By R L Saunders
(work in progress)
© 2013 R. L. Saunders
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the copyright owner.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual person, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
By the age of 80, Harry McOliver had learned that while a day that starts out bad usually stays bad, a day that starts out well does not necessarily stay that way. It was sunny and mild, a good day for working on the flowerbed or putting his feet up on the front porch and sipping the new Bernkastler Spaetlese. He had set out to run a few simple errands; mail a package, get the car gassed up, buy some groceries.
It was when he came out to the supermarket parking lot that things started to go awry. One of the Safeway employees was trying to wrestle a shopping cart away from an elderly woman, who had filled it with what appeared to be all her worldly goods, in garbage bags and an old suitcase. She was on her way down the street when discovered. Much to Harry’s amusement, the teenage boy was losing the battle with the old lady. His obligation to his employer was obviously at war with how he had been taught to treat little old ladies. Finally, he decided to do it the good old American Way by passing the buck. He threw up his hands and shouted, ‘Fine, lady! I’m gonna call the cops!” and stomped back into the store, while the woman made her escape as quickly as her age would permit, which wouldn’t be fast enough if the town police actually responded. For no reason he could later justify, Harry made a decision.
He got into his car and drove down the street past the old woman, then pulled over and waited for her to come abreast of the car.
“Ma’am, I’d suggest if you don’t want to spend the night in jail, you toss your stuff in my trunk and let met take you somewhere safer and more comfortable. And maybe get you a bite to eat, in the bargain.”
The woman looked at him suspiciously,. “Who the hell are you? What the hell you want with me?”
“My name’s Harry and I don’t want squat from you. I just hate to see anyone get hassled when what they need is a leg up. We can discuss my philosophy later, but if we wait too long, you’re going to be talking from the county jail.”
The woman considered a moment, then began hoisting her baggage from the cart as Harry popped open his trunk. A minute later, they were on their way, the shopping cart standing lonely and useless in the middle of the sidewalk.
“You got a name?”, Harry asked, once they were out of the downtown and the risk of pursuit by angry teenagers or police was minimal.
The old woman pondered a moment. “Marilyn,” she said. “Marilyn Monroe.”
Harry chuckled and the old woman gave him a defiant look. “You got something against that name?” she asked? “Maybe I’m not sexy enough to suit you?”
Harry pulled into his driveway and parked, then turned and looked her up and down. “You’ll do”, he said, “after a shower and some clean clothes. And maybe some breakfast.”
Harry gathered his few groceries and offered to help with her bags but she slapped him away. “Lemme be! Nobody touches my stuff but me!” She looked at Harry’s house, then around the neighborhood of more-or-less identical homes. “Pretty fancy. Sure you want to risk letting me in? I might steal the silverware or something.”
Harry laughed. “I’ve got more of most everything than I need or would miss, but I don’t think you’ll do that.”
Marilyn followed him into the house. “Holy shit!”, she said. “You weren’t just whistling Dixie!” She kicked off her shoes and rubbed her grimy feet in the deep pile of the carpet, gazed wonderingly at the paintings on the wall. “Is that a real Fragonard?”
Harry followed her glance. “No, it’s a print. It’s called The Swing.”
“I know what it’s called. Probably know more about art than you do.”
“That wall holds originals. The rest are prints.’
Marilyn studied the original art, then glanced at him with a glimmer of respect. “Some nice pieces. That one’s derivative but well executed. The others are good’. Who picked them out for you?”
Harry laughed. “Meaning it couldn’t have been me? I selected them all. Sorry to disappoint you.”
“Humph! Must have gotten a Liberal Arts education on daddy’s dime before you inherited the business. Never met a rich gent like you that knew anything about anything but making money.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t be so closed-minded,” Harry suggested. “You haven’t met everybody in the world.”
He clapped his hands, “Now, first things first. You probably haven’t had a hot shower and decent meal for awhile. First room on the left down that hall is a bathroom. Second room is a guest bedroom. You’re about the same size as my late wife, so I’ll lay out her robe and some of other things in case you want to launder your own things. While you’re taking a shower, I’ll see what I can find for brunch.”
Marilyn looked long and hard at him. “You really expect me to get undressed with you lurking around?”
With some impatience, Harry said, “Lady, I’m 80 years old. Even if I had rape on my mind, consummating it would be questionable. That’s assuming I wanted to fuck a grimy old fart dressed in rags, who thinks she’s a sex symbol!”
Marilyn laughed and the laugh sounded 40 years younger. “We’ll see”, she said. “Maybe you’ll think differently when I’m cleaned up.”
“I can hardly wait”, Harry said with a smile. “Now get on with you and I’ll make you some breakfast.”