Strange charity service in the Neighborhood door – 02

I went to the front door, and looked out through the glass beside it. A woman stood there. I had a fairly good idea of who it was.

I opened the door. “Mrs. Morrison?”

She glared at me and nodded.

“Come in, please. Can I get you a cup of tea, or coffee?” I turned and walked into the house, leaving the door open. I walked to the kitchen, and poured myself a cup of coffee. I turned to see her standing in the archway to the living room.

She looked ready to burst, but I watched her breath deep and run her hands through her short hair. She looked young. Too young to be going through the hell she was currently experiencing.

“I don’t want you around my house or my daughter,” she finally snapped.

“I understand, and I’m sorry I interfered.” I walked past her and sat down in the living room. “I can’t explain it. I had to do something to get out of this house, and when Paisley told me about your situation I guess I got carried away.”

She stared at me, and crossed her arms. “Don’t mention her name. I could kill her.”

I smiled. “Believe me, I understand that. She’s been in my house every day, 3 or 4 times a day, meddling in my life.”

“Meddling is right,” she snapped. She walked over and sat on the loveseat across from me. “Listen. I appreciate the thought. And I’m sorry for your loss.” She smirked. “Ha, listen to me. Sorry for your loss. Crap.”

She leaned back. “We’re doing fine. I don’t need your help, I don’t know you from Adam, and I don’t want you around my daughter when nobody’s around. Jesus, you painted my frickin’ front door blue! A little presumptuous, don’t you think?”

I smiled. “I would have picked the wood tone. Blue was Hannah’s choice, one of the four approved colors according to our Stalinist homeowner’s association.”

She leaned back, rolling her eyes up. “Don’t remind me. If the bastards send me one more notice about yard and fence maintenance, I’ll rip their lungs out.” She seemed to calm down for a second, maybe realizing that those notices would no longer be coming. “I know. I should be thankful but I don’t need a stranger meddling in my life. Understood? No more doing things for me.”

“I didn’t do it for you. I did it for that little girl. You don’t know me. I don’t know you. Agreed. I don’t know what happened to you and your family or why. Not really. What I do know is that a girl of yours doesn’t deserve the hand she’s been dealt. That’s all I could think of. I just wanted to help where I could.”

She looked angry. “I’m sorry you lost your daughters. I am. But Hannah is MINE. My daughter. My responsibility. Not yours.”

“You are right. She’s no responsibility for me.”

“That’s right. I don’t know you. We live three doors down and in two years you’ve never spoken a word to us. Six months we’ve been on our own. I certainly don’t need you poking your head in now. I don’t know you, I don’t want to know you, and I’m not sure I’d like you if I did.”

“Welcome to the club.”


“I’m not sure I like me either. I’m sorry, alright? Now I’m tired. You can let yourself out.”

She got up and stomped her way to the front door, closing it sharply behind her.

That had gone better than I’d expected.

* * *

December 23rd. I got up early, cleaned up, and even shaved. I had errands to run. Paisley showed up in my kitchen while I was preparing breakfast.

“At least neither of us is in jail,” were her first words.

“Not yet.”

“You did a good thing. Don’t forget it.”

“I know. Still she was right. We should have asked permission.”

“The hell we should! She’d never have given it.”

“Then maybe we should leave her be.”

“If a person was drowning, and they couldn’t yell for help, wouldn’t you still throw them a life preserver?”

“A little overly-dramatic, don’t you think?”

“No. She’s going down for the third time, and is in complete denial. By the time she accepts the fact she needs help it could be too late.” She looked at me over. “You clean up nicely. What are you up to?”

“I need to run some errands, see a few people, stop by work, some other stuff.”

“Don’t overdo it,” she said, still in her ‘caring’ mode. “Need some company?”

“Thanks, I appreciate the offer. I can handle this.”

“Ok, you have my number. Give me a call if you need anything.”

* * *

The office visit was painful. I stopped in, thanking my bosses for their understanding, visiting a few friends and letting them know I appreciated their concern. The way they looked at me just drove home how alone I was. I was glad to get out of there.

I made a visit to the florist and picked up a trunk-load of Christmas cacti. I drove around to everyone I could think of, expressing my gratitude, and leaving the pretty plants behind. I used the same corny line with each one, comparing my ‘prickliness’ the last couple of weeks to the plant’s spines. I left a few plants on doorsteps with a note. By mid-afternoon I felt I’d done my part.

I stopped by Alice’s parent’s house, and Sophie greeted me at the door with a hug before she broke into tears. After she’d soaked my shirt she brought me in.

“There’s something you need to know, David.”

She sounded odd, and I wondered what was up.

“Alice left a will. She left you the house and the lion’s share of her insurance, to take care of the girls if anything happened to her.”

I was stunned. It was so unexpected. “I… I don’t know what to say.”

Sophie reached out and patted my hand. “It’s not what I’d expected, but if you think about it, it makes sense. What are you going to do?”

“I guess I’ll sell the house. I certainly don’t need two houses.”

“She had mortgage insurance, it’ll be paid off. You could rent it out, you know. Earn some steady income off of it.”

It was too much too fast. I couldn’t think straight. “I’ll have to think about it. I just wasn’t expecting anything like this.”

“I understand.” She held my hand. “How are you doing?”

“Better. Not good, but at least I can get out of bed.”

“We’re here if you need us. You know that, right?”

“Yes. Thank you. After the girls, you were the best thing that came out of our marriage.”

“We love you too. Don’t forget it.”

“I’m sorry I was so useful about the funeral arrangements, I don’t think I could have handled it without you,” I confessed.

“Don’t even think about it. That’s what family is for.”

That’s what family is for.

* * *

My day wasn’t quite complete. A few more calls and I was putting things in motion. I wasn’t sure I should, but I couldn’t resist.

Around dinner time, I ventured next door. Paisley’s husband John answered the door. “The hermit has left the cave. Good to see you out and about.” He shook my hand, letting me in. “Cath – David is here.”

Paisley came out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on a dishcloth. “How’d your day go?”

“Not bad. A few surprises, but I survived.”

“We’re about to eat. Care to sit down with us?”

“Maybe. When do you think Victoria will be getting home?”

“Probably nineish, would be my guess. Why?”

“Just want to talk to her if I can.”

“You have time for dinner then?”


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