A Chapter by AlaForniaGirl

After tossing a load of towels into the dryer, Audrey took the pizza out of the oven and called Charley in from the postage stamp of a backyard she shared with her three neighbors.  It was a terrible space for such a huge dog, but since her already glorious day was ending with what had to be a monsoon, she wimped out and let the mammoth do his business, sans accompaniment. 

She greeted him with a Hey Chuckey, good boy! and threw a beach blanket over him just as he was about to shake dry.  Content to let her dry him (that lapdog complex sometimes gave way to a baby complex), he stood quietly until she removed the towel and promptly pitched a handful of bone-shaped dog treats toward his food bowl, diverting his one hundred and fifty-some-odd pounds away from her and over to the corner of the tiny little kitchen.

Pizza cut and plated, Bahama Mama mixed and already sampled, she got comfy with the Times-Democrat Classified section.  Well, the online version of it at least.  Who needs a red marker when you have those handy little check boxes?


Audrey would not have realized anyone had knocked at her door, were it not for Charley barking his window-rattler warning and standing ready to do his duty as the man of the house, should their visitor require him to step up. 

“Who could that possibly be?” she wondered aloud as she balanced her laptop on the arm of the couch and walked to where her protector stood.  Peeking through the peep hole, she saw a tuft of grey hair and nothing else.  She assumed that the owner of that hair, not standing high enough to even be visible through the peep hole, and not having knocked hard enough for Audrey to hear it, could not be of much threat, especially with horse-dog on patrol, and she opened the door.

Before her stood the tiniest woman she had ever seen, maybe ninety pounds and five feet tall, and that height was enhanced by her shape-up sneakers.  The grey hair that had been the only visible presence before Audrey opened the door was sticking up from a clip fastened to the back of her head.  She was eighty if she was a day, and yet there she stood in denim capris and a Lollapalooza concert tee, wearing purple-rimmed glasses and those new fad walking shoes.  Despite her hipster appearance, when she spoke, old South poured slowly from her mouth, the verbal equivalent of the proverbial molasses in winter.

What she said was, “Darling, I’m Ruby Faye Sinclair, your upstairs neighbor.  You can call me Ruby.”  What Audrey heard was “Dahlin, ahm Roobeh Faye Sinclayah, yoh upstayas naybuh. You kin call meh Roobeh.”

“Well, Miss Ruby, please come in,” she said, opening the door wider and accidentally whacking Charley in the snout.  He took this as his cue that his security services were not needed, and went to rest on his Papasan-cushion.

As she made her way into the apartment and settled back in Audrey’s overstuffed chair, Miss Ruby made one thing clear. “Honey, you just call me Ruby, because I never missed a thing in my life.”

“Okay, Miss…” Audrey paused and smiled at her neighbor, “Okay, Ruby.  Don’t let my mother hear me call you that, she’d have my head.”

“Honey, you call me Miss Ruby and I look around for my grandmother.  And if either of us see her, it’s time to call the priest, cause honey, you gonna need an exorcism.”

Audrey immediately took a liking to Ruby, her first friend in her newly demolished life.  “Well, Ruby, it’s great to meet you.  I’m sorry for not having come by to introduce myself.”  At this, Audrey laughed.  “And I’m sorry for not having introduced myself now"I’m Audrey Reid.”  She extended her hand to the tiny octogenarian, expecting a dainty little shake, and got another surprise in the form of a firm grip.  This was not your average grandmother.

“Darling, I hardly expect you to have made time to be meeting your neighbors.  I saw those boys unloading that big truck and bringing all your stuff in last week, I know you’ve got bigger fish to fry.  I figure you may not have settled in enough to get around to any real cooking, and I thought I’d try to help remedy that a little.”

Reaching into the gym bag-sized purse Audrey had not registered before, Ruby pulled out a foil-wrapped rectangle.  “Banana nut bread.  I make a loaf at least once a week, thought I’d bring this one to you.” 

“How thoughtful of you!  I just finished some pizza, would you like to join me for a bite of the bread?”

“Sure thing, honey.  I won’t pass up a piece of that bread, even if I did make it!”

Audrey left her visitor in the living room long enough to take the bread loaf into the kitchen and transfer it onto a rectangular milk glass platter.  “Can I fix you a glass of milk or coffee?” she called into the next room.

“Well, I don’t know what that is you’re drinking, but it looks about my speed.  You feel like bartending for a little old lady?”  Continually full of surprises, Audrey thought.

“One Bahama Mama, coming up!” she called back.

She put the drink and plates on a tray, settling the bread and necessary silverware beside it, and carried the collection into the living room. 

“My, that is some fancy fixings you have there, Audrey!” Ruby commented.

“Yes, ma’am.  The china was my grandmother’s, and the silverware was a wedding present.  Fortunately, these were from my mother, one of the only gifts I did not have to give back.”

© 2011 AlaForniaGirl

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Added on April 26, 2011
Last Updated on May 29, 2011




I'm from Alabama and am now living in NorCal. Have also lived in VA and MS, but will always be a Bama girl no matter where I live! I'm a librarian by trade, a born writer, and hopeful of one day being.. more..