Her day started like every other day. The “Meal on Wheels“ people had come in and left her breakfast on the small space on her crowded kitchen table. The surface of the little pink formica kitchen table could barely be seen with all the clutter. There were stacks of old newspapers, knickknacks, old obituaries, magazines with recipes torn out, a dirty salt and pepper shaker and a empty paper napkin holder.

As the attendant left she said, “Now, Ms. Ainslie don”t sit by that window all morning and let your breakfast get cold. I‘ll see you at 5:00 o’clock with your dinner.”

When the attendant had gone, Ms. Ainslie wheeled herself from the living room window to her kitchen. She pulled the box onto her lap and opened it. Today was Monday and she was happy because she loved the blueberry muffins the food program served on Mondays. She ate the banana and drank the weak watered down coffee.

After breakfast and a trip to the bathroom which took a lot of effort, Ainslie went back to her window seat in the living room.

She had a good view of the whole block from her 2nd floor apartment window. She had lived in that apartment for 40 years. She and her husband had moved in right after they were married. It was a wedding gift from her parents who owned the building then.

She was just in time to see the children two houses down waiting to be picked up for school. They went to catholic school and had on school uniforms. She could see little Maria had forgotten her book bag again.

She yelled out the window, “Hola Maria, donde esta su book bag?“

Maria looked down around her and said “Gracias, Senora Ainslie“ as she scrambled back in the house to get it, just in the nick of time as the jitney arrived to take them to school.

She saw Mr. Jones as he was leaving to go to work. He worked in the bank on Fulton street and was a sharp dresser. Ms. Ainslie smiled. He looked so handsome in his tailored pinstripe suit. He reminded her of her deceased husband who was also a snazzy dresser.

He was just about to open his car door, when he remember and looked up and waved.

“Good morning Ms. Ainslie”, he said. “And how is the best looking woman on the block doing this morning?”

Ms. Ainslie, blushing said “Fine, thank you but you don’t have time to flirt with me this morning. It is Monday, trash day and you forgot to set your cans out and mine.”

He immediately came back into the gate and pulled his two trash cans to the curb and then he came and pulled her two to the curb as well.

”What would I do with out you? My wife would have skinned me alive if we missed today’s trash pick up. Thank you so much.”

”You know if you just give me the word, she‘s history and it is me and you, pretty lady”, he said.

“You are going to be late for work..and I have told you a million times you are too old for me”, she replied.

He was laughing and he blew her a kiss as he pulled off.

Ms. Ainslie continued watching her neighbors come and go. She saw the young lady who has just gotten married about three months ago. She was walking a bit slowly as she passed by and she looked up and saw Ms. Ainslie.

“Good morning sweetheart”, Ms. Ainslie said.

Ms. Ainslie called all the young women in the neighborhood sweetheart because she couldn’t remember or pronounce some of these new names.

“Good mornin”, Merrianda said. She looked up and tried to force a smile.

It was obvious she had been crying.

Ms. Ainslie said, “You two had your first big fight.

Merrianda shook her head yes.

“He stormed off like he ain’t never coming back.”

Ms. Ainslie smiled and said “He”ll be back, You go home, wash your face, and put on something nice. Cook something that smells good.”

Ms. Ainslie said, “Wait here. I have just the thing, an easy recipe to cook and it smells and taste delicious.”

Ms. Ainslie wheeled herself to the kitchen and came back with a magazine. She dropped the magazine out the window and the young girl caught it.

“It is page 38, I turned the page down”, she said.

The young woman looked skeptical but figured what did she have to lose.

Ms. Ainslie said, “Trust me when he comes back he will be tired and hungry. The fastest way to calm the savage beast is through his stomach”.

Ms. Ainslie winked and continue, “Afterwards when he is calm you supply the desert”. “You will have purring like a kitten in no time.”

“Also you might as well tell him he going to be a father in about 7 months. You have that look girl.”

Merrianda thanked Ms Ainslie. She then hurried off towards the supermarket to get what she needed to make the recipe and she thought “I better stop by the drug store and get a home pregnancy test kit”.

Ms. Ainslie continued to watch as cars and delivery trucks went by. It was pretty quiet now as most people were at work and the kids were at school.

She noticed that she had not seen Mr. Al and Max yet this morning. This was highly unusual. Mr. Al walked Max everyday promptly at 10:00. That was usually his second walk of the day. It was now nearing 11:30, something was wrong, Ms. Ainslie could feel it.

She wheeled herself over to her phone and dialed 911.

”911, Please state the nature of your emergency?”, the operator responded.

”My name is Ainslie Felicia Small and I need a welfare check on an elderly neighbor who is not responding to phone calls or knocks at the door.”

“Ma'am are you sure he is in the apartment?”

”Yes please let the officers know that he has a dog that is friendly and playful named Max.”

The operator got all the needed information and promised to have officers there in an hour.

Ms. Ainslie hated to have to exaggerate the story she told the 911 operator but she knew if she didn’t they would have brushed her off.

Approximately two hours later the police showed and Ms. Ainslie watched as they went into Mr. Al‘s building. A little while later she saw one of the officer with Max on his leash letting him relieve himself. Next thing the ambulance showed up and they rolled Mr. Al out.

The police officer came over and asked Ms. Ainslie a few questions.

”Are you the neighbor that called in for the welfare check?”

”Yes, sir”, Ms. Ainslie said. “Is he going to be okay, what happened to him?”

The officer stated, ”It appears to be a heart attack or maybe a stroke, but it is good thing you called. I am not sure what would happen if we hadn’t got here when we did.”

“What is going to happen to Max?”, Ms. Ainslie inquired.

”Well, without any family or friends to take care of him while his owner is in the hospital he has to go to the animal shelter.”

Ms. Ainslie thought about her wheel chair and how much Max needed to be walked. It had been two years since she had been out of the house even with the handicap lift that had been installed. She had just given up and hadn’t even tried to really learn to use it.

”Well things happen for a reason, so I will take care of Max until Mr. Al comes home,” she said.

The police officer helped get Max settled for Ms. Ainslie and he wondered how she was going to manage. She was wheeled chair bound and lived alone. He hoped she would have some help from family or friends.

When Clara, the food deliver came to bring Ms. Ainslie her dinner meal, she was greeted by Max. After finding out about what Ms. Ainslie had done for Mr. Al and Max she helped Ms. Ainslie get down the stairs so she could walk Max.

It wasn’t long before the other neighbors also found out what happened and then everyone began to help Ms. Ainslie. The kids on the bock, Mr. Jones and his wife, and the new married couple who were expecting a new baby.

Ms. Ainslie continued watching her neighborhood and helping her neighbors while looking out her window with Max at her side but having to walk Max opened a whole new world of opportunities to met people and to be helpful.

June 07, 2021 03:19

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