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The Garden of My MInd 9

Posted by Dr. D , 10 September 2012 · 755 views

She did it again.  Her name is Norma and she lives about 50 meters from my home.  She has the uncanny ability to knock at my door at the exact moment I don’t want to see anyone.  I have told Hortencia, my housekeeper, to tell Norma I’m not at home but Hortencia believes that lies are sins and hasn’t missed a mass in decades.  I’m positive I have top billing in her confessions.  So Norma was admitted and sat in the small entry way that serves as a reception area.

“She’s waiting,” says Hortencia.

“I told you . . . .”

She crosses herself and frowns fiercely.  “She’s waiting,” she repeats.

I think of Oliver in that moment.  Can a Schnauzer be trained to be an attack dog?  But it is too late for thoughts because Norma is flashing her toothy smile and reaching for my hand.

“Sit, sit,” she tells me, gesturing toward a chair.  That’s Norma, inviting me to have a seat in my own home.  “Today is Sunday,” she begins as if that’s big news.  “Tuesday, around seven, I am having chile rellenos just the way you like them.”

How in the hell does she know how I like them?  Okay, so she’s been pumping Hortencia for information.  Even Hortencia’s prayers are essentially gossip.
“Anyway,” she continues, “Maria Vazquez Muñoz, remember her?”  I nod a lie.  “Her sister is coming to visit and I’ve invited her to dine with us.  And guess what?  She’s dying to meet you.  But wait, there’s more.  She’s a stewardess with AeroMexico.”

I guess the stewardess part was supposed to convince me.  I could only hope she wouldn’t be beautiful.  I’m a sucker for beauty.  The last time I lost my heart was a disaster and I still can’t understand how I confused “I love you” with “May I take your order?”

“Really?” I ask with a pretense of interest.

“Uh huh, she just returned from Argentina.  Have you been to Argentina?”

“Once or twice, a long time ago.”

“Well then, you’ll have a lot to talk about, won’t you?”

Norma makes these assumptions.  In her mind I had already accepted and she could start imagining the seating arrangement.

“I don’t know if I can, Norma,” I begn, trying to think of something that would sound logical.  “I’m expecting a long distance call Tuesday and if it doesn’t come during the day, I have to wait here.”

Hortencia came to the doorway with her arms folded and her frown deepened.  She tightened her lips and glared in my direction.

“I could answer the phone for you,” she offered.  “I can watch my soap opera here as well as at home.”

“The call is from someone who doesn’t speak Spanish,” I snarl.

“Norma,” said Hortencia, “could I speak with the señor for a moment?”

“Of course,” smiles Norma, her face aglow with confidence.

“You have to go!” said Hortencia after leading me into the kitchen.

“I don’t have to do anything,” I retort, “especially going to dinner with her!”

“Do you want to be here alone all of your life?” she asks with her fists planted against her hips.


“No, you don’t!  You need to find a woman and this is a good place to start!”

“Ah,” I begin with a slow nodding of my head, “and if I find this woman, I won’t need you, will I?”

“Ha!  You won’t want a dumb woman.  A smart woman won’t want to clean this place alone!”

Tuesday came and Hortencia had the clothes she selected for me folded neatly on the bed.  When I had dressed and came into the hallway, she was on the sofa, her legs crossed and feet on the coffee table, punching the television control.

“Put on the cologne,” she called, “the one in the round bottle.”

Dinner at Norma’s home is like dining at a Ted conference.  She does all the talking and makes ridiculous leading statements intended to force an interest between me and the stewardess.  The woman was attractive with a cloud of ebony hair flowing over one shoulder.  She smiled warmly and we spoke of travel, places and events.  The evening was strained and made clumsy by its glaring intent.

I walked her to her car and Norma peeked through the window.  “It didn’t go well, did it?” she was honest enough to ask.

“No,” I agreed.  “I don’t know why.  It was like a blind date without being a date.”

“Everything is time, place, circumstance,” she told me.  “You just can’t invent them, can you?”

“Maybe another time, another place,” I responded.

She nodded with a half smile.  “I leave tomorrow; afternoon flight.  But it was nice meeting you.”

I closed the door to find Hortencia in her usual pose of disgust.  “There was no call.  It was a lie, right?”

“Of course it was a lie!  I didn’t want to go, remember?”

“Madre de dios!  What will become of you?  You are going to hell as a bachelor!”

“I am not a bachelor, I’m a widower.  There’s a difference.”

“No difference!” she snapped, “you are alone in this scary house and you tell lies!  Satan is putting your name in his book at this moment!  So what happened with Norma’s friend?”


“Nothing?  What is nothing?”

“Nothing is nothing, Hortencia!  She didn’t want to go to hell with me, okay?”

She crossed herself again and hung her purse on her arm.  She paused with an expression of thought. “Sylvia Oliveras,” she said slowly.  “Her husband died last year.  She’s young and my husband says she’s pretty.”

“Forget it,” I told her.  “Fix her up with your husband.”

“This weekend, I’ll cook something special.”


The door closes and I shrug with a long sigh.  It is five days to the weekend.  After that, there’ll be another visit from Norma.

Star of the Sea
Sep 10 2012 07:52 PM
That was so funny Dr. D! :)
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I sometimes envy you so much.  Attachment is the ruin of our hearts.
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