Chapter 5 - The Impenetrable Barrier
Getting back to our heroine.
When we left her, Lilly was standing in an empty parking space in front of the apartment building that would soon be her new home, singing her “Lilly Snow in the snow” song to the friendly comments of people passing by.
But just as she finished, her attention was drawn to the angry beeping of a car horn.
A bronze sedan—year, make, and model unknown—began to honk ferociously as if to get her attention, even though in her bright red coat and red boots, Lilly was impossible to miss.
The car lurched forward.
Lilly grabbed the handle of her suitcase, hurled it onto the snow-covered sidewalk, and leaped up after it. Then she turned, dumbstruck, and watched as the car tried to pull into the parking space.
Try being the operative word.
This is what happened next:
The front of the sedan jerked up and down, but it did not move forward.
So the driver pressed harder on the gas pedal.
The car jerked again.
The engine roared.
The wheels spun.
The car’s front fender continued to push, push, push. But against…what? Something impenetrable and transparent impeded its forward momentum.
The driver jammed the car into Park and flung open the door.
It was Hector Van Hooft.
He raced around the engine compartment, and stepped into the parking space.
Or tried to.
Instead, he bounced off an impenetrable…something…fell backward, and landed on his butt.
Which brings us to the interesting question of why, after a year of Burgess Meekly parking, un-parking, and re-parking in front of their building, was his Jeep not there? Why was the parking space empty? Why was Lilly Snow inside it doing a song and dance? And why was Hector Van Hooft sitting on his derriere in the snow with his blood pressure rising and his car stranded in the middle of the street?
The answer—not really very interesting—can be traced to Burgess’s alarm clock which, after he changed its battery, he had inadvertently re-set, and was running an hour fast. When Burgess Meekly had awakened that morning, he thought it was 7:45 a.m. and that he was late. So he dressed quickly, hurried down the stairs, jumped into his Jeep, and shot off to work, fully expecting that Van Hooft would be pulling into the space within seconds behind him.
However, it was really 6:45 a.m., and Mouse’s tormentor was not expected home for another hour.
Lilly Snow got off the bus at around 7:15 a.m., walked through the street to 1582 Chestnut Avenue, entered the empty parking space in front of her new home, and burst into song.
A horn honked.
Hector tried to drive into the empty parking space and was thwarted; he tried to walk into the space. He was defeated again, and landed flat on his butt.
Such was Lilly Snow’s first day in The Big City.
After participating in those curious and inexplicable events, she pulled from her purse two keys that the landlord had mailed her, and for the very first time in her not-very-long life, she entered the lobby of her new home.
Copyright © Shelly Reuben, 2021. Shelly Reuben’s books have been nominated for Edgar, Prometheus, and Falcon awards. For more about her writing, visit www.shellyreuben.com