Saturday, May 23, 2015

Cara Mia Delgatto and the Protector, Conclusion

Author's Note: Okay, I'm seriously hooked on writing and sharing serialized short stories, but I depend on YOU to give me feedback. So, please comment! To read Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, scroll down to OLDER POSTS and click on that.

The sight of Jodi, climbing out of a white Mustang convertible, almost made me want to run back into my house. The car looked like it was brand new. In fact, I could see the dealer's sticker in one window.

However, I was determined not to cower in front of her. What could she do? As my Nana used to say, "She can't kill you and she can't eat you." Of course, I supposed it was remotely possible that Jodi would kill me, but that didn't seem likely. No, she enjoyed torturing me too much. In that way, she reminded me of Luther, the tom cat who belonged to my neighbor in St. Louis. Luther enjoyed playing with small critters that he caught. In fact, he rarely ate them, but he did maul them pretty badly.

Keeping my head held high, I walked to my car. I heard her door slam and the brisk sound of her footsteps.

"I talked to Poppy," she said, as she stood blocking my way out of the garage. She's a little taller than I, and because she always wears heels, she usually towers over me. As I watched, she crossed her arms over her chest. Today she was wearing white slacks, an aqua tunic in silk, and big white sunglasses.

"So did I."

"You can't have this place. If you do, I'll take you to court."

"Do what you want."

"I don't think you understand. I will make your life miserable. You think you're going to run off with this piece of property? Just like you took our parents?"

From the house, I heard Jack barking. I sighed, thinking that a bigger dog would be nice, but if that dog was inside the house (like Jack was), he couldn't do much to help me.

Besides, what would I want a big dog to do? Bite my sister? Knock her down? Tear her from limb to limb? Well, yes...but only in my fantasies.

"Look, Jodi," I spoke in a calm voice. "You don't like me. You feel cheated. I get it. I'm tired of trying to make nice to you. If you don't get off this property right now, I'm calling the police."

That seemed like a perfectly reasonable way to solve the problem, except for one hitch: I'd let my phone in my purse in the house. Jodi either guessed what I'd done or she was simply to stubborn to give in. After I delivered my threat, she stood there, smirking at me.

"Jodi, you need to leave and you need to leave now!" I raised my voice. As I did, I heard a noise. The skittering. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw the crab. He was advancing toward me and waving his claw over his head.

Now I'm not scared of crabs, but I'm not stupid either. My toes might look like fat little worms to a hungry crab. Rather than find out whether worms are part of a balanced diet for crabs, I hopped into the driver's seat of my car and right before I shut the door, I yelled, "Crab!"

The next thing I knew, Jodi was screaming at the top of her lungs. As I watched in my rear view mirror, she went flying toward the Mustang. In one hand were the keys. To my amazement, she punched the set over and over. "It's coming after me!" she yelled. "I can't get my door unlocked!"

I opened my car door and watched in fascination as she ran clockwise around her car. One of her shoes fell off. She howled as she ran barefoot over the gravel. The crab seemed to know she was terrified, because he started after her. She was so panicked that she ran a complete circuit. That put her almost on top of the creature. He turned and waved his claw at her. She was sobbing, hobbling over the broken rocks.

The crab came after her.

I grabbed a shovel from the corner of my garage.

"Kill it! Hit it!" she screamed.

Instead, I slipped the blade under the crab and lifted him into the air.

"Leave now or I'll throw him at you," I warned her.

Of course, I wouldn't do any such thing, but she didn't know that. Tears were streaming down her face. Her mascara had run all over her tunic. She jabbed and jabbed at the key fob until we both heard a clicking sound. Without any pretense at being ladylike, Jodi threw herself into the driver's seat. As she fumbled around, starting the car, I backed into my garage. I was still holding the crab aloft, and I didn't want my sister to run over me.


My protector and me.

~ The End ~

Friday, May 22, 2015

Cara Mia Delgatto and the Protector, Part 5

Author's Note: Okay, I'm seriously hooked on writing and sharing serialized short stories, but I depend on YOU to give me feedback. So, please comment! To read Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4, scroll down to OLDER POSTS and click on that.

On Sunday mornings, I pick up Poppy, and we go to breakfast. Often he chooses Cracker Barrel, but this particular Sunday, he wanted to see what I'd done to the house, so we found a space at Harry and the Natives.

"This here place has been around since I can remember," said my grandfather. "I remember it when they opened, back in 1941. It was a motel. They cut the tidewater pecky cypress locally. The kids pumped gas, the wife served food, and then the turnpike opened, diverting traffic away from US 1. I remember the impact it had on all the local businesses. This one included."

We took a table in the back. I love looking over the Old Florida memorabilia. Signs are hung all over the place, featuring such witticisms as, "If we're closed, just shove the money under the door."

After we placed our orders, I told Poppy about Jodi's visit. It's the type of information that usually causes my grandfather to have a temper tantrum, but I knew he was too hungry to get up and stomp out without eating. Still, he did a lot of grumbling at this coffee mug. "Dag-nabbit. She got no right pestering you. I done already give her money."

"You did?" The words spilled out before I could stop myself. "It's none of my business, Poppy. I told her I was renting, which is true. I just figured I'd give you a heads up, in case she drops by your house to complain."

"She already did."

I gasped so loudly the man at the next table asked, "Are you all right?" I assured our neighbor that I was. "I guess I should have called you sooner."

"Don't matter. I gave her an earful. She don't have no reason to pout. We done our best for her. Your mama was too young. Your daddy wasn't sure he wanted to settle down. I've kept tabs on Jodi since she was given up for adoption. I knew the Wirekas. They were God-fearing, lovely people. They done their best by her. I don't know why or how she got so all-fired grabby. Wanting everything and being jealous of you. But she don't have no call to give me lip. Or you. If she comes back by, report her to the Jupiter Island Department of Public Safety. They'll escort her off the island. And if you want to, you can tell them to have her arrested the minute she sets foot on that property. Or I will. I don't mind doing it one bit. I'm tired of being bullied by that little gal."

Our food arrived. I had ordered the Surfer Girl. Poppy had waffles. We dug in, and I considered the matter closed. I didn't want him to call the police and have Jodi arrested. The more I ate, the more I decided that would be a very, very bad idea. Anything I did to inflame the situation could harm the people I love. Jodi doesn't seem to care who she hurts. That's a big difference between us.

The next week rolled by. We were busy getting the store ready for Mother's Day. Of course, it made me sad because it would be my second Mother's Day without my mother, and my first with Tommy away at school. But I concentrated on getting the shelves of The Treasure Chest full of fun items that any mother would like. One particularly cute gift idea was a wreath made of flip-flops. Skye had seen one on Pinterest. We're always picking up stray flip-flops from the beach, so we added a few cheap pairs to the ones we'd collected, glued on silk flowers, added ribbon, false gems and wow. Totally cute!

I was pretty excited about Mother's Day. I figured we'd do a ton of business, and we did. I was on my feet for eight hours. By the time I parked my Camry in my garage at home, I was nearly dead on my feet. I had a ton of paperwork to finish up before I knew whether we'd hit our sales targets or not. First I carried Jack into the house, then I fed Luna, and I was heading back to my car for the tote bag full of receipts and the detail tape when I heard the gravel crunch in my driveway.

And then I saw Jodi.

~ To Be Continued ~ 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Cara Mia Delgatto and the Protector, Part 4

Author's Note: Okay, I'm seriously hooked on writing and sharing serialized short stories, but I depend on YOU to give me feedback. So, please comment! To read Parts 1, 2, and 3, scroll down to OLDER POSTS and click on that.

"You have to be kidding! What is that woman's problem?" He dipped a coconut shrimp into one of the two sauces. "This is the apricot preserves sauce. The other is a sweet red chili sauce."

"I'm her problem. She can't seem to get over the fact our parents married, had me, and went on to live happy lives. Now she's decided that Poppy is giving me this property, and that she deserves a portion of it. Or money. I think she'd take the money if it was on offer."

Jay chuckled. "But it's not. She's forgetting this is your grandfather's place. He can do what he wants with it. She can stomp around all she wants, but she has no right to it. Neither do you. It's Dick's to do with as he sees fit."

I agreed with him there. Since Jay owns a string of assisted living facilities, he's seen first-hand how families can come apart over inheritances. I've seen that, too, because at The Treasure Chest, we buy up estates. "Only last week I had a woman come in and scream at me, because her sister had sold off part of their mother's belongings. Turns out the screamer lives in Maine. The sister lives here and takes care of their mother. As you might imagine, it's expensive to care for their mom. She needs a walk-in bath unit, so the Florida daughter sold stray pieces of silver and furniture to pay for the renovation. Maine daughter thought she was getting swindled."

"Welcome to Florida," said Jay. "Home of the aged, the infirm, and the shuttled aside. I bet you five bucks that if Maine daughter had to live with Mom for a week, she'd be singing a different tune."

"I'm sure of it."

"But let's go back to the subject at hand, Cara. You need protection. Jodi is one card short of a full deck. I've never met her, but I observed her at the gathering at Martin Gardens. That's a very troubled young woman. I don't like the idea of you being at her mercy."

I chewed my shrimp carefully. Was he suggesting that he move in? Our relationship wasn't there. Not yet. I hadn't even promised to date Jay exclusively. He glanced over and read my thoughts. "You need a big dog, Cara. What's wrong, don't you like big mutts?"

I thought about Sven, the golden retriever I'd put to sleep before coming to Florida. "I love all animals. You should have figured that out by now. But I'm not sure I can stand having my heart broken again, and it about killed me to have him euthanized. Goldens get cancer easily. Rottweilers have problems with hip and elbow dysplasia, plus heart problems. Dobermans have problems with their spines. Labs have dysplasia problems as do Weimaraners. Great Danes die young from flipped stomachs. German Shepherds have a whole host of problems."

Jay shook his head. "Sounds like you've investigated almost all the large breeds."

"I have."

~ To Be Continued ~

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Cara Mia Delgatto and the Protector, Part 3

A few days later, I was scrubbing down the windows when another car pulled up. This one brought a smile to my face. Jay Boehner jumped out and gave me a hug. Jack pranced around on his two hind legs until Jay reached down and patted him on the head.

"MJ said you were slaving away. I thought I'd drop by with food. I know you like coconut shrimp."

They say that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. I'd add that it's also a way to get any healthy woman's attention, too.

"MJ was right. These windows haven't been washed in months. Maybe even a year. I have no idea how I'll get the tall one over the second bedroom." I pointed to the octagonal window that serves as a beacon at night when I turn on the light in the hallway to the second floor studio.

"I can do that for you. But first, let's eat. I brought iced tea. Let me get that out of the car."

Before I could grab his collar, Jack jumped into the white Mercedes sedan. His tiny wet feet left damp marks on the leather. "Oh, no! Let me grab a towel! I'm so sorry. I've got one in the garage."

But when I found the towel on a shelf, I heard a skittering noise. "Jay? Would you come here?"

"What's up?" he asked.

"There's something in my garage. Something alive."

We stood there and listened. The scraping noise began again. Jay followed the sound around my parked Camry. Squatting down, he peered under a set of metal storage shelves. "It's a blue land crab. He must have found his way inside while you were working with the garage door open. Want me to get him out?"

I laughed. "No. He's welcome to make this his home. Especially now that I know he's here. The noise just startled me."

But Jack wasn't convinced. He had followed Jay to the shelves. Now he began to bark at the crab, but he couldn't get to the shelled creature, so I didn't worry about the dog or the crustacean.

Jay and I both laughed. He said, "Such a big bark for such a small fellow. Honestly, Cara, I'd feel better about you living here alone if you owned a bigger dog. Have you thought about getting a companion for Jack? Something bigger? More fearsome?"

Actually, I'd thought a lot about that, but I felt disloyal when I did. Jack only weighs two pounds when he's soaking wet, but you'd never know that to hear him carry on. "Yes, I have. Then I remind myself that Jupiter Island has more police per capita than any city in the US. This place is covered with security cameras, too. I'm safer here than I was in downtown Stuart."

Jay shook his head. "That assumes you get to a phone and make a call. I'm talking about a protector to run off anyone who intrudes on your privacy. Could be an unwanted neighbor. Or someone wandering down from the public beach."

"Let's sit under the sea grapes," I suggested, as I nodded toward the winding trunks and large fan-like leaves that formed a cool bower on the seaside of my house. I'd set up inexpensive plastic chairs and a cheap table so I could picnic out-of-doors. One day I would buy nice furnishings, but for now, these would do.

"I heard you've already had an unwelcome visitor," said Jay. His eyes crinkled at the corners. As a young man, he spent a lot of time on the water, so he has this sort of perma-tan that adds character to his craggy features. MJ thinks he looks like Harrison Ford, only younger. But not by a lot. Jay has a good ten years on me. Maybe fifteen. I can't be bothered to ask.

"My sister Jodi dropped by to say that I'd stolen this property from her."

~ To Be Continued ~