This week, short fiction for a change of pace.
I was on the phone with my husband, Stanley, idly looking out the window while he debated with himself whether or not to buy a new video camera for our trip to Paris, when a banana peel came flying out of the green Jeep Cherokee parked across the street.
“Hey!” I interrupted him. “A woman in a car across the street just threw a banana peel out the window.”
“Go pick it up,” he said.
“While she’s sitting there? What if she has a gun?”
“Don’t be silly. Besides, why would she shoot you for picking up her garbage? Go get it and put it in the compost bin.”
“I’ll be totally exposed. What if she takes offense, or is annoyed, or just embarrassed? It could get ugly.”
“Take me with you. It’ll look like you’re absorbed in our conversation. When you get to the peel, you say, ‘Hang on,’ to me, pick it up and say, ‘I’ll throw this out for you,’ to her. It’ll seem totally casual.”
“Alright, I’m going downstairs. I’m on the porch, pretending to check the mailbox; nothing there. Now I’m on the front lawn. I’m walking across the lawn. This is so stupid; I can’t believe I’m doing it. I’m crossing the street.” The woman looked up as I neared the car. I reached down and straightened up with the banana peel held between the tips of my fingers. I said, with an edge, “I’ll throw this out.”
“Whatever,” she said, barely glancing at me. She was younger than I thought she would be, probably in her early twenties, and hard looking; too much makeup and a string of studs outlining her ear.
I couldn’t marshal anything appropriate to say, so I harrumphed without content and walked away. “I’m heading to the backyard,” I said to Stanley. “And I don’t have a bullet in my back so I guess this worked out okay.”
“Glad to hear it. So, like I was saying, this camera would be easy for you to use. It’s pretty much one-button operation so I think I’ll go ahead and get it.”
It was all the same to me. We both knew who was going to be using the camera. I dropped the peel in the compost bin. “Mission accomplished.”
“Look, I’ve got to get back to work.”
“You called me, remember?”
“Whatever.” That was what the woman in the Jeep had said. He hung up.
I walked back to the front of the house, holding the phone to my ear so it would look like we were still talking. Inside, I curled up on the sofa in the living room where I could keep an eye on the Jeep. I was still there when Stanley got home from work, and so was the girl in the Jeep.
Stanley parked his black Rav4 in front of the house, put his keys in his pocket, and crossed to the Jeep. I wondered what he could possibly have to say to her. A moment later, there was a loud noise and Stanley slumped to the ground. She had brought a gun after all. What a relief.
I waited for the Jeep to drive off and took some time to arrange my face. Then I picked up the phone and called the police.