“And who might you be? Good lord, you’re filthy. Come inside and get cleaned up.” This was clearly an order, not a question.
I bridled at being bossed around but felt too tired both emotionally and physically to argue the issue.
“Hello ma’am, my name is Jamie Carter… Did you see where the man who was here a second ago went?”
“Young lady, there ain’t nobody out here but yourself.” She said sternly as she gingerly took me by the elbow and led me inside.
The inside was clean but strangely barren and utterly devoid of any modern convenience. The furniture was sparse and there was a complete absence of decorations. The over all effect of the interior reminded me of something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. As the old woman led me to small room she presented herself as Mrs. Nanaac, a widower who had “been round these parts since a goodly long time before you were born, missy.” She left me alone in the room to warm some water on the wood-burning stove and to get me a small glass of something to warm me up “I know likker’s a sin, but I keep some around fer medicinal purposes.” I was pondering the events of the past few days when what I finally pinpointed what Mrs. Naanac’s interior had reminded me of: it reminded of the uneasy artificiality and blandness that had I felt when I visited model homes for a piece I wrote a few years back.
That was when the old lady returned with a tray bearing a basin and a ewer of steaming water and a small glass of green liquid.
“Alright, you have a nip o’spirits, and tend to your washing up.”
“Thank you ma’am. Um, I don’t suppose you or any of your neighbors would happen to have a telephone?”
“A what? I reckon you oughta ask ole Mr. Jebediah about that as soon as you're rested up.”
I shrugged and took a sip from the glass, it tasted like moonshine mixed with herbs and paint thinner. Not bad on the whole. I had another sip but quickly sat down feeling dizzy, the old woman was staring fixedly at me. I could feel myself begin to drift asleep, but before passing out, I saw the woman approach and sniff me in a manner not unakin to that of a dog looking for a scent. I could hear the old woman was mumbling to herself about night time not coming soon enough as she rifled my clothes, stopping every now and then to sniff what she was doing, I dimly heard her screech in triumph and she pulled the whistle from the pocket I had hid it in. My last thought before blacking out was to wonder if dying was the last thing I was going to do.