Thank you for joining me for the summer redux series. I will be re-posting stories you may not have read, in the fashion of a summer re-run. We’ll get back to our regular posting schedule in a few weeks. The original “That Little Raisin” story posted back in September 2011. It’s been embellished a little since then.
* * *
“Richard, there’s been an accident, I’m going to be late.”
“Are you okay?” Richard asked, worry tinging his voice.
“I’m fine, but traffic is going to be snarled for hours. You may as well go ahead and have dinner without me.”
“I’ll save something for you,” he said.
* * *
Richard drove to our local supermarket. He poured over each case in the deli. Guiding the woman behind the counter, he selected his favorite decadent morsels. In the wine department, he chose a bottle of Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon.
He passed the floral department on his way to check out. The clerk smiled at him. She dropped three dozen roses into a five-gallon paint bucket.
“Are you getting rid of those?” he asked, stopping in front of the bucket.
“I sure am,” she said, “they won’t last another day,”.
“Can I take them off your hands?” he asked, a smile touching the corner of his lips.
“I can’t give them to you. I would have to sell them to you. However, I’m going on break soon. I can leave them outside before I take them to the dumpster. If they aren’t there when I get back, I’ll assume someone took them to the dumpster for me,” she said, with a wink.
Richard grabbed the roses on the way to the car.
Once home, he rummaged through the linen closet for a table cloth. In the living room, he cleared the coffee table. He unfurled the red table cloth. It billowed in the air for a moment. He centered it on the table.
He raided the china hutch for plates, napkins and candles. For the final touch, a bud vase with a single rose.
Grabbing the rest of the roses, he started in the laundry room and left a trail of petals leading into the living room. With over two dozen roses left, he spread petals over the living room floor.
Hands on his hips, he nodded. A small smile touched his lips.
What to wear? Richard pulled a black button-down shirt from the closet, shook his head and threw it on the bed. He scratched his head for a moment. He pulled a black t-shirt from the top shelf. Scanning the closet he found his silver slacks.
His stomach growled. He grabbed a box of raisins from the pantry. Stepping on tip toes he crossed the petal strewn floor.
Lying on the sofa, he removed a raisin from the box, threw it into the air and caught it with his mouth. Two raisins took flight, one landed in his mouth, the other deflected off his chin onto his chest. Two more raisins flew, then three. With the box emptied, he rounded up the misfires, and ate them at his leisure.
One hour passed since the call.
Richard switched on the television. A lone raisin rolled down a wrinkle on his t-shirt and came to rest on his right side. He leaned back on the sofa causing the raisin to follow the track made by his shirt toward his back.
Squirming, he laid down on his left side. The raisin moved with him. A fold formed on the back of his shirt as he scooted down the sofa. He fluffed the pillow. The raisin nestled into the middle of his back. He fell asleep.
The flash of headlights woke him. He removed the goody platter from the refrigerator and tip toed like the Grinch at Christmas into the living room. He lit the candles, opened the wine, and cued up the stereo. He laid down on the sofa.
* * *
I entered a darkened house. The smell of roast garlic mingled with roses. A trail of rose petals led out of the laundry room.
I followed the rose petals to the living room.
Nat King Cole’s voice floated through the air, “. . .the evening breeze caressed the trees, tenderly. The trembling trees embraced the breeze tenderly. . .”
The heady perfume of roses permeated the air. Two wine glasses reflected a bottle of Cabernet in the candle light. A platter with sliced baguette, roasted garlic, paté, humus, sliced strawberries, and peeled grapes, surrounded by assorted cheeses. Linen napkins with brass rings lay upon two china plates.
“. . .then you and I came wandering by and lost in a sigh were we. . .”
Laying on the sofa, Richard said, “Welcome home, honey, I’ve prepared dinner.”
“Did I forget our anniversary? I know it’s not Valentine’s Day.”
Sitting up, he said, “Can’t a man make dinner for his wife? Come on, sit down and enjoy.” He patted the seat next to him.
“Richard, this is so amazing, thank you.”
He spread paté on a slice of baguette. Offering it to me. I sucked some of the paté from his finger tips.
“. . .The shore was kissed by sea and mist tenderly. I can’t forget how two hearts met breathlessly. . .”
“I see you’re wearing my favorite outfit,” I said, leaning forward.
A wicked smile spread across his face, he said, “You noticed, huh.”
“Would you like a glass of wine?” he asked, holding up the bottle.
I nodded. Richard’s eyes widened mid-poured.
“Is everything all right?”
“I’ll let you know in a minute,” he said. He thrust his hand into the back of his pants, fished around, smiled and drew out something small and brown. He popped it into his mouth and chewed.
My eyes widened, I asked, “Was that ah, ah, ah?”
I could not bring myself to say what I thought aloud.
“Yummy,” he said, smiling with his devilish grin.
“Oh, no, no, no, no, no,” I stammered. “You didn’t.”
“I didn’t what?” he asked, arching one eyebrow.
“Richard, you just ate poop.”
“I did not.”
“You did too, I just saw you,” I said, my voice cracked.
“Fannie you should see the look on your face. By the way, I did not eat poop, as you so delicately put it. I ate a raisin.”
“A raisin?” I asked, my mind still reeled.
“Yeah, I was hungry and didn’t want to finish off our little meal here. So I ate a box of raisins to tide me over. While I waited, I got bored and tossed them in the air and caught them with my mouth. I missed a few times, but I thought I found ‘em all.”
“You just ate a raisin off your butt?” I asked, the color leaving my face.
“That’s the beauty of it, the five second rule doesn’t apply.”
“I think I’m gonna to be sick,” I said, my hands clutching my stomach.
“It was just a raisin.”
“That’s not what it looked like,” I said, waving my right hand in front of my face warding off nausea.
“I think I finally bested you in our grosser than gross contest,” he said, pulling his shoulders back. “How many years have we been married?”
I stared at him.
“Never mind,” he said, his shoulders dropped. “Here, have a glass of wine. It will take your mind off it.”
I don’t remember drinking it. The candle reflected in the empty glass catching the rim of red liquid on the bottom.
“Do you want another refill?” he asked.
I nodded, unable to focus.
“I suppose this means we won’t be having sex later?” he asked.
Dark clouds formed in front of my face.
“I’ll take that as a no,” he said, his shoulders dropped.
“. . .your arms opened wide and closed me inside, you took my lips, you took my love so tenderly. . .”
*Lyrics to “Tenderly” written by Jack Lawrence. Copyright 1946 by Edwin H. Morris & Company, Inc.