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April 20, 2020

The Anniversary

There was a young character from ‘High Maintenance’ who had climbed up an old pecan tree in a busy southern town. How he got there was unknown, but there was a bus stop nearby with some essential workers wearing masks.

An old, gentle man was strolling around the block, and saw the character. “Hey there! Hey, you?!” with a thick southern draw and his ears poking out. The ironed back pants and cotton button up shirt looked funny.

“Yea? What’s it to you?”

“Hey, you come down, I reckon you can come to my house today. You are in my yard, son. Been cooped up anyway.”

The awkward stocky body started to climb down from the tree. Before he knew it, he’d followed the old man inside a modest home. He remembered about all the cash he had in his pocket. Paranoia started to set in. The two washed their hands, and the old man went into the kitchen. There was another person he was talking to.

“Welcome to our home, that’s my partner for life in there. We’ve got a good meal coming. It’s a special day- anniversary.”

“Congratulations?” he muffled, looking around for some indicators of who the man was and exactly why he ended up here. A letter from the Home Mission Board was on the table. Oh geez, another ‘Come to Jesus and stop smoking weed’ sinners prayer. Those Southern Baptists.. hope he doesn’t have a gun, he thought. A zoom call came through.

“Sir…. Sir? Somebody’s calling you. On the computer.”

The old man came out and went into the side room that had clearly been a part of the garage before and started talking to the screen. The young character only heard bits and pieces, but it was grown men calling him dad- some with their families and kids. He scooted to the end of the couch, curious about his supper host. “Dad, what do you mean you have someone over there? You told us not to come, social distancing! Haven’t you been watching the news? Who is this guy? What the hell?”

“We are excited to have him, but I’m gonna have to let you go,” the old man said. Just then, the most radiant person appeared from the kitchen. Immaculately dressed, pearls, and heels, lipstick and gold-rimmed glasses holding green bean casserole, pineapple and cheddar bake with Ritz crackers and creamed corn. The three of them sat down, and it is unknown what they said, just laughing a lot. At one point, the character set up a Spotify account for the old man and found some 1940s standards to play. The old man and his partner danced in the living room. After, there was pecan pie and strawberries dipped in powdered sugar.

The young character from ‘High Maintenance’ remembered that he had many more stops to make. He’d already gouged the home-bound neighbors nearby by selling at a higher price. He had no idea what might have become of his bike, but the money was all there in his pocket.

“I want to say, that this was a pleasure, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. This has surely been a day to remember with you, during this crazy epidemic. I have to go now. Stay healthy, and wash your hands, ok?” And left.

The old man sat quietly for a long while, and then his partner came and sat beside him. Faith was not expecting the visitor but seemed as if it was not unusual or unwelcome. “Why exactly did you invite him over to our house today?”

“Because I didn’t like the way those people’s eyes at the bus stop were looking at him, honey.”

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