Play Nice

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Thanks,
Patricia

Briefly

[This is where the summary would go if I'd bothered to write one.]

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The Stoop

There used to be chairs on the stoop of the old apartment building. They weren’t fancy chairs, nobody would have been fool enough to put anything too good out there, but the old women thought that the worn down, metal chairs would be safe out there. They weren’t the most comfortable of chairs. They’d gotten them from the rectory when some rich folk had donated new chairs to the church.

‘Hmph,’ Bessie had said. ‘Sho nuff, don’t none of those good for nothing kids like ta sit in these chairs on Sunday mornings, they oughta be okay out on the porch.’

But the chairs only lasted out on the porch a week. The old women just sighed. They were old enough to not let something like that get them down. But they made sure to shoot reproachful looks to anybody under the age of 18 that dared to walk by the porch when they were having their meetings.

They didn’t really think the kids were bad, mind you. They just figured somebody had to give them the evil eye to keep them on their toes. The ladies felt that was their job. Keeping people on their toes and keeping the stories alive. Most of them had lived in that neighborhood and in that building longer than they cared to admit.

They knew what the young people called them, busybodies they’d heard say. “But that’s what people call you when they’re up to no good, yes sir. Don’t nobody mind you minding their business when they’re behaving,” Gertie liked to say.

“That’s right,” said the women.

After the chairs made their disappearing act, each woman would bring her own chair, but that got old and quick. After that they assigned the task of taking a chair to the stoop to their respective grandchildren. This worked for a while, until summer time rolled around, then the children were very hard to get a hold of.

So, they each went to Horton’s grocery store to ask for a milk crate. He’d lived in the neighborhood as long as the ladies so he was happy to supply them with something to sit on. “Let me buy you some plastic lawn chairs,” he offered.

“No, no. We don’t want to be any trouble,” they said. “Just a simple crate will do.”

He brought out the crates and a metal chain, with a padlock on the end.

“What’s that for?” Deirdre said.

“Why to chain up the crates, woman. Has the heat gone to your head?” Margaret said.

“Well! You don’t need to be nasty about it,” Deirdre sniffed.

“Ladies! This ain’t the time,” Bessie said. “Thank you, but no, we won’t be needing the chain.”

“But if you don’t chain up the crates you know they’ll disappear,” he said.

“Maybe,” she said. “But we’re not chaining nothing up. Thank you.”

Published 05/19/03 in Writing • | Views: 1731 times | Print

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