A Conversation with Kitty

She sweeps as she goes

Mrs. Horlacher came by to visit this evening. She’s done this on occasion; I’ve lived here three years and she’s made her way across the street to see me half a dozen times I guess. Honestly I don’t see how she does it. She’s so frail. Tiny slip of a woman. Up in her eighties. She toddles around with the aid of a broom. Not a cane, mind you. A broom. She sweeps as she goes, giving the appearance she’s making some sort of progress, when really she’s just propping herself up.

Kitty lives alone. I have no idea when her husband passed; I imagine it was many years ago. Tonight she didn’t speak of him, although she has. Tonight she was here to tell me about that man.

“You know which one I’m talking about. Not those two young ones.”  Whispering. “Black you know. No, it was the older one. Taller, with his hair,”  she motions in a circle around her head, “you know.”

“Easter morning of all things. Six in the morning he came to my door and pushed in the screen. He meant to push my door in all the way. I’m going to call nine one one. I told him that. They’ve told me to call nine one one. I just felt I should let my neighbors know. He said he was coming to show me his new bicycle and then he pushed my door with his foot. I just thought you should know.”

“Yes ma’am. I believe I know where he got that new bike. I believe it may be the one that disappeared from my carport.”

Kitty’s eyes widened. “Well! You see? You must call nine one one. They’ve told me to call nine one one. Jimmy said I should do that.” Jimmy is one of Kitty’s sons and lives in the area.

“One day I want you to see what they’re trying to do behind my house. If you’re ever over I’ll show you. They’re coming around to the back through those lines. You’ve seen the lines?”

“Oh, yes ma’am.”

“Well they come around the side, my property ends down there at the wall, it’s all paid for, and they’re coming around to the back. I’ll show you.”

“Have you seen them?”

Kitty bristles and her tiny eyes flash. “Well yes! I know who they are! It’s the Lemmons, the Indians. The Indians are coming in through the lines. I know someone at SCE and G! It’s the Indians. That Hester, you know who I’m talking about. Up the street. Her house is next to mine and she has ten feet under the window. Next to my property. Ten feet. One day she had two people from the big Baptist church uptown come to visit and they parked on my property. I went over to tell her that if they got hurt on my property I just couldn’t handle that. Hester shut the door right in my face because I told her I just couldn’t handle someone getting hurt on my property. She’s part Indian you know. You see, it’s all connected. I’ve talked to the FBI. Jimmy says he’ll sue but that won’t do any good. Jimmy was in law you know. In Hawaii. He knows a few tricks.”

I watch a mosquito settle on Kitty’s right cheek. “Miz Kitty, aren’t you getting eaten up?” I slap at my wrist, my leg.

“Oh no! They don’t bother me. This neighbor of yours, the new man. He has children you know.”

“Miz Kitty, I have to go in. Can I drive you back home?”

“No, no. I’m fine. I’ve fallen four times you know. Last time I got rained on. That nice Mr. Fogler down the street found me. I’ve known them for years. He’s from Charleston and has property down there. She’s from up around Greenville…” 

Post Script December 16, 2007

Cora, the police officer who found her, said Kitty looked like she had gone to sleep on the kitchen floor. “She must have fallen, then,” I said.

“No. She was all wrapped up in a lot of blankets. It looks like she went to sleep there.”

Dear little Katherine Brown Horlacher.  June 1923 – December 2007.  Rest well, Kitty.

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