Danger During the Holidays!
It was a few days before Christmas last year, and I was talking to Linda on the phone. "Do you want to come over and help me with my Christmas crafts?" I asked.
"Good heavens, NO!" she shouted. "I'd rather strip naked and run through a rose garden that's been sprayed with lemon juice."
"What time will you be here?" I asked.
"I'd rather to be strapped to the speakers at a bagpipe concert," she said.
"Is that yes or no?" I asked. "I don't understand."
"You're not trying to," she said. "Rather than crafting with you, I'd sit through the presidential debates again! Sober!"
"I'm beginning to get the odd feeling that you might perhaps be reluctant," I said. "Why is that?"
"Because it's dangerous," she said. "People get hurt when you do crafts."
I sighed. "Is Adam complaining about his eyebrows again?"
"Stephen, they fell off!"
"Actually, they peeled off," I said. "And I told him not to stand over the chemicals when we were etching glass. Well, I meant to tell him."
"And about Cynthia?"
"That was an accident," I said. "I had no idea enough paint fumes had accumulated to explode. But she'll be out of the bodycast in a couple of month. Personally, I think she's enjoying the rest despite her threats and her vows to have me killed."
"Yes, there's nothing more restful than having nurses turn you every hour and orderlies feed you through a straw," Linda said.
"So you'll come over?" I asked.
"Not that I'm agreeing, but what exactly are you going to be doing?"
"Just papercraft," I said. "There's nothing dangerous in papercraft. We'll be tearing up paper and mixing the pieces with water and a few chemicals, most of which aren't toxic."
"Well, I guess ... What do you mean most?! she snapped. "No, no, NO! Papercraft is out."
"We could make Christmas candles," I said. "Those make good gifts."
"Didn't you have a wax explosion a couple of months ago?" she asked.
"No one was seriously hurt, and my kitchen has already been repaired," I said. "If I could find my cat, everything would be fine. I tried to follow the smoke trail she left, but the wind was high, and I lost her around Oak Street."
"No candles," she said firmly. "Don't you do wooden projects?"
I used to," I said. "But the police took away my electric saw after that regrettable incident when I was trying to help those nuns repair a pew and I sneezed."
"Oh, yeah, I forgot," she said. "Do you still get hate mail from Sister Mary Margaret?"
"Just hate postcards now," I said. "I think she's getting over her anger. I hope so. It can't be good for her spiritual growth."
"What about painting?" she suggested. "I mean, watercolor painting. Yeah, watercolors are safe. I couldn't get hurt doing watercolors."
"Okay, we'll do that," I said happily. "Come on over."
Later that night as we huddled under a blanket provided by the fire department, she glared at me. "How oh how did the watercolors catch fire?!" she asked.
"Well, the pigments looked a little thick," I said. "So I thought I'd try thinning them with alcohol."
She didn't say anything.
"I think short hair is a good look for you," I said brightly.
Fortunately they were able to pull her off me before she could finish choking me. Because she's a friend, I didn't press charges.
Copyright 2010 by Stephen B. Bagley. Excerpted from Floozy and Other Stories. All rights reserved. No copying without express prior written permission from the author and publisher.
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