Staying with a less than ordinary fruitcake

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“Come out to the family room. Gladys wants a word,”Olvie yells from the front room.

Now I’m creeped out that a mannequin wants to speak to me. What will I say? Oh for Christ’s sake!

I take my time opening the bedroom door and peek out before exiting. Olvie’s hovering over the plastic body so if Gladys is saying something, I can’t tell. Yep, I’m going nutso.

“Good. There you are.” Olvie says turns toward me and stands erect. “What do you think?”

“Why, oh, did you take her shopping?” I say, trying not to think about myself in a straight jacket.

“No, silly-billy. Gladys doesn’t like to go out. I had it mail-ordered from Sears and Roebuck.

Gladys is no longer flapping in the 1920’s. Her fringed dress and headband are gone. She’s caught up with our decade and, although too big for the thin mannequin, I can’t help being impressed. The moo-moo is light green with white daisies attached to darker green vines that run diagonally down the dress. Orange stitching accents in between.

“Well, what do you think?” Olvie, or maybe Gladys says.

“It’s perfect. She looks like a new person.”

Olvie smiles. “She wanted a change so she got one.”

“Everyone wants a change, don’t they, Olvie?”

“Not everyone,” she says, and stares out the front window.

I’m so excited about the change in Gladys, I remind myself I need a real friend. Someone who’s not crazy or made of plastic.

I make myself a bowl of Trix cereal and try to remember I’m not a kid like the floppy-eared rabbit tell us on TV.

 

Ordinary

Staying with a Fruitcake

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photo credit

Sitting on the leopard print living room couch next to Gladys, I know I’m living in an episode of The Twilight Zone. Not because Gladys sits in the exact same spot wearing the same flapper dress from when I got here three days ago. And not because Olvie hasn’t bothered to move her. I’m in The Twilight Zone because I have to spend the next few weeks living with a fruitcake.

I peek out the front window. Olvie’s at it again. Just a few minutes before, like she’s done every morning, she told me to “stay put” until she comes back inside with the newspaper. And like every morning, she won’t pick it up until she sees Elias Ford heading her way on his walk to work.

Olvie’s shuffling down her sidewalk towards the curb wearing her moo-moo and striped yellow and black socks. She bends down to pick up the newspaper. He must be getting close. Yep. I see him now. Mr. Ford has stepped into the danger zone, too close to The Property of Olvie P. Crazy.

Like always, Mr. Ford tips his shabby hat and attempts to hurry past.

Like always, Olvie steps in front of him with the familiar finger point and the poke, poke, poke to his chest.

I don’t get why she doesn’t like him. What’s the Controversy anyway?

Yesterday morning, Crazy Olvie had forgotten to close the front windows. I heard her ask Mr. Ford if she could spit on his shoes. “It won’t take long,” she’d said, almost politely.

I wonder what she’s quacking to him about this time. That his shoes need polishing? That his rusty lunch pail should be thrown off a cliff? That the only reason he still lives around the corner is because my daddy spent “too much time” repairing his house so the city wouldn’t tear it down? Mr. Ford lives in what some ignorant people call, The Black Pocket—a small thicketed area that folks like Dad fought to keep intact. Including the ten or so residents.

Mr. Ford shakes his head. I bet right now he’s wishing he’d moved after all. His expression reminds me of Tom Robinson in the movie To Kill a Mockingbird and the thought makes me sad.

I get in Gladys’ face. “Let me tell you. I’m not happy about being here either. So there.” She doesn’t respond, of course.

I must be catching her loony bug. Perhaps I won’t last a few weeks. Maybe not even day four. I ponder where to go and what to pack before I run away.

Excerpt from a work in progress.