Leaving Home

Disclaimer: Scooby Doo and all related characters are owned by Hanna-Barbera, Warner Bros.,and Cartoon Network. All other characters, names, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, events, places, and incidents is coincidental.

Chapter One

The sky is overcast and misting rain when I put Scooby Doo in the back seat and slide behind the wheel. The motor springs to life; the heater feels good against the early morning chill. This decision hasn't been an easy one for me or for Velma, who is now locking the door. My thoughts go back to another morning in the not too distant past.

The car, this very car, makes its way through the city, fragrant smells from the hot buttered Danish pastries we bought at the local bakery fills the van. We have recently returned from our honeymoon in Paris; I smile at the thought. Velma was so lovely in her pure white wedding gown.

We had arrived at our hotel in Paris, eager for that special first time together. Buttons and zippers have united and refuse to work properly. The first attempts were awkward to say the least; our inexperience at such matters made for a lot of nervous laughter. I didn't want to appear the fool or let my inexperience ruin this time but I couldn't help myself, "What do we do now?"

She came to me, wrapping her arms around my neck, "I was hoping you'd know." At least I'm not alone in this wilderness of awkwardness. We had finally given up, letting nature take its course, making love for the first time in front of the fireplace.

We had finally left the room on the second day, in search of food. Velma wanted to see a certain museum; the day was clear and pleasant and after a light breakfast, we struck out in our new adventure.

I spied the little art shop, a narrow building sandwiched between two other narrow buildings. An advertisement of a new artist's showing is displayed in the front window. I know Velma likes these little places and suggest we go in. Velma is reluctant at first but in the end I open the door and we cross the threshold. We became separated almost at once as she wanders off, looking at the pictures mounted on the wall. I meander down the aisle, pretending to know what I'm looking at. I stop at a certain picture I find interesting.

It is a painting of a young woman sitting at a table; a simple bouquet of flowers in the foreground. The woman is older than Velma but I think of Velma sitting at such a table. What I find of interest in this painting is the fact that the woman's eyes are closed; in prayer or maybe reflection I can not tell.

"Beautiful, isn't she?" The voice is of an older male, in English with a heavy French accent. I feel I should turn to address the person speaking but I find I am reluctant to pull my eyes away from the subject of the painting.

"Yes, she is beautiful." I agree with my unseen companion.

"Did you notice how the artist catches the light filtering through the window onto her hair?"

"Yes," I reply, "her hair is encircled by a halo of light. It must have been a warm day."

"It was a beautiful day. Much like today." I hear the catch in his voice.

I tear my eyes from the painting, turning to see my companion for the first time, to continue our conversation face to face. The only patrons are an older couple, stooped with age, walking away. His white cane with its red tip, tap, tap tapping, echoing through the almost deserted art shop.

I lean over to open the door and Velma slides into the passenger seat, buckling her seat belt. We stare wordlessly out the windshield at the house that has been our home for so many years. We returned from our honeymoon to become painfully aware that even with Fred and Daphne on their honeymoon, we needed and wanted a place of our own.

We spent several days with a real estate agent looking at houses. The first is far over what we had agreed on. The second is priced lower but the repairs needed would greatly inflate the total price. And so it went, house after house, day after day. Returning to Mystery Inc Headquarters tired and I admit, for myself, a little depressed. It was Velma who buoyed my spirits and made the house hunting bearable.

Mystery Inc Headquarters has been the scene of many memories, both happy and sad. Now it will only be another office to grace our presence with each morning. I glance over to see Velma's cheeks are damp from silent weeping. I think of comforting her but feel my cheeks in the same state of dampness.

We fall in love with the house as soon as we see it. It's in what is called a 'settled' neighborhood; trees and shrubbery have been established, giving the street a shaded vale effect. The price is well within our allotted budget. We walk around inside, looking at each other at the sight of the large fireplace. Velma blushes a deep salmon color, trying to hide her discomfort by pointing at the view from the sliding glass window. I assure her the needed repairs are within my ability.

That night, we lay in bed and talk about the house. "It's a divorce house." She proclaims this as fact.

"How do you know that?" I ask. I am no longer surprised at Velma's insight.

"Did you see any pictures of a couple? Of a mother and children?" I admit I had not see such pictures.

"It's a divorce house. It felt so sad. Shaggy, I want that house. I want to give it a chance to be a happy home again."

That's Velma for you. She has the gift, a knack if you will, to take an ordinary object and make it special. I've seen her do it with a cracked tea mug; she wraps her hands around the mug and you forget about the crack. She has done the same with my heart on many occasions.

"We could make an offer." I suggest.

"Do you think we could see the house again...tonight?" I have a moments pity for the agent if we can't see the house tonight.

"Velma, we're dressed for bed. It's late. I'll call first thing in the morning." Why do I bother saying anything? I know I'll be up making a phone call in a few minutes.

"Please?" I get up and make the call.

My pity is not needed. We see the house; going over it minutely. Velma makes two lists of repairs; one that needs to be done immediately, the other, repairs that can be put off until later. I measure windows for curtains Velma will end up picking out. I also take a second look at the kitchen; it is spacious enough I can experiment with recipes to carry to Velma in her study when she forgets to eat.

We make an offer; we return to Headquarters to fall into a restful sleep. We are overjoyed the next day when the agent calls to inform us our offer was accepted.

I reach over, taking her hand, kissing each fingertip in turn.

"What was that all about?" She wipes the wetness from her cheeks

"A sudden attack of adoration. I love you."

"It must be contagious. I love you, too." She leans over to kiss my lips tenderly.

I check my watch; the movers will be here within the hour. "Ready?"

"Yes, let's leave before I change my mind."

I put the car in reverse and back out of the driveway.

With the wipers swishing the windshield clean and her hand still in mine, we drive away. We don't look back.

I have a painting that needs hanging.

The End