Another tale of Winnie, our blog’s crotchety, opinionated senior. These days she hopes to alter her widow status by altar-ing Ernie Harris.
When Ernie opened the door, Winnie gave him her most cheerful smile. “Brought you a casserole for lunch, Ernie. Thought you might like a little bit of good home cooking once in awhile.”
“Why, that’s right nice of you, Winnie. And your good food just hits the spot. I can’t cook to save my life, but at least I’ve learned how to heat things up in the mike. I haven’t mastered boiling water yet, though.”
“You just need someone to teach you these things.” Winnie paused, arranging her next thought. “Ernie, we’ve known each other a long time, so I’m not going to beat around the bush. Have you ever thought of getting married again?”
“Oh, yeah. I started thinking about it a couple of weeks after Barb passed and I’ve been thinking about it every day since. A fellow gets lonely, you know.”
Winnie’s cheeks turned a bit pink. “Well, maybe we…you and I…”
Ernie deftly derailed her train of thought. “But I know it’ll never happen. No woman would be fool enough to marry me. Not with all my bad habits. In fact, Barb often threatened to get an apartment downtown where she couldn’t hear me snoring every night. Nope. No one with any sense’d have me.”
Winnie shut her mouth and stared at him a moment. “Well, I’d better be getting along. Hope you enjoy the casserole.” She shoved the dish into his hands and hurried back down the sidewalk.
Ernie took a deep breath. That was close one. He chuckled and carried the dish to the fridge, setting it beside the ones Agnes Jones and Phoebe Folden brought around last night. He chuckled as he took out the beef stew and lemon pie Francine Miller dropped off this morning. Sometimes it paid not to know how to cook.
“Still, Ernie,” he advised himself, “You’d better keep on your toes when these old chicks start bringing casseroles or you might end up being hen-pecked for the rest of your days.”
He was still chuckling about his quick wits half an hour later as he passed the gas bar and saw Abner Stilsbie getting his tank filled.
“What are you looking so happy about, Ernie?” Ab called. Ernie joined him by the pumps and the two men chatted awhile. He wasn’t going to kill the goose that laid the golden egg, so he didn’t tell Ab exactly what transpired. But…
“Hey, Winnie.” Abner Stilsbie tapped her on the shoulder in the grocery store later that day. “How’s life?”
“Oh, hi, Ab. Well, I can’t complain. My arthritis isn’t so bad today and I’m getting used to them new blood pressure pills the doctor gave me. I’ll sure be glad when the weather cools off a bit, though. I haven’t been able to take the heat so well since I hit fifty, but I take it easy on days like this.”
“I hear you’ve taken to playing games with Ernie Harris and you almost won.” He winked. “Did you buy Park Place and Boardwalk. Or maybe you bought up all the railroads?”
Winnie stared at him. “Abner Stilsbie, whatever are you talking about?”
“I saw Ernie just before dinner and he was looking like that cat that got the cream. I asked him what he was so happy about and he said he’d been playing Monopoly with you. He said for a moment it looked like he was headed for jail and bankruptcy, but at the last moment he pulled out a “Get out of jail free” card.”
Winnie gasped and her brows formed a deep frown.
“I supposed you must ‘a bought up some of them pricey digs and were charging high rents. Though honestly, I’d ‘a never took you for one to play Monopoly, Winnie.”
Winnie’s eyes narrowed. “So he was playing games, was he? Well from now on he can
live on baloney sandwiches.”
Ab’s eyes widened. “What’s Monopoly got to do with baloney sandwiches?”
“Ernie Harris can go boil in his own hot water.” Winnie grabbed a tin of coffee from the shelf. “And I hope it’s pickle brine.” She marched away in a fury.
Ab’s eyebrows shot up and he shook his head. “Talk about a sore loser. I’ll never understand women. Never!”