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The Spy Who Loved

It was unusual to get a request from Zettie Louise to come to tea. The last time she asked to talk ended well because she hired Junior to help her with tasks around the house. He had recently watered her plants again while she was away on one of her possible spy missions. I couldn’t imagine what Junior had done wrong to make Zettie Louise have to invite me over.

When I arrived at her house, a little table was set up with a porcelain teapot partially covered with a hand knitted cozy, a small plate of cookies, creamer and a sugar cup with tiny cubes, and two beautiful hand painted teacups. Zettie Louise could tell that I was admiring her service and told me that she had received it as a gift for a favor she had performed. I didn’t want to ask her any questions but wanted to know what kind of performance would merit such a beautiful set. I bit my tongue and asked if Junior was doing alright with his work.

When Zettie Louise told me that was the reason she had called, my heart sank and my mind started to rationalize reasons why he might be failing her expectations. Maybe Junior was still too little or maybe he didn’t understand what she wanted, or maybe I should not have agreed to this deal; the options went on and on. Actually, Zettie Louise said, that Steven was doing such a good job that she wanted to buy him a Christmas present and she wanted to check with me first.

I was stunned at the sweet idea. Zettie Louise noticed that Junior had outgrown his current bike and was ready for a taller one. I immediately wanted to say no due to the cost of such a gift, but Zettie Louise quieted me and asked me whether I used cream and sugar. I automatically answered “one lump” while she filled my cup, handed it to me and subsequently offered me a cookie. I tried to sneak a peek at the underside of the cup while Zettie was pouring hers and noticed that they were stamped “Occupied Japan.” These cookies must be the famous wheat germ type, so I only took one. I was grateful to them since Junior’s bowels had become so regular since he started to eat them at her house but was unsure what they would do to mine.

Zettie Louise continued to explain that she wanted to have Steven start to accompany her to the grocery in the Spring, with our permission, of course, and she had in mind the bike that she would purchase. She assured me that he would not be embarrassed by it but intended on having it fitted with a removable basket to help carry groceries.

I sat back and sipped my delicious tea and nibbled on the cookie. Zettie Louise had found a lovely way to thank Junior and enlist his future help. She went on to tell me quietly that she really enjoyed Steven’s company and because she had never had children, it gave her great joy to have found a neighborhood boy who didn’t mind spending time with her listening to her old stories. I knew that Junior had a fondness for her as well and I thanked her. I told her that if she didn’t mind, I would run the idea past Steve, but I was very touched by her proposal.

Life still surprises me sometimes. Junior was getting a new bike and the chance to develop a friendship with a wise woman who might really be a spy. I couldn’t stand in the way of that kind of life adventure. I planned to just tell Steve that the idea was a done deal.

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