Outfoxing the Bad Weaather

by Ruth Z Deming

I lay in bed all night listening to the rain. It never stopped. Switching on the television, there was Miranda White, an attractive blonde whose shiny hair swung across her shoulders. Her smile was as broad as a frosted cake.

Seems like all of these middle of the nighters are told to "smile, smile, smile."

Sort of like the Shakespearean line, "Double double toil and trouble."

My thoughts began to turn dark. My sister, Viv, and her long-time companion were driving to Atlantic City to see a show.

But me? Who is gonna take care of me? Oh, sure, my own companion lived right next door, but nothing bothered "Sherman." I called him by his last name and he called me "Ronny."

When I awoke, I grabbed my remote and checked Channel Three for the weather.

It would rain all day long, whether in the Poconos Mountains, Long Beach Island on the Atlantic, or in the Hamptons, where rich people live.

I bounced down the stairway, holding onto the smooth wooden railing.

Opening up the door I looked for the usual dogwalkers. Where was Jeanette with her two huge white Grand Pyrenees? And the new couple - Alex and Deirdre - who were shacking up now for several months in the beige house with the huge uncut hedges.

Suddenly I had a great idea. Once upon a time I had been married. It was a dreadful marriage but I decided to visit Peter all the way in Boise, Idaho. That is where I left him and drove home in the same metallic grey Nissan that sits out front of my house right now.

I put a frozen dinner in the microwave - Mrs. Callendar's Chicken Parm - and dressed for my trip.

Limping up the stairs, my sciatica had still not healed - and yes, I knew I was supposed to be doing daily exercises - I began tossing clothes from my bedroom bureau: a darling, if old-fashioned, beige ribbed sweater, a bright red sweater - very tight - that made me look like Audrey Hepburn in "Waiting for Dark" - a couple of sexy Hanes panties - yes, they make them for women now - and the hardest thing of all - books!

Used books: The Dwarf by Nobelist Par Lagerquist, Winesburg, Ohio, by Sherwood Anderson and oh, why not, a poster of Two Musk Oxen drawn by John Jay Audubon, which I fell in love with on a PBS Nature Program.

Hah! I nearly wrote "pogrum" but stopped myself.

I punched in Peter's phone number. I am that odd species who doesn't have a cell phone.

"Peter's Pies and Jewish Deli" was his cutesy answer.

"May I come visit," I asked, holding my breath.

"Sure," he said. "Bring your kayak and rain gear."

He paused. "And don't, for God's sakes, drown."

"I promise," I said.

The timer went off. I sat down on my purple easy chair and calmly, calmly, ate Mrs. Callender's Chicken Parm." Half of it was still frozen, but I stirred up everything and it managed to taste good.

Beggars can't be...

It mattered not that I have no sense of direction. I also stuffed a plastic bag of Snyder's Pretzels into the car. At least if I was floating face first in a huge puddle, I would still have plenty to eat. And the coroner - yes, as in Quincy, MD - could find out my last meal.

I backed out of my drive. Where the hell was the woman with the two huge white dogs?

In a small canvas bag, I pulled out my DVDs. These alone would be worth the drive. A jazz band called "The Bad Plus," "The Best of Mozart" and "Maria Callas in her last performance."

I begun munching on the pretzels and almost gagged.

"Slow down, slow down," I told myself.

My windshield wipers were going top speed, like Ann Miller, a tap dancer. I could almost see her in a short skirt and taps that clicked like your teeth in the dentist chair, when Dr. Holly says, "Tap tap tap."

The road was thinning out. Seems like folks could not stand all the water.

I pulled out the poster of the two Musk Ox by Audubon. What handsome creatures they were. Their legs were terribly short. I wondered if you could ride on them.

Using my imagination, I rode down the plains of Nebraska and snuggled close to "Muskie."

My ex was a man who could answer all my questions. Except one.

The hours passed by quickly. And not surprisingly, I began to get drowsy.

I pinched my cheeks, sang to the Best of the Supremes," - oh, Baby Love, Baby Love - and suddenly I found myself - no, no, don't say that - closing my eyes.

I remembered trying to tell my late mother the meaning of "Film noir." A movie, I had told her, where bad things happen, and people are killed or punished for these evil things. Clair Trevor, Lana Turner, Fred McMurray, and Edward G. Robinson, falling in love with a woman he saw in a window.

Suddenly I smelled the purple lilacs in my back yard. Good Lord, they must be drenched.

A chorus of sirens went off. Dogs in the neighborhood barked.

"Not to worry," said the white-coated emergency medical technician, who had me on a stretcher. "You're gonna live."

He looked puzzled, though, when he saw my picture of a musk ox. Simply beautiful with his short legs and lovely furry body.

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