Maybel Bluebush

20 May

Maybel Bluebush was many things once, a friend, a lover and a mother. Now she’s a senior citizen, and it seems everything else faded away somewhere. Though she’d already been one technically for five years, she didn’t feel it until now, at 60 years old, which is the age she imagined adults really and truly old when she was a child.

Her hair is gray. She no longer bothers dying it chestnut brown. Her clothing is twenty years old. She neither cares about fashion nor has the money to buy new clothes. When she does have money, which she gets from social security checks, she buys flowers, gas for her 77 Chevy Caprice and groceries. She’s invisible anyways, why bother with personal aesthetics?

Her apartment, J7, is located on the 10th floor of a 15 floor apartment complex in the city. It’s a small room with an even smaller balcony. There’s a tiny kitchen, a bed and a bathroom. It’s neat. She was never messy. The walls are beige. On the balcony there is a chair and a flower pot with a sprinkling of seeds that never grow. There’s a bookshelf filled with her favorite books, cheap paperbacks she bought at garage sales. One of her kitchen cabinets is filled with her favorite teas, the only items she every splurges on.

It’s not much, but it’s hers, and it’s where she spends most of her time. It was here one day, as she watched television, that she heard the shot.

Maybel felt the jolt in her bones, corresponding with the sound. Not three minutes later the sound of sirens filled the streets, and she went out on the balcony to get a better look. An ambulance and three police cars tore down the street toward her building.

“What on earth?” she thought.

Never had there been a shooting in her building. She partly wanted to go get a better look at the commotion, and part of her was afraid of what she might find. She walked over to the door and locked it, instead.

Later that night, she watched it on the 11:00 p.m. news.

As she listened to the pert newscaster detail the murder, pictures of a Caucasian male, bloody and dead, flashed across the screen.

“The suspect is in custody,” said the newscaster, smiling. “And now, for a story about a dog with a big heart….”

Maybel switched off the television set. A murder? In her apartment building? Shivers ran up and down her spine, and cold dread settled inside her stomach. She felt the goosebumps along her arms and longed for her husband, who would have soothed them away. He would have told her to fix themselves both a cup of tea and that everything would be alright.

But things were not right, and they never would be again. Maybel walked past groups of people huddled in dark corners just to get to her apartment. The world around her was growing darker, she felt. She didn’t like leaving at night. Who knows what might happen? Here in the apartment, she was safe. Or at least she once thought so.

Three sharp knocks suddenly sounded on the door; the clock read 11:05 p.m. She briefly thought about ignoring it, but someone knocking on her door was something that didn’t often happen, except when it was the maintenance main who came to fix her faucet that perpetually broke every other week.

The locks snapped back from the door, one, two, three, and Maybe creaked the door open to peer at the knocker.

“Ah, poor old lady,” thought Jim, a police officer. “Look at her, holed up here in this wreck, alone. Poor thing.”

“Maam, my name is Jim; I’m a city police officer. I’m here to ask you some questions.”

Maybel stared at the man in front her. With his crisp blue uniform and shiny badge, he looked like an officer. She opened the door and stepped out.

“Were you in the building today when the shooting happened?”

“Yes.”

“Did you see anyone…suspicious?”

“No…I was just watching television when it happened. I heard it though, as clear as water.”

“Alright. Just checking. We’re searching the building for anyone who might know something about the murder. Sorry to bother you. Have a good night.”

She watched him walk down the long hall to the next door, where he placed three sharp knocks. The door cracked open as Maybel shut hers and soon fell into a deep, troubled sleep.

When Maybe woke the next morning it felt like everything that happened the night before had been some horrible nightmare, a figment of the imagination. But it all came back to her. The grisly pictures splashed across the television. The blood. The pert newscaster. The officer walking down the dim, yellow hall. When she opened a window the city sounds came pouring in: beeping cars, screeching tires and with it the thought that some murderer walked through her apartment building around 10 p.m. to shoot someone for no reason whatsoever. She closed it.

Today staying inside seemed worse than going outside. She put on her one pair of sneakers and slung her purse around her. Soon she was traveling down the elevator to the ground floor. And as the door dinged open, she thought about pressing the button again and heading straight back up to her apartment. Instead she walked out of the elevator. Soon she was walking down the pavement to somewhere she didn’t yet know.

   

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