FICTION  by Gertrude Crocker



Smith of the Burning Eyes and Edith

Excerpt, pages 27-28
from Tales of Cardinal Court
Petaluma, 1999


The Smiths turned out to be an unremarkable couple in their fifties. (But that was only a first impression, often deceptive.) The furniture going in passed muster. Some pieces were even admired by dog-walking ladies. But that Chihuahua! Wasn’t that a sad excuse for a dog? Marianne Fallon’s Doberman pincher mistook the little beast for a large rat and tried to eat it.

“Why, I had to hold on to the leash for dear life to keep Cookie from chewing the poor little thing to pieces. Thank God nobody was around,” Marianne told the ladies.

Lottie Dixon, next door to the Smiths at Number 18, reported that he was red-faced, heavy-set, no neck, ex-football type. She was small, you might even say tiny, sort of vague looking, and her clothes looked expensive.

On a foggy night Mona Lisa and Gunlak Johansen were walking the bulldog, Sven Two, when out of the darkness and into the misty glow of a street light, tiny unremarkable Edith Smith materialized; then the Chihuahua, Precious, appeared at the far end of a very long leash.

Edith was singing,

“I may be wrong BUT
I think you’re WONderful,
Just WONderful, my dear,”

and, she was as naked as her little dog. The Johansens smiled and nodded, wished her a pleasant “Good evening!” and went on their way. At a safe distance they broke into laughter.

“Oh, my God! Can you believe it?” Mona Lisa gasped. “Nothing! Not a stitch on! And not a bit concerned!” She grabbed Gunlak’s arm to keep from collapsing with mirth.

Gunlak shouted out, “Bare-assed! Like a peeled banana! What a woman!”

“And singing!” Mona Lisa yelled.

“Let’s take up a collection, folks. Buy her a medal,” Gunlak called into the foggy night. “It’s got to be a first! Around here, anyway. Right, neighbors?”

Mona Lisa choked back her laughter. “Yes! A medal! But how could you pin it on her bare chest?”

The next Edith-in-the-nude sighting occurred in broad daylight. Lottie Dixon, pulling into her garage, observed Edith sashaying along, wearing nothing at all and dragging Precious half a block behind. She was singing,

“By the time I get to Phoenix
He’ll be waking. OH YEAH!”

Lottie clapped her hands over her astonished open mouth. Oh, just look at her, she thought. She’s so frail! And singing like that. I ought to do something. She’s got a screw loose or something. I better call Gen or Marianne. Oh, the poor little thing!

Then she saw Smith in her rearview mirror. He was partially concealed behind a rhododendrum bush. She heard a “Psst!” and a plea, “Edith, please! Come in, will you? Edith? Come on now, Edith!”

Edith flipped him a casual wave and segued smoothly into,

“I’m goin’ to Jackson, YEAH, YEAH,
I’m goin’ to Jackson, WATCH OUT!”

This happened to be the afternoon preceding the night that Smith was throwing a party to welcome himself to Cardinal Court. Everyone was invited, and anxious to see what, if anything, Edith would be wearing, everyone accepted. Word of her penchant for nudity had spread.

© Gertrude Crocker, 1999

  cover: tales of cardinal court


Cover offset printed on 80-pound Tarragon (smooth finish) with cream linen text paper and translucent fly sheet. To see enlargement of cover, click on image above.

56 pages


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