Indigo just wasn’t gonna have it. She’d been working too hard for too long, and without any contribution from her Joebob either. LETCH! The grandkids had been having all sorts of problems and drama, and Sophie dropped them in her lap again and gone God only knows where. And on her day off too, what a nerve! That one didn’t turn out the way she’d expected. She got Joebob’s laziness and propensity for trouble; she sure the hell didn’t get it from her! Indigo sat in the living room and stewed. Her back ached from yesterday’s double-shift cleaning the Jenkins’ house over on Elm and the kids’d been running rampant and carrying on all day with their horseplay. She just wasn’t gonna have it! She’d come to the conclusion that things were gonna have to change.
I’d met her many years ago. Gosh, I could only have been about fourteen or fifteen. I only remember so vividly as I’d see her on the days when I cut out of school- that’s when I’d hide out in Jackson Park. Now back then in the twenties things were certainly different than they are today. This park and surrounding courthouse square was a place where people actually spent time, as opposed to our busy pace nowadays where people mainly use the park to cut through on their way from here to there. It’s a long story really, but even though now I know how to get along with everyone pretty well and have no problem kowtowing to the authorities, back then I was a troubled child, quiet; too much of a dreamer or something. I didn’t have much love for the other kids or for going to school or being told what to do, and didn’t have many friends either.
Maybe you can relate, I don’t know.
But anyway, yeh so I met Indigo back then. We struck up an odd friendship of sorts. Or an acquaintanceship is more like it. An odd pair we made- she, an old black woman, somewhat portly but good-natured enough, with a loud laugh and easy way about her; and me, a skinny kid, and one who didn’t laugh much at all. I remember distinctly the day we met. I was sitting there on the bench, the one that directly faced the big statue of Andrew Jackson. I’d spent a lot of time looking at that statue then, just wondering how such a big man could ride such a small horse. It was something to do I guess, other than reading the books I was always lugging around with me. On the day Indigo happened upon me, I was sitting there minding my own business, reading F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and the Damned. Heady reading for a kid it was, but again I was an odd duck.
The park was empty, and I looked up from my book and saw her trumping down the path, toting some buckets and mops, laboring her way toward me. When she got to my bench, she put her stuff down and took out a handkerchief and wiped the sweat from her brow.
INDIGO: Don’t EVEN get me started on how HOT it is today! What are you doing here kid, you oughta be anywhere but here now, why don’t you git wherever you’re supposed to be?
ME: Ma’am? I’m sitting here just reading my book, ma’am, that’s all.
INDIGO: Well no matter.
I put my face back in the book. Even though Indigo could have sat on any of the empty benches in the park, she decided mine was good enough for her.
INDIGO (looking at me): You wouldn’t BELIEVE what happened with that boss of mine today, don’t EVEN get me started! I’ve been working for him what now, twenty years?
She was waiting for an answer.
INDIGO: What do mean ma’am child? Yeh twenty years I’ve been working for him. And today I go over there and he’s waiting for me with some BIG man, some kind of copper; doing all sorts of questioning of me when I get there. I don’t know nothin about anythin they’re fussin about, they got some nerve. Don’t EVEN get me started!
ME (putting my book down): What kind of questioning ma’am? What were they asking you?
INDIGO: Oh, you don’t know nothin child, what are you doing here, shouldn’t you be somewhere else? They started askin me all kinds of questions about my Joebob. Askin where he was last night, who he was with. I told em “Don’t even get me STARTED, I have no idea where he goes or what he does, why don’t you ask him?” Well they just kept on and on about it, but I didn’t tell em nothin. They oughta just go and ask him, doncha think?
ME (not knowing what to say): Well I guess so ma’am, I don’t know really.
INDIGO: Yeh you don’t know. You don’t know nothin child, well I’ve about had it!
She sat back on the bench in a huff, shielding her eyes from the sun beating down, looking around and eyeballing the goings-on in the park. She wiped the sweat off her face again and pulled a bag of cheese crackers from her pocketbook and started eating them.
INDIGO: Yeh well I told em I had to take a walk, clear my head (she said while chewing). It’s a hot day today, doncha think? Well I don’t need anyone crawlin up my ass about my Joebob. And God only knows what he went and done anyway. I sure the hell don’t. Go ask him is what I told em!
She looked at me expecting an answer, holding out the bag of cheese crackers to me.
ME (saying no to the crackers): That sounds like the right thing to do, yeh clear your head (for lack of anything better to say).
INDIGO: A woman like me oughta not have to take that kind of treatment. I work hard, don’t even get me STARTED! So I just walked outta there, policeman or no policeman. And here I am. What are you doing here kid, you oughta be somewhere else, why don’t you git where you’re supposed to be? Or that copper will come lookin for YOU!
Nothing more came of our conversation that first day. But the next day I cut out of school again. I came back to my bench and sat down with my book, and it wasn’t even five minutes and I saw her trouncing her way back toward me again; down the same path, carrying that same damn stuff, and now with a big grin on her face when she saw me.
INDIGO: Now what are you doin here child?
She sat down on the bench.
INDIGO: You’re not gonna believe what happened to me today, don’t EVEN get me started!
So it went on like this for a while. I mean any time that I ducked out of school and went to Jackson Park, she’d come trouncing along. And be all happy when she saw me too. She’d sit down next to me and tell me of her unbelievable escapades. I started getting used to seeing her. But I never really knew her any more than these times we sat on my bench. And there really wasn’t much more to it.
But Indigo just wasn’t gonna have it! The grandkids had been trouncing around yelling and fighting all day and given her a splitting headache when the phone rang. The eldest yelled, “I’ll get it!!” He walked into the living room and handed Indigo the phone. “Grandma it’s for you.”
JOEBOB: Indigo, honey, I ain’t gonna make it home for dinner I got too much going on here, you’re gonna have to hold down the fort.
INDIGO: Joebob, come on now. I’ve just about HAD it, Sophie dropped the kids off and my back and legs are killin me; and don’t you EVEN get me started!
JOEBOB: Well that’s how it is honey, don’t wait up.
Indigo hung up, shoved a bottle of water and cheese crackers into her pocketbook and walked out the front door. She made way down the street, lawyers and fancy people all on their way somewhere too. Getting toward lunchtime already here, sun hot as hell.
She cut through the park and lugged toward the big statue of Jackson there and sat down on the bench next to a young couple. They looked at her curiously.
INDIGO: You wouldn’t believe what happened to me today. What are you two doing here? Well, I just ain’t gonna have it. Things are gonna have to change. Don’t EVEN get me started!