The Perils of Louella:

Chapter 178: Louella Gets Some Grief

by A.C. Cherbonnier
     AT LAST! A chance to relax! It was 11:35 p.m. Louella flicked on her widescreen TV just in time for the Howard Stern show. I never understood all those people complaining about their feet hurting until now, Louella thought as she massaged her toes and inspected her burgundy pedicure. We Giant cashiers really earn our money!
     Stern’s antics didn’t make Louella laugh. They never did. She told herself she only watched the show so she’d have something to talk about with her co-workers. But there was something that brought her back to it every Saturday night. Maybe it’s the lack of any kind of a social life, she mused, sipping the one glass of white wine she permitted herself any more.
     As Stern flounced, the phone rang. Probably a wrong number., she thought. Idiots who can’t read oughtta be banned from using phones. “Yeah?” she barked.
     “Louella! Is that you?” It was her mother, in tears.
     “Mom! What’s the matter?”
     “It’s that new tenant you put in the house! Her brat kid’s playing music too loud and it’s making your father upset, and you know, his heart and all--”
     Louella could imagine him all puffed up, red in the face, afraid to do anything for fear of punching somebody out. “Okay, Mom. Did you ask them to tone it down?”
     “Of course not! They’d probably shoot me soon as look at me! A fine thing you’ve done renting to those people! You know how we feel about it, Louella! We just can’t understand how you could do this to your own family--”
     “Mom, we’ve been over this ground. What would you do if it were Mason still living over there and he played his music too loud?”
     “That’s different.”
     “No it’s not. This is just a fourteen-year-old kid, Mom. He’s nice, nicer than Mason was at that age. He probably doesn’t know the music’s bothering you.”
     “No! I won’t do it!” Her mother had stopped crying now, and was just flat-out mad. “They’re your people! You put them in there, and we expect you to deal with it!”
     “Look, Mom, their phone isn’t even installed yet. They just moved in two days ago. It’s nearly midnight. You don’t expect me to get in my car and come all the way over there to tell the kid to tone it down, do you?”
     “We certainly do!”
     “Exactly how loud is this music?”
     “We can hear it thumping through the walls. Listen!” Her mother held the receiver away from her and Louella could hear distant rhythms.
     Damn! There really is a problem! “Okay, okay. I’ll come over this time. But you guys all have to learn to get along, okay?”
     “Just hurry up! Your father can’t take it much longer. If Mason were here, maybe he could do it, but he’s out right now--”
     Out dealing drugs, Louella thought. “Be there in a half-hour, Mom. Maybe I’ll spend the night.”
     She caught herself. There wasn’t any place for her to sleep over there. Six people now lived in that little Patterson Park rowhouse. “Nah, forget it,” she lied. “Got to get back here, got stuff to do. Just sit tight, Mom. I’m on my way.”

- TO BE CONTINUED -

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This story was published on Nov. 4, 1998.