Waldo Jeffers had reached his limit.
It was now mid-August which meant that he had been separated
from Marsha for more than two months.
Two months, and all he had to show were three dog-eared letters
and two very expensive long-distance phone calls.
True, when school had ended and she'd returned to Wisconsin
and he to Locust, Pennsylvania she had sworn to maintain a certain fidelity.
She would date occasionally, but merely as amusement.
She would remain faithful. But lately Waldo had begun to worry.
He had trouble sleeping at night and when he did, he had horrible dreams.
He lay awake at night, tossing and turning underneath his printed quilt protector,
tears welling in his eyes,
As he pictured Marsha, her sworn vows overcome
by liquor and the smooth soothings of some Neanderthal,
Finally submitting to the final caresses of sexual oblivion.
It was more than the human mind could bear.
Visions of Marsha's faithlessness haunted him.
Daytime fantasies of sexual abandon permeated his thoughts.
And the thing was, they wouldn't understand who she really was.
He, Waldo, alone, understood this.
He had intuitively grasped every nook and cranny of her psyche.
He had made her smile, and she needed him, and he wasn't there. (Awww.)
The idea came to him on the
Thursday before the Mummers Parade was scheduled to appear.
He had just finished mowing and edging the Edelsons lawn for a dollar-fifty
And had checked the mailbox to see if there was at least a word from Marsha.
There was nothing more than a circular form the
Amalgamated Aluminum Company of America inquiring into his awning needs.
At least they cared enough to write.
It was a New York company. You could go anywhere in
the mails. Then it struck him: he didn't have enough
money to go to Wisconsin in the accepted fashion,
true, but why not mail himself? It was absurdly
simple. He would ship himself parcel post special
delivery. The next day Waldo went to the supermarket
to purchase the necessary equipment. He bought
masking tape, a staple gun and a medium sized
cardboard box, just right for a person of his build.
He judged that with a minimum of jostling he could
ride quite comfortably. A few airholes, some water, a
selection of midnight snacks, and it would probably be
as good as going tourist.
By Friday afternoon, Waldo was set. He was thoroughly
packed and the post office had agreed to pick him up
at three o'clock. He'd marked the package "FRAGILE"
and as he sat curled up inside, resting in the foam
rubber cushioning he'd thoughtfully included, he tried
to picture the look of awe and happiness on Marsha's
face as she opened the door, saw the package, tipped
the deliverer, and then opened it to see her Waldo
finally there in person. She would kiss him, and then
maybe they could see a movie. If he'd only thought of
this before. Suddenly rough hands gripped his package
and he felt himself borne up. He landed with a thud
in a truck and then he was off.
Marsha Bronson had just finished setting her hair. It
had been a very rough weekend. She had to remember
not to drink like that. Bill had been nice about it
though. After it was over he'd said that he still
respected her and, after all, it was certainly the way
of nature and even though no, he didn't love her, he
did feel an affection for her. And after all, they
were grown adults. Oh, what Bill could teach Waldo --
but that seemed many years ago. Sheila Klein, her
very, very best friend walked in through the porch
screen door into the kitchen. "Oh God, it's
absolutely maudlin outside."
"Ugh, I know what you mean, I feel all icky." Marsha
tightened the belt on her cotton robe with the silk
outer edge. Sheila ran her finger over some salt
grains on the kitchen table, licked her finger and
made a face.
"I'm supposed to be taking these salt pills, but," she
wrinkled her nose, "they make me feel like throwing
Marsha started to pat herself under the chin, an
exercise she'd seen on television. "God, don't even
talk about that." She got up from the table and went
to the sink where she picked up a bottle of pink and
blue vitamins. "Want one? Supposed to be better than
steak." And attempted to touch her knees. "I don't
think I'll ever touch a daiquiri again." She gave up
and sat down, this time nearer the small table that
supported the telephone. "Maybe Bill'll call," she
said to Sheila's glance.
Sheila nibbled on a cuticle. "After last night, I
thought maybe you'd be through with him."
"I know what you mean. My God, he was like an
octopus. Hands a