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I Had a Bone

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I Had a Bone ~ A Short Story by Allen Kopp 

August had to look away as his father moved Mrs. Bone around the dance floor, weaving in and out among the other fools like a couple of mechanical dolls. His father, looking like an undertaker in his conservative blue suit, clutched Mrs. Bone to him as if he thought she might try to get away.

Something about them as a pair was all out of proportion. He was six inches taller than she was, but she was much wider. She wore a dress that exposed far too much of her body for a woman her age; her bare arms were enormous and flabbily white. The heels of her shoes were so high she walked like a tightrope walker.

When they returned from dancing, father pulled Mrs. Bone’s chair out for her and she turned and gave him a sweet smile before she sat down. He could be quite the gentleman when he wanted to be.

“Oh, my, that was fun, wasn’t it!” Mrs. Bone said. “We need to do that more often!” She picked up her martini and gulped it down.

“Not as young as I once was,” father said, breathing heavily and straightening his tie.

Mrs. Bone took a cigarette out of her bag; father lit it for her dutifully. “Would you like to dance with me, August?” she asked.

“I don’t know how,” he said.

“I can show you. It’s easy.”

“No, thank you.”

“You need to learn sometime.”

“I wouldn’t push it if I were you,” father said. “August is not exactly the dancing type.”

“Oh, I see!” Mrs. Bone said, looking confused.

“While you were dancing I was wondering something, Mrs. Bone,” August said.

“Yes?” Mrs. Bone said brightly, obviously pleased that August was interested enough to address her directly and ask a question.

“Where is your husband? Where is Mr. Bone? Did he die?”

“August!” father said. “That’s enough!”

“What did I say?”

“That’s not a question you need to be asking.”

“It’s all right,” Mrs. Bone said. “Of course he’s curious. I’m not a widow, August. Mr. Bone and I were divorced five years ago.”

“Don’t most divorced women go back to the name they had before they were married?”

“Some do, I suppose. I didn’t because I have three children. They naturally kept their father’s name and it would have been confusing for me to have a different name.”

“Oh. Well, where are they now? Your children, I mean.”

“They’re staying with their aunt this evening.”

“That’s enough questions, August!” father said.

“No, it’s all right,” Mrs. Bone said equably. “We’re just getting acquainted.”

“Are they boys or girls?”

“I have three lovely daughters.”

She’s running true to form, August thought. So typical, so conventional, right on down the line. After being in her company for ten minutes, you know everything there is to know about her.

“My youngest, Bitsy, is eight. Then Charlaine is eleven. Evie, my eldest, is fourteen, the same age as you.”

“I’m fifteen,” August said.

“Oh, yes, you recently had a birthday, didn’t you?”

Mrs. Bone was on her fourth martini and, while August didn’t know much about drinking, he knew it was starting to affect her behavior. She had a silly grin on her face; he found himself thinking that if somebody were to slap her across the mouth, really hard, the grin would still be there.

“They’re lovely children,” father said. Only August heard the insincerity in his voice.

“I’m so proud of them,” Mrs. Bone said. “And I can’t wait for you to meet them, August. I’ve told them all about you.”

“Why did you do that?”

“Well, they’ve met your father and they’re naturally curious about you.”

“That’s funny, because I’m not the least bit curious about them.”

Father gave him a warning look and Mrs. Bone laughed merrily. Father was going to reprimand August for his tactlessness, but just then the waiter arrived with their dinner on a big tray.

Before they ate, father ordered a bottle of the “best” champagne. He and Mrs. Bone drank it like water, on top of the martinis they had already had.

While August ate his fried chicken and au gratin potatoes, he stole little glances at Mrs. Bone. She ate her lobster thermidor like a starving lumberjack, butter sauce dripping down her chin. For several minutes she said nothing as she stuffed the food into her mouth.

“Oh, this is such a lovely place!” she gushed. “I’m so glad we came!”

“The food is certainly good,” father said.

After he finished his steak, father and Mrs. Bone danced again. When they returned to the table after their dance, father was pale and sweating.

“I’m going outside to get some fresh air,” he said.

“Do you want me to come with you, honey?” Mrs. Bone asked.

“No, you stay here and keep August company.”

After father left, Mrs. Bone turned to August and smiled. She was drunk and her lipstick was smeared almost up to her nose from her dinner. “So, August,” she said, “tell me about yourself. What do you like to do when you’re not in school?”

“Well, in addition to trying to resurrect the dead, I like deep-sea diving and competitive knife-throwing.”

“Oh, you sly boots!” she said. “I know you’re joshing me! Your father told me all about your over-active imagination.”

“Do you know my mother committed suicide?”

“Yes, I believe your father mentioned that fact.”

“She was emotionally disturbed.”

“That’s so sad.”

“I was in the sixth grade. I found her when I came home from school. She was hanging from a rafter in the garage. It was Halloween so when I first saw her I thought she was a Halloween decoration. I called for an ambulance but of course it was too late. She had been dead for hours.”

“That must have been so difficult for you. Not only losing your mother that way, but for you to be the one to find her.”

“Yes, it was difficult. I’ve been a difficult boy ever since, and when I’m grown up I’ll be a difficult man.”

“I’m so sorry for you.”

“Oh, don’t be. I’m fine.”

“I wonder if I should go check on your father. He was awfully pale.”

“Oh, no, he’s fine, I’m sure. He’ll find somebody out there to have a smoke with and forget about us for ten or fifteen minutes.”

“I think your father needs a woman in his life,” Mrs. Bone said. “A man without a woman is just a boat adrift at sea.”

“Did you know he’s a homosexual?”

“What?”

“Are you not aware that my father is a homosexual?”

“Why, no! He hasn’t mentioned anything like that to me.”

“No, he wouldn’t.”

“Are you sure?”

“I think it’s why my mother killed herself. He preferred man love to her love.”

“This is not just another figment of your imagination, is it?”

“Are you implying I’d make something like that up?”

“I’m not implying anything, but I’d like to find out for myself if it’s true or not.”

“Why don’t you ask him?”

“Would he tell me if I did?”

“Probably not. He’d say he doesn’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Well, if it’s true, it’s a dirty trick to play on me.”

“I don’t think he looks at it that way.”

“I might thank you later for telling me,” Mrs. Bone said, “or I might not.”

When father came back to the table, he was ashen and seemed barely able to stand on his feet. “Too much to drink,” he said. “I’m not feeling well. I need to go home and lie down.”

Mrs. Bone stood up. “Do you need to see a doctor?” she asked.

“No, I’ll be fine as soon as I get home.”

Father paid the check and they went outside to the car. Mrs. Bone offered to drive home, but father said he could make it. He drove to Mrs. Bone’s dark house and parked the car out front and turned off the engine.

“You don’t have to walk me to my door,” Mrs. Bone said.

“I will, anyway. There might be some evildoers hiding in the bushes.”

“What?”

“Nothing. I don’t know what I’m saying.”

August sat in the back seat and waited while father escorted Mrs. Bone to the door. He was only gone for a couple of minutes and when he came back he said nothing.

When they got home, August went into his room and changed into his pajamas and got into bed and started reading. He could hear father retching in the bathroom until he went to sleep.

In the morning August was sitting in the kitchen eating toast and corn flakes when father came down from upstairs wearing only his bathrobe. He set about making himself some coffee.

“Do you feel all right now?” August asked.

“I think so. I got all the liquor purged from my system. If I had thought, I would have known that six martinis topped off with large quantities of champagne would make me sick.”

“Glad you’re feeling better.”

“What did you think of Ida?”

“Who?”

“Mrs. Bone.”

“Her name is Ida Bone?”

“That’s right.”

“Ida Bone. I had a bone.”

“What did you think of her?”

“I didn’t like her.”

“Why not?”

“Her perfume smells like the stuff they use at school to clean vomit up off the floor.”

“That’s not a good enough reason for not liking her.”

“Well, I think she’s a phony. She tries to look younger than she is and she gives me the creeps. She looks like a pig in drag.”

“That’s not very nice.”

“What did you say to her last night in the restaurant while I was away from the table?”

“Nothing. Small talk. She asked me what I like to do in my spare time.”

“You weren’t rude to her?”

“Of course not.”

“When I dropped her off at her house last night she acted funny. She seemed to want to get away from me. She slammed the door in my face and didn’t even say good night.”

“I think you can cross her off the list and go on to the next one.”

“There is no ‘next one’. I think I’m done with trying to find a substitute for your mother.”

“Fine by me,” August said. He looked at his father to see if he was going to say more, but he just sighed and sat down wearily at the table.

“I’m going to be gone until Monday night,” father said.

“Where are you going?”

“To the lake with Tom and Brett. They asked me, so I figured ‘why not’.”

“Brett is the one with the black beard?”

“Yeah.”

“You like him?”

“Yeah, I like him.”

“Do you like him a lot?”

“What are you saying, August?”

“Nothing.”

“Will you be all right here by yourself?”

“Sure, I love having the house to myself.”

“What are you going to do?”

“I don’t know. I have to read a book for English and write a report.”

“That doesn’t sound like much fun.”

“I’ll manage to work in some fun.”

When father went upstairs to get ready to leave at noon, August felt a sense of accomplishment, of a job well done. He had played the situation with Mrs. Bone like a virtuoso. He was sure now that father would never want to see her again, and he would have bet all his money, if he had any, that Mrs. Bone was finished with father. He turned on the TV and lay down on the couch. A movie that he wanted to see was just starting. He’d watch it through to the end, and, after that, the possibilities for enjoyment were limitless.

Copyright © 2019 by Allen Kopp

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Night Bus (1933) ~ A Painting by Herbert Badham (1899-1961)

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Mustached Gentleman and Friend

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Covent Garden (1930) ~ A Painting by William Bruce Ellis Rankin (1881-1941)

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Where Angels Fear to Tread ~ A Capsule Book Review

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Where Angels Fear to Tread ~ A Capsule Book Review by Allen Kopp

M. Forster (1879-1970) was one of the best and most readable English writers of the twentieth century. His first novel, Where Angels Fear to Tread, was published in 1905. It’s a story of a clash of cultures, in this case English and Italian. Stodgy, conventional, keeping-up-appearances, English middle-class morality goes head to head with emotional, hot-blooded Italian effusiveness. The English characters in Where Angels Fear to Tread are all fools who can’t see farther than the ends of their noses. The principal Italian character, Gino, is forgiving, kind and generous. Which would you rather be?

Lilia Herriton is an English widow, thirty-three years old. She lives with and is dominated by her late husband’s narrow-minded family in a small English town. She has a small daughter named Irma, who seems to prefer her grandmother and her aunt over her mother. When Lilia travels to Italy, she is captivated by its romance and beauty. Rebelling against the middle-class English morality to which she has long been captive, she meets, falls in love with, and marries a charming Italian fellow named Gino, ten years younger than she is. He has a handsome face and not much else in the way of prospects. When Lilia, early in her marriage, has a child, a boy, she dies in childbirth. Her first husband’s (the dead husband, if you will recall) family back in England believes they must go to Italy and “rescue” Lilia’s child and bring it back to England to give it a proper (English) upbringing.

Philip and Harriet Herriton, brother and sister of Lilia’s late husband, go to the little town of Monteriano, along with family friend, Caroline Abbott, ostensibly to get Lilia’s baby and bring it back to England. They fail to consider the father’s (Gino’s) feelings in the matter. Harriet is an unpleasant, bossy spinster who believes she can bully and bluff Gino into giving up the baby because it is the “right” thing to do. Philip is also of the same mind as Harriet, but when the trio arrives in Italy, Philip once again falls under Italy’s spell (partly as a result of the opera Lucia di Lammermoor) and is charmed by Gino into believing that he, Gino, is a loving and caring father and the baby is better off remaining where it is.

The Herritons don’t really give a hoot about Gino and Lilia’s baby. They want it only so they can assert their English superiority, keep up appearances, and make a point. They will do anything, including kidnapping, to get what they want. With pig-headed Harriet leading the way, they screw up monumentally, with tragic and unforeseen consequences.

Where Angels Fear to Tread was published when the author was only twenty-six. It is a meticulously written, intelligent English classic, accessible and easy to read, well worth another look. A faithful and memorable movie adaptation of the novel was made in 1991.

Copyright © 2019 by Allen Kopp

Havana

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I’ll Live to be a Hundred if You Don’t Kill Me First

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I’ll Live to be a Hundred if You Don’t Kill Me First ~ A Short Story by Allen Kopp

He heard her voice downstairs and her heavy tread across the floor as if a cow had been let into the house. He saw, without seeing, her fat feet in their white old-lady shoes climbing the stairs and her sausage-like fingers groping the banister. He closed his eyes to give the impression he was sleeping but he knew it was no good. Before he knew it, before he had time to take a deep breath, she was in his room and upon him.

“Uncle Jeff!” she screamed. “How the hell have you been?”

“I was taking a nap. Don’t you ever knock?”

She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. The smell of her perfume almost made him gag.

“You don’t look very sick to me,” she said with a laugh. “I think you need to get out of that bed and stop pretending.”

“I’m a lot sicker now,” he said, “than I was a few minutes ago.”

“No, seriously, honey, how are you? What does the doctor say?”

“He says I’ll live to be a hundred if family doesn’t kill me.”

“Oh, now, you can’t pretend to be a grouchy old bear with me because I know you’re just bluffing. Underneath you’re just a just the kindest, sweetest old man in the world.”

“What can I do for you today, Vera? I know you want something or you wouldn’t have dropped in unannounced.”

“Can’t a gal stop by and see her favorite uncle without having some ulterior motive?”

“In your case, no!”

She grabbed hold of the nearest chair and pulled it close to the bed and sat down and rested her pocketbook on her knees.

“My, it’s warm in here!” she said. “Do you think we could open a window?”

“No, it aggravates my hay fever.”

“I think that’s all in your head, honey.”

“It looks like you’ve put on a lot more weight since I last saw you, Vera. You need to stop eating so much.”

“I don’t eat any more now than I ever did. It’s just my age.”

“What does age have to do with it?”

“A woman my age retains water.”

“It looks more like you retain chocolate cream pie.”

Hah-hah-hah! You can’t hurt my feelings, no matter how hard you try!”

“You’re going to get so fat you won’t be able to make it through the door. What will you do then?”

“We don’t need to talk about my weight. I know you’re just trying to embarrass me and it won’t work.”

“Go to the top of the stairs and call Esther,” he said, “and tell her to come up here.”

“Oh, we don’t need Esther, uncle Jeff! I wanted to have a little chat, just you and me.”

“I want my nurse here.”

“She’s not a nurse. I doubt if she even has a high school diploma.”

“You either get her up here like I said, or you can get back into your fancy Cadillac and drive off into the sunset.”

“Oh, very well! But I don’t know why we need to have her here.”

“I might need a witness.”

“Witness for what?”

“In case I decide to rise up out of this bed and kill you.”

“Oh, dear, you are such a card! I’m happy to see you still have your sense of humor!”

She stood up and went to the top of the stairs and shrieked down: “Esther, he says he wants you to come up here! Right away, please!”

“With a voice like that,” he said, “you could go out to the cemetery and wake the dead any night.”

“Don’t you think I would if I could?”

“All right, sit your fat ass back down and tell me why you’ve come.”

She smiled bravely. “I will tell you,” she said, “that no matter how much you berate me with that evil tongue of yours, I will not let you get under my skin.”

“That’s very noble of you.”

“I have more important things on my mind.”

Hah! I doubt it!”

Esther came into he room just then. “Did you need something, Mr. Talmadge?” she asked.

“I just want you to sit with us for a while and take a load off. I want you to be here to show my niece the door when it’s time for her to go.”

“Yes, sir.”

Esther sat in the chair across the room, next to the window, held her elbows and looked at the floor. She could be as invisible as she needed to be.

“I can’t very well talk over family matters with a domestic in the room,” Vera said.

“Why not?” uncle Jeff asked.

“It isn’t very nice.”

“So? Esther has heard things before that are not very nice.”

“Well, very well, since it seems I have no other choice.”

“You don’t.”

“It’s about Ricky.”

“Why am I not surprised?”

“Ricky has got himself into trouble with some other boys.”

“Ricky is forty. I think he no longer qualifies as a boy.”

“He’s not forty. He’s thirty-nine.”

“Well, what did Ricky and these other boys do?”

“They were all at the river, drinking and whooping it up. You remember what it was like to be young.”

“If you say so.”

“There were four boys and one girl. It seems they all pleasured themselves with the girl one at a time.”

“Very gentlemanly.”

“The girl was willing, Ricky says. She was drunk as a skunk. She took her clothes off and was dancing naked around the campfire. Well, the boys were all drinking and, with the girl dancing naked as she was, they started to get ideas.”

“Is she underage?”

“Oh, no! She’s as old as Ricky.”

“So, she was willing, they were all drunk and whooping it up and they decided to take things a little farther that usual and have a little more fun than they were used to.”

“That’s about the size of it.”

“Well, what happened? They didn’t kill her, did they?”

“Oh, no. Nothing like that. When the party was over and they all sobered up a little and went back to town, the girl wasn’t so willing anymore. She went to the police and told them she had been gang-raped. She gave them a list of the boys’ names. She had some bruises on the inside of her legs and some fingernail scratches on her arms.”

“All very sordid, I’m sure.”

“I need your help, uncle Jeff. You’re the only family I have left, the only person in the world I can turn to for help. I need eighteen thousand dollars.”

“What?”

“I have to retain a good lawyer to defend my Ricky in court. Eighteen thousand is just the beginning.”

“Why can’t he use a public defender? If he’s innocent, that should be good enough.”

“I don’t want to risk it. I want to get somebody who will really fight for him.”

“If you think I’m going to sit down and write you a check for eighteen thousand dollars, you’re crazier than I thought.”

“It’s not as if you don’t owe me.”

Owe you? How do I owe you?”

“Ricky and I are your only living family. When you die, we’ll be the only ones to weep over your body down at Hartsell Brothers’ Funeral Home.”

“You flatter yourself, Vera.”

“You’re old and soon you’ll die. We know you have money and you’re not going to be able to take any of it with you.”

“So I’ve heard.”

“Just what are you planning on doing with all your money when you die?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know!”

“Don’t you think Ricky and I are entitled to at least some of it?”

“I don’t hear you, Vera! I think I’m starting to have another one of my spells.”

“You live in this big twelve-room house all alone. Why does any old man living alone need twelve rooms, I ask you?”

“Some people need lots of space.”

“I think that’s very selfish of you. There’s a lovely new nursing home opening up downtown. I hear the accommodations are lovely. With just one little phone call, you can get your name on the list and you’ll be able to move in as soon as they have an opening. Doesn’t that sound heavenly?”

“And what would I do with this big house with its twelve rooms?”

“Ricky and I would be happy to move in and take care of it for you.”

“Hah! I just bet you would!”

It was time now for tears. She took a wad of Kleenex out of her purse and dabbed pitifully at both eyes. “I’m afraid they’ll send Ricky up for a long time. It isn’t his first offense, you know. Things will go very hard with him this time.”

“Ricky’s been a habitual criminal since he was five years old. I knew it was only a matter of time before he was called to a reckoning.”

“Don’t say that! If you had ever been a mother, you’d know what it’s like to be faced with the prospect of having your only child being locked up for life.”

“Do you want some advice?”

“No, but I know you’ll give it anyway.”

“Find out the name of the girl, the woman, who says Ricky and the other boys violated her.”

“I already know her name. It’s Willie Walls.”

“Something tells me she’s trash.”

“What else would she be?”

“Offer her a thousand dollars to drop the case. That’s probably more money than she’s ever imagined having in her life.”

“A thousand dollars?”

“Tell her she can have a thousand dollars to drop the case or risk going to court and losing and not getting anything.”

“I’m not sure that’s wise, uncle Jeff.”

“If it goes to court, they’ll get her on the witness stand and it’ll be her word against the word of the four boys. She’ll be humiliated. They’ll bring up everything she’s ever done or said in her life. They’ll bring in every person she’s ever known who might have any dirt on her, and there’s probably plenty, if she’s the kind of girl who gets drunk and dances naked in front of a bunch of boys at the river.”

“I guess it’s worth a try.”

“It might keep Ricky out of jail this time.”

“So you won’t give me the eighteen thousand?”

“I already said I won’t. I’ll advance you the thousand dollars to pay the girl, but you’ll have to sign a note promising to pay it back.”

“I think that’s very hard-hearted of you.”

“Was that all you wanted, Vera? I’m getting tired.”

“I wasn’t going to tell you, but I think it’s probably good for you to know. I’m dying. I might only have a short time to live.”

“Who says?”

“The doctor says. Who do you think?”

“What’s the matter with you?”

“I have a fatty liver.”

“Not just your liver.”

“I might need an operation.”

“Well, have the operation, then.”

“I’ve been worried sick. Not about myself but about Ricky. I’m afraid I’ll die with him in the mess he’s in. With me gone there’ll be nobody to help him.”

“So, what is it you want me to do?”

“Sign your house over to him so it’ll be his when you die.”

What? Why would I do that?”

“I’m not asking for myself. I’m asking for my child. I could die easy if I knew this fine old house was in his name. And even if he goes to jail, maybe it won’t be for long and when he gets out he’ll have this haven, this refuge, to come back to.”

“I’d laugh if it wasn’t so ridiculous. Do you know how long it’d take Ricky to lose this house in a poker game or sell it for practically nothing to get money to buy drugs?”

“He’s not like that now. He’s grown up a lot. You’d hardly know him. He’s really a very fine young man now.”

“Yes, a fine young man who rapes women at the river.”

Oh! You can insult me all you want, but I won’t stand by and do nothing while you insult my child!”

“If there was ever a child who needed to be insulted, it’s Ricky.”

“You’ve always been so filled with hatred, uncle Jeff, I don’t know what keeps you from choking on it!”

“Esther, my niece is leaving now. Take her downstairs and show her the door.”

“I don’t need to be ‘shown the door’, you old bastard!”

“Don’t let it hit you in the ass on your way out.”

“All right, I’ll go. I should have known I was wasting my time trying to reason with a senile old fool like you. I want you to know one thing, though. You’re not holding all the cards in the deck.”

“Are you threatening me, Vera? Do you think it’s wise to threaten an old man who holds most of the cards in the deck?”

“I’ve been to see a lawyer about you!”

“About me? How you flatter me!”

“As your only living relative, as your next of kin, I can start a court proceeding to have you declared incompetent. Do you know what that means, uncle Jeff? If the court agrees with me, I gain control of all your assets. I can put you in the nursing home of my choosing or in the state mental institution if that’s the way the wind blows.”

“Oh, my! You’re scaring me now, Vera!”

“Oh, yes, I can put you away, uncle Jeff, and please believe me when I tell you I won’t hesitate for one second! Not for one second! Ever since I was a small child, I knew what a mean, contemptible person you are. When I was as young as ten years old, my poor mother, your sister, used to sit in the front parlor and cry over the way you treated her and, as young as I was, I would pat her on the shoulder and say, ‘There, there, mother, he doesn’t mean anything by it. He’s just been disappointed in the way life has turned out for him and he takes it out on the whole world. I know you love him. We all love uncle Jeff, no matter how mean a son-of-a-bitch he is.’ And she would just smile her sad smile and take my hand and wet it with her tears.”

“All right, Vera. I think you’ve put the fear of God in me. You can go home now.”

She stood up and began gesticulating, growing ever more agitated. “You disapproved of my husband. You always thought you were better than us. And then from the moment Ricky was born you laughed at him and said he looked like a gorilla and wasn’t right in the head. What do you think that does to a child’s self-esteem?”

She gasped for breath and put her hand on the bed post to steady herself. “My greatest fear now,” she said, “is that I’ll die before you and I won’t be there to celebrate when you draw your final breath. I was just telling Ricky a few days ago how I wanted to dance on your grave. How I wanted to…How I want…How I hoped…”

Her mouth gaped open, but the words seemed to have stopped coming of their own accord. She grabbed the middle of her chest with both hands and, with a startled expression on her face, rolled onto the bed onto the floor.

Esther!” uncle Jeff called.

But she had seen and heard all that had happened and was at the ready. She knelt on the floor and rolled Vera onto her back. Vera’s body shook with tremors; she made gurgling sounds in her throat.

“Is she all right?” uncle Jeff asked from the side of the bed.

“I think we need an ambulance,” Esther said.

“It might all be an act. I know what she’s like.”

“I don’t think so.”

“I don’t want that old heifer dying in my house. Call an ambulance and tell them to come and get her and to send about six strong men. She’s roughly the size of a small elephant.”

When the ambulance arrived eight minutes later, Vera was unconscious. She was colorless and dead-looking, her carefully coiffed hair askew. They strapped her onto a stretcher and administered oxygen.

Half an hour after the ambulance had left, Esther went up to uncle Jeff’s room to make sure he was all right.

“You’re not to let that woman into the house again, you understand?” he said.

Esther smiled. “If she decides she wants to come in, I won’t be able to stop her.”

“Then I’ll buy you a gun and teach you how to use it.”

“Yes, sir. I sure would hate to shoot her, though.”

“I’ll come downstairs for dinner. Set the table in the dining room. I’m not sick anymore. I have a long way to go to one hundred.”

Copyright © 2019 by Allen Kopp