Monday, November 16, 2009

Awkward Beginning

"Hello Ms. Alverrez."
"You again."
"I've seen you around."
"You've 'seen me around'? Of course you have, you stop here every week with packages for other addresses."
"I wanted to see you. To talk to you."
"About what side of the street 1273 is on? Or the finer points of whether apartment twenty-four in some other building could be apartment twenty-four in this building?"
"There is so much to say, I didn't know where to begin..."
She had built up steam. "So you started with my neighbors? What gave you the right..."
With seemingly oblivious credulity he changes topic, "the Clausen's are really more personable than you made them out."
"Personable? Did I show you the note they left on my door?"
"The one where they argue their copulation noises are legitimate as they are actually reproducing? Yes."
"Under the covenant of God!" Ms. Alverrez quotes, emphasizing with by making quotation marks in the air.
"I can HEAR you." Comes a shrill whine from down the hall.
"Shit." She looks at Delivery Boy, assesses, and with a frown. "Get inside."
The apartment is both tastefully decorated and well lived in, somewhere between art with utility and a found object. Delivery Boy hasn't moved far after closing the door while his hostess has delved to deep recesses like a turtle.
"Oh, is this the food processor Ms. Yang returned?"
"The Chinese lady downstairs? Yeah, that's the one."
"Room eighteen. I like delivering to her, Chinese stamps are so beautiful. I'm really thinking I want to learn the language."
"So, is Ms. Yang going to teach you hanzi between telling you what I wore yesterday and how we would make a nice couple?" The sarcasm in Ms. Alverrez's voice when she said her neighbor's name was so biting it took some of the shine on the oil painting nearby with it. Delivery Boy's face was flush, red from the virtual slapping.
"I was just looking for a way to approach you, you're just so beautiful. I guess I got it all worked up in my head." His sweet, its-OK-you-ran-over-my-dog-I'll-get-another, smile stopped her dismissive body language.
"I'm here now, let's go. What have you worked up?"
Delivery Boy was carrying a package, no surprise there, but now he had one addressed to her. The senders name was "Bob Yelsing?"
"Bob, Rob, Robert, call me whatever you like."
"How about 'Stalker'?" She realized she was speaking a little too late.
"As you wish." Bob looked at the floor, smiling. "Please, open it."
Ms. Alverrez hated surprises, especially presents. How was one to act? And this guy, although sweet and cute, was totally in her space. Her private little sanctuary from the world and here an uninvited guest. (If such a thing wasn't a complete tautology, wouldn't uninvited intruder be more appropriate?)
"Oh, here you are." She looks up from the veritable Trojan Horse to see Bob holding a box cutter. Gasping, she stumbles backwards as the package seemingly bounces after her following its descent.
Laughing after realizing there was nothing or noone behind him, Bob puts the cutter on a table. "I didn't tape it for transit, it should be easy to undo it by hand."
She smiled at her own uneasy and dove into the present. Although still fearing to find lingerie, if either one of them was going to embarrass themselves anymore today she just wanted to get it over.
Peering from behind packing paper was Ms. Yang holding a package, a quarter of its surface covered in ornate Chinese stamps. Unsure as to what she had found she pushed away more paper and there was Ms. Clausen with package in hand scurrying away from the camera's lens as three of her children peered out from behind her large pregnant form.
"These are my neighbors." Her voice plaintive, but meek compared to earlier.
"Well, eight of them. And in the middle is space for you." It was a picture frame with a collage of candid shots of her neighbors, each after receiving a package from the same Delivery Boy. "I know it is a bit cheesy, but..."
"I would say more creepy, something a stalker would do. You know I'm going to call you that from now on, Stalker?"
Bob's throat had become tight, he wanted to verify that she meant to see him again, but nothing came out.
"Here, let's exchange numbers. Let me know if you want to do something later in the week. And please, call me Sam."
"Dinner," was all he could muster.
"Yeah, cool. Just not here, in public. Don't come by my place again or I'm moving out of your delivery zone."

© Michael Mosher 2009


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