“MY basket is broken!”
She waited for my reply with hands on hips.
“I’m sorry, Judy. How can I help?”
“There is no help for a broken basket. It’s broken. What did you call me? The name’s Linda. Who’s Judy?”
(OK, not only did you introduce yourself as Judy last time we talked, I’ve documented the conversation for the world on my blog…)
“I thought you were, but I guess I was mistaken.”
“Name’s Linda. Been that my whole life.”
Ever the polished master of verbal communication, I said, “Look! Somebody left champagne and drinking glasses on the table next to the jug of plant water!”
“Help yourself,” she said.
(No thanks. I don’t drink plant water this early in the day…)
“He left them here. He tried to give them to me, but I told him I had all I could handle, so he left them and walked out. My basket’s broken.”
“That’s what I hear. What man left the glasses here?”
“The man who left them.”
(Dang she’s good.)
“I noticed the dead man’s camper is gone. Guess they finally sold it, huh?”
“Who? What camper?”
“You know… the man’s camper… the one who died… the one you told me about last time we talked… the dead guy!”
“Oh him. I watched them carry him out. He wasn’t that old, but he looked younger dead than alive. He’d been in there forever. There were people all around him but nobody talked. He left us but he may be back. Never know. I’ve only seen him one time since he died.”
(Where am I? Who am I? Why do I feel like the one without an identity, when she’s got multiple ones, or at least multiple names for the same one!)
Talking to this woman is the aural equivalent of a house of mirrors. You hear something that would be meaningful in another context, but as-is it’s disjointed, like it’s an echo from unspoken conversations.
I transferred laundry from washers to dryers, if only to give me something to do while that, “he may be back” comment sunk in. I was startled back into conversation with JuLinda when she began laughing uncontrollably, then just as abruptly stopped.
“He’s back!” She yelled.
My back was to the door. I was torn. Do I spin around to maybe catch a glimpse of the “he” she mentioned then forgot then remembered in a different way? Or do I continue to play with wet clothes, while a younger-looking undead passes by the laundromat window?
Without turning around, I asked Linda a question, worded as clearly and deliberately as possible. “Who is back, Linda? Who exactly is out there?”
“Ha! Rabbit man!”
“Huh?” I turned to see only Linda. She was nodding her head in the direction of the side of the building. As if those gestures were not informative enough, she gave her thumb a few pumps in the same direction.
“Comes here to drop off the little’s girl’s rabbit. Then comes back at the end of the day to take it away.”
(I bet you’ve got a collection of color-coordinated straight jackets in your closet, maybe a long heavy one for winter, and a short lighter one for late Spring.)
Then came her moment of clarity. “I worked for NASA. Goddard Space Flight Center,” she said. “They tried to make me leave, but I said no. They paid me a year’s salary to keep my mouth shut. I said I can’t be bought! I took the money, but this girl kept right on talking!”
Or I could be wrong. Maybe this was Linda’s moment of non-clarity. I’m so confused by this wonderfully interesting and inspirational woman who walked out the door without saying bye.
On the way out, I needed at least one thing around here resolved. I found myself in the front yard of my favorite person’s place. Why had he been staring so intently at that overturned bucket in the middle of his front yard? He car was gone. Yes!
I looked around and stepped closer to the bucket… I reached down, grabbed the bucket and tried to tilt it over …
It wouldn’t move. The bucket is not even a bucket. It’s a cap to a well. So, why spend minutes staring at a source of fresh water? I guess that makes as much sense as staring at an overturned bucket. Somewhere inside my spinning head, I still heard Linda’s voice. “Help yourself.” The drinking glasses were next to the plant water, exactly where they should be.
I started this blog to, “explore the fringes of creativity”. Some edges just need to be flagged and left be. When ancient explorers mapped, “parts unknown” (birthplace of all bad-guy pro wrestlers, by the way), they drew exotic sea monsters and mermaids, and wrote cryptic phrases like, “Beyond here dragons be”. Well, dragons be here too! Those original maps were not written out of ignorance. They drew from the wisdom of exploration. They knew.
There is no figuring out Judy. Or Linda. Or whoever I meet the next time she walks in. There is only enjoying them for as long as they are here. Someday all of them will be gone. But they may be back. Never know.
Oh! I almost forgot. She was right. There really is a Rabbit Man…