Whitney approached the Jenkins household, her heart in her throat out of fear that the numerous fibs she had given to her parents about brother’s whereabouts would somehow be exposed.
Calvin looked up from his whittling. He wore a newsboy cap, a pair of black pants and a red shirt that he’d left unbuttoned, revealing a white t-shirt underneath. He put down his piece of wood, folded his pocket knife and smiled at the girl. “Good evening.”
“Hi,” Whitney said.
Anita had been attempting needlepoint, though in actuality, she was just using the needles to stir the pile of yarn in her lap like a pile of spaghetti. “Calvin?” the old woman asked. “Who’s that now?”
“It’s the Lumpkiss girl, baby,” Calvin said.
The old gal put her hand up to her ear. “Who?”
“The Lumpkiss girl,” Calvin said.
“The tilt-a-whirl,” Anita said. “Oh, I rode that plenty of times back in the day but I wouldn’t dare get on that contraption today. It would break every bone in my body.”
“No baby,” Calvin said. “Not the tilt-a-whirl…why would a tirt-a-whirl even be here?”
“I don’t know,” Anita said. “You said it.”
“I didn’t…” Calvin had danced this waltz many times before, and knew it wasn’t worth it to argue. “Not the tirt-a-whirl. The Lumpkiss girl.”
Calvin raised his voice, but kept his tone kind. “The neighbor kid! From across the street!”
Anita smiled. “Oh, the Lumpkisses! Why didn’t you say so?”
Calvin shook his head and chuckled. “You’re right, baby. I should have said so.”
“Which one is it?” Anita asked.
“Wanda,” Calvin said.
“Sorry,” Calvin said.
“Eh,” Whitney said as she handed Calvin the container full of cobbler. “Close enough. My mother made too much and wanted you to have this.”
Calvin looked it over and smiled. “Well, I don’t know how your mother knew there were a couple of sweet tooths over here but please tell her we said thank you.”
“OK,” Whitney said.
“What’s going on now?” Anita asked.
The young man cleared his throat. “Mrs. Lumpkiss sent her daughter over with some cobbler for us, baby. I was just saying thank you.”
“Gobbler?” Anita asked. “Is it Thanksgiving already?”
“No baby,” Calvin said. “Cobbler. It’s like a cherry pie.”
Anita frowned. “Who died?”
“You shouldn’t be laughing if someone died, Calvin,” Anita said.
“No one died, baby,” Calvin said.
“Oh, thank goodness,” Anita said. “I do not have time to go to a funeral.”
Calvin turned to Whitney. “Thanks again.”
“No problem,” Whitney said.
The girl looked back across the street to her house. Her parents were inside. The lights were on. She couldn’t see her any of her relatives peaking out through the windows. She turned and looked to Phil’s house. The lights were out. The depressed, critically underutilized vampire was no doubt ensconced in his coffin.
“Something else?” Calvin asked.
Whitney thought about it. Maybe she ought to get herself invited in. Use the bathroom or something, just on the off chance that someone was watching and would report to her father if she hadn’t gone inside. After a few seconds lost in thought, she decided against it. The likelihood that someone was watching was low and if they were, she’d come up with another fib anyway.
“You OK?” Calvin asked.
“Huh?” Whitney asked as she turned around. “Oh, yeah. Sorry. Just spaced out there for a second. Goodnight.”
“Goodnight,” Calvin said.
“Mmm hmm,” Anita said as she rocked back and forth. “You have a nice night now.”
Anita and Calvin waited until Whitney crossed the street and entered her house before they spoke again.
“Strange family, those Lumpkisses,” Anita said.
“True enough,” Calvin said. “Boy sneaking out at all hours of the night going God knows where.”
Anita worked her needles. “Girl in the garage, screaming into a microphone about sex throw up and hobo peckers.”
“You heard that?” Calvin asked.
“Everyone heard that, baby,” Anita said. “Astronauts flying around in space heard that.”
Calvin held the container up. “What are we supposed to do with this? You’re a diabetic and I don’t even like cherries.”
“Take it to work,” Anita said. “Leave it out on the counter in the break room.”
“I can’t do that,” Calvin said.
“Because this is good Tupperware and if I leave it out, Mrs. Lumpkiss will never get it back.”
“Oh,” Anita said. “That’s right. I don’t know. Give it to the dog, then, but whatever you do, make sure the next time you see Mrs. Lumpkiss you smile and tell her she makes one hell of a cherry pie.”
“Cobbler,” Calvin said.
“I don’t know what that is.”
“It’s like a pie but you just put the crunchy stuff on the filling and forget the crust,” Calvin said.
“Oh my word,” Anita said. “If that isn’t the laziest thing I’ve ever heard.”
“Stuff like that is why this country’s going to hell in a handbasket.”
“True enough, baby,” Calvin said. “True enough.”
Calvin rose and grabbed the old lady’s boney hand. “Come on, foxy mama. It’s late.”
“Alright now,” Anita said as she mustered up the strength she would need to stand up. “Don’t rush me now. I’m coming.”
Calvin grabbed the old woman’s cane and handed it to her. He then grabbed her hand and counted down. “One…two…”
On three, Calvin helped his love to her feet.
“Lord have mercy,” Anita said as she hobbled into the house. “That’s getting harder and harder.”
Calvin followed behind.
“I am bushed,” Anita said. “I’m going straight to bed.”
“That’s a good idea,” Calvin said. “I think I’ll join you.”
“Oh, no, Calvin,” Anita said. “If you think for one minute you’re getting lucky tonight.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it, baby.”
“Good, because the last thing I need is for you to throw out my hip again.”
“Your hip is safe.”
“It better be,” Anita said. “Because last time the doctor wanted to know what happened and I wasn’t about to tell him.”