When we drove to the Happy Daze Shopping Mall, a guy in a pickup stole our space.
“Got your manners at the zoo?” yelled my wife, who teaches Sunday school. The guy, with sideburns like Elvis, waved — and she flipped him the bird.
“What’s gotten into you, Estelle?”
“A hot flash, Fred.” Her cheeks looked rosy, and her blue eyes glowed. We prowled for a space, she blaming me for getting up late and putting on weight.
She wanted to take a sweater back, so I rolled the mower to Lawn World by myself. The salesman told me I’d voided the warranty, splicing the cable.
“I should have stuck with my gas machine,” I said. “This one won’t start, and I used it twice.” Mr. By-The-Book said sorry, I had to go to the service center — closed, because of a fire. He gave me the number, and I rolled my mower back through the mall, to meet Estelle.
An Easter Bunny gave me a giant egg, a lawn ornament loaded with chocolate eggs. It was awkward to carry, but I’m not a man to turn down chocolate.
All the seats were full at the laser fountain, so I stood watching the colors change. Estelle’s never late, and my stomach growled, but I couldn’t unscrew my egg. After twenty minutes I headed for Barnaby’s. The elevator was out of order, so I loaded my mower on the escalator.
“Hey Bud, you can’t bring that thing up here,” shouted a guard — Elvis.
“Sorry, I’m looking for my wife.”
“You take that back downstairs.”
“But your elevator’s out of order.”
I heard my wife, shrillier than thou.
“You’re security,” I told him. “You watch this mower for a minute, please.”
Marched along between two cops, Estelle looked like a frightened girl. “Freddy,” she wailed. “They say I stole a sweater. You tell them it’s a mistake.” A crowd had jelled, with the Easter Bunny. “What are you buying chocolates for?” she complained. “They’re not on your diet.”
“I won this egg, Estelle.”
“He did,” said the Bunny.
“I’ll trade you this egg for my wife,” I told a cop. “She’s going through the change of life, that’s all.”
“It’s Total Chocolate,” the Bunny said.
“Officer, I took that sweater by mistake.”
“Folded up in your purse?”
“I thought it was the one the saleslady wouldn’t exchange, because I washed it.”
“She did,” I put in. “Now it wouldn’t fit a Chihuahua. Shoddy merchandise.”
“I had to wash it, officer, to get out the sizing. I have sensitive skin.”
“Like a peach,” I said. “If she sits in the sun she burns like a frank on the grill.”
“If the saleswoman presses charges,” he said with a little smile, “I have to take you in.”
“She was stealing,” cried the skinny saleswoman with a gold ring up her nose.
“She’s just angry I called her a hussy…”
“Everybody makes mistakes,” I pleaded. “I never should have bought an electric mower.”
“Will you take this machine off my hands?” cried Elvis.
“It’s all your fault, for stealing our space.” Estelle turned on him, flushing. “You call yourself a security guard.”
Just then I spilled foil-wrapped egglets all over:
“Help yourself, everybody… You too,” I told the saleswoman.
I wheedled her into dropping the charges. My wife and I drove away with the mower. At least it wasn’t raining.
At a traffic light I asked, “Why’d you take that sweater?”
“She made me so angry; she was rude. I’m sorry for the fuss.” Her voice caught on a sob.
“Let’s get some rum raisin cones.”
“They’re not on your diet.”
“Tomorrow’s our anniversary: 32 years.”
“And I haven’t strangled you yet…
Anna Sykora has been an attorney in New York and teacher of English in Germany, where she resides with her patient husband and three Norwegian Forest Cats. To date she has placed 64 tales and ll9 poems in the small press or on the web. Writing is her joy.