Ken was used to odd vehicles turning up in the commune’s snowy drive, but the sparkling silver Mercedes looked stranger and more out of place to him than all the pastel paisley microbuses that could turn up. A portly forty something man in a long camel’s hair coat and an ivy plaid newsboy cap emerged from the vehicle.
“Where is she?” he asked as soon as Ken opened the door. The man’s beefy face was nearly scarlet. He looked a bit angry.
“Are you Alvin?” Ken asked.
“Of course I’m Alvin,” Alvin snapped. “Who the blazes are you?”
“I don’t care who he is,” Marge said from behind Ken. “Get him inside and close the door. You’re freezing the place.”
Alvin came in but immediately confronted Marge. “Don’t delay me. I haven’t got time. I demand to know where she is.”
“Where who is?” Marge asked.
“Don’t give me that,” Alvin said. “You know very well I’m looking for my granddaughter. I think she calls herself Zelda these days.”
“I’ll have to find her,” Marge said, knowing very well that Zelda was probably in the kitchen. “This is a big place and it’s not that easy to find folks.”
“You’ve got five minutes,” Alvin said.
“Or what?” Marge said.
“Or I’ll have the police out here and I’ll charge you with kidnapping.”
“That sounds interesting,” said Peter.
“Who the confounded carcass are you?” asked Alvin.
“Peter Gravenstein, Esquire. I happen to be the local lawyer.”
“Oh,” Alvin said.
“I assume you have some sort of writ or warrant.”
“I don’t need a blasted warrant. I’m her grandson.”
“I’m afraid that doesn’t give you the right to drag her out of here.”
Alvin looked astounded. “I don’t want to drag her out of here. I wouldn’t know what to do with her. I just want to see her.”
“Oh,” Ken said.
Zelda was, as expected, in the kitchen. When she was told that Alvin was waiting in the front room, she took off her apron and joined him there.
“To what do I owe the honor of your presence?” Zelda asked.
“Mother said that I had to visit you. She’s been on my case for a month about it. So here I am. Let me tell you it wasn’t easy to get to see you.”
“Sorry about that,” Marge said. “You sounded so upset I wasn’t sure what you were going to do with her.”
“I’ve never figured out what to do with her,” Alvin said. “No one in the family has.”
“That’s just the problem,” Zelda said. “Everyone has been trying to have plans for me instead of just letting me do my own thing.”
“Do your ‘own thing’,” Alvin repeated. “You sound like a hippie.”
“I am a hippie,” Zelda said. “I’ve been trying to tell you that for forty years. Now I’ve finally found a commune to call home.”
“Well, I hope you’re happy here.”
“I am happy here,” Zelda said. “They love me here.”
“We do,” Ken said. “We all love Zelda.”
“Well, I’m glad to hear that,” Alvin said. “I guess I’ll have to tell Mother that they wouldn’t let me kidnap you. She wants you out of here but goodness knows why.”
“Okay, then,” Zelda said. “Give her my love.”
And with that Alvin left.
“He wasn’t so bad,” Marge said.
“Wait until next time,” said Zelda.