This morning, the sun was shining so though the news from the war was bleak and painful, I skipped to my car and drove to work, where I parked, pressed the button thingy to lock up and stared at the keys in my hand. After literally kicking myself, I walked the quarter mile to my building and announced to my earliest co-workers, “Listen, ye, to this tale of my astounding genius!”
Yesterday, Scout called me up, and we’re going to call her “Scout” because “Miss Jean Louise” was a stretch for the little girl in the book, too. You should read that book, if you haven’t, and afterward see the sobering and lyrical film. To Kill A Mockingbird was assigned in sophomore English but I’d already read and loved it so every night, I read the whole book. It’s just one of those quirky things about me, and so is Scout. Though we have drifted in and out of one another’s lives for more than twenty years, I still giggle like a teenager when she talks.
Scout: Hello, may I speak to Ta?
Tata: Scout! You’ve called my house.
Scout: Well, I don’t know what’s going on over there!
Tata: If anyone else answers and sounds like he’s after your soul, that is my cat. Otherwise, you’ve dialed the wrong number.
Scout: Would you care to go outside for a fast-paced walk around the boro?
Tata: I would! Come over!
Twenty minutes later, Scout stands at my door with a bottle of wine, which I manage to open without stabbing myself. The wine breathes. I keep forgetting. Scout admires the shelves in my kitchen, the surviving planters, the tiny sprouts. We sit and talk on my terrible couch, drinking half a glass of wine before we put on our coats and march out into the streets, which however familiar is enchanted viewed by streetlight. We walk everywhere. We look at everything. We see koi in a pond and odd fountains. In the park near my house, we see a car parked and avoid it. We walk past my boss’s house, which I told her today.
Tata: I walked past your house yesterday!
Gianna: You did? What was I doing?
Tata: I don’t know! It’s not like I pressed my nose against your kitchen window.
Tata: You have dogs.
You’d think that wouldn’t be a surprise. Anyway, Scout and I walked all over the south side of town and looked at everything, including the shapes of houses I didn’t remember seeing before. We chattered like magpies the whole time. It was so exciting! I pointed to a bench and sat on it to quit struggling with a point. Scout is on the path and understands what I am blathering – I mean, saying. We get up and walk the last mile back to my house and our glasses of wine. I unlock the door and toss my keys where I always toss them. I hang up Scout’s coats in my coat closet, still chattering. By 9, we are all chattered out, and Scout walks home. My co-workers know Scout. It’s a small town and Scout worked with us years ago. I regale my co-workers with this account of vigorous exercise and diverting conversation. Then I tell them the punch line: when we left the house, my keys were too heavy so I unclipped the house keys and when I came in, I forgot to clip them back on. When I left for work, I’d locked myself out of the house.
My co-workers, astounded by my astounding genius, howled and wiped tears from their cheeks.
Tata: Wanna drive getaway?
Tata: I’m going to break into my apartment and my neighbors will somehow only see my legs sticking out of my window. Count on that!
John: Can you do that?
Tata: I lived in a house once that had remarkable architectural interest. One summer, it had no front door so we climbed through a window, which was nothing compared to the year our big old duplex house had no front porch. We learned to be flexible on notions such as “window” and “door”.
John: So why do you need a getaway driver?
Tata: Just for fun. Once I get inside, I’m only leaving in cuffs. Still, it’s a status thing. Do you have a getaway driver?
Tata: I should make you a shopping list.
John’s needs aside – because he’s imaginary, as I’ve told all my co-workers – I also put in a call to my landlady’s answering machine and called her the name of my last landlady. Since, you know, I needed her help staying out of the boro’s one jail cell this was excellent strategy. She called back and could not restrain her mirth.
Landlady: Domenica hahahahahahahahahahahaha I’ll meet you at 3:30 and hahahahahahaha let you in hahahahahahahahahahaha it’s okay during the day but hahahahahahaha don’t do it at night, that’s a pain in the ass.
Tata: I’ll…be there.
Landlady: Hahahahahahahaha see you then.
At 3:30, she loaned me the complex’s set of my keys and I clipped my own set back onto my car keys. Outside, the air was pleasantly warm and smoke from a brushfire in Edison clouded an otherwise blue sky. The birds and squirrels chattered and scampered exuberantly. Aside from chagrin caused by my astounding genius, it was just a really nice walk to return the keys.