Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Pigs Might Fly (10/31/13)
TITLE: Now Hear This
By Virgil Youngblood
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“Honey, I know the Aggie game starts in ten minutes, but Hinkeldy’s is having a fifty percent off sale between one and three. Mom needs to buy a gift for a ladies retreat speaker. Will you take Mom? I have a conference call scheduled with an overseas client. I’ll tape the game so you won’t miss anything.”
So I took Celeste’s ear nibble as down payment on something better, collected Madge and we departed for the mall. The last thing Celeste said was, “Hinkeldy’s is on the lower level next to the west entrance. Park there.”
Women! Always giving advice. The mall was built into a mountain slope. It would be quicker to enter on the upslope east side and take the escalator down three floors. That would shave five minutes off the twenty minute round trip. Surely Madge wouldn’t object to that. After all, quid-pro-quo: she’d get her crystal vase purchased and I’d get back to the game.
We parked and entered. Down the short hall leading to the central corridor we could see a dazzling display of kites suspended from the atrium’s ceiling. I held Madge’s elbow hurrying her along as we crossed the bridge toward the stores on the other side. Madge, watching the swirling, decorative kites did not realize we were crossing the abyss.
I angled closer to the railing. Three floors down kids were gathering on a stage with a conch shell backboard.
“Whuuuuuu-u-u-u-u-u-u” Madge moaned, her fingernails plowed red-tinged furrows down my right arm as she collapsed onto her knees. She sagged face down, clamping the iron railing in a two handed grip. Sweat beads pimpled her brow and a vein in her neck pulsed red like a neon sign.
“Help!,” she whispered weakly. “Help me.”
“What’s going on, Madge?” Kneeling beside her with a hand on her heaving back, feeling the tremors rippling through her, I realized my knowledge of heart attack symptoms was woefully inadequate.
“Hi - - -heights - - - para - - - paralyze - - ”
“It’s okay. I’ve got you.” I reached for her arm and tried to lift Madge up. She wouldn’t release her grip on the railing. She was snuffling and whimpering like a baby. A small but spreading stain in her tan slacks announced her bladder had taken early retirement. A crowd was gathering and I wasn’t making any headway getting Madge onto her feet.
“Get a medic,” I shouted at the gawkers. “We need help here.”
Mall security arrived to control the onlookers, quickly followed by an EMS crew. When they couldn’t persuade Madge to loosen her grip, they gave her a tranquilizing shot. Soon she calmed and allowed the paramedics to put her in a wheel chair. They rolled her to my car and stayed until she regained composure enough for us to leave.
When we arrived home Celeste met us at the door. “Mama, what happened?” she cried, quickly supporting Madge with an arm around her slender waist. Before Madge answered Celeste glared at me and yelled, “You didn’t park on the lower level did you? You didn’t listen to me.” She started bawling and Madge sang harmony. The racket was terrible. I headed outside to see if Bolivar had room to spare in his dog house.
Thirty minutes later or maybe less, my courage bucked up. It was time to have a talk with Celeste. Somewhere I had missed something beside the Aggie game.
“Honey, I didn’t …”
“I know Bruce. If you’d only…”
“Listened, Bruce. Listened. I told you to park on the lower level.”
“But why? She might have freaked out there just as easy.”
“No, she wouldn’t. Mom has acrophobia. She tries hard to avoid …”
“Acrophobia – a fear of heights.”
“Well, knock me down and call me Shorty. I knew something…”
“That’s not funny, Bruce.” Celeste dabbed her eyes. “Mother feels bad about today. She wants you to know it wasn’t your fault.”
“Awww. You’ve got a great mother. If she’s feeling better, I’ll take her back to Hinkeldy’s …”
Celeste nailed me with her blue eyes. “Not before the next of never – and maybe not then.”
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