“Antlers and that,” Sondra said, rubbing her chin; “That white robe-thing you mentioned, that’ll do it.”
“You like the idea of my wearing antlers?”
“And I could hold a scepter and say, ‘Oh, you’re here to worship the moon, too?”
Sondra shook her head and looked down while smiling.
“What do you think?” I asked.
Sondra shifted her weight, “Yeah, it’s better your next-door neighbors think you’re crazy with that get-up than if you call the police and have them hate you.”
“If you call the cops on your neighbors, they’re just gonna wanna get even with you.” Sondra continued, “Years ago, the kids in my neighborhoods started cutting through my property. I decided to make friends with them. I’d say stuff like – be careful when
when I’m pulling out with my car, kids, I might not see you, and how’s your baseball team doing?”
“That’s a good idea,” I said; “But these are men in their thirties.”
“Eighty points,” said Liz.
“What…where?” asked Sondra.
“I added an A to the Q in Cyndi’s Q-U-A, spelling AQUA. Then I spelled A-A-R-D-V-A-R-K for a total of thirty points. The K in A-A-R-D-V-A-R-K joins the K in your last word, K-I-T-E. I get 50 points for a seven-letter word, which comes to Eighty.
“Jeeeez,” Sondra said; “You’re unbelievable.”
“You did it again!” I said; “You’re a Scrabble genius.”
“Hardly,” Liz replied, “But thanks.” Liz picked up the soft velvet pouch containing letters written on small wooden squares and tossed it to Sondra. The pouch landed with a clink; “Your jerky neighbors are in their THIRTIES?” Liz asked.
“Yeah, it’s so pathetic,” I said; “To see grown men fighting in their yard, swearing, and burping.”
“The people who own the house rented to these idiots. I can’t figure out why they like to hang out in my driveway late at night.”
“Yeah, what’s the attraction?” asked Liz.
“Well, one thing I thought is that it might be drug-related.”
“Oh?” said Sondra.
“Yeah,” I began; “There have been some occurrences.”
“Oh, my,” said Liz. “Like what?”
“Well, I was told by my psychic not to tell anyone.”
“Good advice,” said Liz.
“And I think my neighbors might be calling their drug cartel and want their GPS coordinates to read my address, not theirs.”
“Wow, no kidding.”
I imagined a satellite turning silently in outer space, surrounded by sparkling stars.
“My letters SUCK,” said Sondra arranging and rearranging her letters on her wooden tray with clicking sounds.
“I think we’re running out of time,” said Liz.
“Okay,” said Sondra; “G-R-A-N-D for twelve points.”
“That’s a good score,” said Liz; “What are you complaining about?”
“It may be an okay score, but look,” Sondra said; “I had to use my blank letter!”
“Oh,” said Liz.
“I walk with a limp now,” said Sondra.
“Yeah, the doctor says I have nerve damage.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” I said.
“What did you get?” Sondra asked as she started to rotate the game board.
“I’m still thinking,” I said, holding the board steady. I had seven letters but couldn’t think of one word to put down on the board.
“What does your doctor say?” Liz asked.
“He gave me painkillers and said that I need surgery.”
“I’m no fan of going under the knife, though, so I think I’ll hang onto the pain for as long as I can.”
“That’s too bad.”
“You can hold onto my arm on the way out.”
“Thanks, I’ll be okay.”
The fluorescent light on the ceiling made an electric buzzing sound. A librarian named Jake, stood outside the room and shifted his weight. We could sense words forming in his throat, letter by letter, “Thirty minutes until closing,” he said.
“Okay,” I replied.
“Oh, I almost forgot,” Liz said; “My daughter is enjoying her job as a corporate party planner.”
“Well, gee,” said Sondra.
“Here’s a picture of a table at her last function.” Liz held out her phone; “She uses a lot of floral centerpieces.”
“Gorgeous,” I said, feeling the weight of her phone as I held it to get a closer look.
“Have you taken your turn YET?” Sondra asked me.
“Okay, put me down for fourteen. I made V-I-A-L, double word.
“I was trying to get a better word, but I know I can’t take all night.”
“Fifty for me,” said Liz.
I heard the snap-snap-snap of Sondra arranging her tiles on the board, “Another idea I had for freaking out my neighbors is to put on Frank Sinatra music, that can be heard in my driveway, come out in a silk dress and heels and ask them to dance.”
Sondra covered her mouth with her hand. Then she shifted her weight and her chair scraped against the linoleum floor. Sondra started coughing, “I like the antler idea better,” she said, finally; “But that’s a close second.”
“You live alone, don’t you?”
“And in the woods, too, right?”
“Hmmm.” We heard an announcement over the PA system that the library was closing in fifteen minutes. We looked at each other.
“You have a psychic?” Sondra asked.
“I guess we can’t finish our game,” Liz said; “There’s not enough time.”
“Maybe we can hide amongst the stacks of books, and after the librarians leave for the night, pop out, turn the lights back on, and finish our game,” I said.
“That would make us about the same level as your neighbors,” said Liz.
“Sans the belching, “
Sondra turned her head.
“Let’s just leave,” said Liz. “We might as well.”
“Okay.” We got up and packed up the Scrabble game. I reached inside my car in the parking lot and took out a small box.
“Here’s your jigsaw puzzle, Liz,” I said; “Thanks for letting me borrow it.”
“The field was a killer.”
“I warned you.”
“And Sondra,” I said; “You still have my planets puzzle, right?”
“I do,” Sondra said. “I’m stuck on Saturn. That ring is impossible. Okay if I keep it another two weeks?”
I heard Sondra open her car door.
“Well, goodnight,” said Liz.
“Do you think Amazon sells antlers?” I asked her.
“I bet they do,” she replied.
Then Liz got in her car, and I heard tires roll on the pavement as she drove away. Liz gave a quick wave. The library was silent under the night sky, “Thanks,” said Sondra.
“For what?” I asked.
“For cheering me up.”
Cyndi Cresswell Cook is a writer and photographer.