Posts tagged land of weirdos
Posts tagged land of weirdos
In our weekly phone calls, my mother often fills me in on hometown gossip. This most recent bit of hilarity comes courtesy of a city council meeting and small town paranoia.
Mom: Guess what’s terrorizing [Gonzoland].
Me: An albino cobra.
Mom: No. It’s black.
Me: An insane gorilla that someone had shipped here and kept illegally as a pet.
Mom: No. A black panther.
Me: (snorting) Like, a militant black man?
Mom: (laughing) That’s what I thought at first, but no. People who’ve seen it say it’s a real black panther.
Me: I think you’re more likely to find a Black Panther in [Gonzoland] than a black panther. We don’t have panthers in the south. In fact, I don’t think we have them on this continent. Not real ones. It might be a cougar or a mountain lion.
Mom: Well, Linda is distraught, giving herself an ulcer over it, and she wants to know what the city council plans to do about it.
Me: They’d have to prove it exists first. Is it stealing pets or something? Why would it go into a neighborhood when there’s plenty to hunt in the boonies?
Mom: I don’t know, honey. I suggested they saw a dog, but Martin said his son saw it, and it was bigger than a black lab.
Me: It’s the spawn of Red Eye.
Me: Red Eye…the red-eyed gorilla-panther-jaguar-bear hybrid that escaped from the fair about thirty years ago. I know I’ve told you the stories. It makes a sound like dragging a rake over concrete. I’ve heard it, or so I’ve been told.
NOTE: Red Eye is an urban legend in the part of town where my ex grew up, but if you call it an urban legend instead of the honest-to-God truth, you might get shot.
Today’s panther-related conversation:
Mom: They still haven’t caught the panther. Mary, who lives up the highway, way up the highway, says there used to be a panther that lurked around that area when she was younger.
Me: Is she Roger’s (my ex’s father) age?
Me: Yeah, Red Eye. Oh well, it was about time someone updated that story.
So, while I had no TV and no internet, and in between steamy/cheesy romance novels, I did a bit of reminiscing and writing.
Ever since my father was young and had to care for his father’s twenty-something odd hunting beagles, he’s been a one (if any) dog man. He’s partial to dachshunds, I believe because he is built like one – a long torso and short legs.
When I was about 7 or 8, my mother got a miniature dachshund. She was one year old, an inside dog, and not housebroken. How is that possible? Well, the people who owned her were moving, didn’t own their home, and clearly just didn’t give a fuck.
My mother housebroke Molly within a week of her living with us, but my father was still against having an inside dog. Molly spent most of her days in the house, but at night, my dad kicked her out. She was supposed to sleep in the doghouse - a heavy, enormous thing, painted gray to match their house and roofed with matching asphalt shingles.
The previous tenant, a Norfolk terrier named Duffy, had checked out three years prior to Molly’s arrival. His scent was long gone, but Molly wasn’t having it. She scratched and begged at the back door until my father would open it and scream at her.
In an attempt to make her (and my mother) happier, my father moved the doghouse into the carport. This was fine until it got cold. Then, the dog was back at the door, scratching and whining to be let in. My parents filled her doghouse with old clothes and rags, but she still shivered and squeaked.
Eventually, my father had the bright idea to clamp a heat lamp to the opening and point it into the doghouse. This worked well for some time, as we would go outside, turn on her lamp, let the house heat up, and then when we let her out, she’d go straight into the cozy house. This dog craved heat to the point that she would lie on a roasting-hot brick fireplace and snooze until the entire living room smelled like toasted dog and someone rolled her over.
She loved the heated doghouse. She’d burrow down into the covers, and once, she even got stuck down in the sleeve of an old sweatshirt. Only her nose poked out of the cuff, and she whined and squirmed like mad until my brother cut it open and set her free.
Then one night, she wouldn’t go in the doghouse. I remember my father saying, “Why in hell is that damned dog whining at the back door? I put a heat lamp on a damned doghouse for her. By God, she’s gonna get in that doghouse if I have to cram her in it.”
So, of course, we all wanted to see my father try to catch and cram Molly. When he went outside, I investigated the house. I figured the bulb had burned out or something and the house was cold, but no! Oh no.
Someone, probably my mother, in an attempt to get more heat into the doghouse, had turned the lamp just so that its focus pointed to the side of the opening to the doghouse instead of into it. The result was that the lamp was burning a hole through the siding and plywood. It wasn’t aflame, just wrinkled, black, glowing, and smoking. The dog wouldn’t go into the house because it was on fire.
Molly got to spend that night inside by the fireplace. The next day, my mother painted over the hole to make it look like a mailbox. (You may recall my mother has a way with covering holes. Jeez, that sounds creepy and gross.) Once the charred scent was gone, Molly cheerfully resumed residence in her doghouse, and my father gave the entire family a stern lecture on not touching the fucking heat lamp because next time, we might burn our own goddamned house down. He had a good point.
Unemployment rates in the U.S. have me thinking about Gonzoland today. The economic landscape is as interesting as the hitman rap and the lake of no return. There is an overabundance of doctors and lawyers for such a small population. This is mainly due to two factors: the dead/dying coal mines and the hospital.
Gonzoland has the only hospital for 50 or so miles. This doesn’t mean that the doctors aren’t good. On the contrary, in some cases. The surgeon who performed my father’s spinal fusion is one of the top in the region. Due to the coal mining company, Gonzoland gets regular contributions from the owners, tax breaks of course, allowing the city to fund all sorts of programs that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. The eldest son of the current generation is a surgeon who created the cancer wing at the hospital and gives chemo treatments to the poor at no charge.
Today is my dad’s birthday. My dad and Lincoln, two days before Valentine’s Day, never any fun and almost always funny. You have to understand that my father went through a life change about the same time my mother went through the change of life. I mean, the third word I ever said was goddammit because I dropped bacon on the floor, and that wasn’t on account of my saintly mother. Incidentally, this is the correct response when you drop bacon on the floor.
My mother always makes him a heart-shaped chocolate cake with icing that varies from year to year. (BTW, it’s all icing to southerners. Frosting is something you do to hair.) The year that I was nine, she decided to go fancy. She put a paper lace doily over the cake and planned to dust it with powdered sugar, thereby leaving a lovely lace pattern on the cake. Instead, she accidentally dumped half the box on the cake. After a few mild muttered frustrations, she returned with the vacuum cleaner, an ancient Rainbow with suction power that would make the Dyson guy jizz in his pants. I watched as she turned it on and proceeded to vacuum the excess sugar from the cake until Weeessslluurrrgggggloomp the vacuum latched onto the cake and sucked a hole right out of the center.
Not to be ruffled, she called a local baker and asked if they had any hearts or other medallions she could put over a hole in a cake. When the lady asked her how she got a hold in the cake without using a Bundt pan, and my mother told her, my mother jerked the phone away from her ear, and I heard the lady braying like a donkey.
When my father came home, he went over to the kitchen table, looked at the cake, lifted the heart, and then just kept walking right on through the living room and back to their bedroom. Not a word, not even a, “What the hell did you do to the cake?” However, at dinner, when he discovered my mother had put egg in the hamburgers to hold the super-lean meat into patties, he said, “Don’t fuck with the beef.”
In his approaching old age, my father has mellowed a good bit. The last time something awful happened, and we expected him to throw an atomic tantrum, he cracked open a beer and said, “Well, looks like there’s nothing left to do but get drunk.” He’s still prone to blow ups, but they aren’t as destructive as they used to be, and he doesn’t go completely ape over minor incidences anymore.
I called him this morning and asked if he and my mother had anything fun planned.
Him: “Well, I was going to play golf, but the course is still frozen. There were a jillion assholes out there waiting to play, so I decided to come home and piddle around the house.”
This means my mother will have to watch him to make sure he doesn’t break something just so he has something to do.
Me: “No grandbaby?” (asking about my brother’s son)
Him: “No. You going out to dinner?”
Him: “Well, the neighbors invited us to go out to the club for some kind of Valentine’s Day dinner. I looked at the menu, but I couldn’t understand any of it beyond steak, grouper, and lobster.”
Me: “Was it in French?”
Him: “Yeah, with that chef, it’s either some fancy French bullshit or coon ass.”
Me: “Well, I hope you have a great day, Darlin’ Daddy.”
Him: “You too, Darlin’ Daughter.”
Perma-stoned, that was how he looked, even when sober. Eyes barely open, a goofy grin on his face, he would drawl, “Hey there.” Handshakes for friends, with the addition of a full body gaze for ladies, followed by, “Good to see you,” was his signature greeting.
One night, when all the guys were tripping during a hurricane, something bit him. It swelled to golf ball-size, and he was then christened Black Widow, which turns out to be mouthful when plastered. In the same way Brother becomes Bubba, Black Widow became Widdah.
He was the first person I ever met who snorted cocaine, and after admitting it at several parties, began a trend of it among his age group. Thin, emaciated, it kept him going, doing the robot to “Intergalactic Planetary.” He loved the Beastie Boys and rightfully so.
He had a way of vanishing and then reappearing when least expected, usually on the 4th of July. Each time, his speech slower, his eyes more glazed, his teeth yellower from switching to crack. “The Widdah loves you, man,” he would say and sling his arm around an old friend. The half-hug would morph into teasing punches. How many times did he and a compadre fall into a pool or the lake while play-fighting? He and Nervous went so far as to flip over deck railing and take a ten foot drop into some azaleas. They each broke an arm, and it took some time to find someone sober enough to drive them to the hospital for casts and stitches.
The cops tailed him from time-to-time, waiting for him to slip. He had three arrests for possession in one year, so it was only a matter of time. Rehab or jail, only two ways to go from where he was. He knew he’d never survive jail, so he chose rehab.
The area where I grew up was once referred to on national television as the “hitman capitol of the United States.” I find that very hard to believe, but it has a notorious flare to it. We used to joke that for a six pack and some Camel Lights, you could hire anyone from Gonzoland to do anything. Its’ probably true. I will admit that the city and surrounding trafficlightless towns have a history of odd and violent crimes, especially now that meth has made its way into the communities.
I was in junior high when the lawyer’s wife was kidnapped. After years of searching and investigating, it was uncovered that a disgruntled client hired some PWTs (that’s poor white trash) to snatch her. They killed her, and the man committed suicide before they could find out where he hid the body. Best guess is that he dumped her in a strip mine slurry pond or the lake. No one would ever find her either place.
I was in high school when a friend’s mother convinced her lover to murder my friend’s father. My friend was asleep in the house at the time and had to testify in court.
While I was home from college one summer, a bomb blew a man and his lawn mower to bits. A bomb, yeah. Two miles away and inside, I heard it. A few weeks later, a mechanic found one strapped to the underneath of his widow’s car.
Last year, a man I know followed an older man to a flea market, robbed him, killed him, stole his car, dismembered his body, and threw the pieces all over the county.
This past summer, a guy walked into a used car dealership and blasted a shotgun at the owners.
For a big city, all this may seem run-of-the-mill, but for a city of only 30,000, it’s surreal. For its size, Gonzoland has more than its fair share of crazy shit that goes down. The thing is, it’s the kind of place that when someone goes into a used car dealership and blows away the owners for absolutely no reason and folks find out about it, they’ll hunt the guy down and beat him till he’s dead. No six pack or smokes needed. We all say, “There must be something in the water,” but I turned out okay…mostly.
I’m having a rotten day, so to cheer up, I’m remembering and relating one of the many hilarious tales involving my dead cat and my father.
A few years ago, at the ripe old age of 15, my cat Grover passed. Based on his wild and weird behavior, we assumed he had a few screws loose – not too uncommon for cats adopted from animal shelters. He loved to be held and snuggled, but God help you if you petted him anywhere past his shoulders. The first time you “violated” him by petting his back, he would put his teeth on you in warning. If you did it again, he would flip on his back, dig his front claws into your hand, and kick the shit out of your arm with his back feet and claws. My parents’ neighbor said he once watched the cat amble across their front yard only to jump three feet in the air, flip 180º degrees, bolt in the direction he’d come from, and jump onto the side of a tree.
Insane? Probably, but he sure enough had a talent for stealth.
He would wait in the flowerbed until I walked by and then leap out, latch onto my shoe from behind, and bite my Achilles. If it happened that I was so unaware that the attack and bite made me buckle to my knees, he would then take the moment and rub against me and purr before attacking my now-within-reach hand. The only thing that could distract him from attack was to scream his name at the top of my lungs or simply pick him up and carry him like a baby until his tail stopped lashing. Well that, and my mother often swatted him with a broom while screaming his name at the top of her lungs.
About the time I graduated from college, my mother stopped letting him in the house. He always smelled like pine bark from the flowerbed where he slept (different from the flowerbed he used for launching ankle attacks). He had thick fur, so he was generally quite comfortable, but occasionally he wanted inside for a spot of milk and to curl up on my bed. When the hankering hit him, he’d yowl at the door until my mother would break down and, after using her foot to shoo him away from the door, set some milk out for him. She would also scatter dry cat food like chicken feed. “He likes to hunt it,” she said.
Well so, the cat was determined to get in the house one night. My mother heard him yowl and when she opened the door, she didn’t see him. At the time, my parents still had a wooden door, and the clever cat had dug his claws into the trim so that he hung from it. When she opened the door, he dropped and darted into the house. So, never underestimate a retarded cat, especially one that loves to hunt.
As for hunting, Grover often left “gifts” on the back doormat, usually innards, tails, and feet so we could at least identify the kill. Many a morning my mother stepped outside to feed him and stepped on guts. She told me that one afternoon, she heard a baby rabbit screaming in the woods and later found its ear in the carport. She didn’t like him killing the rabbit, but that fact that he did kill or keep away all manner of varmints was the only reason my father tolerated him.
In the years after Grover slinked off into the woods to die where no one could find him, the squirrel population has exploded. Ground squirrels dug holes underneath the bird feeder so that when the birds raked out the millet in order to get the sunflower seeds, the millet spilled down into the holes. “Lazy bastards,” my father would shout. “It falls right down into their holes. They don’t even have to get out. And look at the damned squirrels.” Any given day, there would be at least five under the feeder along with at least three doves.
The feeder itself looks like something out of a scifi movie. The wooden pole has aluminum sheeting tacked around it with a conical shield so that even if the squirrels could jump high enough to miss the facing, they can’t climb around the shield. In my first-ever consulting job, my father paid me to watch them and figure out how they were getting on the feeder. This resulted in his felling the crabapple tree next to it, but when he came home from work and found a squirrel sitting on the feeder, he paid me to watch it again. The little fleabags were getting on the roof of the gazebo and leaping at it, often missing, but sometimes snagging the ledge just enough to send seed flying out of it. Highly pissed about cutting the tree, he moved the entire feeder.
For the ground squirrels, he set traps all over the yard – terrible contraptions with motion-tripped releases that would shoot a spike into the ground but only once into the intended victim. He tried sonic pest control, and my mother caught him stalking across the yard with a pile of peanuts in his gloved hand, which he informed her he’d poisoned. I asked if it wouldn’t be simpler to just get a new cat, but my dad said he didn’t want another pet and or a feral cat. Eventually, poison tablets and putting pavers under the bird feeder displaced the ground squirrels to the woods, which my father begrudgingly accepted…for a while.
Still, without a cat or dog around, my parents acquired yard guests. A raccoon dropped by each evening. My mother said my father would go outside and yell at it to shoo it away, and it would just stare at him and then waddle back into the tree line. “It’s the okra,” he swore. “The damned raccoon is taking my banana peppers, too.”
Then, the squirrels began picking his tomatoes. “They don’t even wait until they’re ripe. They pick ‘em green.” Sure enough, on one of my visits, I watched a squirrel hop across their yard with its teeth stuck in a fist-size green tomato. It even managed to start up the oak tree with it. “Oh no you don’t you little bastard,” my father exclaimed before he went to the kitchen closet and took out the pellet gun. A minute later, the tomato fell from the tree. “Green!” he said, showing it to us for proof. “We can’t even eat this. Why the hell would it want to?”
“Why the hell did you shoot it?” I asked, grinning.
“It’s my damn tomato.”
When fall came, he set up a no-kill trap in the backyard. My mother said he didn’t feel right about tricking them into a trap and then killing them. Outright killing was one thing, but using his superior human brain to outthink and then kill them was just cruel. Thus, he would trap and relocate critters. One of my friends on Facebook posted: “I saw some crazy guy releasing squirrels out behind Home Depot.” Yep, that was my dad.
He was generally pleased with his more humane approach to varmint control, but the pesky, pesky ground squirrels could get out of the trap. With metal wire for thread, my mother sewed window screening around the top, sides, back, and door of the cage…notice she forgot the bottom. This oversight is where the hilarity ensues.
The first time my father picked up the cage, a ground squirrel fell out the bottom and ran back into the woods. He quickly set the trap down in order to keep the other two inside. He yelled bloody-murder for my mother until she came outside, and once she realized he wasn’t dying, she went to the shed to fetch a two-by-four for him.
The plan was that when he lifted the cage, she would slide the board under it. When he picked up the trap, a ground squirrel got free, and my mother, in true female fashion, panicked at the sight of free-running rodent. She proceeded to scream like a girl and bash the ground squirrel with the two-by-four until its back was broken. Since it wasn’t dead, my father had to crush its little skull and just decided fuck-it and let the rest of the ground squirrels go for the day. Later, my mother sewed more screen on the bottom, and the next day, my father relocated five ground squirrels.
After my parents related this sordid affair, my father said, “I think we need another cat.”
At midnight on the 5th of July, my right front tire blew in one of the worst places in the entire city for such things to happen. I cursed the heavens and wondered aloud why this was happening to me now. It was Friday, and I was flying out to Vegas on Sunday. Didn’t the universe understand that I didn’t have time to deal with a flat?
I pulled over and put on my hazards. The heat and humidity made my clothes stick to me instantly, and I bitched that this would happen when the lows were only in the mid-seventies. I tried to cheer myself by thinking at least it wasn’t mid-twenties. I set the cooler and lawn chairs out of the back so I could take out my jack and spare. The spare was a donut, of course, and so I cursed Subaru for not making full-size spares standard. The battery in the flashlight was almost dead, and so in amber light, I was on my side on the shoulder of the interstate, peering under the car for the indicator arrow for the jack, and hoping that no one would decide to stop and kill me.
As I slid the jack under the car, a cop pulled up behind me and puts on his lights. “Need help, ma’am?” he asked.
“I think I’ve got it,” I said, “but if you don’t mind staying…”
“No problem. You know, when people see flashing hazards, they sometimes drift toward you and hit you, even though you’re on the shoulder, especially at night. I’ll just stay behind you. People tend to avoid flashing police lights.”
I was glad of him, and his flashing lights, especially since my flashlight chose that moment to die. He did end up helping me with the tire and getting all my gear back in the car. I drove 55 all the way home, grumbling and griping.
The next morning, I called my buddy, a car mechanic and performance specialist, and he gave me the name and address of a truck garage. “I tuned this guy’s Mustang, so he does tires for me for just a little over cost. I’ll call him and tell him to expect you after lunch.”
I drove back to the city (and I would be coming back the next day to the airport), to an even worse part of town than the part where the tire blew. After driving past it and turning around in an empty parking lot, save two hookers, I pulled into the garage. By trucks, my buddy meant 18-wheelers, and there were loads of them along with their drivers out in the blazing heat. I went in the shop, dingy, with a rasping window AC, poorly lit with half-dead fluorescents, and stereotypically ripped naugahyde chairs held together with duct tape. I approached the stereotypical faded beauty office wrangler, complete with bad dye job and 120 menthol smoldering in a miniature Good Year tire with a glass ashtray at its center. In one wave, she managed to ask for my keys and tell me to sit.
Anticipating the usual hour to two-hour wait, I took a seat in the least ripped chair and settled down to read a Terry Pratchett novel. After only thirty minutes, the manager said, “Okay, hon, they’re done with you. Go round back and check it out, then come back. I’ll have your ticket.”
I did go round back where an ancient black man handed me my keys. When I said hello to him, heads popped up from under hoods and under engines. The mechanics watched me as I checked that I had all my hub and valve caps. “Your spare’s in the back,” the old man said to me and patted my hand.
In the office, I paid only $390 for four high-end touring tires, making my eyes pop. I didn’t argue. As I handed my check to the manager, I said, “This is the best service I’ve ever gotten,” to which she said, “Aw, thanks, hon. I’ll pass that along to Bobby.” Not knowing or caring who Bobby was, I smiled, took my copy of the ticket, and hit the road.
Before I flew out to Vegas, I called my buddy to thank him for helping, and he said, “Hey, did I tell you the guy that owns that place is a Grand Dragon?”
“Yeah, can you believe that? Nicest guy in the world. You’d never think he was in the KKK.”
“Oh my God! Are you telling me I just gave business to someone who is a leader of the KKK?!”
“That’s what I’m saying. They did a thing on him on the Discovery Channel. He goes by Bobby around here, but that aint his real name.”
“I’m riding around on KKK tires.” I shook my head at the phone.
“He gave you a good deal, didn’t he?”
“Well yeah but still.”
“You think other people who put tires on your car don’t have hate in their hearts about something?”
Thing is, after a long argument with the IRS over not sending me an economic stimulus check, I finally got the $400 only three days before the tire blew. In my mind, I traded my stimulus money for those tires, so in my mind, I used W’s gift to the citizens of the U.S. to stimulate the business of a man whose breeds hate for a hobby. In the end, the whole thing left me feeling like a needed a long, scalding shower, especially since I kept the tires.
The A-frame across the street from the Salvation Army Store has been many things. In my memory, it was first a cleaners. I seem to recall seeing lots of things in plastic, hanging like herring to be dried. I don’t recall the name.
Next, it was a nail salon. It now had a sign. Nails! it proclaimed with a bottle of polish to the side. Strange, I never saw a car parked there. The owner most likely lived within walking distance, but with no car in the lot, the place looked vacant. In a town like this, there is something off-putting about a business with no cars in the lot.
This past summer, the building hosted Hot, Hot, Hot Wings and the sign had a flaming chicken with bugging eyes in full squawk. That is a chicken going ape shit because it was engulfed in fire. Again, no cars in the lot and no visible people in the building. It had such potential, but it seems no one wants to eat in an empty restaurant.
Now, the place is Abracadabra Jail Bonds complete with unlocked handcuffs on the sign. It’s only three blocks from the county jail, but with a competitor on the same block as the jail, Abracadabra is surely doomed.
I wonder what it will be next.
While watching American Pickers, my mother asked me, “Do you think it’s possible to ever really understand someone else’s perspective? If someone grew up being told the sky was brown, do you think you’d ever convince them that the sky is blue?”
I said, “I think most people accept what they’re taught without question. When they encounter something outside their experience or contrary to what they believe, they either ignore it or violently oppose it.” I watched as teary-eyed old man made a deal to sell one of his many antique bicycles. ”Maybe not. Maybe people are more willing to explore, but the ones who aren’t just yell louder.” I looked back at her and half-grinned. “Trying to help a lost soul, are you?”
“Always. And you?”
“Always.” Even if it’s only my own.
On my way to my parents’ house, I passed a house where my childhood best friend’s husband lived. It’s a square cinderblock house, the kind where one side of the block is coated with ceramic asbestos paint. It’s a terrible puke-mint-green color with a white door, no shutters, and no shrubbery. I looks somehow naked without those things.
He hated the house, called it The Cracker Box both because it was the approximate size of a cracker box and because many people in the small, conservative community considered him and his *gasp* divorced mother to be white trash. His mother is a first rate Hell-bitch. She once broke her ring and pinkie fingers by slapping him with her rings turned so that the stones were inside her palm. He came to homeroom bleeding from three cuts on his chin and laughed when I told him. She was mean and tough but had to be. She had a strong-willed boy to raise with no help from family. She refused all government aid.
She waited until after he graduated from high school to marry her long-time “boyfriend.” When she did, she moved out to his lakehouse and sold The Cracker Box. It’s now Don’s Pawn Shop. A large fluorescent sign with a giant pistol on top pokes out of the lawn to let potential customers know that cash for Christmas is only a sale away. It’s one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen. Someone I cared about lived there, grew up there, lost his virginity there, and now there’s is a giant pistol on top of a sign in the front yard. Honestly, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
It was spring, and the Bird Carver and I were standing on the sidewalk where it dead-ended into the parking lot. He was ready to go home for the day, having already set his box of tools, along with the soldering iron, in the back of his van. The second and third rows of seats had been removed in preparation for his trip out of town.
The barn owl he’d completed rested in bubble wrap amongst other boxes. He said he could get $2500 for it, and I whistled, to which he nodded. I had to admit, when he’d glued the eyes in place and set the bird upright, the owl came to life. I’d flinched slightly, and my skin chilled a bit. The eyes were the type that seemed to follow you. The black pupils reflected the overhead light but nothing else, truly fitting for a predator.
“Your wife’s going to?” I asked as we stood together enjoying the afternoon sunshine.
“Oh, she can’t resist the feel of cash in her hands,” he said, rocking back on his heels and then forward again. “These craft shows give her a chance to talk nonstop.”
At that moment, a cocoa-colored Buick surged up the steep drive into the faculty lot and aimed for the free spot where we stood. He grabbed my arm and pulled me back protectively.
“Watch out for this crazy old hag in the Buick,” he warned in a distasteful tone. He caught my grin only moments before the driver waved at me. “Oh, please, please tell me that’s not your mother.”
“Um,” I said, snuffling in an attempt to deflate the laughter bubbling inside me.
Embarrassed, he turned from me and walked briskly to his van. Still grinning, I went to the Buick. My smile deepened my mother’s, even as her brows flicked down in question.
“He just called you an old hag for driving a Buick. He thinks he insulted me.”
She looked at the back of his van as she put her own car in reverse and then stomped on the brake so she could laugh - a loud, unrestrained, open-mouthed “Ha!” Still smiling, she pressed her hand over her lips and settled into a smile that showed teeth. With one more quick pop, she backed up the car and then headed down the drive.
I hadn’t heard her laugh like that in a long time.