Miss Roberta Wing—Elaine Bonow

Miss Roberta Wing

            “Miss Birdie are you there?” Jo stood on the porch of the old run down house and peered into the darkness behind the screen door.

A small voice responded. “I’m here Jo. I knew you’d be stopping by. You know I have the power.”

“I’m just checking, seeing if you are alright today, seeing if you need anything.”

“Oh no, I’m doing just fine. They can’t see me from here and if I stay out of sight of them I’ll be alright.”

“Miss Birdie, since we have been talking and since I’ve gotten to know you I’ve been thinking that it would do you good to get out more often. It’s such a nice day today, the first really warm day this year. We could go for a little walk in the neighborhood. I don’t know if you can see them from inside but you have some really nice daffodils coming up here in your front yard.”

“I know, Jo, I can see them from here just fine.”

Jo sat down in the wicker chair and pulled it into a spot of sunshine. “Miss Birdie, how long have you been holed up inside that house. I talk to people about you and a few, no more than a few thought you were dead, that you had died years ago.”

A series of soft chuckles erupted from the darkness. “Well Jo, that’s so funny to me that people think I’m dead.”

“You don’t go out and no one has seen you at the store or at church or at Miss Lottie’s. It’s not that funny.”

“See Jo, you are the only person who has knocked on my door to see how I might be and for some reason I actually trust you. I like you. You are different from the others.”

“I’m different alright. Nobody would talk to me when I got back. They were all afraid of me. They thought I might still be crazy.”

“Oh yes, I remember what happened. You tried to burn down the church.” Soft chuckles again arose from behind the screen.  “That would have served the Reverend right, that hypocritical old fool. So you’re not so crazy as everyone thinks seeing as you knew what was going on there.”

“Well, to be honest with you, I was sort of crazy. People have always been afraid of my temper since I was small.”

“Jo, they have always been afraid of me too. I have this ability to see things and to hear things other people can’t see and hear.”

“Don’t tell me Miss Birdie, you must be a psychic. No wonder no one comes over here to visit you. They are probably scared that you might put a spell on them or work some juju magic or something.”

“Don’t laugh. I know a lot of secrets about this bunch. I’ve lived in this same house since I was born. I remember back when these blocks were just fields and weeds and rabbits, rabbits everywhere.”

“Well, I’ve lived here off and on too since I was little. My momma lived around here when she was a kid.”

“I know, I know we all are so connected even strangers look familiar like we are all related somehow. Everybody sure knew all about you after the trial and all. You were the talk of the neighborhood.”

“I did my time. I paid my dues.”

“In my opinion you almost did the neighborhood a huge favor. We could have gotten that old buzzard kicked out of the church. But he had those highfaluting lawyers saving his butt and you just got put away. He shut you up real good.”

“He had no right to turn out my sister and everybody knowing what he does. I didn’t want to hurt anybody but him.”

Miss Birdie scooted her chair closer to the door. “I didn’t say anything but I told him that he should give up that business before he got hurt. But he didn’t pay me no mind.”

“He’s still in the business. He laid low for a while until all the fuss with the fire died down and me safely in prison. He has tried to be more careful but I’ve been keeping an eye on him since I’ve been back. I saw him bringing a couple of new girls into that house he owns. The cops can’t or don’t do a thing about his business. I figure he pays them off or has something on them.”

“The problem with your plan is that you just went and acted so wild and crazy and you got caught red-handed with that gas can. Plus they found some weed on you too. That was really stupid Jo, really stupid.”

“I know, I know. But I’ve had a few years, three to be exact, to figure out a really good plan to fix him real good. Oh hell, I shouldn’t tell anyone and now I’ve said something.”

“Don’t worry about me talking to anyone Jo. In fact I wouldn’t mind helping you get that old bastard myself. I trust you Jo. I don’t know why but I know you were brought to me by some supernatural force. I haven’t felt like talking to anyone for a while now. I used to work and shop just like everyone else but then I started seeing things, things that scared me. At first I told people about my visions but I soon learned to shut up and not say a word. People can be so trifling.”

“They can also be mean. I know how you feel. When I was younger people were afraid of me because of my size and because I could be so violent. I did manage to get some good therapy while I was in prison. I realize now that I can’t be worried about what I think other people think of me.”

“Easy to say Jo, but when they come after you, you can’t help being paranoid. I’ve had too many close calls in my day. People chasing me wanting to hurt me wanting to shut me up.”

“Miss Birdie won’t you come on out here on the porch in the sunlight. It’s such a nice day.”

“I’m still afraid to Jo. Maybe in a few weeks I’ll try to come outside. I’m safe inside here.”

“Well, it’s going to be hard to plan our attack on the Reverend if I can’t even see you. Even in prison we looked forward to seeing each other to look at each other in the face. You had to look each other in the eye if you ever wanted to trust them or for them to trust you. No eye contact meant no trust. We all got real good at that.”

“What makes you think you could trust me anyway? You just met me. I may not be the person you think I am. Who sent you over here to spy in me anyway?”

“Now, now Miss Birdie don’t get all paranoid and shit. I don’t think you are being very nice to me all I did was try to be nice to you. You seemed so pathetic staring out behind those curtains. You made me curious, that’s all. I know what it’s like to be locked away, that’s all.”

“Look here, I’m sorry. Here, I’ll come to the door. We can still be friends. I won’t be paranoid. Are you sure you want to be friends with me? I’m probably not like the person you think I am.”

The front porch screen door opened a crack followed by a few thin fingers. Her face peeked out her eyes blinked in the sunlight.

“See that wasn’t so bad was it. Now I can see your face. I didn’t think you would be so…”

“Chinese looking? Well, I didn’t expect you to be so masculine, so huge.”

“Nobody told me you were Asian. I thought you were black like everyone else in this part of town, that’s all. I also didn’t expect you to be so young looking. I thought you were going to be an old shriveled up old lady.”

“Jo, I am sixty-five years old. Anyway I thought you were a girl. Your voice sounds like a girl but you look like a man.”

“Well, technically I am a woman but in prison I found my true nature. If I can save the money I would like to get the operation but for now I’ll just stay a half and half.”

“Poor Jo. No wonder there is so much talk about you. We really make an odd couple of friends this old Chinese paranoid and you a freaky woman-man. This makes me so happy. I haven’t been this happy in years. This calls for a celebration Jo. I would like to welcome you into my humble abode for a cup of tea. Then we can talk about our plans for the destruction of Reverend Perkins House of Ho’s.”

About bbcstudiowrites

This blog is me archiving the BBC Studio Writers Workshop.

Posted on February 18, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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