Just then, Mrs. Wilson opened the vestibule door, and Lillian was surprised when Mrs. Kuntzman made a quick duck into her apartment.
“There’s no escaping me, Mrs. Kuntzman,” called out Mrs. Wilson. She then addressed Lillian. “Now, Mrs. Hapsey, perhaps you can talk some sense into Mrs. Kuntzman. I’ve told her repeatedly that if there is another air raid siren, she must come down to the basement with the rest of us.”
Mrs. Kuntzman stepped back out into the hall, and smiled sweetly, but spoke firmly. “And I say, if Tommy and Gabriel are here with me, then I come down.”
“But you must come down, in any case,” insisted Mrs. Wilson. “As air raid warden, it’s my responsibility to make sure that you do.”
Mrs. Kuntzman batted down the idea with her hand. “No one want me there with my German accent. I come down with Tommy and Gabriel. Is final.” She folded her flour-dusted hands in front of her, and again smiled sweetly.
Both women looked to Lillian as the arbitrator who would surely take their side.
“Well,” said Lillian, facing Mrs. Kuntzman, “I’m sure everyone will want you to be safe with them –”
“Ha!” said Mrs. Kuntzman. “You don’t know that man on third floor.”
“You leave Mr. Redmond to me,” said Mrs. Wilson. “If he has his way, he won’t have me there either.”
“I live on first floor,” continued Mrs. Kuntzman. “Close enough to basement.”
Again both women looked to Lillian. She turned from one woman to the other, not wanting to offend either. “I’m sure Mrs. Kuntzman can make up her own mind about what is right for her.” Mrs. Wilson’s raised eyebrows spurred Lillian to balance her advice. “Though I do hope you’ll take every precaution,” she said to Mrs. Kuntzman.
Mrs. Kuntzman gave a brisk single nod. “End of matter.”
Mrs. Wilson threw her hands up. “Well! You may have won this skirmish, Mrs. Kuntzman, but I intend to make sure that all tenants come to the air raid shelter at the first sound of the sirens.”
Mrs. Kuntzman made a little hm-hmm sound that Lillian took to mean, we’ll see about that!
“Well,” said Mrs. Wilson, taking off her checked headscarf and stuffing it into her coat pocket, “I must go and tend to the mess upstairs.” She waved her hand in the air above her. “Harry turned the place up-side-down searching for his bird-watching binoculars. He’s signed up to be a spotter. Up on the roof.” She began her march up the stairs to the fourth floor. “Good day, ladies.” She leaned over the railing and fixed an eye on Mrs. Kuntzman. “To be continued.”
“Good bye, Mrs. Wilson,” said Lillian.
Mrs. Kuntzman leaned into Lillian and whispered, “Bossy woman. Make a good general.”
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish