Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Snap (09/04/08)
TITLE: It Happened in 16B
By Betty Castleberry
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Whenever somebody is out of town, SNAP brings in their mail, makes sure their refrigerator is running, and generally keeps an eye on their property.
I was hesitant to join because I really don’t like getting in anyone else’s business. Gloria finally persuaded me to sit in on a meeting. “Liza, you’ll love the meetings. We always have snacks, and the duties of SNAP really are a snap. It’s so easy. Besides, you’ll get to meet that new lady in 16B.”
Everyone was curious about the new lady. She had moved in just a week ago, but already, she was a hot topic. The minimum age requirement to live in our complex is fifty-five. Janice Keller didn’t look a day over forty. There was even talk that she had bribed someone to get into the complex. Don’t ask me why she would do that. If I was forty again, I sure wouldn’t want to live around a bunch of seniors whose idea of excitement is finding unexpired denture cream coupons in the bottom of their hand bags.
Considering that I was admittedly curious as to how Janice kept her figure, I went to the meeting. Janice looked terrific in her skinny jeans and matching denim jacket. There wasn’t one gray hair on her head, and her skin was taught and smooth. I was trying not to hate her. She informed us she was recently widowed, and would have to go back to Phoenix the next day to take care of some legal matters. The SNAP team offered to keep an eye on her place while she was gone.
The next evening, Gloria dropped my condo waggling a key. “Looky here what I’ve got. The key to Janice’s condo. Let’s go over and take a peek.”
“We can’t just let ourselves in and snoop.”
“I beg your pardon, dear cousin, but we won’t be snooping. As members of SNAP, it’s our duty to check on her place.”
I eyed her suspiciously for a minute, then grabbed my purse and followed her out the door.
Janice’s condo was just like her; tidy and feminine, right down to the silk ivy sprouting everywhere. Gloria made a perfunctory check around, then went in the bathroom. “I knew it,” she squealed.
“What are you doing in there, Gloria?”
“Liza, come here.” She stood in front of the mirror, pointing at a card taped to the mirror. “Look.”
The card read, “Dr. Grant Hargis, plastic surgeon.”
“That’s how she stays so young. A little nip and tuck.” My cousin folded her arms in triumph.
I shook my head, although I was secretly delighted. “This really isn’t any of our business, you know. Let’s go. Everything is fine here.”
“Just one more minute.” She opened the medicine cabinet. “Aha! Hair color. I thought as much.”
She couldn’t resist reaching for the bottle. When she removed it, she lost her grasp, and it crashed to the floor, splashing permanent chestnut brown all over the tile floor and white walls.
She stared, wide-eyed. “Oh no.”
I was livid. “Oh yes. We’ve got to clean this mess up.”
For the next hour we scrubbed, using every available paper towel in sight. We were unable to get it all cleaned up. It truly was permanent hair color.
Gloria wailed. “Now what?”
“I should make you confess, but that would only give SNAP a bad name. Look, the tile’s in bad shape anyway. We’ll buy new hair color, replace the tile and paint the walls.”
She looked at me, incredulous. “No.”
“Yes. We’ll call Jesse and Pete in the morning. They’ll help.” Jesse and Pete, our cousins, had been loyal to us since we were kids. I knew we could count on them. All it would cost us would be a few batches of home-made fudge.
After a fitful night’s sleep, I met my three cousins at Gloria’s apartment. We were slow but thorough.
When we finished, Janice’s bathroom looked great. We decided to tell her that is was a housewarming gift from the four of us.
Gloria won’t be conning me into any more projects that are supposed to be a snap. If she tries, I’ll threaten to spill my guts at the next SNAP meeting. I caught her writing down the plastic surgeon’s phone number.
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