Sunday, April 15, 2012
Melinda Louise Gold stood upright and proud on the side of the driveway, peering out over the perfectly manicured lawn. Not one blade of grass was longer than another, not a sneaky dandelion was in sight. In front of her she saw order and structure.
“Perfect,” she sighed with a smile.
She had to admit, Frank could cut a good lawn. There wasn’t much else to be said for him, but she hadn’t married him for his personal qualities, had she? That was more to do with Nanna than anything, and -
Mustn’t dwell on that, she chided herself.
His lawn-cutting abilities were admired by all the neighbors. He was meticulous, cutting in perfect lines, and trimming the rose bushes just so, the hedges clean. Unfortunately, Frank hadn’t passed on the trait to their son Patrick. As a result, Melinda absolutely never allowed Patrick to get on the mower. The last time she had asked him to mow the lawn, it was cut so close that it was balded in spots. Her eyes still filled with tears of rage when she thought about it. But that would not happen again. No sir-ee Bob! The only thing that concerned her about the lawn now was how to keep Ruth Goins’ dog from relieving himself on the perfect grass. She discussed this with Ruth-the old woman hadn’t even had the decency to put in her teeth as they spoke-but Ruth said that Gayhound had taken a liking to Melinda’s lawn. She’d made it clear to Melinda that she would be darned if she would keep him from his bliss.
His bliss? Why, the very idea of dogs feeling bliss! They peed on fire hydrants and licked themselves. And what was with that name? Gayhound? As if an animal could be gay. Preposterous! Gay penguins and dogs, it was all an agenda. Her own mother had assured her of this, and she would know. Nanna was a member of Focus on the Family, after all.
Thankfully, the country was being led by a righteous man now. He was good with God, possibly even chosen. Melinda had to admit that it was strange he had been struck by a bolt of lightning in the White House Rose Garden. And it was stranger still that it happened on live TV as he was giving a national address on the evils of gay marriage. But add to all that the fact that it happened on a seemingly sunny day, and Melinda was convinced that it was surely a sign. The president had survived. She had convinced herself, as had Nanna, that the bolt was nothing more than God’s index finger giving an overzealous love tap.
She fussed at her shiny blonde hair (that was not mussed) and straightened out the wrinkles from her elegant grey pant suit (that was not wrinkled), satisfied once again by the perfect facade her house presented to the neighborhood. “Look at me!” it shouted every morning.
As she turned to go back into the coolness of her air-conditioned, two-story house with wrap-around porch and a patio out back, she caught a glimpse again of the new arrival on Jasper Lane. Her hand involuntarily went to her chest as if she might calm her heart by the touch.
She had heard from Cassie Bloom that his name was James...James Something-or-other. Melinda welcomed new neighbors. Why shouldn’t she? One shouldn’t judge people before meeting them. She knew that; the Bible told her so. But this man, this James, he ran around Jasper Lane half-naked, with no shirt and only a small pair of green shorts! It hardly hid his...male parts!
He was a big man, too. Strong, with large muscles that twitched and flexed as he ran. Why, it was repulsive! Immoral even! A man of such an age-surely in his late twenties-running about in the middle of the day with his chest bouncing and his nip-. Melinda couldn’t even think that word! Nipples. She gasped in the realization that she had even thought the word. She had even spelled it in her mind, letter by letter, as she watched the young man approaching with bouncing, sweaty...
No! Melinda, stop!
What should she do? She couldn’t turn and walk away. Surely he had seen her by now. No. She would make her stand and let her feelings be known. It was her neighborhood as well. In fact, it was more hers than his. She had lived in the same house for ten years, for mercy’s sake!
She would put her foot down and tell him to jog wearing something more decent. Maybe he could wear a sweat shirt or a baggy t-shirt that wouldn’t show off his...nipples.
Oh, that word!
As he approached, Melinda smiled pleasantly to show him she was only ever concerned with the welfare of those around her. There were children on this street. Weren’t there? She was sure there were children somewhere. She raised her hand slightly, fingers wiggling with red nails.
“Mrs. Gold,” the young man nodded between heavy breaths. He passed her by quickly and without incident, his feet striking the pavement hard and determined.
“Wait,” she spoke, too low and too late. Her smile faded to a defeated frown.
Next time. Definitely tomorrow, she said to herself as she watched the muscular man’s sweaty back and shoulders push through the humid air. Her hand returned to her chest. She suddenly felt very strange, almost faint. Her heart beat as if it would burst from her rib cage and follow young James Something-or-other of its own accord.
“My heavens!” she declared quietly, trying to banish that nuisance of feeling from her core.
As she watched James run farther down the street to the corner of the tree-lined avenue, a small, ugly blue vehicle rounded the turn. It swerved to the other side of the road as if James were an elephant and the driver was making gosh-golly-darned sure he was going to miss. The car ran up onto a curb and knocked over an empty trash can before correcting and getting back on course. Clearly, the driver was committing the sin of lust.
Melinda shook off her...whatever it was, and walked back into the house, self-consciously glancing from side-to-side. Her painted nails played at the top buttons of her pant-suit jacket. Cassie was coming for coffee. She should start getting things ready.