Thursday, December 14, 2006


“You fix, uh ... ruhm ruhm noisy-maker in sink already?” the old woman asked as she entered the kitchen.

Thomas was packing up, throwing a few wrenches haphazardly into his tool bag. He looked up. “Yes, Mrs. Kretiskshenev,” he mumbled, never knowing how to properly pronounce the old woman's name. “It was just something jamming up the garbage disposal.” He picked up a small scrap of scratched metal covered with decomposing food.

The hunched, slow-moving woman immediately recognized the metal wad. Her eyes lit up and she let out a long gasp that lasted the entire time it took her to ramble across the linoleum kitchen floor. “Ah!” she said, followed by an indecipherable exclamation in some eastern European language. She took the small piece of metal from Thomas' hand and told him, “This is my wedding ring! Oh, I thought was lost. But now is ....” Not finding the word in English, she completed her sentence with something that might have meant either “broken” or “shit,” or possibly both. The old woman looked down and saw the look of apology on Thomas' face. “Oh, is no problem,” she reassured him. “My husband won't now care; he is dead long time.”

Thomas stood up and grabbed his tool bag. “You leave already?” the woman asked. Thomas nodded. As he made his way through the small apartment to the front door, the widow, following him as fast she could, called after him, “I think box on wall still broken. You stay and fix?”

Thomas stopped and turned, giving the old woman a chance to catch up to him. “Like I said last time: The thermostat isn't broken, it's just in Fahrenheit,” he explained calmly.

Mrs. Kretiskshenev ignored his response and tried another tactic. “You rest. You sit on couch, watch teevee 'while; I make you sandwich. You like cookies?” Thomas started to shake his head. “You please stay, eat sandwich?” the widow pleaded.

Thomas nearly explained to her that he had more work to do elsewhere in the building – the pipes in the basement, the stairway rails on the fifth floor again, Mr. and Mrs. Chen's door jamb – but he knew that once he left her apartment, he'd most likely go to his own on the first floor and flip through some old magazines or peruse the internet. I guess I can stay for a while. I'll at least get free food out of the deal. Thomas told the woman that he would stay. She excitedly made her way to the kitchen to make him a meal.

Thomas had just gotten comfortable on Mrs. Kretiskshenev's couch when his mobile phone began to sing “The Touch” by Stan Bush. He pulled his phone from his pocket, noticed it was a strange number, and answered with a, “Yup?”

“Thomas, hey, it's me, Miranda.” came the bubbly voice over the phone. He knew who it was before she said her name.

Thomas had thought about the skinny young woman many times since she had asked for his number last week. “Our kind has to stick together,” she had said. Thomas found her smile irresistible and obeyed her request as if hypnotized. “I'm going to tell Alex about you, if that's alright.” Thomas had had no idea who she was talking about. “He's a superhero, too. He's kinda like my mentor.”

What did she say? he had thought. That's the second time she's mentioned superpowers and superheroes. Great, I just gave my phone number to a crazy girl.

“It was nice meeting you Thomas,” she had said as she turned to walk away. She took a few steps, then turned her head smiling. “I'll call you.”

At that moment Thomas had wished that he hadn't given his phone number to the crazy girl. But as time passed, his memory of how crazy she might have been faded, and her image came into sharp focus. He remembered her wide smile and the barely perceptible fragrance she wore. He recalled her long brown hair tucked behind her ears and the soft skin of her left hand. He reminisced, only once inappropriately in the shower, about the curve of her back and the slight jut of her breasts underneath her shirt.

Thomas soon wanted the crazy girl to call him. The last time a girl had called him had been in the tenth grade when his best friend's little sister called to ask him to the Sadie Hawkins dance. He had respectfully declined, not knowing the boundaries of best-friendship in regards to taking little sisters out on dates. When the weekend passed, and a couple of weekdays, too, Thomas soon feared that the only calls he would ever receive would be from complaining tenants.

“Uh, hey,” he mumbled eloquently. “I didn't think you would call.”

Miranda laughed. “Why not? I said I would.”

“You talking to me?” came Mrs. Kretiskshenev's voice from the kitchen. Thomas heard the sound of cabinets opening and closing.

“No,” he called back. “I'm just on my cell phone.”

“Was that your grandma?” Miranda's mid-western accent wafted through the phone while Mrs. Kretiskshenev's voice banged and knocked about in the kitchen.

“You like braunschweiger?

“Yeah, sure, Mrs. K,” Thomas yelled back to the kitchen. “No,” he said into the phone, “that's just one of my tenants.”


“Yeah, I'm a super at the Uptown Apartments, down the block from where we met.”

“Oh cool.”

Why does this chick want to know so much about me? Is she up to something, or is she genuinely interested in me? “So why'd you call?” he asked awkwardly, originally hoping to avoid an awkward silence.

“Well, what are you doing for dinner tonight.”

She's not asking me on a date. Is she? Thomas was confused and elated. “No big plans.”

“How'd you like to go to dinner with us?”

Us? he thought. “Us?” he said.

“Yeah, I told Alex about you, and he really wants to meet you.”

“Oh,” Thomas said, more than a little disappointed.

“So, can I pick you up at your building at 8:00?”


“Wear something nice. I'll see you then. Bye!”


Thomas shoved the phone back into his pocket. Mrs. Kretiskshenev walked out of the kitchen with a plate of food. “Who you talk to on phone?”

“Oh, just someone I met the other day,” Thomas said as he graciously took the plate from the old widow.

“Was it woman on phone?” she asked.

“Actually, it was.” Thomas said while inspecting his sandwich.

Mrs. Kretiskshenev smiled. “I could tell by confused look on face..”

1 comment:

  1. Just had own ruhm ruhm noisy maker in sink fixed. Noise like rusty robot making dirty love with blender.


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