(Author’s Note: I am absolutely sick to death of listening to myself whine on this blog, so I am trying something new today. Here is a bit of fiction I wrote a while ago. I figured anyone who reads this might enjoy the respite from my whining too.)
Part 1 of 2
Hadley Barker. Hadley Barker. If I had a dollar for every time someone in this town mentioned Hadley Barker, I’d be richer than she is. Ever since the day she stepped those peep-toed heels onto the porch of the Carville place, I’ve heard nothing but Hadley Barker stories, Hadley Barker quips, and Hadley Barker wisdoms. It makes me so sorry that I ever reached out to be neighborly to her in the first place. Since that afternoon, I’ve ceaselessly wondered when she would take her carpet bag of goodies and leave. I’ve even tried to encourage her in that quiet, sneaky way I have to traipse off onto a new adventure. She’s been on her own too long if you ask me because apparently the only one who influences Hadley Barker is Hadley Barker. There isn’t a thing another person could say or do to get her to move on until she is good and ready to move on.
I remember every detail about the day that woman arrived. I play them over and over in my mind trying to figure out the exact moment when everything changed. I was standing on a ladder in my living room vacuuming the top of the drapes, like I always do on Thursday, when I happened to glance out the window and see the most curious car I had ever seen. It was one of those little European cars, the kind they have to have there to get through those narrow cities where only the tiniest of people could possibly live. It’s not that it was unusual to see a car like that here. Some folks have them, the folks who insist upon showing off how green they are and the folks who would be too small to see over the steering wheel of a proper vehicle. What caught my eye was that the car was the brightest shade of yellow I had ever seen painted on a car. It was so bright I had to look away from it for a minute and when I did I saw haloes as if I had been staring straight into the sun. I nearly fell off my ladder. When my eyes recovered, I went to stand at the window to get a closer look. That was when I noticed that the car wasn’t just yellow. It was yellow with red polka dots. Yes. Red polka dots. The dots were roughly the size of a ripe cantaloupe, which made the car look like it was sick with the measles. Why on earth would you do that to a vehicle?
The appearance of that sick car against the backdrop of that stately red brick home with the perfectly pruned white rose bushes was abhorrent. Certainly the driver of that car was lost. Perhaps they’d seen the For Sale sign and stopped out of curiosity, I thought. The car door opened and out popped a curious-looking woman. She was very tall and very thin and wore a gigantic, black, floppy-brimmed hat with a clump of brightly colored feathers that stood straight up at the back of her head. I couldn’t see her face because it was obscured by that monstrosity of a hat. She wore a long skirt the color of an eggplant and a prim, white blouse with audacious ruffles on the front. From her shoulders hung a furry-looking, lavender-colored sweater. I was too far away to be able to tell if she had a wedding ring on, but from the looks of her I guessed she was single. You can’t wear an outfit like that and expect the men to come running. She was as covered up as a preacher’s wife on Sunday. The thing that really stood out about her were her shoes. While they matched her color scheme, they were completely inappropriate for her outfit. They were leopard-printed, peep toe pumps in sparkly shades of purple. They were nearly as distracting as her car.
The woman straightened her sweater and started up the front walk. Then she stopped at the For Sale sign. She cocked her head to one side and regarded it for a moment. Then she stepped into the lawn, pulled up that sign, and carried it up to the front porch. I leaned a bit closer to the window wondering what she was up to. I knew the realtor selling that house. His name was Sheldon Shankly. He sold many of the houses in our area. He had a large billboard in town which prominently displayed his balding head along with his catch phrase, “Shel Sells.” I had seen him just two days before at the grocery store and had asked him about the Carville place. He hadn’t mentioned that it had sold, which is why I didn’t see why that tall, skinny, purple woman with the sickly car should be removing that sign from the lawn. It seemed awfully brazen of her. I was about to cross the street and tell her as much when I noticed she’d gone inside the home.