A homless young boy meets a rather odd old lady...
The Black and White Lady
The moment I arrived at the adoption building I froze from the stomach down, my eyes glazed over in fear, and I think I even soiled myself. I couldn’t move, I wouldn’t move…I thought maybe if I refused, they couldn’t take me away, and I would go back home to my cozy fireplace and eat from that big orange box of chocolate chip cookies that momma baked for me. Well, they weren’t really for me, they were for the people working at the adoption facility, but I pretended they were for me. I wanted to think momma had made them special for me, so I snatched the box before we left and told her daddy had taken them. My mom made a deeply painful sigh. Dad had died several months earlier, but I decided to ignore the facts and used him as a scape goat. She just let it go, knowing full well my wrong doing. After seeing there was no way to get me out of the car, my mom instead brought the staff out to me. They all shuffled out the street to take a good look, wispering to each other as they signed the acception forms. I felt like some circus side show, no, actually I felt like the main event… all I knew was there were people surrounding me, looking at me any which way, asking questions about things I didn’t understand. “Come see the homeless boy!” I thought I could hear in the background.
I immediately squeezed my bear as hard I could, so tight its head was about to burst and all the stuffing would come flying out. At least the bear would feel what I was feeling. It took me to a sort of calm, happy place, to see the bear squeezed so hard. Then with a sudden burst of energy, I sprinted out of the car, pushing my mom out of the way with tears in my eyes. I was so oblivious to my surrounding that I would have hit the glass door if a man hadn’t just opened it for himself. So instead I ran into him and just stuck like glue. I didn’t care what his name was or how old he was, or what he did for a living. I just wanted something to hold on to. And so I did, I held on to him as hard as I knew how. The longer I held on the more I cried, because I knew that this wasn’t ever going to end. I would spend the rest of my childhood searching for a home. Slowly but firmly, I felt a hand touch me back.
Later I learned that his name was Mr. Koner, and he actually worked there finding homes for lost kids. He was so touched from the experience that he volunteered to be my watcher. I have to admit, even if I knew nothing about him, I felt more secure that day in his arms than I had for 3 years in anyone else’s. A couple of weeks after I signed in, they had an old woman calling in for a boy of my age, so Mr. Koner gave me a ride in his truck to her house to see if we had a match. Now, Mr. Koner’s truck was about as ugly and rusty as a truck could be. Its front bumper had seen hard times, and his windshield was cracked in several places, the seats were dirty, and the doors made weird sounds when you opened them. Heck, smoke even came out of hood when he started it. He looked down embarrassingly when he showed me the piece of work, but there was nothing to be scared of… I was in no position to judge. So there I was chugging along in his Chevy looking for the old lady that wanted me, hopefully. Yes, I can still remember the address: 06606 Halt street. It had to be the oddest thing I had ever come across. Her front door seemed so warped that it looked like it had been hinged there for a thousand years. Two trees stood in her yard, both dead. The same went for her grass. I didn’t know grass could get that yellow. But that’s just getting started.
This old loon’s house was covered from chimney to front door in black and white squares, thousands of them. It seemed like a dream, the walls of the house seemed to jump out at you, sucking the car into a world without color. I was so fascinated with it, I didn’t even remember why we came. Mr. Koner seemed just as bewildered as me, dropping his cigarette and whispering “What in Gods name…?” as soon as he got of the truck. When we approached the house he turned to me, licked his lips and nervously told me that she had just left the funny farm last April, and that we better keep an eye on her. Finally we reached her front door, Koner reluctantly knocked ever so lightly, as if so she wouldn’t hear and we could go home happy. But instead we found the door hadn’t been shut fully, so it creaked open after the first knock. It gave me an eerie feeling as if something was hiding behind it. As we started to walk in the room, I stuttered in shock. All the walls inside were as black and white as the outside. Even the floor was chessboard inspired. Koner almost choked on his new cigarette when he saw it. As soon as he regained his composure, he quickly yelled “Anyone home?” He paused for a second, then immediately started for the door pulling me with him. Just then a sound was heard from upstairs, Mr. Koner tightened his grip on my hand and looked up regretfully. "Come on boy." he motioned "She shouldn’t be takin' care of herself, let alone you." Now Koner didn’t care who she was, and if it wasn’t for me, we would have been long gone before she even got to see our faces.
As Her chairs weren’t very comfortable and the lighting was irritatingly dim. Even in that light there was one thing that set her apart from anyone I had ever seen before. She was as white as a ghost. It freakishly went along with the style of her house making the whole scene look like an old movie.
I started to wonder what it would be like to live in a house like this. As I was thinking, she served me some tea from an old and rusted bean can. And if you don’t think serving British tea out of an old bean can is weird you have problems… what makes it even weirder is that the can came from the Second World War, which could be plainly seen by the propaganda on the sides portraying a skinny drawing of Adolf Hitler, which was curiously scribbled on by a permanent pen in Yiddish. If I hadn’t been so disgusted by the thought of drinking tea from some soldier’s bean dip, I might have even stopped to admire the heritage of it. Before he died, my dad would always talk to me about World War II. It was like his hobby, to learn all he could about it. He would always tell me little tidbit facts that nobody else knew, and quite frankly, didn’t want to know…I remember him telling me once that the marines sometimes took a poop in any container they could find if proper bathroom settings were not convenient. Would a bean can be considered a “container”? I shivered at the thought and pretended to sip it to appease her as I eyed it, having that thought deep in my mind I was going to discover a floaty in my bright yellow concoction.
When my observing was finished, I looked back at the old lady. She was staring at me, waiting for something to happen. There was an awkward silence filling the black and white little room. She just twiddled her little shriveled thumbs looking at me with longing eyes as if to say, “Hurry up here, say something before I croak.” I didn’t know if she was nervous or bored with my being there, sitting in her house on a chair that nobody had sat on for God knows how long. As we had our silent discussion, Koner watched us; I could see him in the corner of my eye, protecting me. It felt good to know I was safe. It made me want to explore things in this odd place, knowing I could be saved at any time. After a while of thinking, I finally made up my mind. She was crazy and I didn’t want to know anything about her. As soon as I gained my conclusion, she creaked out of her chair ever so slowly as if reading my mind and giving me a chance to rethink my decision. She attempted to push her chair in, but got so flustered because the rug was being rebellious that she scowled and spit at it, then waddled towards the kitchen mumbling under her breath. Then just as soon as she had gotten up, she waddled back, and sat back down again, possibly right on her own spit.
I had heard from Koner (I don’t know where the heck he gets this information) that she did an awful lot of spitting when she got mad, also mentioning she would get mad at just about anything. I pondered for a second wondering if she ever got frustrated at the bean can, almost gagging a second time. I tried to focus my attention elsewhere at that point. Her hair looked like a war zone with circumventing scotch tape warning the fleas to stay out. As I sat there, looking at her, I was so fascinated with her odd little habits that I forgot about the tea being full of beans and turd and took a sip. A tenth of a second later my eyes widened as I felt the wet juice slide down my throat. I instantly spewed out all that I had left in my mouth, shattering the silence as well as soaking the poor old women. I could tell no matter how hard he tried, Koner couldn’t help but start to giggle from this sudden change in mood. I, on the other hand was horrified of what I had just done, recalling what she had done to the rebellious chair, I squirmed in my seat awaiting the worst. I left my head limp hoping she would be gone when I looked up. Awaiting my death sentence, I started to remember the tea and finally came to the conclusion that it was actually very tasty. Just then I could hear a noise coming from the other side of the table.
She was laughing! I lifted my head faster then I ever had before. She was smiling and giggling and I didn’t understand why. I started to smile trying to go along with it.
|"You finally gave me an excuse to go change my dress, dear!" She glanced over at Koner, "Its been over a three months you know." Mr. Koner jumped back as if in a spasm yelling, "OH MY GOD!" "Oh! dont get so worked up!" She calmly said brushing him off, "I still wash this one.. monthly." Mr. Koner squealed, "What in the hell is that suppose to mean?!" "Well... If you stay for supper, I'll tell you all about it." she begged. "Im making lima bean casserole!" Her calmness was unbearable. It was as if she had no problem with it! Mr. Koner and I just stared at each other. No matter how bad we wanted to run in terror, we stayed. Some how this little, black and white obsessed, smelly, white as a ghost, ancient as the sun little screw ball intrigued me. Her story seemed like something our curiosity could not possibly contain. Mr. Koner thought for a second, then slowly proceeded to wispered into my ear "I just hope her food isnt as old as her last shower." I shivered at the thought, "Be prepared to run..." Koner looked back up at her, "We have an hour I guess." "Wondeful!" she exclaimed, "Let me just go change first!" she started to hum a song as she waddled up the creaking stairs.|
|I looked around curiously as Mr.Koner lit up a cigarette. I noticed his hand was shaking slightly as he lit it and took a drag. "See an ashtray anywhere?" He asked me as he also began to look around. "Nope." I said, as I eyed a pile of what appeared to be atleast fourty knit blankets in the corner. All black and white, of course. What wasn't in this house? I wondered then if she had a black and white dress too? If she did, I wondered if it had been washed in the past six months. I could smell the dreaded lima bean casserole and prayed that she wouldn't insist that we try it. I hated lima beans in the worst way, and there was no way I was going to eat it! No way in hell! "You'll have to step outside if you are going to smoke!" The old woman called from beyond the top of the stairs. "I don't allow smoking in my house!" Koner rolled his eyes. "Don't leave me in here by myself!" I said to him, suddenly afraid. He looked at me and then over at the stairs. "How does she even know I am smoking?" He whispered, "Can you see her up there?" Both of us leaned over in our chairs to try and see to the top of the steps. She was nowhere to be seen. "Did you hear me?" She yelled. "Yes, Ma'am!" Koner yelled back, getting up to go outside. "Come on, man!" I urged, "I don't want to sit here by myse..." Then I heard the top stair creek. Mr. Koner quickly walked towards the door, totally abandoning me!|
|As he was running, I heard him say "Dont pee yourself boy, I'll be right back." And just like that he was gone. I instantly started to have a flashback of the day I was sent to the adoption facility. My face got all sweaty and I started to moan. Now instead of being surrounded by people, I was surrounded by the cold, motionless air, waiting for something to jump out of the shadows and attack me. I wanted my bear again! I wanted momma again! I wanted someone, anyone as long as it wasn't... her... Again, I heard the upstairs floor creak, almost giving me a panic attack. "What if she comes back?" I worried, "What if she takes me away?" I was immediately struck with a feeling of vulnerability and helplessness. I shot up out of my chair and tried to remember the exit. There were three doors, but only one was leading to the main hallway. "Oh... Oh... Which one was it??" I was so panicked I had forgotten which door it was. Tears welled up in my eyes, even so to the point where I couldnt see where was going. I quickly ran into the nearest room, praying it was the door to my salvation. As soon as I got through it however, I stopped. I had unfortunately ran into the wrong room. As I turned around to evacuate, a glimmer caught my eye. As I took a second look, I gasped. Everything in the room was painted white! I started to advance farther into the room. There were at least a dozen huge oval mirrors pointing at each other in pairs, making the allusion that there were infinite portals. It was almost blinding. Reminding me of winter, it even felt colder... I completely lost all interest in running and just stood there. I couldn't stop, it was like a magnet, pulling me in closer and closer to the mirrors. Just then, I heard Mr. Koner running into the dining room screaming in hystaria, "Steven!! Steven, where are you??" I didnt even answer him back. It was like I was spellbound, I just looked at the mirrors. "I see you have found my spot of heaven." A cheerful voice echoed from seemingly nowhere. I looked all around trying to figure out where it was coming from. "Look up child!" It said, "At the ceiling!" I lifted my head up slowly, almost as if my eyes were glued to the mirrors. As I looked up I screamed. There she was! Spying on me! I could see her little eyeball peeking out of a hole in the ceiling. "Was she watching me in the dining room?" I thought, "She must have! She saw Koner smoking didnt she?" I quickly ran out of the white room, and dashed into Koner's grateful arms. As I did, I heard a giggle from upstairs. "You know there's a black room to," she confirmed, "want to go see it?" "No!" I screamed, laying my head on Koners chest" Koner started to question me, "What's all this about? What black room?" Well" I sniffled, "I gues..." Koner interuppted, "Never mind that, where were you! Why did you run away when I left! I was so worried about you..."|
|I wanted to answer him, but I couldn't. I was speechless and bewildered. Mr. Koner released himself from my hold and grabbed me by the shoulders, "Hey. Are you ok, Steven? Talk to me, buddy." "I'm ok," I managed to say. "I'd really like to leave now, Koner. Can we please leave?" Before he could answer, there she was. Her smile wide, showing no teeth. She giggled again. "Sorry if I scared you." she whispered, leaving me to wonder why she was suddenly whispering. "We have to be quiet in the hallway. Come, lets go back to the parlor." This lady was truly crazy, I thought. We did follow her, it was as though she had cast a spell on us both. I noticed her dress then. Solid gray in color, it appeared to be clean and pressed. She also managed to tie her thin white wispy hair back into a pony tail courtesy of a small piece of black ribbon. No longer whispering as we entered the parlor, she commanded us to "sit". Silently, we did as told. She also sat, eyeing us both intently. It was making me extremely uncomforatble. "I knew you were coming." She said, breaking the unbarable silence. "I knew about a month ago. Right after Teddy left." Mr. Koner and I looked at eachother. "What the hell're you talking about?" Koner asked, raising his voice. "We only learned about our having to come here yesterday. Steven wasn't even with me a month ago!" She smiled again, giggled for a second. "I just knew. I know a lot of things. You'd be surprised as to how much I know, Russell." Mr. Koner jumped, stunned as she called him by his first name. He'd never introduced himself, or me for that matter. "How is Lois doing?" She added. Mr. Koner's face turned almost as white as hers. "How do you know my wife?" She ignored his question and focused on me. "Steven. Your father was a soldier, wasn't he? His name was Steven also." I felt tears begin to well up in my eyes at the mention of my father. "Yes, Ma'am." Was all I could mutter. "My name is Nita." She said sweetly, "Nita Chesbord."|
|She got up, and started an advance on our position. I could feel her perfume, stinging my eyes. As she came closer, Koner leaned over to my ear and wispered, "Run when I say boy, this wasnt suppose to involve you." As he said this, he was slowly reached into his front pocket feeling around for something. Nita sighed, "Now why would you do that Russel, dear? Dont you know its rude to bring a gun into someones house?" she giggled, "Someone might think your trying to kill somebody. You wouldn't want that now would you?" She started to grin, "Oh! I feel its missing a round, looks like I spoke to soon!" She started to laugh, showing her blackened teeth. Almost before she finished, he quickly revealed a 9-mm and pointed it strait at Nita. I gasped, being less then two feet away from the scene. "Run!" he hollered. I dont think I had ever moved faster in my life, scrabbling up off the floor, and running towards the door, only to stumble back onto the ground. It seemed like gravity had just tripled, whenever I tried to get up, I fell back like a baby learning to walk. "She has spies everywhere!" Koner cried as he eyed the trigger, "We've been on a wild-goose chase longer then you have been alive! Who knew it would be an old crazy ----." "Now that wasn't very nice!" Nita complained, "By the way, you cant do anything with a gun if its trigger in on safety." Koner quickly realized this, and flipped to active. "Thats better!" she smiled, "By they way, what is all this talk about spies?" She calmly turned her back towards us, and picked up an old vase, observing it with her hands. "You know damn well what Im talking about!" He stuck his gun closer to her face, "We have been on to you since 78'."|
|Suddenly she shot him a look of pure anger and ripped the gun right out of his hand. "Don't you bring up '78 with me, Russell Koner! You took my husband's life that year. It's a wonder I still let you into my home at all!" She ran over to the window and opened it, tossed the gun out onto the lawn. "You and your paranoid ideas!" She screeched. "You don't have a clue about anything, Russell. You only think you do!" Russell looked defeated. "What do you want with Steven, Nita? I want a straight answer! What happened to Teddy Richards?" Nita looked at me, then at Koner. "He left. He wasn't the one." She said quietly. "This one, though... this one may be the one." She was staring at me intently, making me want to crawl out of my skin. "I've been watching you, Steven. All of your life. It took me a while to get to you, but now you are finally here."|