Mrs. “DK” and her two grown daughters stood at the doorway of their apartment complex waving vigorously and calling goodbye too loudly. It appeared they would be doing so until Roxanne and Maeve were out of sight. The next half block would be a long walk!
The two sister-in-laws walked side by side with forced smiles on their faces. It looked very unnatural on Maeve. In truth, their expressions were something between good natured embarrassment and shock.
Through gritted teeth, still staring straight ahead without turning to her best friend Maeve asked, “Does everyone in this neighborhood get that excited about an invitation to lunch?”
Replying softy under her breathe (she sounded unnatural for Roxanne) “We’ve only been here with the new outlet for a couple of weeks. We’ve invited a few business people to Friday night dinner, but…” She shook her coppery tresses in confusion.
“They knew it was lunch? Right?”
“Yes, yes I referred to it as “tea” just to be sure.” Roxanne assured the brunette, while her voice rose in pitch. “I confused about something else too?” Out of the corner of her painted eye, she saw Maeve nod softly for her to continue. “I thought they were supposed to be Indians.”
Maeve’s dark eyes risked a questioning glance at Roxanne, without turning her head and giving away that they were talking about the brown skin trio behind them.
“You know Native American?”
“Oh,” Maeve sighed in understanding. The shoulders of her black brocade jacket slumping in the process. “They are Indians, as in “from the sub-continent of India”. Hindu I think.”
Roxanne giggled gleefully at herself, her sharp nose rising high with her laughter, her green eyes once more alive with their natural delight. “Oh, Indians!” Once upon a time she would have added how stupid that was of her. Maeve broke her of the habit ages ago. No one bad-mouthed her best friend. “Oh, those girls clean up real good!”
“Roxanne!” Maeve exclaimed as she grabbed her elbow.
“Oh honey, you know what I mean! They wear those beautiful evening gowns…”
Roxanne started to nod in agreement, then her chin came to a stop and she asked mischievously “Sorry?”
Maeve elbowed her good-naturally in response and then added absently, “That’s what they are wearing to lunch.”
“Is that what I agreed too? My English, their accents!” Roxanne’s bright red lips curled in consternation and she glanced about as they finally made the turn towards their company’s new warehouse/home. “In this neighborhood? In saris?”
Roxanne’s concern for their guest was well placed. Their family’s import/export business needed room and they could only find it this run down semi-industrial side of town. The realtor had described the surrounding neighborhoods as once “full of people who could afford to move out of their trailers into rental homes, but don’t afford lawn mowers. Couldn’t afford the ladders to take down their Christmas lights, either.” The Seinnans arrival was part of the current “gentrification” of the community. Still walking down the side streets was not an option. Roxanne’s concern was ironic because she and Maeve wore custom made dresses and handmade heels to match their outfits.
“I hear that some women might feel concerned about walking through this neighborhood, if they were well dressed, might attract unwanted attention, were petite or foreigners.” Maeve rattled off the list absently. They weren’t petite, particularly not Roxanne, but the rest of the list applied to them. They were sauntering down a street that salesmen coming to visit their store had second thoughts about.
“It might be best if us and the girls (Roxanne’s grown daughters) escorted them. You wouldn’t have a sari you would?”
“A closet full.”
Maeve arrived well before lunch with a selection of saris. She wore her favorite one; black and blood red, a gift from business associates of her husband’s. Although the colors weren’t her favorites, Roxanne made quite the bouquet of her daughters and herself, with a matching parasol to match each sari. Her daughters exchanged knowing looks about the weightiness of the umbrellas and the extreme sharpness of the tips. But, no one admitted to anthing, they were too excited about the luncheon. They headed off to the “DK” residence with Maeve and Roxanne in the lead. The playful party of five was half way there when Maeve pointed out something ahead. Four red-neck looking guys huddled around he hood of a truck.
Maeve saw more beer cans than tools. “Reminds me of your neighbors in Alaska skinning an illegal black bear in the back of their truck.”
Roxanne nodded in agreement. Maeve and Roxanne weren’t hard on the eye. The girls definitely were worth looking at and the guys were not giving them the time of day. A little black mixed-breed rushed out, tail-wagging to bark at them.
“More fright than might, you know.” Roxanne assured everyone and clapped for the sweet little doggy to come to her.
“Get away from my dog!”
The creature in question darted away. Roxanne offered a weak meaningful, "Sorry."
“ Ain’t Gizmo, is she?” commented Roxanne’s eldest, referring to one of the family dogs.
The speaker stepped from behind the pick-up grabbing up a big crescent wrench in the process. “People like you is what is wrong with this neighborhood.”
All four of the other women turn calmly and looked to Maeve. Her dark eyes looked up at the beer bellied Cretan with anger and dire wrath. Disturbed to the heart the man visibly shuddered. Maeve veiled her head with dark fabric, there is none darker. It fell back in folds that waved around her lithe feet as she lead the Seinnans on their way.
Braver at a distance one of the men called after them, “Dressed kind of gaudy ain’t ya?”
“Thanks.” Roxanne called over her shoulder with a laugh. “He thinks we look like goddesses; godly! My english!” she explained to the girls.
They laughed at her joke to the consternation of the four deyfusses behind them and went merrily on their way. The girls using their umbrellas as canes and sashaying along like Mae West. Only Roxanne noticed that Maeve never looked up.
Roxanne and her daughters can be a little overwhelming on the best of day. Big, loud and obnoxious (without a mean bone in their bodies), they could be a little intimidating. They towered over the slighter, browner, petite women. But, at the sight of the saris the Indian women screamed with delight. Mrs. DK had flowers for the “tea table” in a small yellow porcelain pitcher hand painted with purple iris. The riotous party moved back the way they’d come and in minutes they were within sight of the now drunker driveway mechanics. All four men, visible agitated moved towards the sidewalk armed with wrenches and fresh beers. Their dog yapped at its angry master and approaching women while spinning in circles on the lawn.
“Yeah!” bellowed the loud-mouth. “It figures you’d be friends with the towel-heads down the street!”
One of his buddies loudly encouraged “J.C.” The other two seemed uncomfortable.
Roxanne’s daughters still smiling and strolling had flipped their parasols, heavy, sharp end up and carried them high with both hands. Roxanne reached for the flowers that Mrs. DK carried. She dumped them on the sidewalk and hefted the pitcher in the air, sharp spout down.
“All you foreigners need to go back to where you came from!” “Yeah!”
“Let’s not mention that their mothers crawled out from underneath rocks.” Roxanne suggested sweetly while eyeing the temple of the nearest.
Instead, Maeve uncovered her head, snapped her fingers and said, “Here Gizmo!”
Behind her Maeve could hear the rapid breathes, smothered whimpering and anxious prayers of their guests. She could also hear claws on concrete approaching rapidly. A small bundle of black terror bounded to her mistress’ side and leaped joyfully for the summoning fingers. Then Gizmo saw the men. The other dog yelped and ran for the house. As much as it could, Gizmo’s curly death-black fur stood on end and she backed up until her haunches guarded Maeve’s ankle. Her deep guttural growl echoed off the concrete with a hum.
“Jake, can’t be far behind.” One of the sisters said.
They gathered in tighter around the Indian women as a 120 pound monster hurled by and landed at his mistress’ left side, a big glob of drool lay across his snout. If Jake was blacker than his mate, it was only because of white foam in his jowls. Jake was so big and fierce that he’d never learned to growl; didn’t need to. The big foul-mouthed guy turned pale. He tried to fight it, but he got dizzy trying not to cough up his last gulp of beer. As he fell back one of his buddies spun him away from Maeve’s black heartless gaze.
Another stepped up, palms forward. “JC’s drunk. Ignore him. We don’t want any trouble. “
Maeve glided on by, leading her party. Her dogs lingered on now silent and waiting. She called them as she turned the corner and they were gone. The guys bent to check on JC who was now coughing up blood. There was a noise behind them. Almost afraid to look the peacemaker turned. It was Roxanne.
“Forgot the flowers!” she exclaimed as she hefted the hem of her gown and scooped them off the sidewalk. She grimaced at JC now crawling around on all fours, as she departed. “Sorry.”