I step onto the porch, heart pounding, pounding so hard I struggle to breathe, not from the effort of lugging three heavy bags up fourteen stairs but from Fear of Mother. I put down my carry-on and notice how the gray paint is thin and fading, worn through to bare wood between the top step and the door. This adds to the overall air of neglect and frightens me more than the phone call. Mother has always been so meticulous, always ordering work done long before it was needed.
One must keep up appearances, Laura. What will the neighbors think?
Why do you care what the neighbors think when you think they’re all morons?
The door creaks open. My skin goes cold. In one motion I grab my bag and straighten.
“Carrying a lazy man’s load, are we?” Mother rasps. “Really Laura, you should know better at your age.”
There are mothers in this world who would be overjoyed so see their only child walk up their front stairs after an absence of three years. There are mothers who would regret wasting the past four years for no valid reason. There are mothers who would welcome a daughter who returns home to help in a time of need. My mother is not one of them. But on the plus side, she has yet to slam the door.
I sidle across the porch as if the bags weighing me down are light as air. “Not a problem, Mother. I’m stronger than I look.”
Brushing past her, I step over the threshold into the old-fashioned foyer. Bigger than most people’s living rooms, the dark-paneled foyer contains an antique walnut console table with a matching wall mirror above it. Closer to the door is a brass umbrella stand with the curved handles of two umbrellas and my father’s walking cane protruding from it. The only other piece of furniture has stood against the wall to my left forever. It’s a huge, walnut armoire with six over-sized hooks for coats, a shelf above for hats, and a bench for sitting on to remove outside shoes.
Nothing has changed except the smell, that unique smell every home holds within its walls. I can still detect the sharp musky odor of my father’s tobacco smoke and the sweet fragrance of Mother’s lavender potpourri, scents that have permeated this house for as long as I can recall. But something else has been added, something new and indefinable. A little like sour milk but with an underlying hint of mustiness.
The smell of old age?
The Out to Lunch Investigators use local restaurants as their mobile office where they combine their unique lifetimes of experiences and skills to solve cold crimes and right injustices.
Please click on my Older Readers page for details.
Two of my crime novellas for adult readers have been published, Woman in the Glass, and Disappearing Act
Woman in the Glass was an e-book only and unfortunately is no longer available.
Disappearing Act, is an Orca Book Rapid Read and is still available at https://www.orcabook.com/Search?Keywords=+Gaetz