Kinder, Kirche, Kuche (Children, Church, Kitchen)

Part Three - Chapter One Hundred Seventy One

I took my shower first, then Robert. He came into the bedroom where I was sitting on the bed, toweling my not-quite-dry blonde hair. He took the towel from my hands and took over the job.

"You don't have to do that," I protested mildly. Although this was a companionable and common activity at home, Robert was excellent at it and I secretly reveled in it each time he took the towel away from me - he seemed to get more water out of my hair than I did and I felt very spoiled when he indicated his desire to do it by this gesture. It was another reason that I loved him.

Robert didn't reply with an offhand remark as he usually did when I made my token protest. He began to towel my hair quite thoroughly, fluffing it under and through my tangled tresses. Sure enough, I could feel the water leaching out my hair into the Turkish surface. But he didn't reply. We had been married a number of years - long enough for me to be able to know he had something on his mind. What could it be? I decided to wait and let him tell me when he was ready. He certainly would.
Or so I thought.

"Anything wrong,hon?" I asked finally, when I couldn't stand it any longer.

Robert finished and dropped the damp towel on the bed between us. It laid there as a mute, sort of accusing symbol as he took my hands in his. "Lori," he began, "I have a proposal and I've been mulling it over as to the best way to say it."

He paused; I waited.

"Jimmy came to me last week and asked me if I thought you would sell your car to him." He knuckled his nose. "I said he'd have to take it up with you. Has he said anything on it? "

I shook my head.

"Well, as you know, we're getting Bobby a brand-new car for graduation. We agreed on that when he started college - I didn't think that rattletrap he's driving now is going to last too much longer cross-country. I think Jim is of the same opinion, which I think is why he didn't ask Bobby for it - " A lie; the boys were still on the outs. " - so he figured, probably, you might entertain the thought of letting him have the old car and he would care for it."

He let me mull that over for a few minutes. The car in question was our old black Ford sedan. While not quite that old, it was sturdy, compact and strong, good gas mileage and good traction on highways and hill roads alike. We had incredible good luck for the time we had owned this vehicle and I hated to give it up. That was the car we had brought the boys home in, so there was a sentimental attachment to it, too. But -


"Yes?" I gave Robert my full attention.

"The proposal is this - before we go back home, we'll go car-shopping for Bobby - "

"Down here?" I interrupted.

Robert grinned. "You're six miles ahead of me. Yes, down here. This is Indianapolis - a car town. A car city. We have to return that rental anyway and we may as well give the place we take it back to the dealership to return to the airport - didn't you know they have a roped-off area in the back with signs? 'Return Your Rental Cars Here '?"

I shook my head, confused again. I had never noticed, passing a dealership. In fact, I had never gone shopping for a brand-new car. Secondhand was fine with me.

Robert sighed; he resumed. "We'll get Bobby's car down here and he can drive it home. We'll break it in on the streets and turn it over to him in front of the college." He grinned persuasively. "Your future daughter-in-law will be thrilled to be riding in a newer model car."

I melted slightly at the mention of Mary Jane. Robert must have seen the change in my face. He kneaded my hands, a little too strongly. "Well, sweetheart - what do you say?"

I didn' t trust my voice; I nodded.

"Good!" Robert stood up, picking up the towel as he did so. "Now, let's get some clothes on before we catch pneumonia and go to have something to eat. Then we can go shopping for a car."

He picked up the change of clothes I had left piled on the chair and left to go back to the small bathroom.

I slipped the robe off and exchanged it for a sleeveless shell top and simple skirt. I opened my suitcase and took out my simple flats. I was less than enthusiastic about going to look at cars. I was content enough with what we had right now. But this wasn't for me. This was Bobby's new car - his first, possibly his pride and joy. I was mature and intelligent enough to concede that.But why couldn't we buy it in Pennsylvania? We were out-of-towners and any dealers who saw us coming might stick us with a lemon or, worse, something that wouldn't get us through the Alleghenies.

In the lobby, Robert asked the man at the front desk for a name of a reliable car dealership. The man wasn't very helpful. His response was snide.

"Come into a fortune, did you?" His smile was quite smarmy. "Driving a rental car and then you want another car of your very own?" A glance at me. "The little woman don't want to ride with you no more, I gather - "

Unseen out of the sight of the man, Robert squeezed my hand. His voice was level. "That is none of your business, sir. I asked the name of the most reliable dealership you know. If you don't want to help, we'll ask someone else."

The man's attitude changed in a dime. "Hey, hey, HEY now. Wait one minute. Never said I wasn't goin' to help.
Why'd you think that?" Taking a business card from the tiny rack displaying a supply, he turned it over and scribbled a name and address. He handed it to Robert.
"Best place I know of. Their prices are high, though. You got a thousand to put down?"

Robert began to turn red around the ears. "That, sir, is again none of your business. Thank you for the information. Lori - "

As I turned to leave, I heard the clerk mutter, "Damn high-handed Easterners."

I glared over my shoulder. The clerk pretended not to notice, his interest in the open ledger in front of him.

I thought Robert hadn't heard the last remark. I was wrong. As my husband helped me into the rental car, he said, in barely controlled fury, "Damn low-life farming Midwesterners!"

I flashed him a tired smile.

MaryJanine MaryJanine
61-65, F
Aug 26, 2014