The Day She Landed in Jail, as told by Cousin Donna
- Susan Evans
Big Trouble in the family roared in like noxious smoke shooting from an outhouse fire
The day Uncle’s jet-haired wife rang up Aunt Georgia Leigh.
“You homewrecker! We know you’re cheating on Ray,” Helen spat like a cat.
“Me and G. C. have half a mind to tell Ray and see your young ‘uns go to welfare.”
Aunt Georgie shot back, “I don't think G. C. is even there. Let me speak to my brother.”
A pause, then a faint voice, weasel inspired, admitted, “I’m here.”
A day later and the Christmas parade’s cymbals crashed, feet advanced down Main Street
An unlikely OK Corral for 4 ft. 11 inches Aunt Georgie, mother of 5, maybe a 100 pounds, bareheaded under the gunmetal sky
But there was that black-haired sister-in-law of hers standing on the curb
And she was smug, with a broad smile and a needle in her voice, nerve enough to say, “Hello, Georgie,” almost like a dare.
A policeman, marshalling the crowd, towered near Helen, but never mind him
Aunt Georgie, brown eyes like bullets, anger boiling in her like a fuse of dynamite burning down to her swinging arm
Socked Helen so hard some of the cheap dye may have flew off her Loretta Lynn hairdo and peppered the cold air.
The cop grabbed Georgie by the shoulder of her leather jacket, her booted feet dangled a little, said “Hey, there! None of this fighting!”
Surprised he was, unacquainted with the temper of girls form Unicoi where those laurel leaves hide moonshine stills and drunken fathers
Cop rounded Georgie up, clinked metal bracelets round her tiny wrists, hauled her in.
Mama, prayer-go-to meeting face, beauty parlor perm
Santa Claus pin winking in the late November light fastened to her gray wool coat
Hot rage at Helen that whiney bitch troublemaker, never liked her anyway or her trashy sisters
Thought I would have done the same as Georgie; it would have been worth it.
Grabbed her patent leather purse, police escort to Jonesborough to stand good
Mama, a Howell girl from Unicoi, too, her own hot self just this side of igniting like coals
Posted bail, Aunt Georgie, tail feathers drooped in the blue florescent light of the station out of the county cooler.
No one spoke for some time.
The rift lasted a little beyond Watergate, some past Viet Nam and Desert Storm, through multiple presidents, children grew and grown, grand-children married with children
But Helen, G.C. and Georgie remained locked in a three-way, I'm not sorry, eye-for-an-eye, stay mad I don't give a damn knot
A knot only relaxed once in a while by funerals, two heart bypasses and promptings by the Holy Ghost but in the end
Even Jesus gave up.
But these three know the score. Two deaths down and one to go.
Susan Evans writes and teaches writing at a community college in eastern Tennessee. She has been published in The Home Forum, The Christian Science Monitor, WNC Woman Magazine, Six Hens Literary Magazine, Word River Literary Review, and New Age Journal.