Thursday, March 24, 2011


He was holding a handwritten card with her name written across it. Debbie noticed him as soon as he entered the cafĂ©. Besides being overweight and short, he had a clothing tag clearly out of place climbing up the back of his neck. And his suit looked like something out of date you’d only find at a Goodwill store. No way could she be seen with him, even if he did have two tickets to a Broadway hit play. There were standards a girl had to uphold, no matter what she had promised her best friend.
The man approached her. “Are you Debbie?
He's drop dead gorgeous and rich to boot, Ellen had said about her friend from Boston. It was clearly obvious, she had outright lied. No wonder he didn't have a date to the play. How could her best friend have done this to her?
“No,” she said, not making eye contact.
“Sorry. I was told to look for a woman wearing a yellow dress and red heels.”
Mental note to self: Never describe to your best friend what you will be wearing to meet a blind date.
“Popular color combo this season,” she said, hoping he would take the hint she had no intentions of going with him.
He nodded and walked toward the back of the restaurant scanning the room, apparently for another women dressed like her. She couldn’t believe he could be that stupid. Moments later, he put a cell phone to his ear as he exited the restaurant through the same door he had entered.
Good. He had given up. No need to take a chance he would wait for her outside. She left through the exit on the opposite side of the restaurant and hailed a Taxi. Her cell phone rang. She glanced at the caller ID. It was him. She let it ring. How did he get her number? Damn you, Ellen. Safely in the cab and on the way to her apartment, she looked at the message indicator on her phone. What kind of message does a dummy leave? She pushed the play message option.
“Hi, Debbie. It’s Harrell.  I just got out of my meeting. I had a few last minute contract details to finish up with my client. I was running a little late  so I sent my my chauffeur to the restaurant to give you a ride to my client's office where I had hoped to catch up with you. I didn't want you to think I had stood you up. When he couldn't find you, I called Ellen to get your cell phone number. She said something must have come up, because nothing short of a death in the family would have kept you from going to see that play. Ellen told me so much about you. I was really looking forward to meeting you. But not to worry, my client’s secretary has offered to go with me. Sorry we couldn’t hook up.”

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


As soon I pulled into my driveway, I knew something was terribly wrong. Instead of seeing a smile on Eddy’s face and a hand in the air waving me over for a cold beer, he was frowning and held a pistol to his head.
          I slammed on the brakes, jumped out of the car, and ran toward him.
“Don’t do it, Eddy!”
Tackling him before he could pull the trigger, I yanked the gun from his hand and tossed it in the shrubbery. Since Eddy hadn’t trimmed them in the four years he and Darla had lived next door to me, I figured it would take a backhoe and four chainsaws to get to the gun, buying me enough time to get him into therapy.
“Why did you do that?” he said, getting up from the ground and brushing grass clippings off his shorts.
Placing my hand on his shoulder, I said, “Eddy, I'm going to do whatever I can to help you.”
He gazed at me. Lines formed between his eyebrows. “Okay, you can start by helping me find my air pistol.”
“Air pistol?”
Why would anyone, in their right mind, attempt to kill themselves with a B-B gun? Only Eddy could answer that question. I waited for his response.
“That’s right.”
Maybe he didn’t know a B-B gun didn’t have enough muzzle velocity. “You can’t penetrate a skull with a B-B gun.”
“That’s what I tried to tell Darla, but she insisted I use an air pistol. You know how she is about not wanting to see blood and stuff.”
I knew they’d been having financial problems since they spent all their money on a Florida vacation, but I had no idea Darla would willingly let Eddy shoot himself in the head, even if it was only an air pistol.
I motioned toward my back porch and said, “I suggest we leave the gun in the bushes until we’ve had a couple of beers and talk this thing over.”
Eddy looked at the thicket. Realizing it was hopeless, he shook his head. “Man, you must have had a bad day. I hope a couple of beers can pull you out of your slump.”
Like I was the one, who had the problem. Denial is the first sign of depression. I think.
After we opened our second beers, I decided it was time to probe Eddy’s mind. I wanted to find out why he was so depressed. I had taken almost a full semester of psychology 101 in college. Therefore, I had an inkling of the kinds of questions to ask a depressed person. I honed in on the most likely reason a twenty-two-year-old man would try to kill himself with a B-B gun.
“So, Eddy, how’s your sex life?”
“Regular as clockwork except on weekends. We pick it up a little bit then, if you know what I mean.”
I knew what he meant. Eddy and Darla started dating in the eighth grade. They married right out of high school. Said they couldn’t wait any longer. Obviously, my first guess had missed the mark.
If the problem wasn’t sex, what else could it be? Bingo. I recalled there was one other reason for depression. I fired my next question at him. 
“Financial problems can be solved by hard work and staying on budget. What do think about that as a solution?”
Eddy threw his empty beer bottle in the recycle bin I kept on the back porch. It bumped against the plastic side until it found the bottom of the container. He was putting them down fast. Another clear sign of depression.
“I’m not too keen on it so far,” he said reaching for his third beer. “When I handed Darla my check last week, she looked at it, rolled her eyes and said if we stayed on budget, we’d be out of debt by the time we were old enough to draw Social Security.”
Bull’s Eye. I adjusted my sights and addressed the target with my next statement. “Life insurance can’t take the place of a good man.”
After running his hand though his hair, Eddy said, “Who can afford life insurance these days?”
The target appeared to be wobbling. I needed to get to the heart of Eddy’s depression, fast. Trying to recall what I learned in psychology class, before I had to withdraw with an incomplete, I opened my third beer and turned it up. That’s when my memory kicked in at full force. The person who had used the textbook before me had written a keen observation in the margin. If all else fails, there is one question that demands a direct response from the depressee. I decided to try it, fully expecting Eddy to tear up and tell me all about his problems.
“Why on earth would you put that gun to your head, Eddy?”
Without even a hint of a tear, he said, “I was listening for an air leak.”
“Air leak?”
“Yep, it wasn't shooting like it used to. When THE B-Bs bounced off a squirrel trying to tear a hole in our roof, I knew there had to be a leak somewhere. Most likely the seal in the barrel is dried out. A little oil might fix it."
With great relief, I pulled the last two beers from the cooler. “So Eddy, what’s Darla’s dinner plans for tonight?”
He frowned. “According to our new budget, she told me it’s going to be pork and beans, and one slice of bread."
That menu might get a little old by the time they're drawing social security.
He leaned back in the Adirondack chair and said, "You and Linda are welcome to come over and eat with us.”
The way he said it, I knew Eddy wasn’t joking. My young neighbors were willing to share what they had, even on their tight budget.
I handed the beer to him. “That's very kind of you to offer, but I’m cooking rib eye steaks and baked potatoes. We were hoping you and Darla would come over to our house for dinner tonight. Assuming, of course, you didn’t have your hearts set on pork and beans.”
I saw a hint of a tear in Eddy’s eye, first time ever. Maybe he had been a little depressed after all. Good thing I took that psychology course.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Zelda greeted me in her normal fashion wear, a lose fitting light purple dress with multiple scarves wrapped around her head. If she gets any skinnier, she could make a living renting herself out as a skeleton, to med schools.
“Good morning, Zelda. I see you’re looking well this morning.”
"It's the makeup I wear." She motioned me toward a small circular table where she conducts her readings. “It's called death warmed over.”
I took a seat across from her.
“You’re here to talk about Molly?”
That’s the problem with psychics. You can never surprise them. She was so far ahead of me on this one, I leaned back in my chair and nodded.
“Did you get a vision?”
She rolled her eyes and shook her head. “No. Leon came by earlier this morning and told me what happened last night.”
That’s another problem with psychics. On occasion, they get their information the same way other people do.
I leaned forward in my wooden chair and rested one arm on the table. “I was hoping you could help me on this.”
“In what way?”
“Well, for starters, can you communicate with her?”
She put her finger tips to both sides of her head and closed her eyes. That’s what she does when she’s having a vision. This was going to be easier than I thought.
After a couple of minutes, she opened her eyes and said, “You weren’t the smartest kid your parents had.”
“You got that in a vision?”
“I didn’t need a vision to figure that one out. I was just resting my eyes for a moment.”
“Can we talk about Molly?”
“What can you tell me about her?”
“She drowned in the lake.”
“I know that. What about her spirit? Does it haunt the lake?”
She shrugged. “How would I know?”
I placed both of my hands on the table and said, “You’re a psychic.”
“Would you excuse me one moment?”
She stood and walked over to a shelf and removed a brown book that looked like it hadn’t been opened in over sixty years. The cloud of dust she blew off of it filled half the room. After she thumbed through a few pages, she returned to the table and read from it. “Considered able to perceive people’s unexpressed thoughts or foresee the future. I don’t see anything in here that says anything about speaking with the dead.”
“Let me see that.”
She handed me the book.
I looked in the front. “This dictionary is out of date, copy write 1943. I bet the new dictionaries say psychic’s talk to the dead.”
“I’m not a new psychic. I’m ninety-eight years old, and I go by what it says in that book.”
“So you can’t help me at all?”
“I didn’t say that. Would you like me to give you a reading and see what’s in your future?”
Now we were getting somewhere.
After a lot of palm reading, ten minutes worth, followed by several mumbled sounds indicating either total shock or mild surprise, Zelda opened her eyes.
“In a book penned in ink, you may find the missing link. Many have searched to no avail, for what she wrote but would not tell.”
“That’s it?” I said.
“No. There is more. But I am old, and I must rest now.”
( To be continued )