Grandmother's Devil & Other Tempting Tales

Grandmother Sits

An old woman floats easily between worlds, none of them in as sharp relief as they once were. She spends her last hours on her front porch, resting in her white wicker rocker, sipping lemonade from her favorite glass, the ones with the stenciled lemon slices.

"Ah," Grandmother smiles, without looking up from her reverie. "Here comes Cletus with the mail."

The almost silent delivery truck pauses up the street, three houses away from the Yashimotos, then two doors up at the Hollisters, then finally in front of Grandmother's house.

"Sounds like Cletus has forgotten his pushcart again," Grandmother thinks. "That man's going to ruin his back with that heavy bag."

Ruby Mae opens the gate in the low wrought iron fence. "Afternoon, Grandmother," she says, climbing the painted concrete steps to the wraparound porch.

"Oh Luther, is that you?" Grandmother asks softly. "I thought I had lost you. Have you seen the Jewel Tea man? He's usually here by this time with our groceries."

"It's Ruby May, Grandmother, with the mail. Not much to deliver today. Here's your Cappers Weekly and the advertising flyer from Rexall. I'll just put them here on the table."

"The table's just fine, thank you" she says, slowly opening her eyes. "Luther will mix it all up if you take it inside. Is Cletus sick today?"

"Cletus retired over a year ago, Grandmother. He's doing fine. Moved away with his wife to Arizona and left me to carry his route. He sent me a Christmas card last year with a Kodak of the mobile home park where he lives. He has a nice, nearly new trailer out there. He reminded me to take extra special good care of you."

"Cletus is a nice man. Tell him I hope he feels better soon and can get back to work. A man has to feed his family. It's so nice of you to help him out until he's better."

"You take care now, Grandmother," Ruby Mae said. "Is there anything else you need?"

"No I'm just fine. Got everything I need right here. Just waitin' for the Jewel Tea. He's such a nice man. Reminds me of my Luther. So handsome!"

"OK, then Grandmother. Tomorrow's Sunday so I'll see you again Monday afternoon."

Grandmother closes her eyes as Ruby Mae latches the wrought iron gate. Ruby Mae's mail truck glides down the road and stops in front of the Singhs.

"Luther," Grandmother says quietly, "you should come out here and sit on the porch with me. It's such
a beautiful time of the day." We can just visit for a minute and then I'll go and inside and fix your supper.

"I picked the last of the tomatoes today and there's some of my special cornbread in the skillet. There's leftover ham hocks and navy beans too. We can come back out here later in the cool and have our peach cobbler before bedtime. I got a good scald on thta last batch of peaches I put up."

Grandmother sits in the lengthening evening. The setting sun gives way to flashing fireflies and the songs of crickets and cicadas, then to the midnight moon and stars. Grandmother takes no notice.