Most of my mail I toss in the recycle bin; a hearing aid ad, a catalog for handicap railings. An in-house flier advertising tango lessons I hang onto, you never know. On the mail room wall a bulletin board has announcements for museum trips and scheduled rides to the supermarket. Sometimes I see Bitsy Reynolds here, keeping the notices in tidy rows and up to date. I caught her shuffling through the recycle bin once, taking a few magazines home with her. She’s a hard one to figure out, that’s for sure. On the bulletin board is an “In Memoriam” posting of a recent death, of a woman I never knew, who had moved into a nursing home. This brings to mind close friends I’ve lost, the numbers building over the past few years. Friends still in my address book, where I hesitate to cross out the names. Now I notice a letter tucked in with my mail. It’s the same kind of letter Lauren got. with my name and apartment number written in block letters.
Once inside the apartment I drop the keys in a bowl and open the letter:
You Are Not The One And Only Like Lauren’s, each separate word is cut out from a magazine or catalog, and glued to a note card. The writer, or rather the gluer, did a bad job with smudges and fingerprints. Of course this message unsettles me. Not so much that it interrupts a nap. Who would go to that grade school trouble? “I’m not the one and only what?” With our flower project so successful, the garden club revels in compliments. A small sign is propped by the arrangement, giving credit to the Shady Hollow Garden Club. Ethel Ballinger and I set up a rotating schedule for teams of designers. Planting a cutting garden is proposed.
When the next meeting starts, there is much exuberance and chatter. I partake in a peripheral way, thinking about the mysterious notecard. Looking from member to member, I try to assess who the writer might be. Lauren seems uncomfortable, shifting in her chair. The sour Marianne would be a plausible culprit, but for her meticulous craftsmanship with tweezers and glue. It might not be a garden club member at all. My meditation is interrupted when David stands and says: “We should congratulate ourselves. I’d like to invite everyone to my apartment for a cocktail party.”