Four weeks later, Myrna’s question still pressed on her.
“What now indeed,” Taffeta thought, bristling at the notion that the only answer she could muster to the seemingly simple question was no answer at all.
What now indeed.
Life for Taffeta and Myrna went on as it always had, simple, rote and uneventful save for the fact that now they had a submachine gun to occupy some of their free time. And for as big a ripple as it put into their lives initially, even that quickly stitched into the fabric of their day to day, or week to week. For now, instead of parting ways after their Thursday lunches and heading home for an antacid and perhaps an afternoon nap, they drove out to their hill for some quality time with Cora.
After that, at home, Taffeta would wipe Cora down the way she learned from various Internet videos. She loaded the magazines to be ready for their next excursion, and she counted the rounds to…
She had yet to understand why she counted the rounds. It was a woeful exercise. Clarity came the instant she glanced at the once grand pyramid of boxes that shrank now week by week. Each count made it painfully obvious that they were running through rounds with little or nothing to show for it and each count filled her with a sense that once the last round popped away and slammed into the dirt, it would all be over…whatever “it” was supposed to be.
Taffeta Spaulding was not one much for obsession. She didn’t have an addictive personality. She never took much to the drink. Smoking made her nauseous. If she took the occasional aspirin for a headache or pain it was only because her tried and true method of a lie down with a cold compress didn’t work first, but oh, that gun.
There was just something about that gun.
If someone had told her she would become so taken with it, she would have brushed it off as utter nonsense. And what was her brother thinking sending it to her in the first place. She was not a violent sort. What place did a gun have in her life, much less a .45 caliber M3A1 submachine gun?
Still, there was just something about that gun.
It was about a week ago that she started to keep it near by her virtually around the clock. She carried it from the counter to the table along with her morning cup of coffee. It sat on the edge of the coffee table in the evenings when Taffeta settled in for a read of the newspaper or some television.
She didn’t stare at it, or hold it, but she would peek at it periodically as a parent might of a young child one, to make sure it was still within eyesight, within reach and two, to make sure it wasn’t getting into any trouble.
These didn’t feel like conscious decisions one might make with purpose, but rather, the actions evolved as Cora’s allure and the mystery of her being, and being here, took deeper root.
The next Thursday Taffeta loaded the car as she had for the past several weeks with headgear, safety goggles, Phillies caps, a Thermos of coffee and bullets.
She found Myrna waiting out front when when she pulled into her friend’s driveway. The second the car stopped, Myrna pulled the door open and worked herself into the passenger seat.
“Is this a beautiful day or what?” Myrna said, closing the door and pulling the shoulder strap of the seat belt across her chest. “I’m glad you’re on time. I was hoping we could swing by Cowell’s to pick up my prescription and then the bank for lunch money.”
“I’m always on time, Myrna,” Taffeta said. “In all the years we’ve been going to lunch, when have I ever been late? For that matter, when have I been late for anything?”
“Don’t get indignant dear,” Myrna said, raising her eyebrows and exaggerating a look away as if surprised by Taffeta’s rebuff. “It’s not attractive.” She paused. “It’s just me and my peculiar way of starting a conversation.”
Taffeta silently backed out of the driveway as she had a hundred times and started off down Larchmont heading towards Cowell’s Pharmacy. Despite Myrna’s odd conversation starters, the car remained quiet. It didn’t really matter Taffeta thought. They had had this exact conversation before, maybe twice. They were certain to have it again.
In the pharmacy parking lot, Taffeta pulled into a spot fairly close to the door, because Myrna liked her walks to be brief and with purpose. She turned off the engine and at sat gazing at the door for a moment.
“Are you coming in?” Myrna asked pawing through her purse to triple check the presence of her wallet.
“I guess so,” Taffeta said.
“Don’t get so excited,” Myrna said. “You’ll bust a vessel.” Myrna looked over at Taffeta. “Are you ok?”
“I’m sorry,” Taffeta said quickly while turning her attention to pulling the car key. “I’m not sure what’s wrong with me. Just in a funk I guess.”
“I guess so. Look if you’d rather…”
“No,” Taffeta said, cutting her short. “I’m good.”
She grabbed her purse with solid grip and hefted it across her lap, then she worked the latch, swung the door open and stepped a foot out onto the pavement all in a fluid motion intent on stopping any additional conversation.
She pulled the strap up over her shoulder and together they walked to the store, stepped on the pad that opened the automatic door and moved into the cool antiseptic air of the drug store.
The next second, as they took their first step forward a clawing pressure flared onto Taffeta’s shoulder, pushing her sideways to the point where she mashed up against Myrna’s shoulder and stopped them dead in their tracks.
“What the,” Myrna said, trying to understand what was going on and moving against the force on her own shoulder that pushed her into Taffeta, nearly making her fall.
As their heads inched closer together, a rough and low voice pushed it’s way between them carried on a wave of air scented in smoke and alcohol.
“Good morning ladies. Welcome to Cowell’s. Let’s go shopping!”