#AtoZChallenge April 24, 2018, Under the Shade of a Thin Tree
26 posts. 26 days. And 26 letters of the alphabet, one post beginning with each letter, in April.
Follow me as we visit the not-quite-normal retirement village of Twilight, Arizona, where reality clashes with the unexplained.
Under the Shade of a Thin Tree
It was Ed Robinson’s first summer in Twilight, and he’d learned the trick to living in the Arizona heat. After four months of stifling temperatures, capped at one-hundred-and-nineteen degrees the previous week, he knew not to venture out after noon. After ten, if one could help it. It was insanity to do otherwise.
Fortunately, retirement took care of any reason to brave the heat. No office to go to, no commuter train to ride, no commitments or schedule he didn’t want. Just days of blue, cloudless skies, early morning golf games, and books to read, cable movies to watch, and meals to cook.
His latest hobby, cooking, sent him out past his self-imposed curfew of noon. While riffling through his recipes, one with lemongrass and Thai lime juice spoke to him, demanding his attention. Unfortunately, The Mart, less than a block away, wouldn’t carry either ingredient.
There’s no help for it. Trader Joe’s it is.
Ed backed his BWM Z4 out of the garage. He’d been foolish to buy it, but his business had done well, and he’d retired with a hefty 401K and stock options, which he’d converted to blue chip stocks. He might have saved on the price of his home, but he’d gone in the opposite direction with his choice of transportation.
Ed zipped up Grand Ave. and within minutes pulled into the parking lot.
Now came the great hunt. Not for the products he needed, but for the perfect parking place. In August, in Arizona, the perfect parking place lay under a shade tree. He’d learned a local joke—carry oven mitts in your car to use on the steering wheel.
Ed circled the parking lot, shaking his fist at anyone who beat him to a shaded spot, of which few existed. He suspected the employees staked them out in the morning.
He stalked one woman, slowly driving behind her, his parking senses telling him she’d snagged one of the coveted spots. A car length back from her Buick, he waited while she loaded her groceries, entered, then sat forever.
Who’s taking her so long? By the time I get in the store, the Christmas decorations will be on display.
Another car pulled around the corner, its driver’s eyes on the Buick’s spot.
Not going to happen, buddy boy. Ed was in a position to slide in place the moment the woman backed out.
“Victory!” he yelled as she reversed the car, blocking the other vehicle. Ed pulled into the coveted spot. A Chinese Elm cast its thin shade through lace-like leaves across his BMW. Ahead of him a meridian of pineapple palms lent a little extra sweetness to the taste of triumph.
He took his time shopping. The store held so many interesting treasures, and he hadn’t been to a Trader Joe’s in weeks.
An hour later, two bags in hand, he walked to the front doors where a crowd had gathered. As if emerging from a fog, he realized a storm raged outside.
“A haboob,” a woman remarked as she hurried through the doors, her hair disheveled by the storm.
“Ah.” Ed had yet to experience one of the area’s famous dust storms.
“Wind must be blowing at 60 mph,” another shopper said.
Panic crept under Ed’s skin. “No, no, no.”
He pushed open the doors. A mix of dust and light rain pelted him. He stumbled through the lot to where he’d left the BMW.
He’d parked under the shade of a thin tree.
Uprooted, it lay across the hood.
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Thank you so much!
Tomorrow’s #AtoZChallenge, April 25, 2018, Valley Fever
Carl has a unique cure for his wife’s case of valley fever.
Until then, blessings,
p.s. Ed Robinson also appears in The Early Bird Catches the Worm