"That's odd. I'm sure I loaded up on drinks a week or two ago." Harvey talked out loud, and he often spoke to his dead wife, Rita. She'd been gone twenty years, but he thought of her daily. "Guess I'll make some iced tea."
Glancing at the clock, he vacuumed and tidied up before his sole relatives, nephew and family, arrived for lunch. "Rita, they covet our home, obsequiously inquire about my health, but I'm not falling for it. No ma'am." Harvey bustled to finish chores, shower, and watch noon news. At one, Terry and crew rang the bell.
"Sorry, Uncle. Running late. Let me use the bathroom and we'll go. Hey, these are for you." Terry fanned assisted living brochures and set them on the foyer table. Harvey inwardly rolled his eyes and made small talk with his fifteen-year-old grandniece.
The family dropped Harvey off around three. He intended to read the paper, but startled himself awake with a loud snore at four. Sweating profusely, he struggled to his feet to examine the thermostat. "Air conditioner's only two years old. Better not be broken." He studied it, frowned, and flicked the heat switch to cool. "Now, Rita, there's no way I turned on heat."
He pondered other strange occurrences that seemed to pop up after Terry visits. Like finding the rake tucked behind a bush near the shed. Or his car keys in the guest room. "Gotta stay vigilant."
That Saturday dawned hot, but Terry kept the Pontiac in the garage for the oil change. Harvey was out of trash bags and strolled inside to retrieve a kitchen sack. Came back pretty quick to find Terry wasn't really where he should have been. Clanked the wrench, as if adjusting something. However, Harvey recognized that face. Like when Terry was a little boy conjuring a lie.
"Okay. Fresh oil, car's all checked. Let's grab lunch. We can go in my truck," said Terry.
"No," said Harvey. "Pontiac's shaded. Keys are here." He dangled them. "Hop in." Harvey stared at Terry, who sputtered, then opened the car door.
Key in ignition, Harvey pulled out of the garage and eased down the driveway. Mrs. Powers' Cadillac approached, and Harvey applied brakes. No response. Harvey pumped and turned to glare at his nephew. "Terry … tampering?"
Terry's gaze turned steely. "Uncle …" The car lurched and halted. "Get out," said Harvey. "You are not stealing my house or my life or any more Gatorades."
First published: August, 2011
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