Crash! Bang! Slam!
Harvey crumpled onto the nearest kitchen stool, closed his eyes and shook his head.
“Henrietta! Where are the knives? I've looked in every drawer...”
“Keep your voice down, Harvey. Do you want the neighbors to hear you?” Henrietta wandered in never looking up from the mail she was scanning.
“What I want is a knife to peel this orange. What's so wrong with...”
“Harvey, Harvey. You don't need a knife. Use the slicer-dicer. It replaces every knife in the modern kitchen. Everyone uses it. Get in this century.” Henrietta handed him an implement that makes a Swiss Army Knife look simple.
“Henrietta, I can't...”
She handed him the instruction manual.
He put the orange down, picked up a banana from the fruit bowl on the table and slammed the door on his way out.
Earl Monroe heard the commotion and hurried over to the fence he shared with his neighbor. He welcomed anything to draw him away from Margaret's honey-do list.
“Another can't-live-without-it, Harvey?” He knew all about Henrietta's penchant to live on the internet searching for the latest item.
“I can't keep going on like this, Earl. She's possessed. Do you see this shirt I'm wearing? Get used to it; I'll have to. My closet now houses ten of them, all different colors. She replaced all my other shirts. Gave them to Salvation Army.”
“And if I don't get some sleep soon...”
“You're not sleeping? What's wrong?”
“Earl, here's a tip. Never, ever let Margaret buy sheets that are three-thousand thread count. They're slippier than silicone. I swear an egg wouldn't stick if you fried it on them. I keep sliding off the bed.”
“Where does one buy such a thing?”
“It's that dad-burned computer the boys gave her for Christmas. She's found the internet, Earl! My life is in shambles. She searches it day and night, fearing there will be something that she'll miss.”
“Well, Harvey. Can it be all that bad? I mean, she's trying to fill her time since the boys have moved away.”
“I'll tell you how bad it is. See this black eye?”
“She hit you? Oh, Harvey, I didn't know it had gotten to that...”
“No, you bonehead! Hundred-dollar rubber bands. It's the latest in exercise equipment. Almost lost an eye, I did. And you remember what happened last week when I went up on the roof to check the shingles?”
“If I hadn't come home when I did... You have to admit that's some ladder. The Rap-A-Dap, folds and extends in twelve positions . Just doesn't stay that way.” Earl slapped his thigh as tears rolled down his unshaven face.
“It's not funny, Earl. I'm afraid she's going to kill me. Remember that juice?”
“The rain-forest stuff?”
“Kept me in the bathroom for a week. That's from one dose.”
“Harvey, you've got to be on guard. Read the booklets and manuals on those things.”
“That's just it. A man ought to be able to read in his own home. But, Henrietta found drapery that saves electricity by blocking out the sun. The house is darker than a cave.”
“Man, you're going to have to stand up to her. It's your home, too. Come on inside. I think Margaret has been baking some cookies and we need a tall glass of milk to think about all this.”
Harvey caught the aroma of warm cookies before he sat down at the small kitchen table. Margaret was on the telephone, so Earl poured them both a glass of cold milk. He glanced around for the cookies finding them cooling on a rack. Grabbing several, he sat down beside Harvey.
“That was Henrietta on the telephone.” Margaret moved over next to Earl.
“We've been invited to Thanksgiving dinner at Harvey and Henrietta's, Earl. Isn't that nice?”
“See, Harvey. Things are looking up. Think about it. Thanksgiving turkey, dressing, yams. What could be more down-to-earth than that? My favorite meal of the year.”
This time it was Harvey's time to laugh. He laughed so hard and so long Earl thought he had gone quite mad.
“Earl, man. You've got to get in this century. That's old hat. We're having goose with couscous. Oh, and red, yellow and purple carrots. It's the latest thing. Don't you know anything? Look it up!”
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