Saturday, July 18, 2009

Post # 3 The Horsehair Brush- Short Story

Post #1

Post #2

Two weeks have passed since Peggy left Granger’s apartment.
She returns to her job at Mario’s. The restaurant reminds her of one of those revolving doors at a department store in New York City. There’s a constant stream of customers in and out.

“Hello, Sir, my name is Peggy. I’ll be your server tonight. May I bring you something to drink, while you decide on your order?” She stands poised, with a pencil in hand, ready to take the order.

“Yeah, yeah, just get me a beer, will ya’?” He looks right through her, and shoos her away like an unwanted insect.

I don’t know how much more I can take from ruffians like you, you oversized bag of lard. She returns to his table with the beer, and starts to pour it into a glass.

Grabbing the bottle out of her hand, he yells, “Did I tell ya’ to pour it into a glass. A glass is for women, ya’ ignoramus!”

She looks at the small amount of beer in the glass, gulps it, grabs the beer bottle from his hand, and pours it over the top of his head. She unties her apron, throws it in his face, and runs full speed into the kitchen where she finds her boss. “I quit, Mario. I just can’t take this verbal abuse anymore. Sorry.”

Her boss hears the commotion in the dining room, because the man is screaming for revenge at the top of his lungs. “Go on, get out of here before there’s more trouble.” Mario rushes out to the dining room, and Peggy leaves by the back door.

October 23


Hi, it’s Granger. I just thought I would check with you again to see if you might reconsider your decision about taking this job. By the way, there is plenty of room here for your own bedroom. Please let me know, so I can make the appropriate arrangements.


October 24


I quit my job today. Yes, I have reconsidered. I would like to accept the job. I need a week to make arrangements and move out of my efficiency. I’ll see you on the first of November at 1:00.


On the way up the elevator to Granger’s apartment, Peggy recalls some of her first impressions of Granger. I like the firmness of his handshake. He’s not a handsome man, but when I look into his eyes, I can see a softness, a vulnerability. His voice is soft, deep, and soothing. Sultry, saxophones come to mind..

She greets Granger. He points toward her new bedroom. The small bath sits between the two bedrooms, so that they can share it.

Tall, folding screens painted with a pastel mural gives her bedroom the appearance of real walls. She walks over and peers inside.

“Is the furniture o-okay? If not, I’ll get something else f-for you.” His brow wrinkled with concern.

“No, it’s perfect. You have great taste.” She walks over to the queen size brass bed and runs her fingers across the silky, blue comforter noticing the matching dust ruffle and pillow shams. “I couldn’t have done a better job myself, Granger.”

An exquisite oriental rug covers most of the floor area. She walks over to the white, wicker rocker. A brass floor lamp with a blue shade lights the corner. To the left of the rocker is a matching white end-table. A large, green fern fills most of the table.

Turning to look at Granger, she says, “This will make a wonderful reading corner.” She notices a large, oak armoire and oak dresser with a carved beveled mirror. “How did you know, Granger? You’ve picked exactly the type of things I love.”

Granger laughs aloud. Peggy can see he is pleased.

“You’ve created a little piece of my world in your own environment. That must have been difficult for you. This is way beyond what I expected. Thank-you.”

“I’m g-glad you like it. It’s important to me that you’re happy and comfortable.”

She turns to the large window covered with blue verticals. In front of the window is an oak roll-top desk.

“I thought that would be a p-perfect place for your computer. What do you think?”

“Oh, yes. That’s exactly where I’ll put it.” Overwhelmed with emotion, for his kindness and thoughtfulness, she turns to give Granger a quick hug, but he steps backwards. She stops in mid-reach and looks down confused and embarrassed.

“I’m sorry, Peggy. This adjustment will be d-difficult for me. It isn’t you. You are b-beautiful and smart. Please don’t be mad at me.” He reaches for her hand. The latex glove is still there.

“Granger, what has made you like this?” You poor man. You must be experiencing a living hell.

“We’ll t-talk another time. I’ve got to get back to my work.”

“Okay. Oh, Granger my stuff will be delivered later today. I hope that is all right.”

“Yes, t-that’s fine.” He leaves her in her room and heads for his computer.

Peggy hears the doorbell ring and is on her way to answer it, when Granger says,

“It’s o-okay, Peggy. I’ll handle it. It’s probably your stuff.”

“Well, I’ll go with you. It will be too much for you to carry alone.”

“F-fine.” He checks his gloves.

They ride down in silence. On the other side of the gate, a young man stands surrounded by boxes. He looks tired and takes out a handkerchief to wipe the sweat from his forehead.

Granger and Peggy step off of the elevator and help him load the boxes into the elevator. The mover keeps staring at Granger’s white clothes and especially at his surgical gloves.

It wasn’t so long ago that Peggy was having the same reaction. What are you staring at, you idiot. How impolite. Her usual temper was getting the best of her, again. Now wait a minute. After all, it does look a little strange. You can’t hold it against this kid. Peggy was amazed at her protective feelings for Granger. This is ridiculous. Granger can certainly fend for himself.

“How much do I owe you?” Granger pulls out his wallet.

“Hundred-twenty five bucks.” The kid reaches tentatively for the cash.

“Here’s a hundred-forty. Do you have the change?” Granger looks at Peggy and shrugs his shoulders, as the young man reaches, with shaky fingers, into his money pouch searching for the correct change.

“Hundred-thirty, hundred-forty. Thanks. Good-bye.” The young man leaves in a fast walk.

“He looks like one of those marathon speed walkers, duck style walk and all,” said Peggy.

“P-people always react to me that way.” Granger and Peggy stare at each other a moment and both burst out laughing. They laugh all the way up to the apartment.

“May I get a drink of water, before unpacking, Granger?”

“Let’s g-get one thing straight. This is your home n-now. You don’t have to ask me. Make yourself at home.” He walks with her into the kitchen and shows her where things are.

Peggy fixes herself a glass of water. “Do you want anything?”

“N-no thanks.” Granger busies himself at the sink.

Peggy sits at the kitchen table to drink her water and watches Granger. Granger pours some disinfectant into a jar. He drops the five and the ten dollar bill into the solution. After he shakes the jar a few times, he places the wet bills on some paper towels to dry. He removes his gloves, throws them in the trash, scrubs his hands and face, and puts on a fresh pair of gloves.

I can’t believe what you’re doing. It’s like you don’t even know I’m here watching. Every move is almost mechanical, like you’ve done it a thousand times before. “Granger, what are you doing?”

“You know that there is nothing filthier than money.” He walks back to his computer.

Peggy spends the rest of the afternoon and evening unpacking, and arranging her personal belongings in her new room.

The next morning, Granger puts Peggy to work on her computer doing research for another magazine article he plans to write about phobias. Later in the day, he has her go to the library to check out a couple of books. She finds her day goes by quickly. She is happier than she has been for a long time. That night, after eating Peggy’s scratch spaghetti and meatballs, they sit at the kitchen table and talk.

“You’ve d-done a great job today, Peggy. I knew I d-did the right thing hiring you.” He pushes his plate back. “Didn’t know I got a great cook in the bargain.”

Peggy hasn’t heard words like those very often in her life. You make me feel special and appreciated, Granger. You just don’t know how much your words mean. “Thanks, Granger. I’ve enjoyed today very much.”

“Tell me a little about your life b-before you moved here.” Granger rocks back in his chair with his legs stretched out, and his arms crossed at his chest. He waits.

“Well, I’m from Boise, Idaho. At least, that’s where I was placed in an orphanage.” Peggy stands and begins to clear the table.”

“Were you ever a-adopted?” He leans forward now and rests his elbows on the table.

“Yes, I was.” She starts filling the sink with water.

“That’s n-nice. How old were you?”

“I was placed in the orphanage as in infant. I really don’t know anything about my real parents. But, I wasn’t adopted until I was five.”


  1. Wonderful work Carole, you have me hanging now and I want more!

  2. Oh, the suspense of having to wait for each segment! Great summer reading! ;)

  3. Carole - I'm loving this! What a great story!

  4. What a wonderful story...I just caught up and ready for tom.!