I had almost gotten my house in order and only had a few more boxes in the basement to unpack. They were going to require special attention so I had procrastinated a bit.
Jean no longer had to insist on our weekly visits. The next Tuesday, I strolled over to her house for my cup of coffee and the “gossip hour” as I came to call it. “There’s only one more neighbor that I haven’t told you about,” she said.
I admit, it was like knowing you were nearing the end of a book and not really wanting the story to end but books should be finished so I was ready for the last chapter.
“I don’t know if you have noticed the house that sits back from the road and is almost hidden by a row of trees,” she said. I told her that I hadn’t noticed. “It’s a good thing it’s hidden by the trees. If you get close to the house, you can see a strand of Christmas lights strung across the front porch and there are panties hanging from it.
It was almost another one of those “blowing coffee out of your nose” moments but fortunately for me and Jean’s table, I wasn’t in mid-sip. “Panties?” I asked. “Yes,” she said as she giggled. “There are all kinds and all colors of panties. We don’t know if they are symbolic of conquests or if she just grabs one on her way up out. Her name is Veronica Guice and we call her the town tramp.”
I laughed and said “well, I guess every neighborhood has to have at least one. I mean, given we have a preaching judge, a kleptomaniac, a soliloquist, a human parrot, a know-it-all and a serial killer, why shouldn’t we have a tramp? Do go on.”
Jean in true form, closed her eyes and began. “She has dyed red hair and I’m not talking about movie-star dyed hair, I’m talking about dyed hair with grey roots that all but screams ‘I’m a tramp’. Remember the line in Gone With The Wind…’I ain’t never seen that hair color before’? Well, there you go. I’ve never seen that hair color before either.”
“She goes up to the Lounge every night, except Sunday of course because it’s closed, and drinks and shoots pool with whoever is buying. She’s well known for latching onto some poor lonely schmuck who’s had too much to drink and after he has paid her tab, she plays the ‘you’re so handsome, you’re so special’ game and gets him to ‘loan’ her money for her taxes or house payment or whatever. As long as he keeps writing checks, she keeps paying attention to him.”
“Does she pay them back?” I asked. Jean let out a hearty laugh and said “I imagine she pays them back one way or another.”
“She used to dress up in her hooker clothes, as we call them and prance back and forth in front of Leo’s house. She knew about his inheritance and was hoping he would notice her, I guess.”
“And do what?” I asked. “Steal her?” Again Jean laughed and said “maybe. Who knows? But he never noticed her so she set her sights on Ditto. I told you he was a handsome man, didn’t I?”
“You did,” I said. Jean leaned down and whispered “I think they might have hooked up a few times…pardon the expression but Ditto wasn’t desperate enough to fall for her antics.”
Then she said “can you imagine? She’s screaming ‘yes! yes!’ and he’s echoing every word?’ Jean had a sense of humor and I appreciated it.
Of course, I was thinking “there are ways to shut a man up…and I knew what they were.”
To be continued____________________