Grandmother's Devil & Other Tempting Tales

Grandmother's Predictions

A dissolute young man is brought up short by a vintage automaton he has painstakingly restored. An eery fortune-telling session drives him into the street naked and stark raving-mad. Who, indeed, is that nurse in the mental hospital?

Noise from a delivery truck dieseling in front of his house dragged Earle out of a recurring erotic dream involving a much older woman with fire-flecked opalescent eyes. He could never remember the details once he reluctantly gave in to wakefulness. The steamy imagery would evaporate, leaving only his rapidly faltering arousal to validate that he had been engaged in something transcendent and possibly illicit.

The noise from the truck was insistent. Earle untangled himself from Brandy and stumbled out of bed. He made his way over to the bedroom window, pulled apart the narrow slats of the blinds, and squinted into the daylight. No mistake. The driver had turned off the engine and was climbing down from the cab.

Earle scrambled to pull on his underpants and drag yesterday's too-small yellow "Robots Rule, Humans Drool" tee shirt over his head just seconds before the doorbell rang.

"Back in a jiffy, Brandykins," he said heading downstairs toward his front door. "Don't go 'way."

He answered the bell as it it were completely unremarkable that he was only half dressed. The driver pretended not to notice.

"I got a 300-pound crate on the truck for an Earle Winston Bradlee the Third. That you?"

"Yep," Earle replied. "That's me."

Where do you want to put it, buddy?"

"The driveway's fine," Earle said.

"By rights we're not supposed to take it past the curb, but I don't suppose there's any harm dropping it in the driveway, just so long as we don't have to bring it into the house or nothing," the driver said, trying to keep his eyes on Earle's face and off his pale, scrawny legs. The tee shirt stopped short of covering his underpants completely. Earle stood in his bare feet scratching his backside absentmindedly.