Sisters normally start out their journey through life in a snug family unit. They grow, they learn, they develop interests that eventually take them in different directions. As adults, the bond once shared as children may seem to have disappeared, yet it still remains, needing only circumstance to connect the circle of familiarity, of unity. So it had been with Maxcine and Isabel.
What eventually reunited them was a wicked twist of fate. Having lived for the better part of four decades on opposite ends of Arizona, visits were as infrequent as snow in the Sonoran Desert. During one of those rare get-togethers ten years ago, an argument between their respective husbands got out of hand, eventually resulting in double marital demise. The way Hershel and Gavin had hit the male menopausal wall could only be called pitiful.
Aged masculine minds and limbs weren't meant to lust after voluptuous bombshells nearly thirty years their junior, but that knowledge sure hadn't stopped Hershel or Gavin! A bet was after all, a bet, and neither of them had been about to back down.
Nothing could be done now to change what had happened, just as at the time, nothing could have prevented the royal blunder of a couple of old fools. In Maxcine's considered opinion, as well as Isabel's, if the old fools had gone their separate ways from the beginning of their quest, success might have been achieved. However, double dating through it all caused failure.
It was, both then and now, amusing to the cast aside wives how obsessed their respective husbands had been over the fear of not being able to get their plumbing up, and maintain that salute. Feminine viewpoint tended to sluff off masculine concern.
Maxcine and Isabel had always tried to make their men feel virile, top dog, king of the sheets, and felt that should have been enough. That aging together gracefully, should have been enough.
Neither Hershel or Gavin had been satisfied. Oh, there hadn't been complaints about spousal sexual expertise, or willingness. The simple fact was; ego reined. So like wild stallions, they'd galloped off after sexual conquests with fillies.
Trying to out-do each other, striving to seduce the most, the prettiest, the most alluring, had not gone as planned. When physical ability failed, when they couldn't keep the interest of young women; 'Zappo' back home they'd slunk.
However, the completely fed up sisters had a surprise in store for their repentant husbands. Provoking laughter, nose rubbing, crude remarks, and of course rejecting intimate advances because of their fools' attempts to sow wild oats.
Not about to cower, Hershel and Gavin had made up their minds to give it another shot, placing their pride on the line, placing huge wagers on which of them could seduce just one babe, and achieve whoopie.
Well, the resulting explosion following that nifty announcement blew the hell out of wedlock, and when the debris settled, the guys were roommates in a nursing home for the looney tunes somewhere in New Jersey. Their ex-spouses were cohabitating in a very nice residential subdivision on the outskirts of Phoenix. However, Maxcine and Isabel had no intentions of remaining there indefinitely. Plans to move on were in the works.
The sprawling nineteen hundred and twenty-four square-foot ranch style house that was no longer acceptable had seen many years, and although refurbished once, remodeled twice, the structure maintained its original allure, both inside and out. It was not rectangular, because the driveway had a dog leg, cornering into the garage, whose width extended into the backyard. Looking straight at the house from the street, there did not appear to be a garage.
Within this comfortable mortgage free home was a rectangular great room, authentic western lighting fixtures suspended from the exposed beam ceiling. Shades of tan carpeting flowed from room to room in a sea of lush pile. Walls were varied pastels, furnishings also bore a wide range of colors, as had to be the case since every stick had been purchased from either yard sales or thrift stores. Wooden furniture had been rubbed over with medium brown polish, no matter what the original shade had been.
A generous amount of brick-a-brack was scattered through out the three bedrooms, three bathrooms, large country kitchen, laundry with exits into both the backyard and garage. And of course there was that wonderful great room. Handmade craft items were in use as wall decor, whether the item be cross stitch works of art in numerous frame styles, mosaics composed of buttons, or chunks of driftwood with tacky silk flowers glued here and there.
The long hallway had been turned into a photograph gallery, of sorts. Enlargements of family members included portraits, group gatherings, favored moments of nostalgia, silly antics.
Outside, white stucco exterior walls had that peeled away look in strategic areas, exposing simulated adobe bricks that complimented the red tiled roof. The wall around the backyard was red block, extending from the southeast and northeast corners to the alley, and across the rear property line. Landscape in that enclosed space was nothing but dirt with two mulberry trees. However the front and side yards were a mixture of tree shaded lawn and shrubs, gravel and cacti. There was also a twelve-foot by twelve-foot tin storage shed in the south facing side yard.
The covered flagstone patio stretched the entire width of the house on that same side, trumpet vines growing in profusion, having climbed numerous roof support posts, bridging from one to the next and coiling along the exposed beams of the roof. Two, thick cushion loungers in shades of green, a meshed iron footstool in use as a table between them, took up only a fraction of available space. A diamond paned door entered into the kitchen.
Wrapping around the southwest corner, the patio was connected by three steps to a raised and railed porch that extended half the frontage length of the house. An electric box fan had been plugged in beneath a plate glass window, its spinning blades creating a steady breeze in an effort to combat the summer heat.
Several feet to the left of the front door, bordering the drop-off into the cacti garden that stretched to meet the driveway, was a waist high pansy planter. Side by side, to the right of the door, backs toward the planter, were a couple of lavender and yellow, metal rocking chairs. Facing them, with a three-foot space between, and suspended from exposed rafters by chains, was a white, wooden slat swing.
It was on this swing that the elderly women sat one Monday morning in early July, side by side, staring down through wire-framed glasses at respective needlework projects held in their bony hands. Beyond the age of excess weight, no matter how much they ate, their thin frames were, as usual, draped in dresses. Creased faces did not resemble one another. Maxcine's fluffy, collar-length, silver-gray hair showed plastic curler indentations, while Isabel's straight, shoulder-length locks had obviously been dyed brunette. Both of them had plush animal slippers on their feet; pairs of pink pigs and brown bears, traded one for one, worn unmatched. This was possible because the sisters weren't particularly picky about fit. Sixty-eight year old Maxi was five-foot, five-inches in height, an inch taller than sixty year old Izzy, her tootsies a good deal wider.
As humans are prone to do on the downhill slide of life, their personalities had altered. But then, so had everything else about them. Yes, the bubbling exuberance of youth had been replaced by sedate 'oldth'. Innocence was long gone, superseded by experience. Cranky substituted patience. Humorous streaks remained intact.
Isabel's tendency was to mouth off her opinions as what they were; personal viewpoints. With Maxcine, the bookworm of the Sykes siblings, her expressive self parlayed opinion into essay form. They were prone to taunt, deliberately irritating one another. To an observer who did not know them, it would appear as if mutual aversion was a solid wall that would never crumble. Not in a million years.
However, love, respect and devotion could not have been stronger, as anyone who trespassed against either sister soon found out. General George Armstrong Custer would surely have won his battle against savage Indians had he had these spunky women in his army!