Original Short Fiction: "Gloria's Story"
Vincent van Gogh's Autumn Landscape
Gloria said bye-bye to summer and welcomed the fall season. Her pumpkin patch spilled out onto the yard, and while cups of hot chocolate were brewed up in her tiny kitchen, Esther was long gone. Esther is a different story, so don't expect much about her here. This is pretty much all Gloria! But a fly had just flown into the ointment: her big fat cousin Mabel was coming soon for a visit.
Too soon that visit. Gloria could not seem to get ready for Mabel. And she could not get Esther to come help her out. Her cousin—the big fat Mabel—raised mice for pet shops; Gloria has some real issues with that vocation, but hey, she didn't see Mabel often and so Gloria never ever broached the topic of raising mice to be gobbled up by snakes.
Running to town was hard for her now that she walked with a cane and her spectacles were drooping down her nose. Her ears had collapsed or something, and for some reason those glasses kept drooping. Gloria baked up a can of vanilla brownies but her pony Desmond bolted into the house and gobbled them up. And then dog Alfa ate the spinach casserole she planned to have for supper—or three suppers, now none.
Gloria's messy life was an example of complete order compared to her co-horts, that is, family and friends, but hey don't let me get ahead of myself here. This is about Gloria! Mabel though—what to do to get ready for her? Make up the bean bag chair and let her know she was welcome to sleep on it. Either that or get her a dump of a room at the flea bag hotel in town. Gloria did not care. But she did care about her privacy, and she was sure Mabel would be nosing into her business.
What business? Gloria had no business, Gloria kept telling herself. She didn't even bother with make-up anymore. Her bank account was so small that she was advised by the local bankers—all three of them—to close it before it ate up what little she had in monthly service charges. Gloria was relieved not to have a bank account, but she still had to cash her government checks. One local banker finally took pity on her and let her cash her pittance without a charge. She loved that banker for his indulgence and talked him up whenever she could.
Gloria basked in the private life. Esther did finally write, and she might be coming back because living with her twin in Arkansas wasn't really working out. Let the wise keep their stuff. Gloria just wanted to be left alone. A little garden in summer. Raking some leaves in fall. Shoveling some snow in winter, and watching the rain spring. That was paradise to Gloria.
But that day finally arrived and so did Mabel. She hauled in her big rear and her big suitcase and started pelting Gloria with questions:
where's that Persian rug I gave you? don't you ever look in a mirror? do you still have that glutenous horse? what kind of dog would eat a whole casserole of spinach? why the hell do you plant so many peppers? dang, bell peppers, cayenne peppers, this pepper and that pepper? your tongue must be burned out raw by now? where's your picture of mom and dad you kept on the mantle? don't you have any Ding Dongs? don't you keep any Snickers Bars on hand? why don't you just admit it, you're too old to know the difference between good and bad candy? Halloween must be a real hoot around here, don't the kids mock you for giving them homemade cookies?
That's the gist of that went on for the whole three days Mabel was on the scene. Gloria's eyes would just glaze over with each question, snide remark, or innuendo.
A Question for Mabel
Then on the day Mabel was to leave, Gloria had a question for Mabel. Gloria waited until her cousin was standing on the porch ready to depart, waiting for somebody to pick her up to haul her to the bus station. Gloria had given her question a lot of thought; she had thought it to death in her head, imagining all the things that Mabel might say or do when she popped the question at her. But she had no idea what to expect, and so she finally decided she might just like being surprised by whatever Mabel did or said.
The ride was standing out by the mailbox. Mabel grabbed her suitcase and started her trudge out to the car; then she turned awkwardly to wave good-bye to Gloria, and then Gloria popped the question: "Hey, Mabel, did mama ever tell you that she thought you'd be a beauty queen by the age of 18?"
Mabel stopped, dropped, her suitcase, and yelled for her ride to "WAIT!"
Close by Gloria's face, Mabel goes: "What the hell did you say?"
Gloria goes: "I said, did you ever buy popcorn from a drugstore?"
Mabel goes: "No, that's not what you said. You said something about a drag queen. Now what was it again exactly?"
Gloria goes: "Do you need a hearing aid? I said no such crap. I asked you about Flancy your poodle. Does she still get worms in summertime?"
Mabel goes: "What the hell kind of question is that?"
Gloria goes: "Just wondering."
Mabel's ride is getting impatient, honks the horn. Mabel picks up her suitcase, makes a move toward her ride. Mumbles something Gloria couldn't quite make out.
Gloria is fit to be tied. She's overcome with a glee that she hadn't felt since the time finally understood she would no long be having periods.
Gloria couldn't leave well enough alone, so she yells: "I know about you and Filburt Hawkson, Mabe. You didn't fool anyone by saying he died in Vietnam. See ya next year, Mabe!"
Glee and Free
Mabel again drops her suitcase, dashes back into Gloria's face, and goes: "Okay, you old bitch. I've come here the last time. Flinging that Filbert Hawkson in my face. You can just forget about any more visits from me, and when I tell your brother what you said, I think you can expect some butt-kickin trouble."
Gloria goes: "Okay. Bye." Turns back into her house. It was so much easier than she thought it would be. She didn't worry about her brother any more, since he lost his other leg to diabetes. Gloria did wonder if Esther would be back soon. She'd have to start thinking up some questions for her. She was pretty sure she could think up some doozies.
© 2015 Linda Sue Grimes