From TALES They Fired Your Nannybot For Telling You

by A. R. Gregory


Just Call

The pink business card read Francine’s Fantasies ina frilly, fuschia script, with personalized consultations and one of those pay-by-the-minute phone numbers printed beneath it. Found my card lying in the grass in front of my house just after the new neighbor moved in next door. Runcy, in the house on the other side of her, found his on the sidewalk in front of his house. When Runcy checked the real estate transfers online, sure enough, the new neighbor’s name was Francine Something-or-other. Francine Monroe? Mansfield? Something starting with an M like that.
     In no time everybody in the neighborhood was talking about what the hell it was Francine was doing in there. We all had ideas, all right, but Francine’s house sitting between Runcy’s and mine wasn’t any help figuring it out. Neither one of us could spot a thing through Francine’s windows, what with her drapes always drawn. Me, Runcy, Jackson, Mack, Sam, and the rest of the retirees on the block were all on fixed incomes. We all knew the value of a buck, and nobody wanted to be the sucker who had to pay to find out what Francine was up to. Of course it had to be what we were all thinking, right. But “personalized consultations” on the phone? Who wanted to pay good money just to hear somebody talk about sex, somebody you couldn’t touch, couldn’t even see?
     I figured Francine had to be making some kind of decent living inside her place, because she never left it long enough to hold down any outside job. Every time she went out, she was always back in thirty minutes or less, usually with a bag from the grocery store or the drugstore or wherever. And she always made a beeline from house to car, or car to house, before anyone had the chance to buttonhole her.
     Now Francine wasn’t bad looking. Forty, maybe forty-five tops, I figured. Pretty face, high marks too for her size and weight, and all of it well portioned. Built like a brick hourglass, you might say in polite company. Plus Francine had great legs! I consider myself a real leg connoisseur, and Francine had one respectable pair of gams! The instant I first saw her, I gave her sculpted ankles and her well-turned calves and sleek but sturdy thighs all A-pluses. I could tell Francine was a regular user of the treadmill and other exercise equipment Runcy said he saw the movers haul into her house.
     Since there’s nothing unusual these days about a guy having a gal twenty-five years younger than him, maybe even more with all the new male enhancement drugs available, naturally I was set on being the first one on the block to strike up an acquaintance with Francine. After all, I was the fittest of the retirees, the only one with a real chance of getting anywhere with a looker like Francine. So one Saturday morning I gassed up my lawnmower, had it ready to roll at a moment’s notice. I could still yank that starter cord like a guy in his thirties. It’s all in the technique, you know. Feet planted square, lean into it, spring the shoulders and hips in unison. Wait till Francine hears my engine roar!
     I glanced through the slitty blinds of my kitchen window as I swigged coffee and skimmed the newspaper, then as soon as I saw Francine’s front door crack open, I beat it to my garage, punched the door opener, then casually waved at Francine as I strolled down the driveway behind my lawnmower. “Hi there! You must be the new neighbor,” I shouted.
     Without as much as a glance at me, Francine bent to pluck her newspaper from her overgrown grass as if she hadn’t heard me.
     I kept smiling, unfazed. “I’m Bob. Thought I’d give my lawn a little clip today. How ‘bout I trim yours too. Won’t take me but two more minutes.” Francine was a new homeowner, right. I figured she didn’t even own a lawnmower yet.
     But Francine squinched up her nose at me, said, “No thanks — Bob.”
     I still wasn’t fazed. Some women are like that, you know, hard to get their default mode. Maybe Francine had heard something of my reputation with the ladies, figured I wouldn’t respect her if she made things too easy for me. I shot back, “Hey, just being neighborly. The weather’s great for mowing, and I’m always up for more exercise. So how about it?”
     Francine rolled her eyes, then marched back to her front door. As she stepped into her house, she paused, then leaned back out, pointed at me, shouted, “Keep your mowing on your side of the line — Bob.” Then she slammed the door. Ouch! I thought. The snooty little bitch!
     Francine’s grass really was an eyesore, a good ten inches tall in places. The more I mowed my lawn, the more it torqued my jaws every time I glanced at her unkempt jungle. Of course I mowed her tiny front lawn too. Took me all of five minutes more. What’d Francine expect? So what was she gonna do now, sue me...?


Copyright 2020 A. R. Gregory