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

Part Three- Chapter One Hundred Seventy-Two

The small plastic multi-colored flags flapped noisily in the sudden freshening wind that had sprung up within the last half-hour. But it was not a refreshing wind that would be welcomed to break this oppressive humidity; it was a hot and faintly threating wind, something alien to me.

We stood on the sidewalk, both of us sweltering in the unrelenting heat. I was almost sorry I had agreed to come out again. Not that it was any cooler in the confines of four walls - the dinky little air conditioners offered - still more of a novelty than standard in this enlightened year of 1964 -didn't do much unless you were right underneath them.

The hot mercury lights - turned on in the gathering dusk - appeared to radiate more heat as they highlighted the glow of the cars set in neat rows below them. But, surely, it couldn't be so late to need these lights - not more than
seven, wasn't it?

I looked over one shoulder, past my husband to the flat horizon beyond - and the back of my neck prickled. City girl I might be, I was country enough to be alarmed over approaching storms. And this one, with lowering, boiling, rolling clouds, looked mean and nasty. I shivered.

Robert turned to me. Whatever he was going to say died in his throat as he saw what I was watching with an almost hypnotic fascination. He took my hand and I could feel the electric tension in his grasp.

"Storm coming in," he murmured, almost unnecessarily.
" I hope it breaks this infernal heat. Those poor kids - not just Bob, you understand - would be suffering under those hot robes."

I didn't reply. A knot that felt as big as a good-sized rock was settling in my stomach. Robert knew how I felt about storms - especially springtime storms. Not quite two years ago, there had been a weak but still frightening tornado which had struck just outside of Carlisle and damaged several homes (not Barbara's, thank God) and continued east into Camp Hill, with considerable damage there as well. Although we were across the State (read: Commonwealth) in Mount Joy, Jimmy, who had been visiting Barbara, called after the storm had blown itself out as a waterspout over the Susquehanna River, and, in a shaky voice, related the incident. I was so upset that he had been so close to danger that I, who never did such things, took to my bed for an entire day - with nightmares
as well. Robert was patient with me until I had recovered.

"Let's go, Lori," Robert said suddenly. "If it starts to rain, we can wait it out in the office. Maybe there'll be an agent
in there - "

There was, but although it meant a potential sale, the clerk didn't look any too pleased to see us. He was gathering his papers together in preparation to leave and try to beat the storm. I heard a ground-trembling rumble and saw a sharp answering flash as Robert explained what we were after. I was certain that I saw the man's nose wrinkle in annoyance as he heard my husband's accent. Did all Midwesterners react this way?

I felt again the way I did when I came to America so long ago - a German immigrant girl, with a good command of English but an overpowering accent. Just because here, our "happening" was pronounced as "hoppening" and the natives here had a flat, strident way of talking, I never really noticed it in the case of Mary Jane, who, after her first visit to Mount Joy, began talking with a rudimentary Philadelphia accent in her subsequent visits.

"Wal," the man said finally, "ifen you got whut I need for a down payment, I can at least see whut we got fer your son. You say he's a college grad?"

"He will be in a couple, three days," Robert answered. he was becoming extremely testy.

"From Indiana University," I supplied.

The clerk's attitude changed at the name of the school.
"Wal! That a fact - and you folks're from out of town ?"

"Pennsylvania," I said proudly.

The clerk looked thoughtful. Then he said, "Wal - s'pose not everyone can qualify fer their hometown schools."
Thunder rumbled directly overhead as he closed a desk drawer. "Wal, let's - "

There was a tremendous crash overhead, and the lights and
air conditioning unit overhead went out.

"Oh, damn," muttered the man. "''Scuse me, folks."

He ducked out a rear door. I looked out the nearest side window. Although the rain hadn't begun, the rumbles were almost continuous, like a giant's handful of iron dominoes hammering the roof, and it was darker than the insides of a cow.

I shivered again and pressed closer to Robert. Despite the stickiness pervading the room, he put an arm around me. What comfort -

The door that the clerk had exited suddenly banged against the outer wall with tremendous force as the
clerk re-entered. "Flipped the generator switch,folks. Power will be back 'n a minute. Efen you want to buy a car fer your son, I c'n help you -" It's about time." - but you may have to wait for the rain, though - "

No sooner had he spoken those words, then the storm broke in all its intensity and it sounded like it was directly overhead. The rain poured from the sky so fast and furious you couldn't see to the first row of cars parked out front -

The lights flashed on again. With a little encouragement from a socket wrench - a little banging - the man got the air conditioner running a second time.

The storm was fast moving. The rain lessened, then abated. The three of us stepped outdoors to see the ugly clouds. still looking like an overdone stew, roil to the northeast, away from us. To my deepest disappointment,
the rain had done nothing to cool the atmosphere. If any thing had been done, the air was stickier and the walks were hot and steamy.

I trailed behind and let Robert do the choosing with the clerk in his wake. If a car caught my eye, I stopped to look at price tags or the prices crayoned on the windows - and put each one back again. Greedy old -

"Lori?" Robert was standing by a car with the agent beside him. He waved at me. "Can you come here, dear?"

I walked over to the next row. Robert pointed to the car on the end. "What do you think?"

There was Bobby's perfect car - a late model forest green
Chevy Impala Super Sport.

I liked it. I agreed Robert had made a wise choice.

The man was anxious to close up business and go home to dinner. With a little bit of paperwork, we handed over the down payment and agreed to switch cars before the end of the week.

The clerk was still at the lobby desk. He gave us a knowing smile as we walked in. It was obvious he had seen us return in the rented car. Robert felt my muscles contract as I fisted my hand, ready to break a few teeth.

"Don't, Lori," he whispered into my ear. "He isn't worth it."

And Robert was right. I knew it.

MaryJanine MaryJanine
61-65, F
Aug 27, 2014