I have to admit that I was excited again but I was unsure how I was going to approach Miss Spivey. Should I just walk up to her house and knock on her door? Should I show her the picture? Should I just come right out and say “who is the greeter?”
I turned onto Ann Street and immediately saw the Pepto-Bismol pink house about midway down. As I got closer, I could see a woman sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch. I pulled over and parked in front of the house.
As I was walking up to the porch, she smiled. She didn’t have one tooth in her head. She looked every bit of her one hundred and nine years old, if not more. She had on a red kerchief and wisps of white hair were peeping out around her face.
There was a depth in her aged, yellowing eyes and I remembered what Wilberforce had said about her “looking into your soul.”
There was a big pot of snap beans beside her and a calico cat was curled up at her feet. She said “I’m goin’ to fix me a mess of beans later. There’s nothing better than a mess of beans, unless it’s a mess of collards.”
I asked if she was Miss Spivey. She smiled and said “I am.” I introduced myself and extended my hand. After wiping her hand on her tattered apron, she held it out. Her hands were crippled with arthritis and I wondered how long it had taken her to snap all of those beans.
I asked her if I could talk to her for a minute and started to sit down. She said “oh no, don’t sit down, darlin’…I’m fixin’ to git up.”
She said “you’re goin’ to have to come back tomorrow because I got to git ready to go to prayer meetin’ down to the church.”
I asked her if I could call her tomorrow. She was properly incensed by the suggestion that she would have a telephone and said she wouldn’t have one of those “vile contraptions” in her house.
She looked at me and said “I’ll be right here, you git on home now.”
I felt like a child who was being admonished for doing something wrong and it sort of pissed me off but I tried to hide my anger.
As she was going into her house, she paused and turned half-way around. She was looking down when she said “you’re wantin’ to ask me a question.”
“Yes,” I said. She nodded and went into her house and shut the door. Was I supposed to think she had “looked into my soul” and seen that?
I don’t put a lot of stock into that kind of thing. I came to see her. Obviously, I had a question and it wasn’t how to fix “a mess of beans.”
I considered following her to church but I had second thoughts when I started visualizing people speaking in tongues, piercing voodoo dolls with hat pins and sacrificing live chickens.
It was such a strange, secretive little town and even though there was a huge church on Main Street, I had never heard church bells ringing nor had I been bombarded with invitations to join, like I had in every other town where I had lived.
I hadn’t gone to church since I was a little girl and when asked why, I would tell everybody I was a “heathen.” I’d say “if I walked into a church, the holy water would start boiling and the stained-glass windows would blow out.” That humorous reply was usually enough to deflect the conversation.
I figured I’d better “git on home now.” I sat in my car for a few minutes and looked at the picture of the greeter. I traced every line and every curve of his face with my finger.
I drove down Main Street on the way home and…there he stood. The man who had “been there for as long as anybody could remember.” The illusive object of my obsession. The person nobody knew anything about…but not for long.
Once again I smiled as I thought “Ha. Tomorrow, I’m going to know your story.”
I was up early the next morning and was chomping at the bit to see Miss Spivey. She only lived a few blocks away so I decided to walk to her house.
I walked up to Main Street and stopped by the little Bistro to get a cup of coffee. I had stopped drinking coffee regularly many years ago but their coffee could rival Starbucks. It was also just as pricey but today was special so I thought I’d splurge.
I saw Linda standing outside her salon, smoking a cigarette. I stopped to chat for a minute, more for the sake of killing time than being interested in what she had to say because I had other things on my mind.
She said she didn’t have an appointment for another hour so she was just going to stand out there and “suck on her cancer sticks.”
I wasn’t going to tell her where I was going so when she asked me why I was up there so early, I said “it’s such a pretty day, I just thought I’d get out of the house for a while.”
I was trying to act like I was paying attention to what she was saying but I really wasn’t. I was looking right at the greeter as I was thinking, “okay, Mr. P.M. III, today is the day.”
After talking for about half an hour, I told her I was going to run on down the street. I started walking across the street and as I turned to wave, I felt a sharp pain in my side and suddenly felt like I was flying. The next thing I knew, I was laying on the ground, looking up at the sky.
The sun was shining right in my eyes so I put my hand up to shield them. I remember thinking I must have laid down to rest for some reason or maybe I had fallen down.
I could hear people screaming and Linda came over and asked me if I was okay. “Of course, I’m okay,” I said. She said “just lay still. I’m going to call an ambulance.”
Having once been an EMT, I knew the drill. I was sure I was okay…after all, I was talking to Linda. I knew to lay still and wait for the EMTs to put me in a C-collar and strap me to a backboard. I knew I was A & O times three and I wasn’t worried but I wondered why Linda seemed to be so frantic.
I could hear sirens and I knew who they were for. I just lay there, thinking “how embarrassing. I can’t believe I fell down.”
Suddenly, I was surrounded by medics. I was a little confused when I heard one of them say “unresponsive to verbal, unresponsive to painful.” What the Hell was he saying? I was TALKING! Could he not hear me?
I was thinking “he must be new.”
He walked away and while I was calling for him to come back, the sun was blocked by somebody. I looked up and was delighted to see Bob. I said “Bob! What are you doing here?”
He took my hand and said “do you remember the question you wanted to ask me?” I said “yes…who is the greeter?”
I closed my eyes as he leaned down and whispered in my ear.
Medic 55: Dispatch • Medic 55
Dispatch: Go ahead Medic 55
Medic 55: On scene • vehicle vs. pedestrian • patient unresponsive • no vitals
Dispatch: 10-4 • Medical Director standing by
Medic 55: 10-4
Dispatch: Medic 55 • Medical Director has given okay to call on scene
Medic 55: 10-4 • Calling on scene
Medic 55: Time of death • I:II PM