SHELLY REUBEN: Parking Space: A Love Story! Chap. 26 - Earlier In the Day

By Shelly Reuben
SHELLY REUBEN: Parking Space: A Love Story! Chap. 26 - Earlier In the Day

From the front window of his third-floor apartment, Burgess Meekly had seen it all: Hector Van Hooft pontificating on the sidewalk…Maid Marion’s Coupe de Ville idling at the corner of 83rd Street…a man with a video camera interviewing the executive chef…a pretty blonde shadowing his every move…a fat man shouting instructions through a megaphone (Burgess recognized him as Cadogan McClure)…passive protestors becoming vociferous rioters…Lilly Snow striding down the sidewalk unconscious of danger (Burgess had called out his window and tried to warn her)…Maid Marion racing to Lilly’s rescue…Lilly, the TV reporter, and the blonde woman jumping into the Cadillac…and all four fleeing Chestnut Avenue like a rocket escaping the earth’s gravity.

 

As soon as Maid Marion’s car disappeared around a corner, Burgess jerked the window down, threw himself on his sofa, and whispered, “Wow.”

He immediately jumped back to his feet, and worriedly began to pace.

What had precipitated such an ungodly uprising?

Had Maid Marion and Lilly Snow really escaped?

Who had jumped into the back seat of the Coupe de Ville?

 

And most important of all…

Was Lilly safe?

WAS LILLY SAFE?

Burgess’s glance darted from his telephone, to the living room window, to his hands nervously knitting his fingers into knots. Then his eyes fell on the mishmash of items cluttering his coffee table. Five envelopes…all bills. A marble ashtray containing paperclips, coins, a matchbook and a mailbox key. A CD of an old Rogers and Hammerstein Broadway musical. And a small, rectangular business card that was given to him on Tuesday evening, but that he had not looked at since.

He unknotted his fingers and picked up the card:

Amos Goode, Director, Department of Public Works

At the bottom of the card were an office address, a website address, an email address, and telephone numbers for his office, fax, and mobile phone.

Burgess glanced at his wristwatch. It was 4:45 p.m.

He sat beside the end table, pulled the telephone onto his lap, punched in the number for the office of the Director of Public Works, and waited.

The phone rang twice. Then a mechanical voice picked up and instructed the caller to leave a message.

Burgess punched in Amos Goode’s cell phone number and heard the same mechanical voice asking the same thing.

He left long messages on both lines, describing what had occurred on Chestnut Avenue during the forty-five minutes after the reporter arrived and before the Coupe de Ville effected a rescue. His last words to both devices were, “I’m not sure if Lilly Snow is safe. Please help me to help her, because I don’t know what to do.”

Burgess returned to his living room window and looked down.

The documentary film producer was still shouting instructions for rioters to scream louder, move faster, and throw rocks (where had they gotten rocks?) at street lamps and through storefront windows, which Cadogan McClure’s videographer was recording with world-weary ennui.

Burgess saw the mob moving toward Rocco’s Bistro. He remembered the shy waitress with whom he enjoyed flirting every night, and he exclaimed with horror, “Oh, no! Pilar!”

Then Mouse Meekly ran to his closet, threw on his coat, and leapt—two at a time—down the stairs. 

Copyright © 2021. Shelly Reuben. Originally published in The Evening Sun, Norwich, NY - evesun.com Shelly Reuben’s books have been nominated for Edgar, Prometheus, and Falcon awards. For more about her books, visit www.shellyreuben.com.