Unspoken Words

LORI OSIECKI ILLUSTRATION

I haven’t said a word in four days.

It isn’t that I joined the Poor Clare nuns and took a vow of silence. Nothing like that.

What happened is, I come down with that virus that’s been going around and my voice box is shut down. I first started feeling bad last week, but I sounded OK, so I didn’t get no sympathy. Then, when I started to feel better, my voice got hoarse and everybody said, “Oh you poor thing,” and kept their distance. And now, my voice is entirely gone.

At least it’s given me time to reflect and learn.

Four things I’ve learned so far:

1. If you phone someone and croak “hel-lo-o-o” in a whisper, the person hangs up.

2. When you point to your mouth and whisper “lost my voice” some people, like the nurse at the doctor’s office, will talk to you LOUDLY AND DISTINCTLY. “HOW. MUCH. DO. YOU. WEIGH. MS. GUNCH?”

3. When you write a note and hand it to someone, that person will write an answering note, like the two of you were plotting something.

4. Be careful what you write, because it can be misconstrued. My gentleman friend Lust is wondering about me now.
I got to explain.

My mother-in-law, Ms. Larda, and her Chihuahua, Chopsley, are spending a few days at Gloriosa’s while Ms. Larda’s house gets fumigated for excessive roaches caused by my brothers-in-law, who also live there. And yesterday I promised to meet them both for lunch at Commander’s Palace.

Well, It ain’t every day I get to go to Commander’s. It ain’t every year even. But Gloriosa, who married rich and lives Uptown, promised to treat us both to a fancy lunch there for a late Christmas present. So I was kind of excited.

But I figured I better do the right thing and cancel, so they wouldn’t catch what I got. I looked up how to spell “laryngitis” and texted Gloriosa, “Still got laryngitis; better cancel so U 2 don’t catch it. :(”
And she texted back, “It’s laryngitis, not the plague. Meet U there. :)”

So I took a yellow legal pad to write notes on, and went.

Well, the lunch is great. But I notice Gloriosa is hitting the 25-cent martinis pretty hard, so I write “You nervous?” And she takes the pad and writes, “Yes.”

Then she starts writing out a long story and I have to grab the pad away and write, “Talk.” She and Ms. Larda look at each other, and then they both start talking at once. They didn’t want to say it right away and ruin lunch, but Ms. Larda got held up that morning. Just a block away from Gloriosa’s. She was taking Chopsley out for his constitutional when a man put a gun to her back. She screamed and flung up her arms and her purse and he grabbed it and ran away.

It was bad luck for him that she also let go of the dog leash. Chopsley took off after him, nipping his ankles. It was worse luck that a streetcar was going by. The conductor saw the whole thing and called 9-1-1.

Also, the purse didn’t have nothing in it but dog poo. (Ms. Larda had figured she better behave herself Uptown, so she carried a plastic bag for Chopsley’s poo, but she didn’t want to be too obvious, so she stuck the bag in an old purse.)

Anyway, to shake off Chopsley this robber vaulted the first fence he came to, which happened to be around Gloriosa’s front yard. Then he reached in the purse for the wallet, came out with dog poo, dropped the purse and vaulted the fence on the other side, where – his worst luck – he landed in the arms of a cop named Hulk who happens to live next door. More police came careening up in a bunch of cars and swarmed around and went in the yard and found the purse. But they couldn’t find the gun.

So now, Gloriosa says, she can’t never let the kids play outside again because there’s a gun hidden in the yard and God knows what they might do with it. I pat her wrist, and I write a five-point plan on my yellow pad.

Drink another martini.

Order bread pudding with whiskey sauce.

Eat it.

Go to house.

Find gun.

So we drink to that and eat our bread pudding, and we take the streetcar to Gloriosa’s house because we ain’t in no condition to drive, and we lurch around her yard, and peer under her azaleas, and then, right in the bird bath, we find – a plastic fork.

Gloriosa says it’s definitely not her fork. She don’t allow plastic forks on her property. Every piece of plastic is an insult to the environment. Besides, all her forks are monogrammed sterling. This is a criminal fork.

So she calls Hulk.

I don’t think Hulk is going to be interested, but he looks at this fork and it’s like a light bulb went off over his head. “That dog poo thief kept saying ‘Fork! Fork! Fork!’ But we just told him to stop cursing and tell us where he put the gun,” he says. And he leaves.

We are inside sobering up with coffee when he calls back. They have interviewed the streetcar conductor. He said yes, this robber held Ms. Larda up with a fork. He never saw nothing like it. No gun. A fork robbery.

And all he got was dog poo. There is a lesson in that, somewhere.

That evening Lust comes by and asks how was my day out with the ladies. I hand him my yellow pad.

“Five-point plan, mumble, mumble ... find gun,” he reads. He stares at me.

“What do you ladies do when you go out?” he asks.

I got no voice, so I can’t tell.

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