Mary has called to tell me that she can't talk.
“I’m going to have to call you back,” she says.
I lean back in my chair. “You sound bummed. What’s up?”
“Oh, nothing.” Mary sighs heavily. “I’m just vacuuming the street. I’ll call you back in ten.”
Normally, this is the sort of statement that gives me wrinkles, but if it’s Mary saying it?
My forehead remains as placid as a baby’s.
Thirty minutes later, the phone rings.
“Good morning, Acme Grommets and Gravel.”
“Thank you, sir. I’ll transfer you now.”
“Pearl, dagnabit! My life is a shambles!” Mary starts laughing. There is only the slightest tinge of hysteria attached to the sound.
“What’s going on?”
“You know my car, right?”
I start to frown, catch myself. “Yes,” I say cautiously.
“And you know the kind of valuable stuff I keep in it, right?”
“Are we talking about the mop AND the radio?”
I nod, sure that she will know that I am nodding.
“You are also aware, are you not, that I don’t lock my car door?”
“Yes, ma’am,” I say. “I know all these things and more.”
“So, knowing these things, where would you place the odds of my car window being smashed out?”
There is a moment’s silence as we consider the state of affairs wherein an unlocked car holding both a mop and a radio is broken into and neither is taken.
“So they left the mop,” I say. “That’s a clue, right there.”
I envision Mary nodding. “We know they don’t care about their kitchen floors.”
“And they have no need for a Flintstone-style wig,” I say.
“Nor are they wise to the advantages of a mid-price car stereo.”
There is silence again.
“So,” I say. “You’ve been vacuuming the street.”
“No need for everyone to suffer,” she says. “They left quite a mess.”
“And took nothing,” I say.
“And took nothing,” she agrees. “On the other hand,” she says, ”I have to say that the street in front of our house has never been cleaner.”
“We have you to thank, Mare.”
“Hey,” she says, grinning into the phone, “Who has more fun than me?”