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“I’ll be waiting in the car,” Beth announced, then slunk away.
Fuck! How many times have I stood by you, and now you bail on me? But my irritation was just in passing as even greater problems loomed on the horizon. And both were burly and over six feet tall.
“Alright, who called this in? What’s going on?” the sandy-haired police officer said.
Hugh and his partner then formed a new huddle with the two policemen.
Mom was becoming agitated again. She was always rather excitable, possessing a nervous imagination like no other. High strung as a Siamese cat, Dad used to remark before he passed away a few years ago. So I seized her in my arms and held tight. She shook with fear and rage, even managing to knock her glasses half off. Then she wailed, because glasses askew was another indignity she was hard pressed to endure. Without her glasses, she was as blind as Piggy from Lord of the Flies.
Emotions were running high amongst the onlookers too.
“Go Granny go!” someone shouted.
“Leave her alone,” another affirmed.
“Shut up, you’re stupid!” came a loud voice of dissent.
They were a colorful and motley crew. Skate punks. Anarchists. Single moms. Kids nursing lime-green Slurpees. Clumps of young families. Old denizens on the block coming out to smile or to shake their heads and frown. A stray dog joined in. It stood with its tail wagging dumbly.
In this chaotic scenario, I knew I needed to act. “Excuse me officer,” I addressed the sandy-haired one, “I’m her daughter and I assure you this has all been a mistake.”
“Why’s that?” he asked stonily.
“Mom only has like nine or ten cats, tops, and I help her all the time. It’s not like she’s one of those people with 300 pets or anything. I even dropped over today to give her a hand with things,” I said, adopting a big phony smile.
His expression changed to a look of weary disinterest. “Alright then, I guess we’ll be going now.”
The police climbed into their cruiser and sped off.
“Okay, same goes for us,” said Animal Control Officer Hugh. He threw me a quizzical sideways look before leaving.
Exhaling deeply, I felt a weight suddenly lift. Mom went limp in my arms then peeked up at me and smiled.
The crowd cheered as the animal control van drove away. I suspected that the long-faced ones that continued to mill about were disappointed that the show hadn’t gone on longer. But most of the thrill seekers dispersed.
“I’ll let the two of you straighten things out,” Glynnis said. She went back to her home.
Mom was smiling weakly. She had beads of perspiration on her forehead, but she looked good otherwise.
“Do you need some help? Do you want me to come in?” I offered.
Shaking her head, she spoke almost testily, “I’m fine, I’m fine. I just need to lie down is all.”
She disappeared back inside. I heard the bolt latch.
But it’s okay. I know that she had adopted a sort of philosophy lately, whereby if you let the “other” in then your serenity is over. And it’s probably true to a point, I knew. She had become like an oracle in a cave, interpreting dreams, weaving myths, singing praise and sighing homily, mother of creation, locked in her abode of plenty.
I moved deft as a moving finger through the stringy scrap of crowd that was left. The stray dog yipped as I passed. Hopping over the same puddles as before, I climbed into Beth’s car.
Driving off, I was lost in thought while Beth chirped nonstop. With the many patterns and shapes and configurations that experience takes, I intuited that life was just a repository of the absurd, a confusing, beautiful tug and pull of variation, a fleeting symmetry.
“We dodged a bullet, eh!” Beth exclaimed.
“Yeah.” I laughed.