As rain fell Zeno was working on a portfolio of his artwork in the front room when he heard gasping and looked up his eyes widening in soundless horror to see Zelta and the flesh colored house robe gone.
In one hand she managed a glass jar of milkshake, the other a bag of M&Ms. Thaddeus, the short-hair black cat Zelta called Blackey, was in tow.
He shook his head in disbelief. It was the same woman who had managed to appear so miserable just yesterday. Now, she wore a loose fitted white gown cut into a full sweep above her breast and adorned with floral lace and tiny shell buttons. Her small mouth was shaped with red lipstick and soft earth shadow and rouge painted her chalky complexion giving her cheeks an unnatural glow. Her snow-white hair was parted in the middle, was neat and brushed down.
Abel would be horrified at seeing her upon his return from Charleston, Zeno thought to himself and had to refrain from giggling out loud.
She placed the milkshake on the side table and sat down in the arm chair with the M&Ms secured in her lap. "Where is Rosa?" she said looking anxiously around the room.
"Rosa won't be in until the afternoon,” he replied kindly, then added, “she has a doctor’s appointment that’s why she’s late.”
"I hope she'll be all right.”
"She’ll be fine I’m sure. How are you, Mrs. Erikson?"
“I am well,” she said sharply and grabbed the milkshake she lifted to her mouth and slurped it through a straw. She smiled. It was a good one and much better than the ones Ahab used to make for her. This one had real strawberry flavor and not too many egg yolks added into the cream, and she was pleased. She fidgeted for a moment, sat the glass back down and clasped her hands over the bag of candy.
Hearing the crinkle of plastic, Thaddeus meowed for treats and scooted out from underneath the chair. He swung his tail back and forth, constantly meowing and looking at her and occasionally looking over at Zeno.
“What is it Blackey?” Zelta said reaching one hand out to the cat looking back at her. “You want my candies, don’t you.”
For Zeno Thaddeus’ meows seemed to be stuck, and Zeno stopped working. The cat wouldn’t stop, Zeno got nervous hearing Thaddeus' yelping meows, started to itch and scratched his head.
“Well, you can’t have mommie’s candies,” Zelta went on as if talking to a human baby. “M&Ms are for mommie. Maybe for the young fellow, too, if he were to ask. But no no no, this is mommie’s food. Do you understand?”