James Nelson and his wife Martha found a parking place in front of the Cherry Hill Apartments easy enough, going in and knocking on the door of apartment 15B was going to be the difficult part. Their son Ronnie lived alone in 15B. He insisted he find his own place right after he was released from Glendale.
After the doctors assured the Nelsons their son was capable of living on his own, they relented and helped him find a place he could call his own. Ronnie promised his parents he would take his medications every day. A month ago, two days before his 29th birthday, he found a job working at “Gloria’s House of Fashion”.
Gloria was impressed by Ronnie's eye for detail and the fresh new way he used fabric. She liked his spontaneous attitude and he understood the female figure, unlike a lot of her designers. She eagerly looked forward to seeing all his fashion ideas. His latest design, a purple cocktail dress with spaghetti straps, was added to her fall line.
Martha sat rigid, unwilling to move from the car.
“He’s fine now, Martha. The medications are working, I’m sure the schizophrenic episodes are behind him. Stop worrying.”
“How can we be so sure, James?”
“Didn’t he get a job? The delusions are a thing of the past. His troubles are over, today we meet his new girlfriend, let’s just enjoy ourselves for once.”
“Do you really believe he is ready for a relationship, James?”
“Of course he is and he sounded so happy over the phone. We can’t sit here and debate this, Martha, we are going in.”
Ronnie opened the door, greeted his parents with hugs. “Come in…make yourselves comfortable. Excuse me for a second…I have a roast in the oven that needs checked. It’s Natalie’s favorite dish, Mom. I prepared it the way you always did for Dad.”
Martha sat down, looked around the tiny apartment, pleased at hearing her son’s words. Everything looked and seemed to be normal. She relaxed, her anxieties began to fade.
“When is your new girlfriend arriving, Ronnie? We are looking forward to meeting her, aren’t we, Martha?”
“We are…yes, where did you meet her, Ronnie?”
“We met my first day on the job, at Gloria’s. I knew right away; I had found my soul mate.”
“Is she expected soon?” James asked, as he sat down next to his wife.
“Oh, she’s already here. I’ll go get her. She’s a little shy around strangers.”
Ronnie went to a narrow hallway, opened a small closet and smiling from ear to ear, he brought his new girlfriend, Natalie, out for his parents to meet.
Natalie was wearing Ronnie’s design, the purple cocktail dress. White spiked heels and a frosted blonde wig completed her ensemble. The wig slipped, exposing a good portion of her smooth, bald head.
Martha gasped, “Oh my!” Her trembling fingers grabbed her husband’s hand in a death grip.
“But…but, son, she’s a ma…mannequin,” James stammered.
“Yes…isn’t she beautiful?”