The Jigsaw Puzzle Queens
By Sydney Gay
Two queens, Margaret and Nora enjoyed jigsaw puzzles; they often sat for hours fitting tiny pieces into proper places, creating order out of chaos.
At age fifty Nora, the eldest queen, looked fabulous, her complexion was moist and peachy; Margaret, the younger queen, marveled at the beauty of the older queen, however she noticed a flaw, a possible character twitch, Queen Nora endlessly complained of aches and pains, but mostly she complained about her CPA, her certified paid accountant, “He’s a boob.” Nora accused him of mis-managing her personal fortune.
How mystifying, queens are educated, so why would Nora employ a boob? Why did she appear to have an endless supply of money? Queen Nora told Margaret she did not like being questioned about it, “Endless bore to be tracking pennies my dear, but I guess it must be done.”
“I suppose,” sighed Margaret, whose own interest in money was not something the two queens had in common. What brought them together was the love of jigsaw puzzling; interlocking colorful pieces made troubles melt away. They were seated at the puzzle table one day when Queen Nora had an idea. “Dah’ling, a cruise vacation would be wonderful, a voyage with a private balcony for a grand view of the islands; a room with a view, windowless cabins are plebeian, terribly claustrophobic.”
“How lovely,” replied Margaret. Wasting no time, they left the puzzle table and trotted to the travel agent who clarified terms, “You may reserve adjoining suites if full payment is made today.”
The older queen was cavalier, “I’ll pay for mine today, your largest balcony please, Margaret, dah’ling, and I need a private suite. You take the cabin next door.”
The agent accepted Nora’s money and turned to Margaret, “You will be securing your room as well?”
“Of course.” Margaret reached into her pocket for the bejeweled purse that held her fortune, but the purse was gone, disappeared, totally vanished, in its place a scribbled note, Stay ahead of the game. Oh my, how puzzling, what could that mean? Queens know not to worry; worry does no good at all. “I’ll pay tomorrow,” she said. That afternoon Nora and Margaret returned to the puzzle table, however swans swimming in a pretty pond no longer held Margaret’s interest, necessarily she focused on the current bigger puzzle, where had the money gone?
“Your mood has changed, dah’ling. Is it the missing money? You seem a bit quirky, come now, we’ve nearly completed the pond, do be doll, finish the border.”
Margaret pushed a few more pieces into place, “Nora, forgive me, I really can’t do this right now.”
Queen Nora laughed a bit inappropriately, “Ha-ha, all in good time, money always comes when you least expect it.”
“I’m sorry, I really must go home now.”
“Ta ta darling, don’t forget to pay for your ticket.”
“Of course.” Margaret made her way down the street, briefly she said hello to the village butcher hanging sausage in the window and to the baker making croissants, “Thank you Max, I won’t be buying anything today.” She nodded to the fishmonger skinning cod. “Thank you not today.” The only sound louder than the click clopping of Margaret’s heels upon cobblestones was the thoughts in her head.
She passed Mr. Hellski at the wharf with his wheelbarrow of free fish scraps and wondered if Nora had swiped the money, she combed her memory for a clue, but couldn’t find one, but did however envision the elder queen stuffing a suitcase with cash, fancy clothes and jewels.
Early the next morning the telephone rang, Brrrring! Bring! “Hello dah’ling, it’s me, I’m packing for the cruise. Such fun. By the way, did you find the missing money?”
“No, not yet. Nora dear, did you notice anything unusual on the day it got lost? Did you see anyone take my purse? Did anyone put a hand into my pocket?”
“How should I know, dah’ling? Well, ta ta, sweet, no point in wasting time, surely the money will appear, it always comes from wherever it is. I am off, busy as a bee you know.”
Cruise departure was two days; hence to stay ahead of the game Margaret decided to sell the contents of her closet, there were nice things in there, especially the emerald green gown with exquisitely puffed sleeves, those sleeves drove men wild. She would sell the emerald dress. The amount was not predictable, but twenty quid would pay for the cruise, thirty quid would be better, thirty would provide for extra shopping at sea… oops, if she spent everything, she wouldn’t have any money to come home to, “Oh well, money is confusing, I’ll figure it out later.”
She sold the contents of her closet to the “Used, Not Abused Store.” The owner offered a surprising seventy quid, and promptly Margaret returned to the travel agent. “Hello again, I’m Margaret, remember I was in your office yesterday?”
“Yes, you were.”
“Yes I was. What did you say the cruise will cost? I forgot how much you exactly require.”
“You are a bit late for the special, I only have one ticket left, unfortunately there’s a bit of an extra fee; however it is a most excellent cabin.”
“How much all together?”
“Twenty five quid,” The agent licked his lips; he knew to keep one excellent accommodation for tardy patrons who did not mind paying a last minute higher price, hardly a disturbing penalty for travelers who loved chic PR and private valets. He gave Queen Margaret a divine room, a suite with silk sheets, cedar closets and billowy pillows; above all she had a view of the great ocean. Immediately Margaret telephoned Nora.
“Hello? Ooh really? You do? Dah’ling I was told your room had gone to the Duke of Ormandy, truly I thought you weren’t coming, well well, I’ll bring a jigsaw puzzle in case we have a rainy day, must go now, too-da-loo.”
On day of ship’s departure, Margaret arrived one hour early. She opened the tiny cabin closet, a thrill went up her spine, and the aroma of cedar was divine. Having sold her best clothes, she had little to put away, thus in no time she stood upon the balcony enjoying the view and there on the pier was Queen Nora bookended by porters carrying jigsaw puzzles and valises packed with the finery many queens feel they need, jewels, boas, ball gowns, sun clothes, rain clothes, wind clothes and hats to match. Margaret waved from her terrace. “Ha’loo! Ha’loo! Nora! I’m up here! I’m up here! It’s me!”
“Don’t yell like that, Margaret. What are you doing way up there?”
“I have the King Phillip’s Cabin, it’s wonderful!”
Queen Margaret turned cold. Her accommodations were three levels below. She pursed her lips. “Meet me for dinner, Margaret and don’t wear that horrible emerald green gown with the puffed up sleeves.”