866 to be sure
Spearmint Midnight By W. R. Beauhuld
Colette was not French, but her mother was a “Gigi” fanatic and could not resist the temptation to pay homage to her favorite author in such a manner. Colette grew up with a taste for all things French. She prepared French meals, watched French films, studied the French language, spoke French poorly, and she named her son, Art. His name was not short for Arthur. His name was Art – a symbol to represent all the French artists who had ever lived. Art and his father, who was not French, never knew each other, so Colette and Art had always been a happy family unto themselves.
I met Art late one clear, windy Thursday evening, a school night, a work night; a night where sleep usually evaded me. I was sitting at my kitchen table drinking my tea and reading a horror novel when a knock at my back door jarred my attention away from the protagonist’s plight. Instinctively, I looked up at the wall clock. It was well past midnight, and for a moment, I did not know how to react. Was this a polite serial killer trying to trick his prey into letting him in? Was this an extra terrestrial looking for someone to probe in the middle of the night? Was it an over anxious network marketer trying to sell me soap? Very quietly, I arose from my seat and crept to the window to take a peek.
Just as I moved the curtain aside, this would-be vampire knocked on the door again. Carefully, I moved the curtain a tad, but I could not see anyone standing at the door. Again, there came a knocking. I held my breath and waited, hoping that whoever it was would go away. Suddenly, my wife who had been awakened by the knocking sound bellowed from the bedroom. I knew that whoever was outside had surely heard her voice. My tiny wife’s seven octaves vocal range was enough to wake the dead. Indeed, I thought whether demon, ghost, killer, vampire, werewolf or anything else with ears to hear, even the undead, would surely have been terrified beyond its capacity for villainous desires. With renewed faith I opened the door.
Holding out his tiny hand for a proper greeting, he introduced himself as Art, and then before I could introduce myself he asked me if he could borrow a cup of fresh spearmint leaves. My first reaction was to peer into the darkness outside to look for a camera, but eventually I shook his little hand and invited him in. He stood on the threshold for a moment presumably assessing the situation, and then after adjusting his thick glasses he stepped into my kitchen and asked if I were drinking mint tea. Upon learning that my cup contained Chamomile instead of mint, he frowned.
Apparently, his single mother Colette, had stomach cramps, and in the past Art had seen her drink spearmint tea to ease the pain. He explained to me that he and his mother were not fully settled into their new home yet, so they did not have fresh mint of their own. I apologized for not stocking fresh mint, but I did have a box of spearmint tea that I retrieved from the cupboard and handed to him. He gave the box and me a questionable look, decided that he would have to make due under the circumstances, and thanked me.
Colette, freezing in her robe and slippers cleared her throat as she walked through my back door into my kitchen. She apologized to me while gazing at her son. She looked up at the wall clock and then gazed upon the box of tea in her young son’s hand. She began to mist over with tears, and as though miraculously called by an unknown signal, my wife suddenly appeared in our crowded little kitchen with a bottle of pills that she had taken many times, presumably for the same ailment. Colette and Art and my wife and I became friends that night.
The next morning, which came sooner than hoped for we went to work and school. We were all very tired, but felt spiritually satisfied. My wife invited Colette and Art to dinner every night for a week, until they ‘settled in’, as Art would have it.
Several weeks later, on my way to an important meeting, I spotted a green leaf growing in the vacant patch of soil on the side of the apartment. My wife had tried to grow plants in that patch for years, but it was as though the soil had been treated with Agent Orange. Now, however, quite suddenly there was something growing there. Upon further investigation, I realized that it was a spearmint leaf. I smiled and recalled the words of a wise young drug addict who told me that the universe unfolds as it should, and that for those who have learned to see, it is perfectly acceptable to live one’s life in a state of constant awe. I did not feel particularly thunder-stricken by watching the tea leaf growing in the dirt, but I did have a good day that day and slept soundly that night.