Miss Lucy

 


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We lived in Kalispell, Montana when
I was a young child. We were poor dirt farmers.
Daddy built us a house in the field behind
my Grammy’s ranch. It seemed we were rootless,
Daddy taking us somewhere, getting
disillusioned and taking us someplace else.
One day in town, at the Piggly Wiggly, I saw a man
with a humped back. My Mama meted out lessons with
a hand to the back of the head.
“I wasn’t staring, Mama, “ I tried to placate.
The man came over and introduced himself as
Buzz Walters.

He offered me a penny for
candy and said to my Mama, “Ma’am, she was just
curious, and I’m well used to that.
Hate to think you punished her on my account.
Seems like a nice little girl. "
My Daddy walked up just then shone his hate
filled eyes on Buzz.

Daddy was the jealous type.
The men shook hands and Buzz got my daddy to
talking. Told him to come by the shop anytime.
The shop was a second-hand store
on main street, which was the only street we had.
As he was wont to do, Daddy grew restless living
seven miles from the town. Buzz bought our house
for a bit of cash and a line of credit at the shop.
I loved the shop. It had dark corners, bicycles on
the wall and high in the rafters were birds nests
and the mansions of spiders. Buzz moved our house
into town and squatted it on some empty land behind
his house. Now we rented what we had owned.
A few feet from the back door, ran a creek that ran
for miles.

I trapped frogs to live in a box
next to my pallet in the earthen cellar.
Buzz and his mother, Miss Lucy,
lived in a tall, angled house with a crooked roof,
just up the road from us. Miss Lucy was tetched.
She nearly burned the house down three or four times.
She threw her soiled drawers out the second story window.
Once she gave me two beautiful, gauzy dresses so I could
play dress-up.
The town wondered why Buzz kept the difficult old woman
in his home. I knew why.

From my cellar window I could
see the screened-in back porch of their house. Every night
they sat together, and Miss Lucy stroked her son’s
humped back and kissed his work-worn cheeks.

Sherry Asbury worked in geriatrics for many years. Now she draws on her own aging for stories that explain basic facts in a human way.

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