“Hi George, hi Bunny. Happy New Year,” I said steam rising with every word as we walked to the end of our driveway. Looking at Bunny I said, “I see you’re a blond again.”
“Why yes I am,” Bunny Gutierrez said with her refined Texas accent her blond hair accenting her rosy checks and crowning her statuesque figure. “It was too much work being a red head.”
“I’m sure Devon will be relieved,” I said laughing.
“How was your New Year’s?” George Gutierrez asked placing his large hand on Richard’s shoulder, every vein pushed close to the surface by the muscles beneath.
“We had a great time,” Richard said his brown hair, pale skin and tall lean frame a contrast to George’s olive skin, black hair and lineman’s frame.
“Fannie, darlin’, how were you able to hop up through the window with those short legs of yours?” George asked smiling. His soft spoken Texas accent a contrast to his bass voice.
Richard and I looked at each other.
“You saw that huh?” I asked looking up at George and Bunny who both nodded.
“Honey, watching you two is more fun than watching an old episode of I Love Lucy,” Bunny said her restored blond pony tail bobbing as she nodded.
“Darlin’ we probably wouldn’t have noticed if you hadn’t parked the Love Wagon at the end of the block and walked back to your house. Then fifteen minutes later walk back down the street and drove it back,” George said grinning his black pencil thin mustache and goatee framing his mouth. “Fannie, you have some serious ‘splaining to do,” George said laughing.
Richard laughed, punched me in the arm and said, “see, I told you.”
“There is a logical explanation for all of this,” I said rubbing my arm, my checks turning pink.
“I’ve been dying to hear this for three days,” Bunny said rubbing her hands together.
A freezing fog enveloped Western Washington on the last day of 2012. The winter sun brightening the clouds but not moving them. Richard and I stared at the empty fireplace as the local TV meteorologist announced, “there’s a stage one burn ban in effect for Pierce County.”
“Well, I’ll bet Caleb’s happy to be back in southern California now,” I said as Sadie, one of our orange tabbies, climbed into my lap.
Richard pet Sadie on the head. “Well since we can’t have a fire, do you want to put the Christmas ornaments away?”
Sadie rolled on her side purring. When Richard stopped rubbing she squeaked at him.
“She’s not demanding,” Richard said laughing. “You know, when you leave the house, she walks around squeaking, and slamming the cabinet doors.”
“She does?” I asked rubbing her belly.
“Apparently, I’m naval lint compared to you.”
Laughing I said, “I want to see this. Do you think we can figure a way to fool her into thinking I’m gone? Cause she never gonna do it when I’m home.”
Richard scratched his head for a moment.
“I have an idea,” Richard said looking at the cat. “But it might be a little tricky.”
“I’ll stay in the bedroom. You drive the Love Wagon to the end of the block and park it. Walk back to the house and climb in the bedroom window,” Richard said. “We’ll leave the door opened just a crack so you can see without being seen.”
“How am I supposed to climb in the window without making any noise?” I asked running my fingers through my inch and a half long brown hair.
“Easy. I’ll put one of the five gallon paint buckets under the window. You climb up on it and just hop a little bit and I’ll pull you the rest of the way in.”
“It’s worth a try,” I said.
“You know, there’s no way we can do this without George and Bunny noticing,” Richard said laughing, “and you’re gonna have to explain to them why we’re doing this.”
“Richard, they’re not Gladys Kravitz,” I said shaking my head.
“Get your keys then,” Richard said on his way to retrieve the bucket, “we’ll test the bucket before you leave to make sure it’s high enough.
I grabbed the keys from the hook in the laundry room and met Richard in the back yard. Placing the bucket under the window, he stepped back.
“Okay, climb up and let’s have a look,” he said folding his arms across his chest.
Grabbing the window casing, I climbed on top of the bucket.
“Richard, this might work, my hips are only a foot below the window,” I said smiling.
We walked into the house. I grabbed my purse, kissed Richard goodbye and petted both cats before leaving. Two orange tabbies followed me to the laundry room door.
“Be good for daddy,” I said turning the door knob, “Sadie, you’re in charge while I’m gone.”
I walked out to the Love Wagon, a red Ford F150 complete with disco ball and queen futon in the back, and looked to see if anyone was outside. I threw my purse into the cab, put one hand on the sissy handle, one hand on the seat, bounced twice and leaped into the cab. This time without smacking my head on the door frame. We need a running board.
I drove the Love Wagon to the end of the block and parked in front of Joe and Amanda’s house. While walking back up to the house, I checked for neighbors.
Rounding the side of the old brown and gray single story ranch house I tapped on the window. Richard slid the window open. I handed him my purse and climbed onto the bucket. Richard put his finger to his lips, I could hear Sadie squeaking from the other end of the house and what sounded like someone pounding on a door.
Putting my hands on either side of the sill, I bounced on the bucket once and parked my rear end in the window as the bucket tipped over and rolled onto a pile of leaves in the crawlspace well. Richard and I froze.
Sadie paused for a moment. We waited for about 45 seconds. She continued with her tantrum.
Richard put his arms around my waist and whispered into my ear, “You’re gonna have to lift your feet high enough to clear the window.”
I nodded and pulled myself into a cannon ball. He lowered me to the floor and we both walked over to the bedroom door.
Squeaking, Sadie walked into the kitchen. She opened the cabinet door containing the pots and pans. Using her left paw, she slammed it shut. She repeated this three time before moving on to the next door grousing aloud all the way.
Working her way through the kitchen, she finished with the towel drawer. Sliding her paw under the outside lip of the drawer, she pulled the drawer open. She sniffed the contents, turned around and backed into the drawer closing it continuing with her monologue.
Still squeaking, Sadie walked into the dining room and opened the china hutch. She slammed the door making the dishes rattle. She paused for a moment to bath her face. Opening the door again she slammed it shut.
She left the dining room and headed toward the pantry. Sliding her paw under the door, she lifted the door slightly then pulled. The door popped open. Still squeaking she buried the contents with her hind feet then slammed the door shut with her paw.
Richard and I shook with silent laughter. She stood less than five feet from our bedroom. I couldn’t take it any more.
“Sadie, what are you doing little girl?” I asked stifling the laughter.
She paused mid-squeaked, ran to my feet and rolled on her side purring full blast.
“Now that’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen,” I said to Richard picking up the cat.
Laughing George looked at Bunny and said, “Abner, darling, it looks like our work here is done.”