Mrs. Rogers was all in a dither.
“Amelia Bedelia!” she wailed into the telephone. “The world has been inflicted with a terrible pandemic! Everyone must quarantine! Only essential workers should go to work.”
“My goodness!” said Amelia Bedelia. “I am not an essential worker, so I suppose I will be home for a while.”
“But Amelia Bedelia,” Mrs. Rogers gasped. “You are essential. I can’t possibly be expected to clean my own home! You have to come! Grab the next train to our house—we expect to see you in an hour. And be sure to wear a mask!”
“Don’t you worry your head. I’ll be right over,” said Amelia Bedelia, and she hung up the phone.
These folks do have odd ways. I’ve never cleaned a house while wearing a mask before, Amelia Bedelia thought. But she went into her closet and pulled out a mask.
“Amelia Bedelia, what are you wearing?” Mrs. Rogers cried when Amelia Bedelia arrived at her front door.
“I’m wearing a mask,” said Amelia Bedelia. “Do you like it?”
Mrs. Rogers was angry. She was very angry. “That is a feathered masquerade mask!” Mrs. Rogers exclaimed. “It doesn’t cover your nose or mouth!”
“But you told me to wear a mask,” Amelia Bedelia said. “I only did what you asked.”
“But—oh, never mind.” Mrs. Rogers replied. “You’re already four minutes late. Just come in.”
Amelia Bedelia stepped inside the house. “What should I do first?” she asked.
“Here, I made a list for you. Do exactly what the list says,” said Mrs. Rogers. “Now Mr. Rogers and I must be off to work.”
Mr. and Mrs. Rogers walked into the living room. Then they sat down on the sofa, removed their pants, and logged onto Zoom.
My, what nice folks, thought Amelia Bedelia. I think I’ll bake a sourdough loaf as a surprise for them. I do make good bread.
So, Amelia Bedelia went into the kitchen. She put a little bit of this and a pinch of that into a bowl and mixed everything together, as YouTube instructed. Soon, her bread was ready for the oven.
“There,” said Amelia Bedelia. “That’s done. Now let’s see what this list says.”
Amelia Bedelia read, “Change the towels in the guest bathroom.” So, Amelia Bedelia went into the bathroom and found the towels.
These towels are very nice. Why change them? she thought. Besides, it would be difficult to make change in the midst of a national coin shortage.
Just then, Mrs. Rogers hurried into the bathroom.
“Amelia Bedelia!” she exclaimed. “Your sourdough! Can’t you smell that it’s burning?”
“I haven’t been able to smell anything for a week,” said Amelia Bedelia. Then, she heaved a series of dry and unproductive coughs.
“Amelia Bedelia, you may have COVID!” cried Mrs. Rogers. “You must take a test immediately!” She covered her face and fled down the hallway.
“A test? I’d better start preparing,” said Amelia Bedelia. She reached into her purse and pulled out a stack of flashcards.
Right then the bathroom door opened again. This time it was Mr. Rogers. He was wearing the N95 respirator mask, rubber gloves, and fluid-resistant isolation gown he’d purchased on Amazon.
“What on earth are you doing, Amelia Bedelia?” asked Mr. Rogers.
“I’m studying for my COVID test,” said Amelia Bedelia.
“For gosh sakes, Amelia Bedelia! This isn’t that kind of test,” exclaimed Mr. Rogers. “We will need to take a trip to the pharmacy.”
“Boy, I sure do have a lot to learn!” said Amelia Bedelia. So, she and Mr. Rogers drove to CVS.
When they arrived, Amelia Bedelia reached for the car door handle. Mr. Rogers put out a hand to stop her.
“You don’t need to get out,” Mr. Rogers said. “This is a drive-thru testing center.”
“Oh, what fun!” said Amelia Bedelia. “I’ve always liked going to a drive-thru.”
After a few hours of waiting in tense silence, it was Amelia Bedelia’s turn in line. A weary-looking pharmacist approached the car. Mr. Rogers rolled down the window.
“Howdy-do!” said Amelia Bedelia. “I’m Amelia Bedelia, and I would like one chocolate milkshake and a small fry please.”
The exhausted pharmacist sighed. Then, she handed Amelia Bedelia a basket with testing materials.
“Stick the swab up your nose and rotate for fifteen seconds,” the pharmacist instructed.
“That will be mighty difficult in a car, but I’ll try my best,” said Amelia Bedelia.
She placed the swab in her nose and sat up on her knees. Then, Amelia Bedelia rotated in her seat for fifteen seconds.
“Amelia Bedelia! Seriously?!” moaned Mr. Rogers, hiding his face in shame.
The pharmacist was angry. She was very, very angry.
The pharmacist opened her mouth. She meant to scream at Amelia Bedelia and Mr. Rogers for wasting her time with this nightmare clown bullshit. But before she could get the words out, Amelia Bedelia placed something in the pharmacist’s hand.
“Is that… lemon meringue pie?” asked the pharmacist.
“I brought it along to surprise you,” Amelia Bedelia said happily. “I do make good pies.”
The pharmacist lifted her mask and took a bite. Suddenly, she didn’t care about accepting food from the bare hands of a person exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. In fact, she no longer cared about the pandemic at all. All she cared about now was lemon meringue pie.
“Thank you, Amelia Bedelia!” she said. “I do hope you’ll come back for the vaccine after it’s distributed to healthcare workers, residents of nursing homes, and Republican pandemic-deniers.”
Amelia Bedelia smiled. She and the pharmacist would get along, she thought, right before she fainted.
Rumpus original art by Kaili Doud.
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