Fiction: Selections from Ted Tedescue
Esmeralda was buried today and I’m not ashamed to say I cried at her funeral. No one knew for sure how old she was when she died, and the fireball that engulfed her little trailer didn’t leave much for the medical examiner to examine. It singed the rabbit hutch out back but didn’t kill any of them. Local folks thought she was about 40, but the serenity of being simpleminded looked good on her, and those who didn’t know might have thought she was in her late 20s.
The fire marshal thought it was the water heater that went. It had been right windy the night before, and he speculated that she had tried to light it the next morning, ignoring the smell of gas. At least it was quick he said.
It was mostly men at her funeral. Sarah of course, and Sister Annette, one of the two Catholic nuns who had raised her, and a few of the older wives. Preacher gave short sermon extolling the virtues of the pure of heart, while the rest of us looked at our shoes. It was true though, Esmeralda had been the most virtuous among us. A foundling, raised right in the bosom of the church, so to speak, simple and pure, at least until she hit puberty.
Sarah had always tried to look after her. The two of them had hit off in grade school. Sarah, looked out for her like a little sister, even when she had her own children. It was Sarah who took her to the doctor in Reno and got her started on the pill. And, it was Sarah who set her up in a little Section 8 trailer north of town.
Just to look at her you wouldn’t think there was anything wrong. And, that wide doe eyed smile and awesome chest would make even the old men look twice, but when you looked close, real close, you could see the empty space behind her eyes and then you knew.
Not that it stopped any of us. Once word got out that she liked sex, the boys just kept coming. The nuns tried of course, but there just wasn’t much they could do, and she made a man out of most of us. She may have been simple, but she knew what she liked, and told us with that happy sing-song voice. Afterwards, she would always wash up, the nuns must’ve taught her that, before she went to sleep. Most times guys would leave a few dollars in her cookie jar or a bag of rabbit feed pellets on her steps. It got so that anyone under that age of 20 who bought rabbit food at Maddox Feed and Hardware would get a knowing wink or a sly chuckle from Mr. Maddox who had three sons himself, but secretly we all loved her.
Once, a high school football star from the next county walked into Danny’s Bar and Grill and made the mistake of telling everyone that he had left the town whore crying after he had fucked her in the ass before a game. They found four of his teeth in his stomach at the hospital and he didn’t make it to the game that night.
Sarah went out to find her, huddled in a corner crying and cradling one of her rabbits. She wouldn’t let Sarah take her to emergency room. Doc Watson came out too, but she wouldn’t come out of the bathroom, so Sarah drew her a bath and made sure she took the pills he left. After that the boys stopped coming and she lived alone with her rabbits for awhile until Ethan’s son, Joey, came back from her weekly grocery delivery with a huge smile on his face. Word got around, and the boys, and even a few men, started visiting again.
Eventually, most of us grew older, got jobs or went to college, and moved on to other girls, but we all walked a little taller because of Esmeralda.
It was mostly men at her funeral, and I’m not ashamed to say I cried.
Dinner and a Show
The house looked like a McMansion straight from the set of Gone With the Wind. Four pillars faced a circular driveway surrounded by a perfectly manicured lawn. To the right stood what could only be a pool house, and on the left was a barn and stable with a few horses nickering inside.
She stood on the porch, wearing a gauzy sarong, leaning against a pillar, one leg slightly bent showing some skin while holding a half-empty glass in the other hand, as if posing for a magazine cover. And for once, her picture on the dating app didn’t lie. She was a stunner.
“You must be, Ted” she said in melodic tones. “You look exactly like your picture, good for you. Come on in.”
I entered a foyer that was bigger than my entire apartment, complete with a chandelier. Pictures of horses and girls in riding gear adorned the walls.
“And you must be Claudia.” I said. Your picture doesn’t do you justice.”
She smiled and laughed. “I can see that we are going to get along just fine.” I could tell that she had had more than one drink from the way she slightly slurred her words.
She said. “Come out to the patio. The kids are with my ex, and I gave the maid the day off and prepared supper myself, so we are all alone. I hope you like steak. You’re not a serial killer, are you?”
I followed her to a side door where a barbecue grill was smoking by the pool.
“No ma’am” I replied “And, I like my steak rare.”
“Ma’am,?” She said “Why so formal? I’m sure we are really going to get to know each other better.”
And before I could say another word, she pressed her perfectly formed breasts against me, still holding a barbecue tong while she pushed her tongue into my mouth like an otter chasing minnows.
Her breath was a mixture of Pepe’ Lopez, mouthwash, and cigarette smoke, while her hair smelled like hibiscus.
Giggling, she abruptly stopped and stepped back, “No dessert before dinner, but afterwards….” She gestured towards what appeared to be a bear skin rug draped over two horizontal lounge chairs.
“Is that what I think it is?” I asked. “A bear skin rug?”
“Uh-huh.” She said “ It’s a grizzly, my ex shot it in Alaska. He loved to shoot things. He fought so hard for it in the divorce, but I got it anyway, the cheating bastard. I didn’t really want it but I must say, now that I have tried it out a few times, the feeling of the fur on skin is just so sensual. Don’t you think?”
“I wouldn’t know.” I replied, “All I have at my house is a cat, and she is still alive.”
“Oh goodie,” she squealed. “An animal lover. I just adore animal lovers, don’t you? Animals are so wild and free, and so feral. It makes me hot just thinking about how primal nature is, the raw emotion of it all.” She said as she spun and swirled, her sarong trailing behind her. The end of which landed on the barbecue and promptly burst into flame.
With a shriek loud enough to shatter diamonds, she ran past the grill tipping its contents onto the bearskin rug. Still trailing the flaming sarong, she stumbled towards the kitchen door while I stood on the burning end until, spinning like an empty roll of toilet paper, she fell onto the kitchen floor, stark naked.
With a sigh, I turned to the rug and lawn chairs, now fully engulfed by the flaming grill. Gingerly I pushed the entire mess into the pool and splashed water onto the hissing mass with my hands.
Out of the corner of my ear, I could hear her breathlessly on the phone. “Yes, come quick, it's an emergency. I’ve been set on fire, and the whole house could go up in flames at any minute.”
As I stood by the pool, pondering the smoldering wreckage, the fire trucks pulled up and Claudia burst from the kitchen, still completely naked. “Thank God you are here Officer,” she said to the fireman who was emptying a fire extinguisher onto the still smoking bear. “It was simply awful. You saved me.” she gushed as she jumped into his arms, knocking the fire extinguisher loose with a clang.
While the firemen checked her for injuries, the lounge chairs and rug bobbed gently in the pool. The white powder from the extinguisher had coated the rug and made it look for all the world, like a polar bear on an ice floe sneaking up on a seal. And, I spied what appeared to be a perfectly cooked steak resting on the bottom of the shallow end. The dark black eyes of the stuffed bear seemed to stare at me remorsefully as I turned to go.
“Don’t blame me pal.” I said, “I got burned on this date too.”
Ted Tedescue: Age 55, works and lives on a small farm in rural Virginia.
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