Mavis expected this would be a busy shopping day. The mid week order had arrived earlier and the shelves were fully stocked. She had just unpacked her book order and set Rufus’ books on the counter as he entered her store.
“How are you today?”she called out to Rufus as he grabbed a basket.
“Good. How about you”Rufus returned her greeting. I see my books are in.” He was happy to see them arrive so quickly. He set money on the counter for the books and went strait to the fresh fruit counter for his weeks groceries.
“How are you settling in?”asked Mavis.
“Loving the area. Meeting new friends and having fun so far.”Rufus replied. “Have you had time to consider the idea of a book club?”
“Yes, I think it would be fun.” replied Mavis.”When would you like to get together?”
“My schedule is wide open so any time that is good for you.” Rufus said. “Do you have a book in mind we could begin with?”
“I have one in mind. A favorite I have wanted to re-read is ‘Fall On Your Knees’ by Anne Marie MacDonald. If you don’t have the book I would be happy to lend that to you.”Mavis suggested.
“Sure. I haven’t read that one. I have heard of it though, ” replied Rufus. “I will need to borrow your copy. I read quickly though.”
“I don’t read very quickly, unfortunately. Especially since my eyesight isn’t what it use to be and yes I eat carrots by the kg but when you are as old as I am……”
This naturally left Rufus trying to guess the age of his new friend. He tried to imagined her in glasses but couldn’t picture the fit. He wondered if it would be insulting to ask her age and then decided against it.
“I am hosting a kitchen party this Saturday. You are certainly welcome if you can make it. I can also lend you that book.” Mavis extended the invite to her new friend.
“That sounds like a great way to get to get to know some neighbours.” Rufus agrees readily to attend to the kitchen party.
“You play music?” Mavis asked.
“Yes as a matter of fact. I play the violin. But because of my compact stature,” Rufus pauses to chuckle in a bit of a monkey way “I have to play it like a cello. My violin was one of the few possessions I have managed to hang on to. I moved here to Curioville with only what would fit into one trunk.”
“Well, come by Saturday at 6 pm when I close the store. It doesn’t take long to set up and everyone brings a bit of food we can all enjoy.” Mavis gave Rufus the details.
“That sounds like fun. Count me in. Is there anything I can bring?” Rufus asked as he paid for the rest of his groceries.
“No,”Mavis said, “this time just bring yourself and your instrument and get to know everyone. Often we have more than enough food.”
“Thank you,” Rufus said as he waved,”See you Saturday.”
As Rufus exited two sisters also new to Curioville entered Mavis’ shop. The quiet careful tone left by Rufus was displaced by two high pitched bickering voices. Mavis had extended an invite to them to her kitchen party she hoped to meet them when they were not fighting. No luck so far.
“Why do I have to come with you if I have no say in what we are getting.” Annemarie protested in frustration with Maryanne being dictatorial.
“We have a lot to get and I need your help carrying it all home. Last time I trusted you to do the shopping you got everything wrong.” Maryanne told her younger sister. “You bought all red grapes and neglected to get green grapes. You didn’t get enough bread either and you bought too much junk food. You never think ahead when you shop, you need to…….”
Maryanne’s lecture began to sound like “meep, meep meep…..”to Annemarie.
“Wouldn’t this mirror look beautiful in the parlor.”Annemarie became distracted by something pretty.She tuned her sister out. It often happened when Maryanne carried on chirping
“What!?!?”Maryanne was visibly gobsmacked.”You are kidding me, right? This is what I mean. Now you want to buy a mirror. The answer has to be no on anything like that until we start earning some coin.”
“I will just wait here shall I,” Annemarie stood stewing and debated storming out of the store. She tuned out her sisters friendly chatter with the old bunny behind the counter who had invited them to her kitchen party. She heard voices in stereo also at odds with one another entering the store….
“You bought them on purpose!”the first young man ranted with frustration at the other. “and you know I digest brown bread better and you bought white!”
Mavis had just distracted one set of siblings from griping at one another when the battling twin boys entered her store. Yesterday Zachary had come in to do the shopping. Of course he could never manage to get the shopping right. Alfred had a very firm preferences.
“Hey there”Zachary joins Annemarie by the counter,”look tasty don’t they. Would you like me to treat you to a gingerbread cookie?”
“They look scrumptious and I would love one.” Annemarie accepted his offer.
Just as Zachary was paying for the gingerbread treats Gerty entered the shoppe. She walked directly up behind Zachary and waited until he became aware of her presence. He turned around when he had noticed a whiff of perspiration and fresh earth and was startled to see Gerty suddenly there…
“I hope you haven’t forgotten the money you owe me.” Gerty stood her ground sternly reminding Zachary.
“Awe no. I haven’t” Zachary tried to speak in hush tones. He had been trying to avoid his brother finding out. It hadn’t panned out as far as getting the money when inglorious Gloria refused to pay yesterday. “Look can I meet you back at the nursery to discuss this…”
Alfred left off greeting Mavis and turn around to watch Gerty confronting his brother about money. Hearing the bickering he walked up to investigate what was upsetting old Gerty.
“I was suppose to be paid back yesterday for covering your hardware order at the dock.” Gerty got louder and was not meeting Zachary’s hush tone. Alfred joined them.
This was getting awkward for Zachary. His brother looked to him intently for an explanation. “What do you mean we owe Gerty for that delivery?”
“I’m sorry Alfred. It was just that you’ve been so stressed I didn’t want to worry you further. I didn’t quite meet the boat in time and Gerty was sweet enough to cover the cost of the delivery.”Zachary stammered over his excuse.
“I thought we covered the cost of that order. I gave you the money last week to send.” Alfred’s voice was gaining volume. He looked to Zachary who just stared back all bright eyed and stupid.
“I forgot to send the money and it ended up spent.”he fumbled his excuse foolishly “I was on my way over to Gerty’s after helping you with the shopping to talk to her about this very matter.”
Alfred doubted he could trust his brother to take care of this. Gerty looked cross. It was never a good idea to get Gerty cross…
“What do you mean by ‘talk to me about this very matter’ !?!?” Gerty suspected that the discussion was not going to include a payment. “I hope that little talk is going to include my money!”
“Well you see, Gerty, we were suppose to get paid by Gloria and….”Zachary shifted blame again with another excuse.
“That does not change the fact that you owe me money and I need that money to pay for my order tomorrow!” Gerty was not going to be easily appeased.
“Zachary, you have done enough damage.”Alfred yelled at his brother “we will talk about this later. Gerty, let me get my shopping done and put away and I will……”
“You owe $150.” Gerty said flatly.
“Ok, I will have that money for you”Alfred spun around to include his brother “just for your trouble, Zachary will apologize, right…..”
But Zachary had done an about face and was already out the door with Annemarie following after……
“She left too,” Maryanne was appalled that her sister just up and left without letting her know. “I just can’t believe her.”
“Ah, ah I,” Alfred suddenly froze when Maryanne turned to him to speak. He hoped she would go back to talking to Mavis, then his knees would stop knocking.
“Please excuse my sister Annemarie’s behavior. She plays this kind of game to push my buttons.” Maryanne sighed. Alfred did not answer but grinned a little and gave a half nod and an understanding look.
“You lads still coming to my kitchen party?”Mavis asked Alfred. As long as they had their wind instruments planted firmly at their lips, they were not arguing with one another.
“Yes,” Alfred cleared his throat and answered as he paid for his purchases “we plan on being there.”
“How about you Gerty, are you coming?”Mavis asked as Gerty.
“No, this time of year there is no such thing as a minute to spare for me” Gerty answered gathering her last few items “I hope to see you shortly then Alfred”
“As soon as I stop by the workshop I will collect that money for you.”Alfred answered nervously. “Then I will be right over to the nursery.”
“No,” replied Gerty “I’m going to save you the trip. After I drop off my shopping I will meet you at your workshop. As I said a minute ago, I will see you shortly.”
Now Alfred had to rush back to the workshop where he had a couple of hundred dollars safely stashed in a can in the lunch room cupboard……. What Zachary didn’t know about was usually safe from him…..