Helga timidly approached the stairs to the boarding house, looking over her shoulder for witnesses, and lightly tapped on the door. Arnold was not home, he never was on Thursday afternoons, and Helga always made certain to watch him go before she approached the door. Wild laughter came from the inside of the house as Gertie flung the door open, excited for her special visitor.
"Eleanor!" She squealed with joy, "Welcome home!"
Arnold's Grandmother had dementia, that was for certain, but she wasn't as oblivious to the world as people often thought she was. Gertie was sly and intelligent, and she lived with as much fun and impulse as possible in her older years.
"Hello Gertie" Helga replied cheerily, looking forward to today's crazy conversation, and even crazier snack.
"Do tell me of the white house, Eleanor dear!" Gertie asked as they wandered toward the kitchen.
Helga's secret pet name, and the seemingly related questions, had nothing to do with the woman being crazy - they were in fact simply a disguise, a metaphor.
"The White House is as usual, the politicians have proved no trouble this week" Helga replied thoughtfully.
"How about your family dear?" Gertie questioned.
Family required no metaphor, it was a safe conversation topic, as it aroused no suspicion.
"Horrible as always." Helga grumbled, as she sat down to a plate of interesting spaghetti.
"Spaghetti with sour worms, for the President's lady" Gertie said as she grinned at Helga, who smiled back eagerly.
Gertie sat down beside Helga who had begun to enjoy her strange spaghetti dish. Helga looked calmly into the older woman's eyes, she loved Arnold's grandmother almost as much as he did. Gertie and Helga were somewhat kindred spirits, what with Gertie and Phil's history - a story which Helga had heard in its entirety, but Arnold had not. Phil chose not to enlighten his grandson as to the moral of the story, mostly because he found the poor boys obliviousness hilarious, but also because he wanted things to go as fate had planned.
"How is Mr President, my lady?" Gertie asked with a cheeky grin.
"Un-fazed by his duties as always, Gertie" Helga replied with a dreamy smile.
"Oh, Eleanor dear, call me Grandma." Gertie insisted.
"Although, I find him to be easily distracted from his campaign trail in the presence of small red-heads.." Helga scowled as she chewed down a delicious bolognese flavoured worm.
"Do not let the Republicans worry you dear, they are all talk." Gertie said in a no-nonsense tone.
Footsteps came from down the hallway as a familiar voice shouted out toward the kitchen.
"Pookie, are you talking to yourself?" Phil asked as he rounded the corner into the kitchen, "Well, long time no see Pataki! I was beginning to think you'd given up on that grandson of ours" he winked.
"Sounds like you missed me" Helga said with a cheeky smirk as she slurped up the last of her spaghetti.
Phil and Gertie had caught Helga in the boarding house so many times over the years that since she was nine years old, they had been some of her closest confidants.
"Maybe so, but by the time that boy wises up and adds you to the family, we'll be long gone, so I figure we may as well just get to know you early." Phil said with a slight teasing tone.
"Eleanor, I sense a war brewing!" Gertie said in a harsh whisper and Helga heard the muffled sounds of Gerald and Arnold headed to the front door.
Helga took action immediately and jumped from her chair, springing up onto the kitchen bench.
"To the bunkers!" Gertie cried out, as Helga slipped into the air vent and made her exit.
"Not so long between visits next time Pataki" Phil warned as she went.
Arnold entered with boarding house with Gerald in tow, dropping their bags in the kitchen and sitting down to a plate of sour worm spaghetti.
"Arnold, you missed the first lady again." his Grandmother said with a wild grin.
Arnold, as usual, simply looked to Grandpa and then to Gerald, in confusion at his Grandmothers latest strange delusion. Arnold nodded at her whilst wondering where she got her strange stories from.