Patsy & Le’Vander
The dulcet tones of Celine Dion singing Si’l Suffiait D’aimer snapped on at 6:30. Patsy moaned, rolled over in her chintz ruffled queen-sized bed and hit the snooze button. She sat up as the Public Radio station transitioned from Carmen to Luciano Pavarotti singing Ave Maria. Patsy stretched, stood and smiled.
“Good morning, Brad!” She blew a kiss to the autographed photo wedged between her mirror and frame. “You are one good-looking man.”
She joined Mady Mespe in Ariadne aui Nexos, enjoying the coloratura range of her own voice. She showered to Madame Butterfly and dressed to Lena Horn. Chantilly was generously sprayed between her breasts. Vitamin E cream was slathered on face, neck and chest. Then cucumber lotion smoothed down arms and legs. She began with her Delta Burke merry-widow, then slipped on a Palm Beach canary yellow capri and a spandex and cotton Caribbean Joe shirt that was one size too small – but it had been on sale. She tugged the v-neck up to just cover the top edge of her bra.
Combing through her mass of curls moistened with gel, she sang along with Wagner’s Pilgrim’s Progress, throwing her arms wide at “Hallelujah! Hallelujah!!!” She picked up and discarded three kinds of foundation, finally chose a bisque for multi-tones and successfully blended the liquid into her skin. While it dried, she sang along with the theme to Cats and repainted her nails and toes.
While her nails dried, she danced downstairs to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and fixed a large mug of coffee. It was already perked and waiting for her, thanks to Le’Vander. Le’Vander was her handy-man, and since he was going to be there at the crack of dawn anyway, he always fixed coffee.
As Patsy took a break from singing – one just could not compete with the Three Tenors – she savored the brew. Le’Vander did have a way with coffee.
“G’morning.” Le’Vander’s voice came from the laundry room.
If it had been any other man, Patsy would have run squealing back upstairs because her make-up wasn’t finished. But it was just Le’Vander, and he didn’t count. “Hey,” she replied.
“And how is Miss Cline this morning?” He loved to tease her that her mother had named her after the famous Patsy Cline. That’s why I’m crazy for loving you, he used to croon to her in third grade. She eventually learned to ignore him when he called her Miss Cline. Now, two decades later, she expected to be greeted each morning by this nickname. She let Le’Vander get it out of his system, and then the day would commence just fine.
“You make the best coffee,” she smiled.
“Since you’re finished with your shower, I thought I’d bleed your hot water heater.”
“How do you know I’m finished with my shower?” She glowered.
“It’s 7:15,” he answered, as if the connection between the time and her having showered was the most obvious fact in the world.
“I’ve got customers coming in the morning.”
“It’ll be drained and reheating by 9:00. And since it’s Ginny Sutton, you won’t need hot water.”
Patsy snorted. “She wouldn’t pay for a wash if I gave her the cut for free. Hey, how’d you know she’s coming? Are you two dating?”
“No,” Le’Vander growled.
“Well, don’t turn your nose up at her just because she’s a bit older than you. You could do worse.”
“I’m not dating her. Your appointment book is open by the coffee pot.”
Le’Vander came out of the laundry room, out the back door – which was the customer door for Patsy’s home-business Peggy’s Parlor. Peggy was Patsy’s mother. Had been her mother. Le’Vander returned, dragging in one end of a garden hose.
“Hey! Don’t be tracking dirt in here.”
“I took my shoes off.”
Patsy rolled her eyes at Le’Vander’s gray-white athletic socks with a hole in one toe and frayed at the heel on the other foot. “Le’Vander, you are letting yourself go. When was the last time you bought new socks?”
He stopped and stared down. “What’s wrong with my socks? My mother bought these socks.”
Pearl McAfee was a saint. At least, that’s how Le’Vander saw her. Patsy rolled her eyes again and marched away.
The radio switched to more contemporary classics at 7:30. Le’Vander said it was because they didn’t want normal people to fall asleep driving to work. He said it quite often. Almost every day as a matter of fact, 7:30 would roll around and Patsy would pop English muffins into her toaster and they would sit at the table in her kitchenette and Le’Vander would say, Thank goodness. Normal music so normal people won’t nod off driving to work.
But he didn’t say that this morning. Liza Minnelli sang You Are the Wind Beneath My Wings, and Le’Vander blinked away tears. It was his mother’s favorite song. It had been her favorite song. Patsy sang it at her funeral over two years ago, but it still brought tears to Le’Vander’s eyes.
Patsy spread butter on Le’Vander’s muffins. “Your mother was a saint.”
“Yes. Yes, she was.”
“Why don’t you pray for us this morning?”
He took her hand – the only time he got to touch her – and prayed for blessings and strength and wisdom for the day.
She’d never tell him; she always liked his prayers.
She slipped back upstairs and finished her make-up: amethyst eye-liner, lavender shadow, brow gel, self-adjusting blush, lip liner, plum lipstick and curling mascara. Another dose of Chantilly and Patsy was ready to face the world.
True to his word, the garden hose was removed and the hot water heater was refilling when Ginny Sutton arrived, five minutes early.
After Ginny’s appointment was the Baptist preacher’s wife’s weekly wash and set. Patsy had almost lost her as a customer when she turned down first Baptist’s offer for a place in their choir. But Atticus offered her the position of Music Minister. Well, choir director, and Patsy was happier than she’d ever been in her life.
To Build an Army
© Evelyn Rainey
Available for publication.