or his wife - shouts out in a truly "Donald Trump fake voice" preaching, "Until such time we can be with you."

Lying on my back in bed wearing my blue and white PJs, I read "Klara and the Sun" by Kazuo Ishiguru. I slog along in the book, since it has been pronounced "a masterpiece" on "Fresh Air" with Terry Gross. I pronounce her name "Klah-ra." I hope the author doesn't mind.

When I read, I get hungry. Is that true for you, too? To quench my hunger, I pop an oval-shaped Tik Tak in my awaiting mouth. Sometimes it falls on my tummy or on the floor. Laboriously, I rise from my gray sheets and snatch it from whatever tiny mite is discovering the delights of my bedroom floor.

The carpet is a bright purple. I wonder how the Viking Cruise Man, whom I shall name Viktor, would like it. Would he like to screw me?

Quickly I banish such thoughts. "What kind of person, are you anyway?" I ask myself.

"Miss Julie," someone calls from downstairs. "Fee, Fi, Fo Fum, I've come to get you!"

I hear the old man tromping up the stairs. How the hell did he get inside?

I do not have a phone in my bedroom. Of course not. I want a nice peaceful sleep.

"I ain't gonna do nothing to you," says Charlie. "I just haven't seen another human being in what seems like years."

The pandemic.

Charlie is wearing his best Sunday suit. It's got brass buttons that go down the front, but two of them are missing. Instinctively, I pretend to hand-sew them. My sewing basket is right here in my bedroom, with its high shelf. At the top is "Fear Strikes Out" by Jimmy Piersall, No. 37 for the Cleveland Indians; "Masterpieces of World Literature, Second Edition, by Frank McGill; Lady with a Lapdog and Other Stories by Chekhov and a thick layer of dust that some day, yes, some day, I will mop up with a wet washcloth.

"I likes the looks of you, Little Girl," says Charlie. "All's I wanna do is 'ges look at you."

What I ever relieved! But he was a dirty-faced liar.

He climbed onto my soft mattress, which I purchased at Macy's in the mall a while ago, and he began feeling me all over, my entire body under my blue pajamas.

That man, that Charlie from around the corner, was so tender with me, I let him kiss me, right on my lips.

"They're chapped," he said. "I'll have to bring you my Chapstick the bank gave me as a gift."

"Oh, you have a lot of money, Charlie?" I asked.

"My pension," he said. "When Jeanine died, we'd done everything we wanted to do - traveled - had our second home in Saint Augustine, Florida - she had all the bracelets and cuckoo clocks and anniversary clocks she wanted - so I expected the Lord to give me a long and healthy life."

"Yeah, well," I said. "Doesn't always work like that."

I reached over onto the far part of the bed and grabbed a handkerchief. Loudly, I blew my nose.

"As they say, you're a good man, Charlie Brown."

I invited him downstairs into my kitchen. There was absolutely no way I was going to marry this man. Eighty, if a day. And me, going on sixty-two.

We sat at my ebony black table. Spotless, thank goodness.

I made him an omelet with asparagus and cheddar cheese. He ate with gusto. I could hear Turandot upstairs on the radio.

"Nessun Dorma!" pleaded the tenor. "None shall sleep!"

Believe it or not, Ripley!

"I've searched all over for a new babe," he said.

"Babe!" I harrumphed.

Together we shopped at David's Bridal Salon in nearby Horsham, Pennsylvania.

A veil with shapely roses came across my face. The satin bodice outlined my full breasts. His wife, sadly, had died of breast cancer.

We set the date for September 11, a day that will forever live in American history.

My house will be his house.

What I wanted more than anything were two new red couches. I have two of them in the living room, bought at Gamburg's, which is still in business in nearby Hatboro.

Filled with dust, I use a Microfiber High Duster to clean it. You should see the dust, falling like coconut pieces to the floor.

Then, we watch film noir on my HP Laptop and make love in the sexy scenes.

Charlie, my own sweet love.

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