"On the day that she moved out of the hospital and into the house, the van was parked on the street. Its words spooked Bibi to the core; surely this was here directly from God, a reminder she had yet to repent for her sins. In the end, she agreed to move in—she really didn't have a choice in the matter. Angelique and Vikram had moved from Guyana to help her, and they had their hearts set on paving over the backyard, buying a Kenmore gas grill and having the entire Guyanese expatriate community over for a barbeque.
Now, Archie put the van in park, jumped out and walked around to where Bibi stood on the sidewalk, "Come on, Ms. Mohammad. We've been neighbors for a long time now! Let me take you wherever you're going."
"I'm just going to Jamaica Ave to catch the bus into the city. Thank you, but I can manage,"Bibi said as she yanked her arm back, afraid that Archie was about to actually touch her elbow.
"The bus! That takes over an hour! Why don't I drive you to the L.I.R.R. station; you will be in Penn Station in forty minutes!"
Bibi seethed at the stupidity of this man. The train cost over fifteen dollars, round trip! She took in his watery blue eyes, gangly limbs, the slim ladylike fingers stretched out to her like seaweed on the ocean floor, flowing in and out with the tide. Why this ugly white man be so interested in helping a fifty-one year old East Indian Guyanese widow? Something about the beads of sweat that she saw gathered in the valleys between the grey porcupine quills of his hair finally made Bibi relent.
"Fine, Mr. Donovan, I take your ride. But just to Jamaica Ave; I still be taking the bus to the city."
Archie gallantly opened the passenger side door and swept out his arm like a game show model. Once Bibi settled into the plush navy velour seat, perched so high above the road, felt the shock of cool air-conditioned air she actually breathed a little sigh of contentment. The van looked brand new inside, a pleasant scent vaguely reminiscent of marzipan worked its aromatherapy magic on her and she asked Archie a question that had been bugging her for years. "Why you be having this big van? It just you who live in that house, right?"
Archie giggled and rubbed at the steering wheel, left hand going from eleven to eight, right hand from one to four, "Oh, Ms. Mohammad, trust me; this van gets a lot of use. I am the youth director of the Queens Christian Fellowship Church. I am shuttling so many teens around sometimes I think I should just buy a bus!" Archie slapped at his knee as if he had said something remarkably funny.
"Oh, I guess that would explain all the Bible business, too."
"Well, the Commandments,"Archie pointed over his right shoulder, "those ten rules are all you need to know if you want to have a happy and prod..."
Swinging her arms like an umpire calling a player safe, the racket from her bracelets interrupted Archie's sermon from the mount. "Umm, ummm...no, no, forget that I say anything...Too early in the morning for me to be talking 'bout the religion with you."
"Oh, heh, uh...I just thought that..."
Bibi stomped her foot and said "No,"in a voice that evaporated Archie's defense. She turned her sneering face towards her passenger window, clutched her purse possessively in her lap and sucked at her teeth with hungry determination. The reflection of her oversize, rose-tinted eyeglasses startled her as she focused her attention out the window.
Archie stopped at an intersection and pointed through the windshield at a new house, its wooden skeleton covered in white DuPont insulation. "Oh, now, would you look at that? Another McMansion ruining the neighborhood."
"What? What you talking 'bout? That house is going to be beautiful!"
"That house is at least 6,000 square feet...on a 100x30 foot lot! This is not some fancy-schmancy neighborhood! The rest of the houses around it look like the servant's quarters of a fiefdom."
"Well, I think that whoever be building that house, they must make a lot of money. They can build whatever the hell they please."
Archie's hands now firmly gripped the wheel at nine and three o'clock. "Where did you say that bus stop was, Ms. Mohammad?"
Stacey Curry grew up in New Jersey and now lives in New York City. She is currently working on a novel, entitled Curve.
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