She stood outside the old rusted truck, looking as if time had never moved forward for her. She wore a pale cotton gown with a small rose bud flower print, and old fashioned knee length nylons. Her feet adorned scuffed black shoes that looked as they they came off a female warden; big clunky and thick soled. Her hair was striking white, cut into a bob of the forties. On her crown she wore a headband, holding her bangs back, that featured a small rose flower.
She owned the world, standing there, as if time never moved forward for her. She hand one hand on a weathered wooden cane, and one hand held a cigar. She pulled on that cigar as if it were the last breath she had in her. She blew a billowing ribbon of smoke out of her mouth, inhaling with her nose. Everything about her spoke of a woman with history.
Behind her, in stark contradiction, her husband slipped their bank card into the gas pump, punched in their pin number, and began fueling their rusty bucket. Unlike his wife, he was a dime a dozen. He was content with blending in, becoming one with his surroundings. Even though she hadn’t spoken a word, you hear everything she was saying. She earned respect by just walking into a room, or in this case, stepping out of her truck. Her eyes scanned the parking lot, making note of each and every person coming in and out of the convenient store. One wouldn’t be too surprised if she was packing a gun in her oversized shoulder bag; a gun that would make even Dirty Harry blush.
“Maude, dear, truck is full. Need help back up into your seat?” He asked with sweet sincerity.
“Elmer, I am fully capable of doing it myself. I am enjoying this cigar first, then I’ll seat myself.” with definite defiance.
“We’re going to be late to see the gals.” patiently he waits behind the steering wheel.
“At this age, we all have little life left. I intend to enjoy what time I have.” she said through swirling puffs of smoke.
“Yes dear.” he relented.
She tossed the cigar onto the ground and with the massive heel of her right foot, she extinguished it with zest. She climbed back into the truck, humming “Crazy He Calls Me” by Ella Fitzgerald.
At ten years old, I watched their interplay. I was captured by the mystery this woman wore around her like swirling mists of Chanel Gardenia. It felt like an episode of Twilight Zone, and I was the only audience privy to her engaging tale. Who was she? Where did she come from? For years after observing this couple, I painted them into many scenarios. She was the center of a lot of my stories. She was the first female mafia boss. She was an old speakeasy starlet. She was new money in a world of old money morals. Many of these stories I created around that brief introduction at the Shell station.