I told my family I had to go out.
Joel wondered aloud where I was going. I told him I was “going to meet somebody,” but I didn’t elaborate, and assured him I’d be back in a minute.
I drove down to the pre-arranged meeting place just in time for our appointment. Before I got out of the car, I pulled the cash out of my wallet and counted it out so I wouldn’t have to fumble with it later. Then, I ran out across the parking lot in the rain.
The library door was locked so I waited for someone to notice me and then flagged him down. He cracked the door, and looked out from the dark hallway behind him. “Are you here for the gardener meeting?”
“No. I’m here to meet a guy at your gardener meeting.”
He slipped me in, gave a cautious eye to the the people loitering under the eave, and then shut the door. “They’re right in here,” he pointed.
I walked into a room of unpretentious faces all chatting around a power-point screen, and spotted my guy in the back of the room.
“Charity,” I shook his hand. “We spoke on the phone yesterday.”
“Right. Come this way, I’ll show you what I’ve got.”
He walked me to a table and opened a small plastic container.
“There’s not much left here. Some of them are leafcutters instead, so let me make sure I give you the right ones.”
“Uh-huh,” I impatiently pulled the cash out of my pocket while he inspected them.
An anxious woman jumped up from her seat and quickly walked over to us. She kept her eyes low, looking at the merchandise, but asked Tom in a quiet voice, “Are you gonna have any left for me to buy today?”
Still holding up a round tube, he turned and looked over his glasses at her.
“We might need to make an appointment,” he said.
She looked disappointingly at me. Apparently, I had gotten the last ones. She watched as he quietly handed me the tubes, and I exchanged them for the cash, thanked him, and quickly walked out of the meeting room with the coveted items.
Waving a second thanks to the guy in the hallway, I ran back out to the car, tucking the goods in my jacket to protect them from the rain.
I debated whether to hide them from Joel when I came inside but decided to be honest about where I’d been. When I walked in the door, he saw the thin, brown tubes and asked if I had taken up smoking cigars. When I told him what they really were, he teasingly rolled his eyes at me.
“WHAT? I’m sure there’s worse habits I could have than raising bees!”