Monster Café
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Monster Café

The Lady (and her husband) Vanishes

A panster flash fiction story…

K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

They walk past my window every day. At around 9:00am, I see them stroll by. The elderly woman pushes her walker with the determination of a soldier. Her husband saunters. His long legs allow him to take slow steps and still remain slightly ahead of her.

They walk past my window heading south towards the neighborhood coffee house, but I never see them walk past my window in the opposite direction.

Where do these viejitos* and their dog go every day?

It’s quite natural for an elderly couple to walk in the morning. Many people in the neighborhood do the same.

Walk at least 30 minutes a day to stay healthy.

But only the elderly couple hold a precise walking schedule.

After a few months of witnessing their daily routine, my casual glance out the window evolved into a more disciplined observation.

I first made note of the precise time they walked past my window. My iPhone home screen read 9:17 (it was in the AM). I thought of taking a picture of them walking by to date-stamp their presence but I passed on that. I felt it was a creepy thing to do.

I waited for them to return.

How long can an old couple walk?

They didn’t return.

The following morning I deliberately waited by the window to see if the 9:17am was a one-off or if they would walk past at exactly the same time.

I waited in anticipation.

Will they come by? Where are they? It’s 9:16 already.

I wondered what I might do if they did pass at 9:17am.

Should I stop them? Should I talk to them in an attempt to delay them? Or should I follow them?

Yea, let’s do that. The following part. Do that.

I sipped my coffee as I peeked out the window from behind the shades.

Out of the corner of my left eye, I saw the front part of her walker. The tennis balls at the bottom of the front legs of her walker looked new.

Bright neon yellow.

You can see those things a mile away.

Then I saw the old man carrying their dog I affectionately call “princess white-fluff”. She’s sporting a home-made cone (a bowl from the Dollar Store paper plate collection) to keep her from scratching a healing cut on her side.

How does a pampered dog get a cut on her side?

There are two types of indoor dogs in a typical Mexican household: the Chihuahua with its well-known Napoleon complex and irritating bark and the generic white fluffy terrier. A yappy dog- usually with yellowing whiskers and breath that will make your eyes tear up- who will either give you unending love and affection or will try to bite your face off.

Robina Weermeijer on Unsplash
Zoe Ra on Unsplash

Both types of dogs are annoying.

The elderly couple is of the white-fluffy-yellow whisker-horrible breath-terrier persuasion. Sometimes the dog walks on a leash along side the old man. Other times he’s cradled in the old man’s arms as they walk past my window.

I peeked over my Golden Girls mug as I sipped the last of my coffee. I tried my best Sherlock Holmes-inspired attention to detail.

Later, I will employ all of my little grey cells a la Hercule Poirot.

After they passed my window, I walked out to my porch and watched as they continued down the street.

Without realizing it, I began to follow them.

Following an elderly couple seems almost perverted. What are you doing?

After three blocks, the elderly lady, with her new tennis ball-cushioned walker, stopped at the corner and looked back. I jumped behind a bush.

Did she see me?

She continued to walk down the side street. I ran to the corner where she had briefly stood expecting to see them maybe half a block down. But when I arrived to the corner, the old couple was nowhere to be seen. They had disappeared.

What the fuck?

The next day I waited for them again. Again I followed them. Again I lost them.

How do you lose slow old people?

The third day, I waited on the opposite corner from where I lost track of them.

I am sure to discover their destination.

I ducked behind some overgrown shrubs of an empty house. My view of them was, nonetheless, clear and unobstructed. Or so I thought.

When the old couple approached the corner, the old lady stopped, looked behind her -like she did the two previous days. As I unfolded my old knees to get a better view, a skunk scurried past me and emptied her entire stink juice on my leg.

Elisa Stone on Unsplash

I gasped and muffled my scream with my hand.

I ran towards the empty house gagging and trying my best not to cough. My attempt to stay out of sight was futile.

I stumbled down the sidewalk. The old man looked at me and laughed. His wife ignored me. She seemed intensely focused on something else. The smell of the skunk didn’t seem to bother them.

Skunk smell is strong and spreads fast. How does it not bother them?

Ignoring the old man, I walked towards my house. Holding my breath, I walked until I was out their sight. My walk turned into a walk-jog managing to keep what was left of my dignity in tact.

In my haste to escape the skunk, I had briefly stepped on one of my shoe laces loosening it from the double knot. I stumbled a bit but kept moving forward. Then, in a flash, a wayward shoe lace betrayed me.

I stepped on the shoe lace a second time as I ran across the street. My hands and my left cheek made first contact with the hot pavement. I rolled on my back and turned to see if the old couple had witnessed the end of my side show.

They were gone.

I got up from the street in one swift move ignoring the nausea and the pebbles embedded in my hands and face and ran back towards the corner where the old couple stood just seconds ago. I looked around. Turning my head left, then right. Shifting my eyes up, down, left, right. Nothing.

I sighed as I squatted and sat on the street curb still dizzy from the skunk stink, my fall, and the sticky stillness in the air.

They were gone.

They were just here. Laughing at me.

Gone.

Again? What the fuck?

(to be continued…maybe)

  • elderly people

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maité landa

maité landa

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GenXr. Coffee snob. Gardener. I know a little bit about a lot of things. Love Stephen King novels, John Coltrane and Golden Girls (plus a lot of other stuff).