Ferguson heard the clink of bottles outside. Opening the door, he saw a man dressed in a crisp white shirt and pants walking away. His foot tapped into a small crate containing six bottles of white liquid.
Milk? He looked up as the man got into a tiny truck with the logo “Jack and Jill’s Dairy Delivery”.
“Excuse me,” he called out. “There must be some mistake.” The driver got into his truck, smiled at Ferguson, tipped the black bill of his otherwise white cap and drove off.
“This is too weird,” Ferguson Marshall said to himself. He started to pick up the bottles when he spotted the pink flamingo on his lawn. It took him a second to realize it was not real. And beside the lawn ornament (that was definitely not there last night) was a rolled up newspaper.
Ferguson hated getting the newspaper on his lawn. He’d had delivery service for a few weeks and cancelled because it always ended up ruined before he could read it. Rain, a wet lawn, the local dog. No matter how hard he tried to get the boy to put it on his doorstep, it always wound up in the trash. So he canceled the paper. Yet here it was, on his lawn, next to a plastic bird that also should not be there.
Ferguson walked across his lawn and retrieved the paper. Yep, it was damp from the morning dew. He started to go back to the house, when he glanced at the front page. The headline made his heart skip a beat and he stopped dead in his tracks.
“Japs Attack Pearl Harbor!” He stared for a long moment trying to decide what the joke was. A dog barked and the sound of a car passing down the street behind him broke him of his trance and he turned. He watched dumbfounded as a car, older than his father but in better shape than his own new Mercedes, drove down the street.
Ferguson felt faint. He slowly staggered back to the house and entered the door. What he saw inside made him sit right on the floor.
Gone was his nice furniture from Huffman Koos. The rich blues and greens he had decorated with, absent from the interior. Gone was the thirty inch color console and entertainment center he had treated himself to last Christmas. Instead, there was a plain beige couch and two wingchairs. There were mahogany tables and brass lamps. A fireplace graced the wall the television had been in front of. Over which hung a portrait of Franklin Roosevelt. Hardwood shone up where he’d had thick carpeting. Out the back, he saw a large in-ground pool, where he just recently laid out tennis courts.
“No,” he whispered. “This can’t be. . .it. . .it just can’t. . ..”
“Ferguson?” Janice’s voice called from somewhere distant, through a fog. “Ferguson? Are you alright? What are you doing on the floor?”
Ferguson looked up and saw Janice coming into focus over him. He realized he must have fainted.
“What the heck is going on, Jan?” He absently waved his hand around the room.
“What are you talking about?” Janice’s voice took on a slow measured tone.
“This,” he said, holding up a stack of mail. “And all that.” He waved the mail at the room.
“Ferguson,” Janice said slowly. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Did you get something in the mail?” He looked at her quizzically. Then he looked at the mail in his hands. His mouthed worked for a few seconds before any sound came out.
“But this was a paper. It said the Japs attacked Pearl. And the room. . .. All the furniture was gone and. . ..”
“Honey,” Janice said, helping her husband to his feet. “I think you better go upstairs and lie down. I’ll call Doctor Brewster.”
“But. . .it seemed. . ..”
“Go. Now.” Janice’s tone was firm yet patient. She watched as he moved slowly up the stairs. Then she went to the phone and dialed.
“Hello?” She whispered. “Yes. . .yes, just now. . .what did you give him? He was babbling about Japs and furniture. . .of course I know what to do. . .yes, I love you, too. . .yes, soon.” She kissed into the receiver and hung up the phone. A smile crossed her lips. Poor Ferguson, she thought. Now what will she do with all that money once he goes into the hospital? Then she picked up the phone and dialed another number.
“Hello? Doctor Brewster? Yes, its Mrs. Marshall. . . yes, he has had them again . . . You will? . . . Thank you, doctor . . . I’ll see you soon.”