Waterfall of Youth [Maxcine & Isabel Vol. VI]
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by Sharon Kull
Description: The Sykes sisters don't have a choice but to let their brother oversee the completion of their new house. It is critical for Maxcine and Isabel to drive across the country on business with an Elvis impersonator underfoot.
eBook Publisher: SynergEbooks, 2009 SynergEbooks
eBookwise Release Date: February 2009
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [617 KB]
Reading time: 364-509 min.
All Other formats: Printing DISABLED, Read-aloud DISABLED
Slouching in her chair, propping her elbows on the kitchen table, Maxcine refused to look at her sister. Izzy could dunk her face into her bowl of soup, and blow bubbles, but it wouldn't do any good. For all intents and purposes, lunch had been served for one. Herself.
Isabel glowered at the way Maxi was destroying a perfectly good salami sandwich, or at least it had been perfect. Now bits of it were strewn across the plate, the table, and by the looks of things, would soon be accidentally elbowed onto the floor.
The Garfield telephone rang.
Two pairs of eyes swiveled, to peer through spectacles at the black and orange cat on the wall beside rubber fish plaques, the Garfield clock hanging above it. Neither Maxcine or Isabel were about to answer the phone. To do so would mean her sister would hear her voice. Grim determination against speaking first, which amounted to losing the silent argument, insured lips might as well be embroidered shut.
Ringing continued, making them fidget. One with a soup spoon, the other with a slice of mustard tacky salami.
As was not at all uncommon, they were thinking alike, proved when they simultaneously stood, chair legs performing a duet of skidding noises on the sparkling clean tile floor.
Still without verbal communication, they prepared to get out of the house for awhile. Isabel brushed a stray lock of her dyed brunette hair away from her left cheek, and began clearing the table. Maxcine's fluffy, gray hair remained in place when she scooted to their respective bedrooms for the fanny packs they wore instead of carrying purses. She also made sure there were a few quarters in the zip pocket of her own pack. It was her turn to buy the sodas from whatever vending machine happened to appear along their way.
They met at the front door, crowding out across the threshold onto the raised front porch. Maxcine made sure the door locked when she pulled it shut. Isabel grimaced because she'd intended to take their dog, but had forgotten until just now.
Next time, she silently told the Doberman.
Marching to the three, shallow steps in cadence, descending shoulder to shoulder, the sisters veered right, continuing along their sidewalk, neither looking at the cactus bed beneath the great-room window, or at each other. Turning onto their driveway, they marched toward the street.
"Good morning, fellow Aztek owners. I'm sure glad I was able to convince my husband you are so thrilled with your Aztek, that he should buy one for me. I'm also glad to see the two of you have buried the hatchet," Carla called out from her own driveway, where she'd been washing her new vehicle. Bright yellow paint was beginning to emerge from a ton of soapy bubbles sliding downward, to plop on the concrete driveway.
"If she had her way, she'd bury her hatchet in my back!" Maxcine responded by yelling to the nicest neighbor anyone could hope for.
"I wouldn't have the strength, Carla," Isabel screeched, "because her hatchet would be in my back!"
The decades younger black woman almost paled, drippy sponge in hand. "Um?" she managed on a strangled exhalation, watching the seniors march stiffly toward the public sidewalk, elbow to elbow. She continued to stare until she lost sight of them, when they'd gone beyond the Weedlemeyers' overgrown hibiscus bushes.
Maxcine and Isabel sputtered into laughter that continued until they reached the first corner. A fat man pedaling his bike through the intersection lifted one hand in salute. They waved in return.
"We should have thought to cut out cardboard hatchets and fasten them to our backs." Isabel's brown eyes were sparkling with mischief.
"It was worth us being at odds to see the expression on her face. Well, almost worth it."
"Let's promise we'll never give each other the silent treatment again."
"More than fine with me. Let's make this an extra long exercise walk, as a punishment for our inconsideration to one another."
"Good idea. There'll be more of a chance to find cast aside treasures, too. Which way should we go?"
"Somewhere different. I'm bored with the same-old, same-old."
"But we usually find goodies around store dumpsters. Phoenix Liberty Mall is our favorite haunt, and it's only a couple of blocks away. But of course you already know this stuff."
"So why'd you tell me about it?"
"I was stalling for time, hoping 'Senior Fade' would suddenly dull your memory about where to walk."
"Be glad I only want to walk in a new direction, instead of insisting on going in search of the Waterfall of Youth," Maxcine said.
"Are you trying to stir up an argument?"
"Of course not, Izzy," she murmured assuredly. "In a few blocks we'll be in new territory."
"So why haven't we walked this way before?"
"Because you always insist on scouting the mall, before anywhere else. Then we're too many blocks away from where I want to go today."
"I didn't think you had a particular place in mind."
"Not a 'place', it's the general area. You know, where new houses were scheduled to be built."
"That was a couple of years or more ago. We've been avoiding driving up and down the streets because of roofing nails."
"They'd have been long since gone."
"Then why haven't we checked those subdivisions out before this? Never mind, forget that I asked," Isabel rattled off. "We'd only go back to my preference of walking to the mall, and I've got a feeling that would instigate another argument. Sheesh, there's got to be something in the air that's causing us to be so grumpy these days."
"You have to admit a change of scenery is nice. As long as we don't look up at the chemtrails, that is. Landic ocean, our own government is going to snuff out all of our lights with the crap they're spraying all over creation."
"Let's not get into that today. The sky is clear for once..."
Anyone seeing the senior women chatting sociably as they strolled along the sidewalk, would assume they were the best of friends. However, that was only a part of what they were to one another. Sisters, surely. Adversaries, occasionally, and then without a doubt. Critics, doubtlessly, again. They shared the same taste in clothing, although not in colors. Maxcine's dresses were either a shade of purple, or had purple in the design. Non-purple was only permissible if she accessorized with purple socks, the shawl she'd crocheted, or her fleece hat. Actually, she quite often wore those accessories even if she was decked out in purple garments, from calf to collarbones.
Exchange purple for blue, lose the shawl, and there was Isabel's wardrobe. She also, like her older sister, never wore pants, with the exception of underwear. Skirts and blouses were okay, but dresses preferable.
They had gumption, they had grit, obvious in the way slouch hats were pulled down firmly upon their heads. The yellow fleece flower Isabel had stitched to hers would bob jauntily above her eyes as she strode briskly where ever she was going. Maxcine's pink fleece flower wouldn't dare budge over her left ear, she had sewn it so tightly to her slouch.
Now, as they ventured into new territory, their orthopedic sneakers smacked the concrete firmly enough to raise small poofs of dust. The scenery seen through the clear, upper section of the lenses of their glasses, wasn't exactly spectacular, but they were enjoying looking, anyway. After all, interest as well as beauty could be in the eye of the beholder.
The buildings they passed were, for the most part, residential houses, with an occasional apartment complex tossed in for good measure. Stoned front yards, lawns, cactus, shade trees on the grow, were par for the course in southern Arizona landscaping. Strewn toys, overlooked newspapers, vehicles parked and left to rust away, were par for slobs living next door to people who gave a damn and kept their own property in neat order.
Block after block, Maxcine and Isabel explored, randomly changing directions at intersections or side streets. They chattered away to each other, spoke brief greetings to strangers who acknowledged their existence. Petted a stray dog.
An old strip mall was in the residential area. A mall so well boarded up, it appeared as if a lumberyard had made a killing selling plywood. Sooner or later, it would bow to bulldozers, to be replaced with houses. The only place still open for business there, was a telephone booth. More than likely, the off-brand instrument was a thief, stealing fifty cents a whack, and in return, giving dead silence instead of a dial tone. The theory would not be tested.
Traffic passed by the defunct mall as if it didn't exist, Isabel and Maxcine studying it as they continued on their way. The next few blocks were lined with cookie cutter duplexes, all of them painted a yellowish tan. Tiny front yards were graveled and plantless.
"How do the people living in those things know which one is theirs?" Maxcine pondered, an expression of disapproval slipping into place.
"They probably read the address numbers stenciled above the doors. Whoever designed this project didn't have any imagination at all."
The sisters picked up their pace, anxious to see the last of those duplexes.