This is part 3 in my Fiction Friday series. The 2 previous parts can be accessed via For Your Reading Enjoyment under Fiction Friday.
It is in serious need of a title. Leave a suggestion for one in the comments section below…
Will took a deep breath, stepped forward and pressed the money into Gertrude’s hand before running through the alley, back where he came from. He knew he shouldn’t turn and look back, but he couldn’t resist. What he saw was surprising. The old woman who smelled faintly of coffee, mothballs and his drunk Uncle Leo lifted the lid of a trash bin and tossed the money into it. He couldn’t wait to tell his mom about the garage sale lady and twirl his index finger in the air by his head to show she was crazy.
Will wasn’t the only one who had seen Gertrude throw money into the garbage can. Wanda had gone to the garage to ask her mother a question. She heard voices around the corner in the alley and went to see if it was Gertrude. Wanda too was bewildered at the behavior she saw, and wondered if her mother was hiding things, like she tried to hide the vodka in the linen closet.
~ ~ ~
All through the summer, Wanda and Gertrude could be seen preparing the items for the sale (or gifting as Gertrude had a habit of engaging in when her daughter was not around). The odds and ends were often borderline junk: Looney Tunes bowls and glasses, scratched records, 8 tracks and cracked cases with cassette tapes in them, tacky costume jewelry fit only for children’s dress up, gaudy scarves that smelled like mildew, and Mary Tyler Moore era clothing fashioned on a rusted antique dress form.
The summer sun shone into the garage where Gertrude sat, covering her lined face with it’s warm blanket. The old woman dozed in the quiet neighborhood while the traffic on nearby Western hummed. Her head like a roladex, sorting through memories of cakes and candles, turkey and tinsel that she had shared in the house among family and friends. The outdated filing system was getting smaller and the one with her name on it was lost. She breathed in even inhales and exhales, except for the occasional sleeping snort. Gertrude awoke when the gate opened, unsure of her surroundings at first. She looked around at the garage as dust particles danced in front of her eyes. Maybe it was Myron.
Every now and then, Wanda’s son Myron would show up, move some of the larger items in the garage for the two women, then go inside the house to drink the piss that his mother kept in the refrigerator under the name of Old Milwaukee. Sometimes he would try to repair things around the house, like adding yet another shade of brown to the multicolored siding and side fence. Gertrude didn’t mind because she would not have to pay him for his help, if that’s what you called it. She knew he wouldn’t amount to anything, just like his father. Myron had worked at the same gas station in Cicero since he was 17. He was still living with his girlfriend, (whose name Gertrude could never remember), who still lived with her parents.
Gertrude got out of her chair and crept towards the house that she despised. She heard low voices, and knew they were talking about her.
“… you should just put her into one of those homes somewhere down south, so it would be too far to drive for regular visitations,” Myron said. “Then we wouldn’t have to bother with her that much.”
“She would never go for that. I’m sure there’d be kicking and screaming every inch of the way,” Wanda told him.
“Well, how else are we gonna unload this place if she’s around?” Myron said.
Wanda paused before answering. “Well, we could plan a trip to St. Louis on the train and take her around for the weekend. Make a big production out of it. Maybe we could see if Aunt Gwendolyn would want to meet us. If it involved family, I bet she wouldn’t be suspicious. Then we could check her in somewhere before we headed home.”
“And we would buy her a one way train ticket, but she wouldn’t find out until it was time for us to leave,” Myron said.
Gertrude couldn’t believe her ears. They were planning to send her away! As much as she despised being around either of them, she had decided that she would leave according to her own terms. She had a will and a DNR all ready to go, but wasn’t going to share it with those two idiots. Too bad she wouldn’t be alive to see the look on their faces.