Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: OVERLOAD (10/06/16)
- TITLE: Whole New Fun Gal
By Judith Gayle Smith
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A wild-eyed fella flew past me, pleading our neighbors to give him a lift home. Who? What? I definitely understood "where" as he left from the side of our garage. What's going on?
Concerned as well as confused, I went to find Jackie. She explained that she was teaching a class for people who had suffered abuse. We chatted a few minutes, then I carefully made my way back to the house. Gingerly – as her friends had brought her an eclectic collection for her to “survive” a cramped apartment – strewing all her things about the yard. I let that go, feeling pity for her situation.
Jackie, a former caregiver for my husband, had come from the bus stop with her adorable two-year old baby. She sobbingly cajoled us into opening our garage apartment. She absolutely refused our sunniest upstairs bedroom. “I just got out from a women's shelter – time was up. I boarded the bus and rode who knows where – until we entered the street close to where you live. I was crying and praying and God led me to you.”
Suckers for sob stories, especially from our former caregiver who literally was a master at her craft - she made the best homemade peanut butter cookies - melted our hearts, she did.
I didn't recognize Jackie. She was no longer matronly, comfortably plump and relaxed. She had a new facade. She looked brittle. Black eyeliner lining her compelling eyes, in full face paint, she danced nervously as we became reacquainted. She kept dancing erratically in place, soon making me fidgety. Jackie, now surprisingly thin and even more beautiful, she wore clothes like the flirtatious new creature she'd become.
She is only twenty-seven, and is the mother of five more beautiful kids. Her ex-husband has full custody. The father of the little one showed up several days later. A very likable fellow, we allowed him to stay with Jackie and their little doll - they were engaged. I couldn't say no, they had been together for five years, and he was all but homeless. I felt like my wish for children had amazingly come true.
They shockingly broke their engagement because she said she couldn't stand liars and she had caught him in a supposed lie. We weren't aware of this as we live at the front of our rather imposing house.
Our neighbors started complaining, telling us we were going to have trouble with Jackie. Jackie's baby went into foster care, shocking us. Then the screaming started - police came five days in a row. She screeched so loudly and for so long, excusing her behavior as part of what she had learned in a therapy class for abused women.
We had given her a key to our house, permitting use of the washer and drier, the stove and refrigerator. I was disconcerted by her desire to live outside in the garage nook. She refused bathroom privileges. She stayed rent-free for six months because she needed to get on her feet. She made a makeshift shower in the backyard, using our garden hose. Neighbors informed me that she had a commode outside, with a shovel. She had told me she had one of those special port-a-potties that chemically . . . well, you know.
She became aloof. She was fired from her care-giving position, although she was the best caregiver they had. She begged money for "incidentals". She fought with one “uncle" - physically she had incredible strength, being a caregiver, and shoved him into my full-length mirror, smashing it and knocking our borrowed flat-screen television to the floor, breaking it. The poor guy. He'd been trying to help her with the load she was bearing - broken engagement, baby swept into foster care, losing her job, confronting the mess in her yard, the ruin of her life.
I called her ex boyfriend, unable to comprehend her behavior. He made a bleak confession, telling me that he had become tired of her dumpy and dowdy “shtick” and wanted the vivacious, fun gal he loved back.
She quit taking her medications.
Whole new fun gal.
We had to evict her.
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