Angel in the Dew
Angel Harish stood at the kitchen screen door looking past her back porch, past her yard into the garden. Her husband of forty-five years was out there. It was in the early morning. Dew covered the grass and the vegetable garden. The wall phone rang, the yellow one that had been by the door for forty-five years.
“Angel, this is Connie. What’s he doing?”
She took her toothpick out of her toothless mouth. “Oh, he’s out there in them nasty coveralls again wearing no underwear and swaying back and forth so he can feel his junk. He thinks nobody can see him, him with his big belly and his sloppy gray hair.”
“Are you ready for me to call Madge?”
She thought about that. Just yesterday evening she spit in the sink. It was louder than she thought it would be. It sounded like, THPEW!
George walked in on her. “You’re spitting again ain’t you,” he said, and folded his arms like a scolding parent. “You’ve been spitting around here for a week. You refuse to wear your teeth anymore and you always got that damn toothpick in your shriveled-up mouth!”
He grabbed her shoulder and turned her to face him. “You’re going crazy, woman. You wander around the house spitting. You need to be locked up somewhere.”
That had set her jaw aflame. She saw red. “I asked you a long time ago to let me go to the dentist!” she had yelled back at him.
That was just last night. She came back to the present and stared at the old man’s back out there. She had a valid argument, she knew that. The teeth hurt her mouth.
“I can’t stand the way he treats me!” Angel tried hard not to cry to Connie.
“Psssssss,” Connie said. “Pssssssss.”
“Never mind. I should run, Angel. Be careful, sweetie. He’s about to pop. Me and Madge are waiting for your call. Bye.”
She eased the phone back in the cradle and frowned. What was she on about, that pssssss?
“Help me! I’m snake bit!” he yelled from the garden.
She ran out onto the porch, let the screen door slap shut. She saw where he was on the grass by the garden. She clutched the hem of her house dress and trotted out to him.
“Lay down, let me see!” He slung off his unlaced boot and jerked off his crusty sock.
“Right there on my ankle you blind bitch!” She had to clinch her mouth. It was just another in a lengthy line of hurts. There were no bite marks.
“I don’t see anything, but I’ll get on the phone and get help here.”
She stood and turned. She trotted to her yellow phone and called Connie.
Soon, a big Buick pulled into the driveway and stopped. She walked around the white, wood-frame detached garage to see who it was and two women got out. The driver was Madge. She knew right away because of her piled high gray hair tinted blue, her thin frame, and her cigarette she always had between her two fingers. The chubby woman getting out of the passenger side was Connie.
Madge smiled that ever-present smile. She clutched and kissed Angel’s cheek. “Where is he?”
“He’s in the back at the garden.”
Madge put that big black patent leather purse in the crook of her wrinkled arm, her burning cigarette between her long fingers, and she nodded her head as she stepped off toward the back. Connie, her red-gray hair in curls and wearing her cat glasses fell in to her right side, then Angel in her frumpy house dress and apron hurriedly walked beside them.
They walked toward George as he lay in pain. His eyes widened. “Who are you?”
“It’s time for you to run along now, boy, SHOO!” Madge said, and flipped her hand as if waving a fly. George grabbed his left shoulder and raised from the ground, eyes wide.
“You know these women, George. You’ve met them,” Angel said and she spit. THPEW! It landed by his face and it smelled of acid, sizzling. George squeezed his chest.
“Trouble her no more, man, Pssssssss,” Connie said and a snake bit his left arm. He clutched it.
They continued to walk toward him.
SHOO! He rolled up on his side moaning in pain.
THPEW! George clutched his chest.
Pssssss! A snake bit his left arm again.
They stood over him. His eyes closed halfway. They seemed to mat over with some gel-like substance. He stared into the grass. He was gone.
Angel stood there looking at him for what seemed to be only a minute. Someone clutched her shoulders and led her into her kitchen and sat her at the table. After he sat her, she watched him dial her phone. She recognized him as the handsome young neighbor man that had recently moved in.
Later, some people were around her. Someone was in her face. “Auntie Angel, do you know who I am?”
“Of course, I do. You’re my grand-niece, Beth.”
Beth, nineteen and in college, long brown hair, smiling, said, “We were worried about you. You’ve been muttering things. Do you remember what happened to Uncle George?”
“Did he die?”
“I’m very sorry Auntie.”
“I’m not.” There was laughter. “And I’m not as old as I look. Is Connie and Madge here?”
Beth’s father, Bryce knelt. He was clean, forty. “Auntie Angel, we don’t know who Connie and Madge are. You’ve been muttering their names since we got here. No one here knows anything about them. Who are they?”
A smile of realization came over her face. She pulled his lapel in close.
“They’re good goddamn friends when you need them.”