Freewriting. Inspired by a friend telling me about a scary man who lived in his neighborhood when he was a boy.
December 18, 2009 Anne Lamott—Joe Jones, p. 132
“Don’t hold this against me, she prays.”
I was thinking about abundance and how good life is. I liked the word abundance and was remembering how Mrs. Duncan used the word in Sunday school back a couple of weeks ago, saying that Jesus had blessed us with an abundance of grace. And while thinking about abundance and trying to use the word in a sentence, I was drawing pictures of daisies, some with five petals, some with six, some with seven. Then Mama came out on the porch, slammed the screen door, and said, “You need to do something useful instead of frittering away the day. Run down to the store for me and get me some milk.” I started to tell her that I was busy even though I didn’t look busy and besides I didn’t really feel like going but she was standing there with her hands on her hips like the queen of all the earth and I knew better than to talk back to her. So I reluctantly agreed. She handed me some money and a list. “But Mama,” I said, “I thought you just needed milk.” “Just do as you’re told and do it quick,” she said. “Now don’t you dilly dally.” Doggonit, I can think of better things to do on a summer morning than going to the food store. But I went anyway, got everything on Mama’s list, and headed home with the groceries loaded into the basket of my bike. I needed to hurry so I took the short-cut through the park and came out at the end of the dead-end road where Larry Looby lived. Now Mama had told me time and time again not to go near Larry Looby’s house and never to speak to him, but Larry Looby didn’t scare me. Everyone in town thought he was creepy because he lived in that old house all covered with vines, with rusted cars and broken refrigerators in the backyard. I had seen him from a distance, but never talked to him, and I thought it was mean of people to think he was creepy and not even give him a chance. So when I was riding past his house, he was walking toward the mailbox and he said hello to me, all nice and friendly like. I have to admit that he is a bit creepy to look at. He’s got this long stringy black hair all swirled around his head and stuck down on his skull, only a few rotten teeth, and he walks sort of tilted to one side. But I was thinking about how Jesus loved the lepers and all the people no one else liked and I thought I should be kind to Larry Looby and not judge him based on what other people thought about him. So I stopped my bike and politely said hello back to him. He said, “Come quick! I have something to show you—it’s quite a scene.” Well, I didn’t want him to think I was mean, so I said I needed to get home quickly because I had groceries in my basket but I guess I could come and take a look. So he led me to the side of his house, up behind some honeysuckle vines. I was getting a weird feeling, like I shouldn’t be doing this, but he just kept smiling at me, saying, “Come see this—it’s quite a scene.” There in his side yard, he had a big piece of canvas laid out on the grass. On the canvas were five wooden crosses and five dead cats. One of the cats was a whole dead cat but the others were all smushy and rotten, their eyes all chewed out, more like week-old road kill than a newly dead cat. He just smiled and said, “It’s quite a scene.” I was afraid to scream. I just ran to my bike and pedaled home as fast as I could, my heart nearly beating out of my chest. When I got home, I upchucked in the front yard and Mama came running out and I told her what had happened. I was afraid she would get mad at me, but she began to cry too. She said it was her fault for sending me to the store and telling me to hurry. She said she should have just gone with me, that she should have been there to protect me. “Please don’t ever go near that man again. Please, please forgive me. And please don’t hold this against me,” she prays.