Sam stood for a few minutes at the end of the sidewalk surveying Crestwood’s orderly layout of homes and condos on half acre lots. Once a dairy farm, the medium to large homes sat on land that dipped and climbed toward the winter sky.
Many residents had appreciated Sam’s attention to detail and his sermons on better living through recycling. Though in retrospect the men usually wanted to hear war stories and a few of the elderly ladies wanted to seduce Sam. He wasn’t always comfortable with the female attention, wishing for a gal a bit spryer. Ruth Peyton fit the bill, but she lived in Florida and Sam traveled there only twice a year.
Weak sunlight poked through a passing snow shower. The cold didn’t touch him, an angry heart pounded beneath his coat and flannel shirt. He tried to remember the song about being young at heart, a much more preferable mood, but it was anger that warmed him and muddled his thoughts.
He started down the sidewalk and all of Crestwood looked like a Christmas card to him, yet it didn’t make him smile. Before he slumped further, he decided on a pot of coffee when he got back to his place. Gloveless, hands at his sides, he passed homes outfitted with wreaths and lights and big red bows on the mailboxes. Crossing the intersection he noticed a large blue bin at the curb of Marge and Ray Holloway’s yard. He shook his head and aimed for their house.
He used the bell and Marge answered the door looking old and frail.
“They fired you, Sam, and I say good,” she barked. “So why are you on my porch? What, you think you’re better than everyone else, the rules don’t apply to you? You think you can just push people around?”
“News sure travels fast. But I’m still the guy in charge until Monday. I’m going to be reasonable because that’s the kind of man I am. I’m here about the recycling bin—blue is for magazines, newspapers and paper products and that’s in two weeks. Black is landfill; that’s Monday. You know, Marge, plastic stuff, bottle caps, Styrofoam. I’m just trying to help.”
“Green, blue, black, hell I don’t care. That’s Ray’s job. Ray!” She yelled, then turned to Sam. “Get in here so I can close the door. Stay on the rug. I just vacuumed.”
“What’s the problem?” A cranky voice answered.
“Sam Messina’s here. He said you screwed up your bins again.”
“Bullshit,” Ray said, finally walking into the living room buckling his belt, his fly open. He wagged a finger at Sam. “Don’t you come around telling us what to do? I spent forty years with a boss telling me what to do. I don’t live like that anymore. Go bother somebody else.”
“Ray, I’m here to help,” Sam gently pleaded.
“And my boss said the same thing for forty years and I wanted to kill him.”
“You old fool,” Marge broke in. “We’re talking about those stupid bins and you’re talking about killing people?”
“You know what I did when my boss died?” Ray announced proudly. “I danced all around this living room. It’s been ten years and I still dance on the day he died. The bastard can’t steal my air anymore. I’m still breathing and he’s full of worms.”
“OK. I’m leaving,” Sam said, turning his back on the couple.
“You see, Sam, you always cause trouble,” Marge said. “My husband and I were having a peaceful morning and you just ruined it. You ruin a lot of our mornings with your bullshit.”
Almost out the door, Sam wanted to respond but didn’t. The Holloways continued their attack with the door open, cursing him all the way to the sidewalk before turning on each other.
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