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Lady with the Binoculars

by Patricia Crandall

            Sammy Case emptied the tip jar at Nonni’s Restaurant and removed a ball of paper from the midst of the money. He opened the note and read the contents to Chef Ned Drexler. “Mr. Case and Mr. Drexler, your fitness and weight-loss program is a fraud. I work out every morning according to the program’s instructions, and eat the prepared foods you maintain are healthy. The foods you promote as organic are fattening, especially the éclairs. A disgruntled customer.”

Chef Drexler flipped over the sizzling turkey bacon he was frying in a cast iron pan for a customer, along with an egg white omelet. He crumpled the note and shot it into a wastebasket. “Ignore the tormenter, we’ll do business as usual.”

Sammy and Ned were co-owners of Nonni’s Restaurant on Pearl Street in East Meadow, New York. Their goal was to be good examples to their patrons by showing them how you can enjoy food prepared from old family recipes and remain healthy and fit. They also received a commission from the Fitness Company for promoting their program. Their regular diners thought these exercises were cool and became satisfied members of Nonni’s Restaurant fitness group. Except one grousing patron who was proving to be a nuisance.

            “Sammy,” Ned peered out the large fitness window, “Carla Mamone’s eyeballing us again.” Ned panted, lifting seventy pound weights. According to the agreement, they were allowed to work out three times a week for free advertising.

“If she’s staring at us tomorrow morning, I’ll drop my drawers.” Sammy looked at the young woman peering at him through binoculars. The woman was seated on a wooden bench across the street in Dooley Park. It was the same bench every morning, weather permitting. Behind the bench was the legendary Grecian statue she favored.

             “This is a class establishment. There’ll be no exploitation of skin.” Ned wiped his shaved head with a towel. “The stalking has become a fixation with that insufferable woman. Did you find another note this morning?”

 “I did,” Sammy said.  “And our harasser’s hinting it would be too bad if our restaurant was torched one night.”

“I’ve got a hunch I’m looking at our bully.” Ned grimaced.

Sammy’s eyebrows shot up. “Carla Mamone?”

“Do you see what she eats?” Ned muttered. “Large pizza with the works, pasta salad, a pitcher of Pepsi and two chocolate éclairs. I’d bet my chef’s hat that Carla’s leaving the notes. Crazy as a loon, that’s what she is. Pull the blinds,” he ordered.           

Subsequently at police headquarters, Sammy and Ned stood riveted before Chief Anthony Paddock. Sammy handed him two handwritten notes. “Read these!”

Chief Paddock read the notes aloud to several officers. Then Sammy and Ned signed a statement.

It read, “A 5’ 8” female in her twenties, weighing approximately two hundred pounds, with dark brown hair twisted in cornrows, stalks and sends threatening notes to Nonni’s Restaurant owners, Sammy Case and Ned Drexler.” He said to the restaurateurs, “When we get a break from the murderers, robbers, rapists and pedophiles, I’ll send someone out to investigate.” The cops chuckled.

“Murder and rapists in this tourist trap?” Sammy snapped. “You and East Meadow’s finest keep this place so squeaky clean, tourists think they’re in paradise.

             This perverted lady stares at us every morning through binoculars as we work out at the spa and causes us stress at our establishment. It’s unsettling.”

“We’ll look into it,” the Chief yawned.                            

             “Blown off by the cops,” Sammy griped as the two men left police headquarters.

“Don’t worry, we’ll take the matter into our own hands,” Ned promised.

At 11:00 that evening, he and Sammy toted hammers and chisels in deep bib-overall pockets to Dooley Park. They went directly to the Grecian Statue that was favored by the lady with binoculars.

            Sammy climbed onto the monument. He chipped and hammered beneath a dim coach light for nearly forty-five minutes. When the task was done, he dropped onto the grass and said in a low voice to Ned, “We’ll be rid of that ‘peeping Tomasina’ once and for all. Tomorrow morning when she’s aiming the binoculars at me through the spa window, you’ll climb behind this petrified Greek and give him a shove. He’ll fall for her with his not-so-nice intentions.”

            “What if someone sees me push the statue?” asked Ned.

            “Not a chance. Joggers and walkers use Crescent Lane near Hoosick Street. But don’t forget, when the statue falls on Carla, run down the path to Main Street, then act normal. Meet me in the spa.”

Next morning, at 7:00, while hunched behind the Grecian Statue at Dooley Park, Ned peered around the stone legs of the statue at the lady. minus the binoculars. She opened her long, tan coat and exhibited her mountainous flesh.

            With a quick shove, the statue, along with Ned, toppled to the ground.

            A park attendant said to a woman who had escaped the collapsing statue as he piled broken statuary onto the back of a truck. “They hacked right through the marble. Our cops will catch them. This is a scandalous crime for East Meadow.”

After the work crew left, Carla Mamone plodded to a bench and sat down. She reached into her canvas tote, drew out her binoculars and raised them. A smirk filled her plump lips.

Ned shuffled into the fitness center with an assortment of bandages on his face and limbs and a brace on his neck. Sammy gave his buddy the once-over. Before discussing what went wrong, sirens shrilled and a police van pulled in front of the center. Two policemen with warrants, entered the building and approached them. One policeman said, “We need you to come down to headquarters. Your actions were caught on a security camera.” He turned to his partner, “Read them their rights.”

Sammy and Ned looked out the window, locking eyes with the lady with the binoculars, who then smiled, plopped in an éclair and stood heavily to leave.

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