Hot, black coffee is a gift from the gods, Carla Mae thought, sitting at her small breakfast table sipping bitter, poorly made brew from her panda mug. She had a mostly clear view of her garden from here, the corner windows framing both the side yard and part of the back. Jacob’s gable was in plain view beyond the garden fence, an oddity in the neighborhood. Most of the homes here were built by Polish immigrants who built with the gables facing the street. Jacob’s house, a painful testament to the ranch-style homes that were so suburbanly popular in the late 60s rested long-ways on its lot and was completely out of place. It was unimaginable that Jacob had been the original owner of the house, he simply wasn’t old enough but, Carla Mae had wondered several times if the house hadn’t been in his family for many years and just got passed down to him. She couldn’t believe that someone would look at that place and experience feelings of desire to possess it. It was hideous, no character beyond what was bestowed on it by that ridiculous television show all those years ago.
The sound of the neighboring garage door rising floated through the window and tickled Carla Mae’s ears like the sound of a mosquito, something she heard but had not fully registered yet. Jacob was moving swiftly down the driveway, fast and direct and inside the little green blazer almost before Carla Mae had focused her eyes on him. The engine sprang to life and the Jimmy jerked backwards down the driveway and into the street. She could see his face, stark and frozen in the morning light, clearly upset. The panda cup hung motionless in the air, forgotten as she watched Jacob drive away. When the blazer had vanished from sight Carla Mae rotated her eyes back to the house. Jacob had not closed his garage door.
* * * * *
Finally! Stevin had been about to call it quits and head home when Jacob’s GMC had come blasting into the hardware store parking lot. Despite his excitement at seeing the little green blazer Stevin felt apprehension rise into his stomach, damping down the happy butterflies and freezing his feet to the asphalt. Raising one anxious, sculpted eyebrow he watched Jacob jerk to a halt in the far right of the lot, nearly triple parking when he was normally so fastidious about being squared between the lines and exit the vehicle in an obvious hurry. He hadn’t even noticed that his door hadn’t completely latched. Stevin’s heart beat a little faster as he tracked Jacob’s movement toward the main door. To have an opportunity like this just dropped in his lap was too good to pass up. The entrance doors swished open and Jacob disappeared inside. Stevin kicked into motion and bee-lined for the blazer.
* * * * *
Clutching his two bags of purchases Jacob left the store a bit slower than he had entered it, his mind already planning his route through the house to each door and window. The only tricky one would be the exit door of his garage, the one that opened into the back yard. That door was older than the others and the frame was rather warped. He had intended to re-frame it eventually but it had become one of those things that was just always on the ToDo list. Maybe now was the time? He wasn’t sure. Timing for this was horribly bad. His current project wasn’t going to keep much longer. He needed to finish that one first before he could start anything new.
People were starting to pull into the parking lot. Being an early bird for all his shopping made getting in an out of the stores much easier. He didn’t have to wait in line and there was seldom anyone else in the aisles he shopped. A small truck was now parking in front of the main doors, right where he would normally have parked and a big, gray haired man with a diminutive wife were getting out. Those who shopped together stayed together, Jacob thought rudely, wondering why on earth the woman would want to accompany her husband to the hardware store?
Punching the button on the car remote Jacob heard the satisfying thunk of the lock mechanism opening. A shaggy headed young man in a blue paisley button down strolled past him. The gait caught his attention and Jacob paused for a mere second, watching the man walk toward the Ice Cream Queen. Shaking his head in silent judgment he turned back to his vehicle and slid into the driver’s seat. He didn’t have time to stand out here watching every single person in the parking lot. Jamming his key in the ignition Jacob focused on the task at hand.
Shifting the Jimmy into drive Jacob headed for the exit, surprising the man in the blue shirt as he passed. The shaggy head snapped around and gave him a rather nervous smile. Jacob didn’t bother making eye contact.
The drive home took exactly eight minutes and twelve seconds. Jacob didn’t like that. Normally the drive was only seven minutes and sixteen seconds. He had caught a red light that he normally didn’t have to stop for which had thrown off his time. Clenching his jaw tightly he reached up to flip his visor over and punch the button on the garage door remote. The movement was so ingrained that he didn’t have to think about it. The gray panels rolled upward and out of sight as the door rose and again he was faced with the sight of his livelihood. Slamming the driver’s door a little harder than necessary he stalked into the garage and pressed the other button to drop the door back down. How many times was he going to raise and lower this door today? What was this, the sixth time he had pressed the button? Jesus, he needed to settle down or the door was going to wear out in a single day.