Photos courtesy of Ann:
I stayed at Hawthorne Avenue for one month only but I wished my time there never ended. My uncle Patrick received twelve thousand dollars from his father, my grandfather Harold, in a will. When grandfather died, Uncle Patrick was not sad because his dad never tried contacting him when he was alive.
However, Uncle Patrick felt better after receiving the money. He planned a trip to Iceland for a month because he wanted some time in a country with cooler weather, away from where tourists would typically travel. He needed me to stay at his house while he was away because someone had to feed his dog, Snifter.
Hawthorne Avenue was on a hill, not as steep as some hills I had walked on but steep enough. There were a lot of trees and the houses looked generally like a dream come true for a writer like me. My apartment was in a part of town that was flat and had no shade. I would stay in my apartment, with the air conditioner on, so I could feel halfway comfortable.
In my uncle’s house, I was comfortable every day. Splinter, the dog, was a white poodle and he was very friendly. He liked chewing on a rubber steak toy on the back patio so I would sit there, watching him.
On the first day of my sitting outside, I noticed a woman outside on her patio next door. She had worn a grey T-shirt tucked into black jeans. I loved how women looked when they wore tucked in shirts. There was something sexy about that style in which I noticed. I knew nothing about her other than she was watering some potted plants but my imagination had me thinking she grew up in a small town, away from the bigger cities where women did not dress similarly. I assumed she tucked in her shirts every day.
I sat outside on the back patio during the next day. My excuse was so Splinter could be outside and play with his chew toy. However, I was hoping I would see the woman again. I did see her. She was wearing a yellow long-sleeved turtleneck but it was not tucked in. The sleeves were pushed up and that looked somewhat sexy but the suspense was broken. My wondering if she tucked in her shirts every day was met by the answer no.
On my third day at my uncle’s house, he called me to ask if I was doing fine there. He said, “If you go to the dollar store you can buy Snifter some Doggy Boy treats.”
I replied, “The dollar store is ten blocks away. I can go to Sherman’s Grocery and get a better brand of dog snacks for just fifty cents more.”
“You need to save the money I gave you. I already paid the rent at your apartment so you could use your rent money on food over there. The fifty dollars I gave you for dog food should last all month and I’ll need back whatever you didn’t spend.”
“Fifty cents is no big deal.”
He screamed when I said that. I had eventually apologized and said I agreed with him about everything. When our conversation ended, I went outside so I could go to Sherman’s Grocery and buy the better brand of dog treats.
When I was outside, the woman next door was outside, also. She waved. She was wearing a pink tank top not tucked in. I figured her wearing a tucked in shirt was just a one-time occasion. Yet, she smiled at me in a way that made me forget about her clothing. She was acting friendly and that turned me on. She said, “I assume you’re Patrick’s nephew.”
I answered, “Yes, I’m Joseph.”
“Glad to meet you, Joseph. I’m Ann.”
“Thank you. I’m glad to meet you, too.”
“I’m wondering, Joseph. I’m getting some new recliners and I might need someone to help me move some furniture so I can get them in my living room. They’re not going to come for at least another week but I’d like to know if you could help me when the day comes. My housemate, Gary, hurt his back last month and he’s recovering but I don’t want to put too much stress on him. I’d pay you for your time.”
“I guess I could do that. Just let me know.”
“Okay. I have your uncle’s number. I’ll call you.”
At that moment, she heard her phone ring so she went inside to answer it. I was happy she talked with me so I walked the ten blocks to the dollar store and got the dog treats my uncle suggested.
For the next five or six days. I would see Ann either outside her patio while I sat outside my uncle’s patio or at her front yard as I walked to or from the store. I noticed that sometimes she wore her shirt tucked in so I became intrigued again with suspense concerning what she might wear. We did not say too much to each other except for hello but she kept smiling at me in a way that made me think she wanted to know me more than what a quick hello would suggest. However, I figured she was waiting for her recliners to arrive and she did not want to say something that might make me change my mind about helping her.
I did eventually see her housemate, Gary. He looked like a young pleasant guy who would be otherwise nondescript except for his knowing her. When I sat outside with Snifter, Gary would occasionally go outside to water some plants but he never seemed to notice me. Not like he was ignoring me but more like he noticed almost nothing. A part of me thought he was romantically involved with Ann and the other part of me thought there was no way that could be the case.
Finally, on a Saturday, at noon, Ann called. She said the recliners arrived and Gary planned on helping get them in the living room but he was not home. She apologized for bothering me and I told her I was not bothered.
I was excited about helping her. I was curious what she would wear. Since she had already mentioned the furniture moving day to me, I figured she might put on something sexy so I would feel better about doing work. However, those thoughts were purely my imagination.
When I knocked on her door and she answered, I was almost in disbelief. She was wearing a tucked in hooded sweatshirt with her sleeves pushed up. Her blue jeans looked casual with some patches and she had on a white belt not too tight, but I had rarely seen women wear regular sweatshirts tucked in, let alone with zippers. I had immediately felt a certain energy, is if everything was planned on purpose. I did not know how much money she wanted to give me but I felt I was already paid.
She smiled and said, “Come on in.”
I walked inside and noticed no recliners. I asked, “Where are the chairs?”
“I have to confess something. The recliners aren’t due for another week and Gary doesn’t have a bad back. I just wanted to talk with you.”
I was nervous. If her liking me had been in my imagination only, I could handle it. However, I felt like I needed to leave. I said, “I’m sorry but I hardly know you.”
She extended her hand. “I’m sorry if I seemed too forward. Do you forgive me?”
We shook hands. I said “Sure.”
She continued shaking for a few seconds longer than I figured the regular amount of time was for her, whatever that may be. Her grip was firm and I tried letting go after thirty seconds but I could not pull free.
Suddenly, Gary walked in. He entered the living room where Ann and I stood. He looked at us in a way that showed he noticed but was not surprised. Ann’s facial expression seemed to indicate I should have known she would act that way.
Finally, I walked towards the front door, while she accompanied me, still holding on. I opened the door and said I was leaving. Her sneaky smile was telling me she had other plans.
However, something unexpected happened. Uncle Patrick’s car drove to his parking space. He got out of the car and said, “I was worried about Splinter. Did you feed him properly?” Ann let go of my hand and put her hands behind her back, in a gesture of mock innocence. I walked inside Uncle Patrick’s house with him.
I felt strange. In one way, I was annoyed he had to change his plans because he did not trust me. In another way, I was nervous and wondered how long Ann would have kept shaking my hand if my uncle did not appear. When I went home to my apartment, I thought about how sexy Ann looked in her tucked in hooded sweatshirt and belted jeans and how her pushed up sleeves aroused me while she gripped my hand.
I wondered if that type of situation happened to anyone else and if it may happen again to me. Uncle Patrick did not invite me to visit him again, at least not yet, and I was both wanting to see Ann again and avoid her. In the meantime, I could still feel her energy and that allowed me to write a few interesting stories.