“Hey! Where are you? We’re on a short schedule. We have to get going! LET’S GO!” and she hammered the horn, no care that I was outside and already walking towards the car.
Her granddaughter got out of the passenger’s side and I was about to get in.
“Did you lock the door,” Ley asked as she passed me.
“No,” I said.
Ley squinted her eyes.
I grabbed for my pocket, raced to the door, unlocked it and hurried back towards the car.
“Sorry, Retta,” I said as she was tapping her finger on the steering wheel.
“You know I do what I do…I do for the best, no?” she said.
“I do, Retta” I said, closing the door.
The radio was playing Suspicious Minds. I’ve always enjoyed this song by the late, great Elvis. Could never go wrong with an oldie, but I didn’t tune the station, and I enjoyed it.
“Who put the toast in the toaster this morning?” she asked and sighed.
“Do you mean to say the bread?”
She took a deep breath in and said, “I don’t want any bread! We’re driving!”
“Oh, well, we’re going to the shoe store?”
“The Walmart. The shoe store is in the same parking lot.”
“Sounds good. I’ll walk over.”
“Good. Then I’ll drive over there after I get everything and I’ll pick you up. I have to go to the Dollar Tree now.”
“My feet hurt. I can’t wait to get some new shoes,” I said.
“Well, don’t walk!”
“How am I supposed to get places?”
“I’m driving you. What do you mean?”
“Nothing. Thanks for driving.”
We arrived at Walmart and got out.
I walked to the shoe store.
“Hello, can I help you find anything?” the shoe store attendant said.
“Where are the ten-and-a-halves? The athletic shoes, sneakers, what-have-you?”
“Right over this way,” and she waved her hand for me to follow.
“Oh, thanks. Yes, these will do,” as I eyed up the shoe rack.
“If you need anything else don’t hesitate to ask.”
“Thank you,” I said.
A matter of seconds passed, and I picked up a pair of some grey and tan running shoes.
“Excuse me,” I said, “are there any other stools to sit on, so I can try out the shoes?”
“There’s one in each aisle. The next one over will have another. I know. Sorry. I realize with stocking these shelves I’m taking up the one in this aisle.
“No worries,” I said.
I sat and tried them on. I tightened the shoe laces. I stood and started walking, seeing if my heel and arch were supported enough so that they didn’t hurt when I walked. They didn’t. I walked a few more paces back and forth and sat down to take them off. I walked over to the next aisle where she was and said, “I’m ready to buy these. Would you be able to ring me out?”
“Would you like any socks to go with your purchase? They are two for ten today.”
I looked at the rack, where she was pointing, and I saw a pair of black and neon yellow socks.
I picked up the two sets of socks and said, “I’m ready,” and we both walked towards the register.
When I got outside with my bag-in-hand Retta was not there. I waited for a few moments and decided that I would walk over to the Dollar Tree to see if her car was still there. I did. I was only a few hundred feet away and saw it. Even if I had been wearing no eye glasses I’d still be able to see how crooked she parked.
I sat on the curb in front of the car and put the shoes on. They held my feet like a soft glove, and then I stood up, leaned against the car, placed the bag on top of the trunk and rested my back against it, looking towards the Dollar Tree.
I saw a person exiting the store. It was not Retta. There was a man, an elderly one, with a cane, and he was hunched over. He walked slowly, was thin and with each five to six steps he paused to catch his breath.
The old man walked to a car that was idling in the fire lane since I had been there, about five minutes ago. He got in but without haste. While he was entering his car a mini-van pulled up in front his. Apparently, the old man didn’t like that the mini-van was parked in front of his car. Even though he had enough space to get around the van he honked his horn as if it was his last dying wish for everybody to hear his frustration. He did this for the next two minutes, letting off the horn for only seconds at time and the driver in the mini-van honked back, just as needlessly. Birds took off from their perch upon hearing the obnoxious horn battle.
I chuckled – just a little.
Finally, the mini-van driver backed up only after flipping the man the finger and cursing him. I only saw the violent hand and mouth gestures. The old man pulled out but not before revving his engine, squealing his tires and honking his horn but one more time. Despite how old the man was he certainly still had some fight left within him.
Then, Retta came out of the store.
She put the bags in the back seat, we got in and she started the car.
We were on our way back home.
Now, we were only one stop sign away from the house. Retta was talking to me and not paying too much mind to the road. From what I could see as I raced to put my seat belt on and to grab the door handle – there Retta was unknowingly playing chicken with an oncoming car. She noticed I was tense and only then did her eyes dart from me to the road, and she honked her horn. She didn’t even attempt to get out of the oncoming lane that she was half way in. In fact, I think she pulled a little more towards the wrong side of the road.
I counted my blessings.
At the last moment, she swerved to the correct side of the road.
We passed the oncoming car, and we could both hear the driver yelling some nasty words.
She yelled back and went onto say to me, “You see!? People around here are crazy, aren’t they?”
I held my breath and tongue and agreed by nodding my head. I was only relieved when she parked the car and pulled the key from the ignition. Only then was I happy to be alive.
We parked and I asked, “Would you like me to carry anything in?”
“No,” she said, “you’re carrying the stuff in!”
“Sure thing, Retta,” and she carried on as if nothing had happened.