Monday, March 1, 2021

[BOOK EXCERPT: S.T.O.R.I.E.S. by Tracy Carzell

 IV: The Pea Hens and the Gardener (2014)  Chapter 3

 Mrs. Harrell, Lillian and the lady downstairs were women who frequented 1099 Lawndale. I am not sure if they knew each other but in some way they were acquainted. I am certain they did not meet at Daddy’s annual birthday bashes which lasted for 3 days. They were too refined for that. The women who attended his parties were women he knew from work, women from the University of Pittsburgh, the neighborhood wives and a woman dressed in silver-sequins. She wore the same dress every year. Yet, Mrs. Harrell, Lillian and the lady downstairs had at least three things in common: my mom, the house and death.

Mrs. Harrell and her husband owned the building. They lived on Ferndale directly behind us. Mr. Harrell was exceedingly kind, always smiling and nodding as if to say he approved our playing. He was Mr. Harrell. He always wore a brown suit; hence the name, “Mr. Brown-upside-down”. 

I got in trouble for that, too. Nonetheless, I continued to exercise my dominion.

Mrs. Harrell was old like the building. However, she was petite and dark. Her voice revealed her darkness. It was not evil, only detached. Her voice was deep and authoritative. It mimicked her gait: quick and solid steps. Her carriage dismissed people as she walked: high head and eyes fixed on something far above and beyond the natural eye. Her gaze created an obligation to look forward and only for what she could see. 

Her hands were wrinkled but strong. I am sure they once knew hard work but now they had earned the soft pink colored gloves she often wore. Mrs. Harrell always wore nice Horne’s department store dresses. She was always dressed like Sunday: hat, square-heeled hard-bottom pointy-toed shoes, and gloves. 

Each week she would come to sit with my mother. Mommy invited her into the living room. The kitchen was not for Mrs. Harrell. There was a big blue chair that matched our sofa and Mrs. Harrell would sit there every visit. 

She sat nowhere else. 

The blue throne commanded her to expounded wisdom, self-mastery and spiritual realizations that only she and mommy could discuss. She was in her element, in her rightful place. 

She could sit nowhere else.   No other seat could hold her.

They would sit and talk for what seemed like hours. I would quietly hang around to see if mommy would offer her some tea and cookies. Mommy would put milk in their tea and they would talk some more. 

The bribe to stay quiet and polite was the Archway Lemon bars. Mmmm! They were Daddy’s cookies. No one was allowed to eat Daddy’s snacks except when he wasn’t around.

When Mrs. Harrell left, I would run to the cushy blue throne, plant my face in the cushion and take a deep whiff…



Stinky, old lady!

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