“Felder? Got a minute?”

Audrey stood at the gap in the hedge between her house and Felder’s. She watched him stand up stiffly and walk with some difficulty in her direction. The hedge opening was a bit narrower now, the arborvitaes a bit fluffier, but there was still plenty of room for him to walk through.

“Yes, I’d say I’ve got the rest of the afternoon,” he said, rubbing his back. “Rest of the week, maybe.”

“I need you to look at something.”

Photo by Pam Wells ©2010

She led him to a large Rosa rugosa which was just beginning to bloom.

“Wonderful,” he said, and sniffed the deep pink petals. “How I love a rugosa.”

“You’re not alone,” she said, and turned over one of the leaves. A tiny cluster of oblong, orangy-gold eggs adhered to the underside. “Friend or foe?”

Felder examined the deposit. “If I’m not mistaken—” he said as Joe walked toward them.

“Mom,” Joe said. “Would you look at this again?”

“Okay, just a minute.”

“Please?” He held out a single printed page. Audrey looked pained.

“I’m in no hurry,” Felder said. “Got a date with a nap, is all.”

Audrey took the page in her dirty-gloved hand. If Joe was going to interrupt, he could deal with a little dirt. It would go with his scruffy look today, his lackluster smile, the droop of his shoulders.

“Just tell me what you think,” he said. He sat on a tree stump and sipped an energy drink. Audrey scanned the page quickly.

“Out loud, out loud,” Felder said.

Audrey began: “‘In this futuristic action thriller, a special unit of vigilantes trained not to sleep must defend their city against criminals from a dying planet. This is Vigilance.’ Oh, you’ve got it now. It’s clear and simple, gives you the conflict, everything.”


“A few typos in there, but overall—”

“Yeah, thanks, mom.”

“Tell you what I think,” Felder said. “I think you need sleep more than I do.”

Joe shrugged it off. “I’m entering a big screenwriting contest, so it’s crunch time. Deadline’s Saturday. Anyway, I go to bed, I can’t sleep. It’s like my mind never shuts off.”

“Heh, well, I don’t have that problem,” Felder said, and went back to examining the bristly rose stems. “Here we go, here’s who laid your little golden eggs. She’s keeping a watchful eye on your garden. Also sucking the juice out of your aphids.”

Audrey and Joe looked where he was pointing, to a red ladybug.

“Awesome,” Joe said.

“Friend,” Audrey said.

©2010 Pam Wells


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