Cement Heart(8)

By: Beth Ehemann

“Damn it!” She jumped up from her chair and glared into the yard.

I followed her stare and turned around just as an ice cube whizzed past my head toward a squirrel that had stealthily climbed a tree and dropped down onto one of her birdhouses.

“Whoa, whoa! What the hell are you doing?” I held my arm up, shielding my face from another ice cube.

“That little bastard is looking for seed in the houses!” she yelled, raising her right arm and throwing another cube, barely missing the squirrel.

I looked down at the tray, finally noticing the cup with nothing but ice in it. “You were prepared for this?”

“Yeah, he does this all the time!” She launched another cube, this time making contact with the poor little guy’s belly. He jumped from the swinging house back up to the tree and disappeared.

“He’ll be back… and I’ll be ready.” She sat back down in the chair, keeping a careful eye on the tree.

“Is this what you do with yourself all day?”

“Pretty much.”

“So what else is on your agenda this week, other than squirrel hunting?” I teased, nodding toward the tree.

She shrugged. “The ladies gave me a hard time for missing cards last week, so I suppose I’ll have to do that on Monday. It’s supposed to rain Tuesday, so I’ll most likely lie around in my underwear and watch TV.”

Like I said, kindred spirits.

She continued, “Probably The Price is Right. Drew Carey is a cutie. He can leave his shoes under my bed anytime.”

“Ugh.” I cringed. “Gross. Why do you talk like that?”

“Hey, I’m old, not dead. Some of those young men on TV really get my motor running.” She wiggled her eyebrows up and down.

“Come on! Knock it off. I don’t want to hear about this.” I laughed and covered my ears with my hands.

“You know, Lawrence, in my day, I was pretty hot to trot,” she bragged proudly.

“I don’t think I want to know what that means.” I sighed.

“It means the boys thought your old granny was pretty cute, and granny loved the boys right back.” She stared off into space, thinking about her past. She smirked and raised one eyebrow. “Especially the ones in uniform. Boy, was I a sucker for a man in a uniform.”

“Can we be done with this conversation now?” I pleaded, rubbing my eyes with the heels of my hands. “I’m trying to keep my breakfast down.”

Gam laughed loudly, clearly enjoying my discomfort. “Why did you want to know what I was doing anyway?”

“I was going to come by again. Maybe Wednesday?”

“Let me check my schedule.” Her dark brown eyes looked up toward the ceiling of her covered porch and then back down at me. “Yep, I’m free.”

“Good. I’m gonna come take you to breakfast.”

“You are?”

“I am.”

“Hmmm…” Thinking about it, she chuckled to herself. “Make it brunch. I like to sleep in.”

“HEY! COME ON in.” Big Mike’s smiling face greeted me as the wooden door opened. He was holding Maura in his right arm, facing out, as I stepped inside. As soon as I stepped through the door, she grinned up at me, her arms flapping wildly as drool hung off her chin.

I caught the spit with my finger and wiped it on Mike’s face as I walked by. “Kind of like having a puppy, huh?”

He laughed, wiping his cheek with his sleeve. “Asshole.”

I walked toward the back of his large, comfortable house and into the kitchen. Matthew was sitting at the counter eating a bowl of macaroni and cheese.

“Hi!” He waved at me, grinning just as big as his sister had.

“Hey, buddy!” I walked over and high-fived him. “How’s it shaking?”

He scrunched his little eyebrows together and looked up at me. “How’s what shaking?”

“Never mind, bud.” I laughed and he went back to his noodles.

“Matthew, never take anything Uncle Viper says literally. It’s a very important lesson we all need to learn at one point or another,” Mike teased as he set Maura down in some weird-looking baby contraption.

“You two aren’t going to corrupt my son, are you?” Michelle breezed into the kitchen.