Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Shot in the Dark

           Mother and I were sitting at the breakfast table; I do so enjoy papaya with a little lime juice squeezed delicately over it.  Mother had taken the time to cut some small squares of cheese cloth and each section of lime was carefully wrapped in a little square of cheesecloth and secured with a neatly tied piece of fine white string. I put the piece of lime down on a small china plate and wiped the tips of my fingers with the linen napkin that was at my place.

            “Well, Mother,” said I, “What do you think of our new neighbours?”

            Mother replied, “As little as I possibly can.”

            Ever since that debacle by the mailbox Mother had been chiding me.  In all fairness, how was I to know that my dramatic performance the other morning would actually entice them to lease the house next door?  I said, ‘lease,’ not ‘rent.’  Lease for a whole year, no less.  Imagine that!  Not merely rent for a month or so.  I fear that we are in for troubled times.  Why only last night there was a terrible commotion.

            We were sitting in the living room listening to Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.  You know, that wonderful piece with the cannons firing in time with the music, when there was the sound of loud shot from somewhere near our front yard.  We knew it wasn’t one of Tchaikovsky’s cannons because it sounded, quite clearly, out of proper rhythm.  Then, just as the Overture reached its crescendo there were several more loud reports from the front of the house.

            Now we generally don’t make it known but Mother’s maiden name was Toliver and she came from one the oldest and finest New England families.  Her grandfather Antonio Talliaferro emigrated from Palermo to England and thence to Boston, Massachusetts, where he changed his name to Anthony Toliver.  Among his belonging was a marvelous old lupara.  You know, that short Sicilian shotgun.  Grandfather Toliver had it embossed with the family crest and it has been handed down as a family heirloom. 

            We have had a number of robberies and home invasions in the better area of town where we live.  We have of late been quite concerned for our safety and security, so I took  the lupara and loaded it with rock salt laden shells and put it in the umbrella stand by the grandfather clock in the foyer.  After all, the intention is just to warn these unconscionable criminals.

            Now, when Mother heard the shots outside she was seized with a passion for home defense and moved with dignity, but with considerable alacrity to the foyer and seized the lupara, opened the door, and discharged both barrels into the front yard.  Immediately we heard loud muffled screaming from inside our neighbour’s house, echoed by even louder screaming from the bushes in front of our home.  I quickly took the lupara from Mother and dropped it into my golf bag in the foyer closet and called 911.  I suppose I will have to go golfing next week.  There is a marvelous water hazard at our club where I have lost an untold numbers of golf balls, and that will come in quite handy.

            In a matter of minutes there was the sound of sirens closing in on our neighbourhood.  When the dust settled and things were sorted out, the police let it be known that the large unkempt woman next door, curlers, house coat and all, thought she saw a skunk out in front of their house.  She took her pistol and rushed out front and discharged several bullets.  One of the bullets wounded her husband in the posterior portion of his anatomy.

            As I said to the police, “There was no odour of skunk.  It was probably the horrid little black and white pug belonging to the neighbour across the street.  They have the nasty and disgusting habit of letting that little monster out the front door where it roams the neighbourhood and does what it considers it duty on all of our lawns.”

            As I said to the police, “I have no idea where the other shots came from, and as the large bellicose woman who had been firing an unlicensed fire arm only suffered some stinging cosmetic wounds, I consider that all in all there was no harm done.”

            Now, to be fair, I was somewhat uneasy about what had happened so I remonstrated with Mother.  “Now, Mother,” said I, “it is hard to imagine Jesus discharging a lupara out the front door.”

            Mother replied loftily, but quite correctly, “Now, now, Alfred.  I’m sure that Jesus didn’t have to contend with neighbours who discharge firearms in the middle of the night.  What a shame!  What a shame!”

            Well, nevertheless, when all is said and done, it says somewhere in the Bible, better safe than sorry, and I will just have to go golfing in the very near future.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Bug Off

When you open the doors of the Church to the world you are apt to get all kinds of people. 

            Mother and I were sitting at the breakfast table with our tea, crumpets and shirred eggs when a Buick stopped in front of the “For Lease” sign at the house next door.  Now we had some anxiety about the class of neighbour we might receive. 

Mother looked at the Buick and noted that it really did need to be cleaned and what a pity it was that they had parked it right behind our Lincoln.  “Not our kind of people, I imagine,” said Mother, “I really do wish we could have the right sort of neighbors.”

She looked at me archly and said sotto vocĂ©, “Isn’t there something you can do Alfred to ensure that they don’t lease that house?”

I looked out the window at the Buick and noticed that it wasn’t even a newer model.  “Mother,” said I, “I have an idea.”

Rising from the breakfast table I retired to my dressing room and stripped down to my boxer shorts, of course taking time to hang my silk shirt and paisley ascot on a wooden hanger.  I put on a pair of black socks and rolled one of them down to the ankle, put on my Turkish towel bathrobe, messed my hair up and headed for the front door, tipping Mother a wink, and on the way seizing a Havana Churchill cigar and jamming it in my mouth.

Once out the door I staggered down towards the front sidewalk scratching my derriere and letting out a loud belch.  Now I don’t usually do either of those things, certainly not in public, but I must admit to a certain subtle pleasure in both of those rude exhibitions.

The mailbox was situated right in front of where they had the effrontery to sit in their regrettable automobile.  Putting on a rather finely tuned drama I staggered drunkenly, lunged for the mailbox, saw that of course it was empty and said loudly, “Damn! Damn! Damn!” and fell as awkwardly as I could to the ground.  Then I started a very awkward and admirable ascent to the standing position by raising the posterior portion of my anatomy as high as I could in the air whilst keeping my face on the ground.  Slowly I pulled myself upright, hand over hand on the mailbox.

The Buick door opened and a balding, unshaven and grossly fat man, wearing shorts and a dirty t-shirt, leveraged himself out of his vehicle declaiming loudly, “It’s alright Martha.  Don’t worry about the Lincoln.  They’re our kind of people.” Which goes to show that whether or not you like it there are all kinds of people; but as Mother says, “Well, Alfred!  They don’t need to live next door.”

St. James gives us some very pointed instructions about how we are to regard others.  “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.  For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, "You sit here in a good place," while you say to the poor man, "You stand over there," or, "Sit down at my feet, have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?" (James 2:1-4).