Our dear neighbor Eloise, self-quarantined with her two cats and separated from her beloved Beauregard, writes to him daily to keep him abreast of the news from home.
She has agreed to share her dispatches here.



Day 1—


Dear Beauregard,


My soul is sore conflicted. The Orange One continues to dolefully read words telling us there is no danger from the viral asteroid that is hitting our planet in slow motion; however, dear neighbors have been observed snatching packages of tissue (meant for purposes not plainly referred to by one so delicate as I) out of the hands of the elderly—those our beloved government now defines as citizens who have passed more than sixty years in our Lord’s gracious world, even as official dictati and other vaguely Latin-sounding words say no one shall access a national pension until having attended their four full-time minimum wage jobs until age ninety-seven.

I continue to defend the battlement of our home with the protection of bottle rockets and cats as I anxiously await your return.


Please bring toilet paper.


As always,

Your loving Eloise



Day 2—


My dear Beauregard,


As is often the case in times of crisis, I fear that punctuation most quickly is becoming the face of casualty. Gravity seems to have become capricious, with unnecessary apostrophes (tragically at times labeled “apostrophe’s”) becoming unnecessary commas and vice versa, making your “you’re” into “your” and, quixotically, “its” becoming “it’s.” Capital letters have become UBIQUITOUS, and exclamation points are flying off keyboards nearly as quickly as hand sanitizer is disappearing from store shelves!!!!!!!!


I pray, my beloved, that you are well, or—at the very least—are surviving our separation with a healthy semi-colon.


The cats and I endure, but we beseech the heavens to hie thee home as swiftly as possible. And, as always,


please bring toilet paper.


Your loving Eloise


Day 3—


My dearest Beauregard,


The nights are growing shorter, the days long. I spied my first cardinal today—at least, my first since the season of baseball was canceled postponed. His cheery red feathers were a delightful sight in stark relief against the begrimed snowbanks that are receding to reveal mountains of canine fecal matter left on our lawn by those neighbors to the west who continue to earn the moniker you bestowed upon them in what nearly seems like a former life. Yes, my beloved, “The DogShit People” continue to be a thorn in our side yard.


Another sure sign of spring—that dreadful woodpecker has returned to drill away at our humble abode with his face-sword. Today I flung a cat at him and, while this action did not deter the rascal in the least, I was able to pass the next few lonely hours bandaging the scratches upon my arms and countenance. Such is life. I prithee return soon and, as always,


please bring toilet paper.


Your loving Eloise



Day 4—


My Beauregard,


I write this missive with a heavy heart and trembling fingers—fingers I fear I soon may lose. Today, after an unsuccessful attempt to engage the cats in a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors and then spending hours pondering the question “Who put the ram in the rama lama ding dong?” without reaching a satisfactory conclusion, I happened upon a stack of quizzes I had collected over the years from magazines in medical offices and hair salons—tests I now had enough free time to complete.


Even though the global plague has (so far) passed by our door, my brow now furrows with concern that my tenuous health may take me from this world before you return, in which case I would not only be dead, but sad.


There is no way to break this to you gently, so please brace yourself before reading on. It seems I unknowingly have been suffering from halitosis, alopecia, ambidexterity, gangrene, gingivitis, melanoma, and gout. And I fare even worse in the psychological realm. Apparently, my infirmities include superstition, Tourette’s syndrome, low self-esteem, delusions of grandeur, addiction to various comestibles and celebrity gossip, frigidity, nymphomania, and something called OCD (which really should be referred to more tidily, in alphabetical order, as CDO).


Most heartbreaking of all, my love, it appears I have testicular cancer.


Hurry, hurry home. And, as always,


please bring toilet paper.


Your loving Eloise



Day 5—


My dearest Beauregard,


The cats awakened me in the pre-dawn this morning singing the song of their people, and it has been thus an excruciatingly long day of missing you.


I am hungry to gaze upon your visage, hungry also to feel your hand in mine that we may thumb wrestle once again. Overarchingly, I find myself simply hungry. I was convinced I had purchased sufficient Small Deborah snack cakes to last into the next century, but somehow they are all gone. Vanished! I visited the pantry at the usual foraging hour of two into the new day, and the only thing on the snack cake shelf was an empty, crinkly wrapper greatly reminiscent of your Grandmother Walker in her later years. I suspect the cats of gluttony, but—after being so vocal in the earliest part of the day—they remain tightlipped and somewhat disdainful when I ask. I suppose I shall move on to snackage of slightly less desirability. Just another necessary sacrifice, I tell myself.


I pray you are finding ample nourishment and a swift journey home. And, as always,


please bring toilet paper.


Your loving Eloise




Day 6—


Beloved Beauregard,


The sun was shining brightly today, and I ventured outdoors for a constitutional. I am not completely clear on the rules of this new existence and had not heretofore practiced the art of social distancing, so I was forced to extemporize. Unable to locate our canister of hot jiminy pepper vapor, I sallied forth with a fire extinguisher and the bear whistle from your old camping gear.


I must say, both worked exceedingly well. The whistle seemed to convince the younger set to flee before they could achieve an unhealthy proximity, and the elders not deterred by that shrill clamor were duly convinced to keep their space after receiving a face full of foam. I walked the distance of several hectares and not once was in fear of being infected.


Would you not know, when I returned home and was unbundling, I spied the canister of pepper vapor on the shelf in the foyer hat cupboard. Silly me! I hung it from its chain on the coat tree next to the front entry so I could avail myself of it before my next excursion.


And so it was easily at hand when a forceful—nay, angry—knock came and then persisted on the portal to our abode. When structural damage seemed imminent, I snatched the vapor canister, opened the door, and fired a steady stream for five full seconds.


One might suppose that an officer of the law would be understanding of a distaff citizen’s fear for her wellbeing and safety, but I learned it is possible one could be terribly wrong in this assumption.


I do hope the authorities will release me tomorrow, as the cats will be hungry and confused. In closing, my love, I must report the one bright spot in these proceedings—the appearance of a Small Deborah snack cake on the tray of swill provided for my evening repast. Do hurry home, dear. And, as always,


please bring toilet paper,

Your loving Eloise




Day 7—


My dear Beauregard,


The authorities released me at dawn and I hurried home to nap, as sleep mostly eluded me amidst the din of snoring and harmonica music that polluted the fetid air of what I learned is referred to colloquially as ‘the joint.’


Upon reaching the milestone of one week in relative isolation (if I disregard the exception of this past night, and disregard it I shall!), I find my wandering thoughts seizing upon the existential and philosophical questions of the ages. I have barely stirred today from the nest of Sir Fig Newton wrappers in our bed as I ponder secrets of the universe.

Do I know the way to San Jose? I know of no simple way to verify that knowledge. Does anybody really know what time it is? This seems somewhat quantifiable, and yet I am at a loss to aver a personal position on the matter. And where is the party at? These are only a few of the mysteries that have left me daunted this day.


The oddest thing happened, beloved. I did not know that the timepiece you purchased at Nöel for my nightstand had the capability of emanating music, but indeed it does. And apparently, one of the cats walked across it in the early morning hours today and somehow initiated this function. When first I awoke, I feared I was deceased! But after only a few seconds, I realized it was unlikely angels in heaven would engage their harps in a rendition of some boisterous etude that asked repeatedly who was responsible for having let the dogs out.


I have no inkling what music I may have slept through, if any, before that rousing chorus.


But the shadows grow long once again. I suppose there would be no advantage to changing out of my nightgown now. Soon I shall sleep, perchance to dream of you, my prince, and I can only hope to learn soon it is you who knows what love does got to do with it.


Hasten your return as quickly as you can safely do so. And, as always,


please bring toilet paper.


Your loving Eloise



Day 8—


My dear Beauregard,


I have never understood the meaning of the phrase ‘cabin fever.’ As you know, the closest I have ever come to one of those wretched structures was running full scream from the room when you asked me to gaze upon the photograph of one in a magazine. But I now suspect the phrase might have little to do with that architectural abomination or a physical illness so much as feeling stir-crazy—although, now that I think of that, I wonder what someone first stirred that made him lose his sanity, and why enough people followed suit to make that a nom de catchelett, as the French may have said at least once.


I find my hands with far too much time on them. Today, I actually followed Cassius down to the basement instead of standing at the top of the stairs shrieking the naughty kitty’s name until he reappeared. You know, my beloved, how long that can take.


Do not fear for my safety. I armed myself with a broom, swinging it side to side, high and low, to scare away any creepy-crawlies and their nests, or webs, or cabins—whatever horrible things they build. I broke several lighting fixtures, but those will be easy enough for you to repair when you return.


What an odd little room, this area in the basement that must be what your Aunt Canasta called her “root cellar!” Imagine my surprise, after occupying her house for the full five years passed since the porcine stampede that took her life, to find rows upon rows of conserved food in glass jars.


I brought up an armload, and I am almost afraid to make sound with my pen dragging across paper lest the neighbors hear and intuit I am hoarding precious and special food.


Peaches! My darling, peaches! Beautiful orange-hued halves, with a little ribcage of red in the center of each, suspended in sweet elixir. I confess, I opened the first jar and devoured its entire contents like a starving cormorant and made to open a second before catching myself. “You have not even undertaken the composition of your daily dispatch to Beauregard!” I said. “Whatever will he think if a day passes without word?”


To report in full, the first few bites possessed a certain ‘whang’ in flavor but, as I had never consumed peasant-preserved fruit, I assume that is to be expected. The rest went down so early. I mean fastly. I easy. Of sudden, fingers feel like nose. Remember when we with Aunt Canasta  a mighty wind expelled her backside with such it blew her skirt out? She swatted dog and said. What was? A miniman collier. I mean shitz-you. Hahaha! No. Name was… some odd. I wanted say Sammy Hagar, but that can’t. Look. Now Cassius is stop! Sotp thet. I dan’t


Tired. You soon. Bring.



Day 9—


My dearest Beauregard,


Such a day of hope and disappointment! Happiness and despair! Hoi and polloi!


I am resigned that I may be forced, at some point, to find an alternative to the preferred tissue for powdering one’s po-po, but yesterday it struck me that the cats may not be so accommodating should I run out of the simple, basic clumping sealable no-fragrance multi-cat pebbles I put in their feline waste receptacle. Aye, I do believe Bruté has been eyeing your finest footwear, lined up inside the back portal like soldiers toppled by artillery, just the way you left them.  


But as first I began to despair, what should I hear but the bell and the voice of the town crier, drawing closer to our abode? It seems the management of the local A & Ellemenopea provisions market has offered to set aside one hour in the early a.m. exclusively for the elderly to procure necessities and to need not mingle with the common plague-carrying hordes and, I suppose, that one Sullivan boy.


As quickly as my hopes were raised, however, they were dashed. Even if I did qualify for the ridiculously low limit of years our beloved government has set as the qualification for “elderly,” I would not want to shock any of the neighbors, most of whom (so I have been told) think I am probably around thirty-eight, tops.


I hit upon an idea. Under cover of darkness and a moonless sky, I crept out of our abode dressed in my blackest pantalons, blouson, and headscarf. I know there is a loose ventilation grate at the back of the A & Ellemenopea building, ten feet off the ground, never mind how.


I stacked empty wooden crates until I was able to step up onto the metal trash receptacle and remove that grate with my pink power screwdriver. I hoisted myself up, and all was according to plan until my pantalons caught on a nail and, of a sudden, I felt a cool southerly breeze. I huffed and heaved but managed only to wedge myself at the middle, unable to pull myself in or out.


Before I could manage a prayer to St. Dick, patron saint of Bad Ideas, I felt a warmth on my backside that could only be light from a high-beam lantern. At that moment, I was overwhelmed by a sense of relief that I had donned my Hello Kitty bloomers that day, as they are not only stylish, but somewhat opaque.


A saw was found, the building’s aperture was enlarged, and I slipped backward straight into the arms of the same constable who had come to our door three days ago. He dropped me like a hot tuber, muttered about something “not worth it” (I suppose he meant exposing me yet again to the germ-filled environs of ‘the joint,’), and told me to scamper home. Something was said of ‘community service,’ but I am sure you can take care of that upon your return, which I hope will be soon.


Please bring kitty litter.


Your loving Eloise

Day 10—


Beloved Beauregard,


Sacrifice and duty. Those are the thoughts that have crowded out all others today as this forced separation drags on. I must accept the fact that no matter how many times I stamp my foot, it will not hasten your return. Also, my bunions are revolting.


I try to console—nay, bolster—myself with family lore of the sacrifices endured by those who came before. My dear mother oft recounted the disdainful mien of shopgirls on Fifth Avenue in employ of the Saks dynasty, regarding her with one raised eyebrow that diminished her self-esteem when she dared asked for assistance. Your Grandfather Walker unspooled stories of educating himself to make his own “hooch,” I believe he called it, during the days following the passage of the 18th amendment to our beloved national Constitution. Did he not develop a proprietary recipe with peaches as the main ingredient? I do not recall. But I do remember your Grandmother McCoy, dried as a corn husk and shriveled nearly to the size of one, shouting (as she did once her hearing took leave) about feeding your father and his thirteen siblings with what game she could procure with her bolt-action musket. Watermelons. Acorns. Squirrels, a meat she convinced her offspring was merely “chicken of the tree.”


I have tried, my love, to tell the cats these stories in order to impress upon them the need to make do with what we have, but they distress me with their disinterest. As I spoke to them this morning, each lifted one leg, pointing toward the sky in unison like members of a ballet corps, and they proceeded to clean themselves in an area that decency would mandate stay private. 


This afternoon, I caught Cassius eyeing me with a lean and hungry look, and Bruté looked as though he wouldst stab me in the back if not for his lack of an opposable thumb. I shall sleep with one eye open until your return, which prithee will be soon. As always,


please bring toilet paper.


Your loving Eloise

Day 11—


My beloved Beauregard,


Assuredly, you remember recounting tales of your youth, when James Butler and Jim Butler, no relation, lived next door to your Aunt Canasta and directly across the street, respectively. Your voice trembled as you spoke of those men and their hatred toward one another… how mischief turned to aggravated mischief and then into felony arson and grand theft buggy.


Those accounts were horrifying then but are even more so now that we inhabit your late aunt’s home. The most outrage I have witnessed in this neighborhood is the aftermath of two bringing the same Jell-O salad to the church basement luncheon when, apparently, everyone had been given strict instructions.


You are aware that James moved back into his family home next door when his mother went to live at Sundown Days, and that Jim’s mother still occupies her house across the street. Oh, but what has transpired since your absence!

Sundown Days has been ‘locked down’ due to the plague and, rather than leave his mother there in isolation, James has brought her home. Across the street, Jim has returned to the house of his childhood. Both men declare their actions came with the intent of caring for their aged mothers, but I have my doubts and so do the cats now I have told them the entire story and given them time to consider it.


Last evening, just before dusk, a terrible racket brought me out to the veranda. There was James Butler next door, and Jim Butler across the street, each using his mother in a wheelchair as a living shield as insults were hurled like arrows. “Mom, he’s looking at me! Make him stop!” James shouted.


“Mom, he started it!” Jim bellowed back.


Then each man let go his mother’s chair in order to shake his fists and point to the other, and both mothers started rolling down the steep decline of their front lawns and onto the avenue. A refuse-gathering truck rumbled down the block toward them.


Despite the fact that I was not wearing lipstick, I ran into the street, stiff-armed the two chairs to a halt while they were still a safe distance of six feet apart and shrieked “STOP!” to the driver of the truck, who then did so with barely six safe feet to spare. The transport’s operator then dismounted the iron steed and, unbelievably, was revealed to be not only a woman, but one who declared herself a third mother grateful for my bravery!


And then, my love, a muffled “huzzah!” could be heard coming from behind the shuttered windows of houses nearby. I pray it is not immodest to tell you that for one golden moment, I was a hero in our region of nextdoor.com.


Of course, I hope that anyone in my unique position would have saved those mothers and saved that mother trucker as well.


Prithee soon you will return and we shall rejoice together. The cats insist on pretending they are unimpressed. As always,


please bring toilet paper.


Your loving Eloise

Day 12—


My hand trembles as I write. Today I heard—from the kitchen, near the back of our abode—the town crier approaching. From that distance, through numerous walls and past the sound of the cats’ daily performance of the opera She Loves Me More, it sounded as though he was shouting, “The authorities say we should die!” over and over.


But that cannot be, I thought. I ran to the veranda, leaving the front portal to bang against the wall behind it.


The crier, instead, seemed to be shouting, “The authorities say we should buy!” again and again.


I am still not certain which I heard.


I must take a day or so to gather myself, beloved. Be well. I shall be restored to my usual good spirits soon, most assuredly. Return to me when, and only when, it is safe to do so.


Your loving Eloise





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