Gladys crammed the last of the groceries in the cramped refrigerator. “Do you smell that?” She asked Kahuna.
“Smells like dead fish and broccoli” he answered as they both squeezed their heads into the semi-cooled space.
They took all the groceries out and wiped down every inch of the box. They sniffed every piece of food and cleaned the outside of all the containers.
“What do you think that smell is?” Kahuna asked as he started replacing food into the tepid cooler.
“I think something died in here.” Gladys answered. “This thing isn’t even cooling, in fact I think the freezer done froze up and it has completely shut down.”
Gladys did all she could to keep the smell down. She scrubbed and cleaned. She put bowls of baking soda in the crisper drawer that would barely open. Who bought a refrigerator with the door that opened into the cabinets instead of away from them? She put freezer packs in the refrigerator trying to keep the temperature cool but not turn the cooler down any further. The little freezer was so iced over that the door barely opened. Obviously it was time for a new refrigerator.
Gladys went on line and shopped and shopped for a fridge that would fit the odd space in the little kitchen. Success! And it could be there in only three weeks! Three weeks was nothing right? You stand that smell for three weeks, maybe.
The day finally arrived. Gladys sat anxiously waiting for the call giving her a smaller window than between 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Gladys sat thinking about errant meteors and how up here in the hills she was closer to them when the trill of her cell shook her out of her reverie.
“Gladys speaking” she answered
“Iz sis Gladees Mackinculty?” said the faceless voice
“Close enough” she replied.
“Ve are close but ze GPS does not show vhere ju leeve. I need divections”
“OK, first of all vhere, I mean where are you?”
“Ve are on Lional Cunyin.”
“Go up to the third light and turn on Hippie Hills, then follow the yellow airplane hieroglyphics. There will be one at each intersection. When you get to Hill Street make sure you turn around in the first side street and back the rest of the way up the street. Oh and be careful of the woman who lives in the white house with the blue door. She has a baseball bat and a foul temper.”
“Jes, Ok, but vhat are hiramglycolics?”
“They are little drawings on the curb. Just look for the yellow airplane and go in the direction they are pointing.”
“Jes, Ok, I vill call you vhen I near”
“You might want to have someone guide you up the street too.”
“Jes, Ok, I vill call."
She waited, and waited, and made a cup of coffee and waited some more. She emptied the old refrigerator out. She watched an episode of Lost, and wondered if the delivery men were stranded on a deserted island with “the others”. Her phone buzzed.
“This is Gladys”
“Jes, dis is Vladimir. I deliver refridgadair to ju?”
“I stink ve took wrong turn. Ve are in Glendale? Dis is close jes?”
“No, is not close, is far.”
“Jes, I pick up Chuey. He been der afore. He knows de vay.”
“Ok. Tell Chuey to follow the yellow airplanes.”
“Jes, he says jello airplane ees good.”
“Ve vill be zere in twenty minutes? Jes?”
“Only if you know a shortcut.”
“Jes, Chuey know.”
Gladys washed the dishes, vacuumed the floors and watched another episode of Lost. That was it! She had the answer now. Chuey and Vladimir only existed in another dimension. They were not real or maybe she was dreaming all of this.
She pressed play on yet another episode of Lost, because why not binge watch while you wait. Something caught her eye. In the window of her front door something was popping up. It was a head. It was a man’s head.
Gladys opened the door and there stood Vladimir, sweat soaked and springing up and down on his toes trying to see in the door.
“May I help you?” She asked
“I am Vladamir. I have your refrigerdair. I come in, no?”
“Sure come on in. Did you find the place ok?”
“Jes, Chuey, he know vay. He say turn avound, he say back up. It vas, how you say, difficulty. Ze road she turns, ze truck, not so much.”
“Glad you made it. The old refrigerator goes out on the porch and the new one goes here,” she said pointing to the odd space in the cabinets.
“Jes, ve vill bring now.”
He sprinted up the stairs like nobody should if they don’t want to die of a heart attack. Gladys walked out on the porch to see how they were going to get a refrigerator down the sketchy staircase.
A large man with the refrigerator strapped to his back came first with Vladimir and who Gladys could only assume was Chuey bringing up the rear. They guided the large man as he stepped one step at a time carrying it like a papoose. They made it to the landing but got hung up on a plant. The large man struggled and tugged trying to get loose from the tentacles of the vine. He pulled hard to the right then jerked to the left with his oversized pack pushing him forward. He stumbled down several steps, caught himself and righted his burden. Vladamir and Chuey grabbed blindly to help steady both the man and the cargo. Vladamir caught his foot on the next step and fell forward onto the back of the large man. Chuey reached out to catch Vladamir but missed. The large man, icebox and Vladamir tumbled down to the next landing.
The large man steadied himself against the railing but Vladamir was victim to inertia and tumbled the rest of the way down. He jumped up, dusted off his knees and announced “Ve are here.”
Gladys, biting back giggles, replied “Yes and what a grand entrance you have made.”
“Jes, yust wyke de Cirque Soliel, No?”
The big man muscled the unit into the small apartment and set it in place. He smiled at Gladys and set to work deftly taking the wrapping from the appliance and setting up shelves. He took a package from his pocket, pulled out a cloth and wiped everything down. He then turned to the old unit, wrapped his arms around it and walked it out the front door. The large man opened the door on the old unit and took two steps back.
“What is that smell?” He growled.
“We don’t know. It was like that when we moved in. I think something died in there.”
“No ma’am it’s too small to get a whole body into, maybe one cut in half.” Replied the giant.
“I’m not even going to ask how you know that.” She replied with a forced smile.
“Yes ma’am prolly best you don’t know.”
The three men said their goodbyes and made their way back up the stairs as Gladys stood wondering, was it all really a dream? Perhaps it was heaven or hell or perhaps we are all just LOST. Well either way at least now her food will stay cold.