After the last box was finally unpacked, Embry decided to celebrate. She unscrewed the top from the finest bottle of Strawberry Hill Boone’s Farm had to offer and stepped onto her patio for a smoke. The neighbors were working on their already perfect lawns. Embry looked over the jungle of weeds that made up her front yard, and flicked her cigarette. She attempted a weak wave at the neighbor next door.
Being new in town was rough, and Embry just didn’t fit in with the geriatric crowd. It wasn’t like she hadn’t seen old people before. In Arizona, they had whole communities of them, but she wasn’t used to seeing so many everywhere she went.
She made it easy for the neighbors to ignore her, and it was quiet, which she didn’t mind. It gave her time to think, reassess, and validate her life.
Across the street, the front door opened and the smallest white-haired woman made her way across the street. “Hi, dear, it looks like I got your mail today,” she said as she handed over a small bundle. “I’m Bess Michaels.”
“Thank you Mrs. Michaels,” Embry said as she took the mail. “I’m Embry Franks.”
“I know,” she said tapping the letters in Embry’s hand. “I see you got Reggie’s Flyer. He has a six hour meat sale twice a year. Everyone in town goes. The prices are amazing. You’re not a root-eating tree hugger, are you?”
“Uh… No. I’m a voracious carnivore.”
Bess laughed long and hard, clutching her side. “Well then, you’ll want to get there early, or all of the good stuff will be gone.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Michaels.”
“Oh no, you can call me Bess, or better, Grandma,” she winked. Embry couldn’t help but return the smile.
“Grandma,” a man yelled from across the street.
“Just a moment, Grandpa! I’m talking to our neighbor,” she shouted. She turned back to Embry, “That’s Grandpa. I would introduce you, but he’s really cranky before dinner. I must go and feed him. He’s a voracious carnivore too.” She laughed.
“Maybe some other time then,” Embry said as the woman turned to leave. “It was nice meeting you Be… Grandma.”
“Nice meeting you, dear.” Embry watched the old woman cross the road and disappear into her home.
That night Embry studied the flyer. She had an empty deep freeze sitting in the garage that she had received as a wedding gift; she never bothered to return it after her wedding plans soured. She could go to this sale, fill it up, and not have to leave the house for months. “6 a.m. God, that’s early,” she said to her empty cupboards.
She woke up long before the intended 6 a.m. Her alarm clock read 4:30. A shower and coffee later and it was only 5. She stared at the clock. “This is ridiculous,” she said to her coffee table, “I’ve spent all night standing in line for concert tickets. I even stood in line for six hours for the new iPhone. I don’t want to show up early for meat.”
Pulling into Reggie’s at 5:15, Embry was surprised to see a line outside of the store. She had intended to read on her phone to pass time, but instead, she exited her car and got into queue for meat.
“Grandma,” she heard a man say behind her in line, “You go for the chicken, and I will get some steak.”
“Sounds like a plan, Grandpa.” Embry laughed quietly. She was surrounded by grandmas and grandpas and they all insisted on calling each other just that. At least she wouldn’t have to remember anyone’s name.
At five minutes to six, a voice boomed from the loud speaker. “Welcome Reggie’s patrons! Today is our famous six hour meat sale. Are you excited?” A loud noise broke out from the crowd. “What was that?” the voice asked.
“Yeah!” the crowd yelled.
“I thought so,” the voice continued. “Please remember no pushing, no cursing, and absolutely… NO… Fighting. Thank you for shopping Reggie’s!”
“What the hell?” Embry said more to herself than anyone else, but it got the attention of the grandma in front of her.
“What’s wrong dear?” she asked.
“Oh yes. See that couple over there?” She pointed to a sweet old couple dressed in matching khakis. “Last year, he tripped Mrs. Walker, and his wife gouged out Mr. Walker’s good eye.”
Embry stared at the couple holding hands. They didn’t look the slightest bit violent.
“The man at the front, that’s Mr. Barney. Stay away from him. He will steal your basket when you’re not looking and hide it in the store.” Embry looked him over. He was carrying a cane.
Embry shook her head in disbelief. There was no way these people could act so badly.
“And there,” she pointed at Bess Michaels, Embry’s neighbor, “that’s the witch who bit me two years ago!”
“She bit you?”
“Yes, I had to get five stitches and a Tetanus shot… Crazy bitch went nuts when I grabbed the last pork roast.” Embry laughed. It was too much.
The fog horn blew signaling the beginning of the six hour meat sale, and a mad rush of grandmas and grandpas was at Embry’s back, pushing her. She attempted to move forward but was lifted off her feet and squeezed out of the line onto the sidewalk. She sat there for a moment dazed as the crowd filed into Reggie’s, then dusted herself off. Laughing, she got back into her car, giving up on the meat sale.
It was after dinner that evening when Embry answered a knock at the door. “Hi, Dear. I saw you had a hard time at Reggie’s this morning.”
“Yeah, maybe next time,” Embry shrugged.
“Well, I brought you a pork roast. Consider it a house warming gift,” she smiled.
“Thank you, Grandma. This is very nice.”
“You’re welcome dear. It was a great price, and I didn’t have to kill anyone for it.” She winked.