I63 Browne Street
by Irv Pliskin

"We wouldn't be selling the lovely house it it wasn't for clumsy John here," Mrs. LaFlame said, nodding at her frowning husband."He can't go up and down stairs any more. The old fool. That's why we have to sell," she added, throwing her hands up into the air in frustration. She looked  disdainfully at her husband who puffed his cheeks out as if to say something, bit his upper lip, and remained quiet.

Henderson and his wife were mute as he handed the LaFlames the certified check.  The Court Clerk said: "Okay folks", it's done. Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Henderson."

The broker who was sitting there stuck out his hand and shook Henderson's. "You have a good house, Marty. I hope you and Elaine will be well and happy there."

"It is a great house," Mrs. LaFlame said. "You better treat it well."

Everybody got up to leave, they walked out into the parking lot, and just before Mrs. La Flame got into the driver's seat of the silver gray Plymouth she turned toward Henderson and said: "Now mind you. You take good care of that house."

Henderson got into his car, turned to his wife: "What the hell is with that old bitch? What does she care what we do with the place? It's ours now, nothing to do with her."

"I don't know Marty, but why worry about it?"

The next weekend, Henderson was on the front  lawn, busily taking some of the shrubbery out. He felt that it obscured the front windows and made the living room darker than it should be. He stopped to mop his face and drink a cold Heinekens. When he looked up he saw the LaFlame Plymouth roll slowly past the front of the house. Inside, he could see Mrs. LaFlame, shaking her head vigorously in disapproval.  He thought he could almost hear her say, "TSK TSK'

A few weeks later, as the Gray Plymouth rolled past, Mrs. La Flame was amazed to see a workman's truck festooned with ladders and lettering parked in the driveway.  She drove around the block, and watched, from the other side of the street, just a few houses up. When she saw her cherished Hotpoint refrigerator and her Ivory gas stove put out as trash, she sniffled and then burst into tears. Racing home, she burst into the house and said to her husband.

"Those terrible Henderson's have just thrown out the refrigerator and the gas
range. What are they doing?  That gas range was my mother's. It was perfectly fine. What are they doing?"

"For God's Sake Mazie, they can do whatever they want  to do. It's their house."

"They shouldn't be doing that. First the bushes, and now the kitchen. They are ruining my wonderful house."

Mazie drove daily to the neighborhood with her lunch in an Igloo bucket. She parked her car up the block, in the Smythe's driveway. Smythe were away on a summer long vacation, so there was no problem parking behind their Jacaranda bushes and being somewhat hidden. She watched, she sobbed, she made notes as  kitchen cabinets came out to the trash, and were replaced by new ones. She was almost hysterical the morning a floor covering truck, loaded with carpet came to the driveway and her cherished old gray wool twist carpet was put on the sidewalk for trash. It was replaced by a spiffy saxony.

"This isn't right", she muttered to herself. "My beautiful house. It just isn't right."

That Friday afternoon, she was surprised to see the Henderson's come home early.  It was one o'clock, and she hadn't expected them. She had made it a point to be in the area, only when she knew they were at work: she wouldn't risk being seen.

She ducked, as Henderson's SUV pulled in to the driveway, followed soon after by Mrs. Henderson's sporty convertible.   Mazie watched as they began to load suit cases in the back of the SUV. locked the house and the convertible and drove down the street toward the interstate. Saturday night, Mazie made a truly gourmet meal and served it with wine and brandy. It was unusual, but it provoked no comment from John. She made sure he had ample amounts of wine and the after dinner brandy, and was thrilled when he turned off the TV at 10 o'clock and went up to sleep.

She cuddled up to him. She was sure that the combination of alcohol and sex would make him sleep as if he were dead. At one thirty, she slipped out of bed, into her jeans and a tee shirt, and out to the garage.

She drove to the house at 163 Broome Street, took a large can  and some newspapers from the trunk of her car and walked around to the kitchen door. As she suspected, the old kitchen door key still worked, and she walked inside.  She looked around, by the light of the moon, shook her head sadly. "They shouldn't have done this, they shouldn't have ruined my wonderful house," she said.

She crumpled the newspapers on the floor,  poured gasoline over them, struck a match, and waited as the papers burst into flame.  The cabinets caught. She slipped out the back door, into her car and drove away. When she heard the fire engines  and could see the red glow on the night sky, she shouted out the car window.

"I told them" she hollered into the dark air "to take care of that house. I told them I loved it. They got what they deserve."

Irv Pliskin is a retired advertising agency owner. He is a combat veteran of World War II and an Ex Prisoner of War of the Germans. Married, with three kids, and four grandchildren he devotes his time to writing flash fiction. He hopes, that someday, he may become the Grandma Moses of flash fiction. He lives with his wife of 57 years in Cherry Hill,NJ. Contact Irv.