Excerpt: Mixed Nuts
The doorbell rang. “Now what?” he said to himself. He stood. “I’m never going to get this ad finished with all these interruptions.”
He walked over and opened the door and found himself staring at a hand holding up a rather large snail.
“Meester Beal, is thees jore snail?” It was the Robert’s gardener, Tito Tortuga.
“I’ve never seen it before,” Frank replied.
“It is eating Meester Robers plants,” Tito said as his black eyes squinted accusingly. “I believe it ees from jore yard.”
Frank looked toward the bay window facing the back yard. “Why? Is he carrying some sort of identification with this address on it?” Frank smiled. “There are ways of dealing with snails you know. You can sprinkle salt on them or set up beer traps…”
“Meester Beal!” Tito glared at him. “Please, stop sending jore snails to Meester Robers yard or else…things… may… happen.”
Frank rose to his full height and he puffed out his chest. “Yeah? What things?”
Tito dropped the snail at Frank’s feet and turned on his heel. “If jew keep sending snails, jew weel find out, but jew don want to know,” he warned over his shoulder.
Frank watched him get into his pick up truck and ease away from the curb. He watched until he was down the street and out of sight.
First Roberts’ new car and now his gardener. At the last neighborhood social, Roberts bragged that he had hired a Brazilian gardener, or as he called him, a seedsman. One who could grow a virtual Shangri-La. And except for the substantial destruction caused by a nasty infestation of lawn snails, he seemed to be doing a pretty good job.
Frank strolled back to his piano and sat down, closed his eyes and took some deep breaths. What would make someone knock ten people down to get to get to a tin of shoe polish? He thought of the basic elements that make people buy products. Saving time, saving money, health, protection or keeping up with the Jones’s. He chuckled. In his case, it was keeping up with the Joans’s. Between his wife, Joan, and Robert’s wife, Joan, maintaining one-upmanship was a full time job.
He tinkled the keys and sighed. Nothing. It wasn’t easy to paint a picture with a tune. A tune with meaningful words no less. Be funny, but not too funny, be clever but not for the sake of being clever and never be a clown. People don’t buy things from clowns. He massaged his fingers into his forehead. No Use.
Frank stood and walked to the closet. He opened the door and picked up his tennis racquet from the floor. Time to relax, he thought. This would get his juices flowing. He walked to the sliding glass door and stepped into the backyard. The grass was in need of a mowing and the flowerbeds had lost some of their definition but it was still the biggest yard on the block. He took a couple of practice swings and walked across the flagstone patio to stand next to the barbeque grill. He pulled the cool morning air into his lungs and watched a couple of sparrows quarreling over a slimy bug.
Frank stepped over to a large aquarium and tapped on the side of the glass. “Hello my voracious herbivores.” He sprinkled in some fish pellets and watched his belly-footed pets sluggishly feeling their way around. The sides of the aquarium fogged as the morning sun warmed their mossy bed.
He slid a large Ramshorn snail from the side of the glass and held it up. “You are ripe for duty.” He raised his tennis racket and held up the snail. “Now go get the breakfast of champions,” he said as his racquet met the shell with a pong sound. The snail sailed neatly over the cinder block fence into Roberts’ back yard. He removed several more snails from the aquarium and served them over the fence as well.