Boxed

Kay arrived home from morning coffee to find the mail sticking out of the black box affixed to the front entrance pillar.  The latest lottery offering was there and advertisements for a Central Vacuum System, a health club, a massaging bathtub, a tanning coupon, a Brinks home security system, and the local Animal Hospital. There was a subscription renewal for Folio Books and there were two solicitations for charity.  Gone were the days when people actually wrote to you in their cursive script.  Today’s gathering of the mail rated a two out of ten. Kay sighed.

It was time to get down to business. The studio tour was only two days away and there was still much to do.  She went to her kitchen counter where a motley collection of little notes  was gathered, each with a list of planning items.  She ripped up three that had successfully been completed and chucked them in the waste basket; then, just as she decided that bill paying might be the next good thing if she were to avoid penalties, the door bell rang.  A courier with her much anticipated parcel was shifting from foot to foot, impatiently wanting to be on to his next location.

She took the parcel from him and inspected the thin kraft envelope. Yes, it was from the accountant.  She ran her fingers down the flap seal twice before noticing that it was a peel and stick flap  and that it hadn’t particularly stuck.

Kay pinched the lifted corner and slowly tugged  until the flap opened entirely without a tear  and she extracted her tax return. Flipping to the summary page, she was relieved to see that she would have a small return this year. It was a blessing.

She assumed that the other papers in the envelope were a double – that she would sign and send one copy and keep the other.  She returned to the file and inspected it until she reassured herself that everything was just as she expected. Taxes were a necessary evil.

There was an instruction page and she read it carefully. There were papers to return to the accountant. There were forms to send forward to the taxation agency.  There were copies of some and not of others.  Kay set about scanning and printing the duplicates she needed.

The second batch of papers, it turned out, were the Estate taxes.  She verified those accounts with a greater attention, noting that, here, there were taxes to be paid.  She’d have to go to the bank and put sufficient funding in the chequing account from the interest bearing account.

Two hours later – more scanning, more printing, more preparing envelopes and finding postage for them – Kay embarked upon a trip to the bank. It was four o’clock. Her whole day had been hijacked, but what else could she do? The submissions had to be in within days and there was no use being late – the penalties were not pennies and dimes.

The sun shone brightly, so warm for an April day that it felt like summer, not spring.  When she inserted her key into the ignition and started the car, she sat thankfully absorbing the heat that had built up inside it.  It has been cold in the house, she realized.

Amongst her letters to mail was a letter for a local charity which she decided to drop off at their headquarters on her way home. The office closed at five.

I’ll drop by the thrift store on the way home,” she promised herself. It was a reward for having had to do office work. The tasks had not been unpleasant, just boring. She deserved a reward.

She met Rosanne, the investment officer at the bank,  and was finished her business there in minutes. She posted the mail just outside the bank door.  She stopped by the liquor store for a bottle of wine and a can of beer.  She never drank beer, never had. It was for her garden slugs.  The slugs were pesky things, destructively eating all the new foliage of tender vegetable seedlings.  A tub of beer set into the ground, holes for entry just below the lid, lured the beasties in and they died a happy drunken death instead of glutting themselves on the vegetables.

Kay cornered a clerk. “Can you buy just one can of beer?” she asked.

“You can only get imported beer in singles,” said the sales associate and she pointed to the far end of the store.  Kay mused that her slugs were getting mightily well spoiled by her purchase.  Amongst the  Danish, German, Austrian, Irish, Japanese and Chinese beers, Kay searched for the most economical can.  The slugs were not connoisseurs as far as she knew. Price would be the deciding factor.

The line-up at the liquor store was long.  A second clerk opened up a second till and Kay switched to that line-up, waiting impatiently while the clerk interrupted her service to open up another big box of Earth Day cloth shopping bags that the store was giving away with every purchase.

“Oh great!” groaned Kay. “It’s Earth Day and we are celebrating by producing a ton of new, non bio-degradable shopping bags to give to people whether they needed it or not.” It was illogical and inane. Kay’s thrift shop reward was ticking, slipping away down to nothing. It was more important to be at the Charity office before five.

I’m going to go with the flow,” Kay admonished herself to be patient. There was no use in getting annoyed and then getting unpleasant. The poor clerk was only doing her job. “Try humour“, Kay continued to counsel herself as she fretted over the delay. So, as she paid for her purchase she said cheekily, an impish look in her eye,  “The wine’s for me. The beer’s for the slugs in my garden.”

Kay, of course, had been focusing on the time ticking away, watching each slow movement of the clerk opening up the Earth Day bag box. She hadn’t noticed the tall, handsome lads in their mid-thirties, rippling muscles, arms decorated with tattooed dragons and warriors right down to their elbows.

“I’ll be your garden slug if you’ll buy me beer!” laughed the tallest one.

Kay blushed. He was thirty and handsome. She found no answer so she grinned and moved away, heading back to the car.

Kay unlocked the trunk and placed her purchase within then moved to the left to get into the car.

Impossible.

The white van on the left had parked over the white line. There was no room between the cars to even get to the door much less open it and get in.  She moved to the right side of the car.  A huge pick-up truck, shiny and silver, 4X4 marked in large letters on the side was equally parked so close to the line that the distance between the two vehicles was just short of  twelve inches. Now what to do?
“I’m not going to let anything spoil this beautiful sunny day,” Kay commanded herself, though she  realized that no matter what she did, there was no way she could get into the car until one of the two vehicles moved. It was beautifully warm and trees were blossoming and rigging out in their new-leaf finery. She decided to wait.  That is, the decision had been made for her. She had no choice.

She leaned against the car and watched as people approached. A family with a child in a pram came towards her but they stopped across the aisle of cars and got into a van.  Two women walked together proceeding in the right direction then went straight past the truck and beyond.  A man came carrying a formal business suit in his two outstretched arms as if he were bearing a religious offering. Fifteen minutes passed.

She decided to get a coffee to bring back to her vigil. Her proposed thrift reward had come and gone. It was not to be.

As Kay  stood in the coffee line-up, she continued her observations. A tiny woman full of bristling energy ordered a chai latte.  A curious woman with a porcelaine coloured skin waited patiently for her order.  She must have been at least fifty, maybe sixty, with brittle, damaged hair dyed too black, sporting a pony tail that cascaded from the top right side of her head like a misplaced fountain.  It was her palid skin that made her look so odd – so smooth on the cheeks but wrinkled finely about the eyes and the cosmetic rouge and the bright red lipstick were as if painted on a clown.

Outside again, Kay returned to the car, stumped by her problem. As she sipped her coffee, she tried to divine how long she might have to wait. She herself had been there a full hour by now. Both drivers had arrived after her. It was too early for dinner. They wouldn’t be in the restaurant. What if they were in one of the doctor’s offices?  She could be waiting a long time. Or if it were a woman, trying on clothes? That too could be long. A man approached carrying two Earth day bags full and heavy with liquor store purchase but he walked right on by to a car four spots away.

A woman detached herself from her outdoor cafe chair walked towards Kay then stopped a car two spots away.

As she was opening the driver side door, Kay called,” You wouldn’t know by any chance who owns the car beside you, would you? I’m boxed in.”

“Not the next one, but the white van – it’s the guy with the beard there at the cafe.”  and she pointed to a group of men sitting outside enjoying the sunshine and their conversation.

Why hadn’t she thought to ask before? Kay chastised herself. There they had been sitting, all this time.  She approached the group and asked. The man came immediately and moved the van.

She drove home. It was too late. The Charity office was closed and so was the thrift and now she was late and had work to do.

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2 Responses to “Boxed”

  1. WR Jones Says:

    Wonderfully written – lots of people call me a slug – what type of beer can I expect?

  2. lookingforbeauty Says:

    Imported, of course!

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