Basically, I am well taken care of by Mark and Ann. What a bargain? Two for the price of one! But Ann still remains my (primary) friend. She is there for me always. Cheerleading me, giving out generous hugs, showering me again and again with I love you,  and often flirting with me shamelessly.  I am absolutely at home.

I still cherish the little things that she would do for me such as her leaving bunches of flowers – freshly cut from her garden – in my apartment in my absence. Leaving little endearing notes. Chauffeuring me around.

To call Mark and Ann pot heads would not do them justice. Their devotion to the weed is more spiritual than its worldly. So much so that Ann would try to seduce me with it in her sweet little ways, by sneaking in and leaving in my spice cabinet a big fat joint or two. ‘Just in case!’ She would say. And be disappointed to see it still there untouched and ignored for months.

And she was there for me to welcome Carolyn and her mother to my house when I was on other side of the world in Australia. She did it better than I would have.

Carolyn and I had not lived together before. We maintain the long distance relationship living four hundred miles (640 kilometers) apart. Her in San Francisco and me in Santa Barbara. She had already moved back east to Minnesota when she found out that she was pregnant.

All this happened very fast. I didn’t know I would be gone for six weeks and Carolyn had packed up and was heading back west, accompanying by her mother, to move in with me. I asked Mark and Ann to welcome them and to make sure that there were a dozen long stemmed red roses waiting for Carolyn in my apartment. Which Ann arranged, but she also added to that a dozen white roses for her mother and attached to them appropriate message from me. Carolyn later told me how overwhelmed and teary-eyed her mother was – not remembering the last time anyone sent her flowers, let alone a dozen long stem roses. But that’s Ann for you. And I got all the accolades:)

●●●

I don’t remember in what context, but I do remember Ann having once said to me that dynamite come in small packages.  And not too long after, this petite little femme just proves that to me.

We are riding in their blue Datsun pickup and are about to exit a strip mall with her at the wheel. She has stopped at the incline of the driveway and is moving her head sideways to make sure there are no cars coming from either direction before she enters the street. Just then a slightly bigger pickup coming from behind swerves in the front and cuts her off like a chef chopping off a fish head. And I see her face turning, fury in her yes. She rolls down the driver side of the window, and yells.

‘Hey Mister!!!’ Her hand stretched out, her elbow firmly planted on the window frame and the palm upturned.  The driver breaks and makes a mistake of looking back.  Her hand springs up in the air and this time its only one – the middle finger snaps up, she flips a violent bird at him and spews out like fire, Fuck you very much! And the driver couldn’t get away fast enough, with his wheels screeching and the breaks grounding and all.

© Haresh Shah

Illustration: Celia Rose Marks

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