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January 23, 2023

Indigo

By Pete Armetta

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! Her grandkids had been having all sorts of problems and drama lately, and Sophie had 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 that's for sure. She got Joebob's laziness and propensity for trouble; she sure the hell didn't get it from Indigo. So she sat there in her chair, back aching from her double shift cleaning yesterday, kids running rampant in the house with their yelling and fighting and screaming, and just stewed. She really just wasn't gonna have it! So Indigo made what she felt was a firm decision that things were just gonna have to change.

I'd met her many years ago. Gosh, I could only have been about fourteen or fifteen, still a tyke. 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 there than they are today. The park and surrounding square was a place where people actually spent time, as opposed to our busy pace nowadays when people just use the park to cut through on their way from here to there, or where those fancy courthouse people come out to eat their lunches on a balmy day. That's a long story really, but even though now I know how to get along with everyone pretty well and have no problems kowtowing to the authorities that be, 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 older 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 the first time we met, distinctly. 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 actually ride such a small horse. It was something to do I guess, other than reading the books I was always lugging 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 bird for my age.

The park was empty, and I looked up from my book and saw her trumping down the pathway, lugging some buckets and mops, laboring her way towards me. When she got to my bench, she put her stuff down and took out a handkerchief and wiped the sweat off 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.

INDIGO: Well no matter.

I put my face back in the book. Even though Indigo could have sat on any of the empty benches, 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.

ME: Ma'am?

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 with some BIG man, some kind of copper, doing all sorts of questioning of me when I get there. I don't know nothing about anything 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 asking me all kinds of questions about my Joebob. Asking where he was last night, who he was with. I told them "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 them nothin. They oughta just go and ask him, don't you think, child?

ME (not knowing how to respond): Well I guess so, ma'am, I don't know really.

INDIGO: Yeh you don't know. You don't know nothing, child, well I've about had it up to here!

She sat back on the bench in a huff, shielding her eyes from the sun beating down, looking around and eyeballing around the park. She wiped her face again and pulled out a bag of cheese crackers and started eating them.

INDIGO: Yeh well I told them I had to take a walk, clear my head (she said with her mouth full). It's a hot day today, doncha think? Well I don't need anyone crawling up my ass about my Joebob. And God only knows what he went and done anyway, I don't. Go ask him is what I told them!

She looked at me expecting an answer, holding out the bag of cheese crackers to me.

ME (shaking my head 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 ougtha be somewhere else, why don't you git where you're supposed to be? Or that copper will be comin and lookin for YOU!

Nothing more came of our conversation that day. But the next day I didn't wanna go to 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 doing 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 awhile. I mean any time that I ducked outta school and went to Jackson Park, she'd come trouncing along. And be all happy when she saw me too. And she'd sit down next to me and tell me all kinds of unbelievable stories about her 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 were trouncing around all loud and causing a ruckus when the phone rang. She heard the eldest yell, "I'll get it!!!" He walked into the living room handing her the phone, "Grandma it's for you." Indigo took it.

JOEBOB: Indigo, honey, I ain't gonna make it home for dinner today I got too much going on over here, you're gonna have to hold down the fort there.

INDIGO: Joebob, come on now. I've just about HAD it, Sophie dropped the kids off and my back is killing me, and don't EVEN get me started!

JOEBOB: Well that's how it is, don't wait up.

Indigo hung up the phone and picked up her purse, shoving a bottle of water and some snacks in there and walked out the front door. She made down the street, lawyers and fancy people all out going somewhere, 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 just 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 anymore, things are gonna have to change. Don't EVEN get me started!

Article © Pete Armetta. All rights reserved.
Published on 2013-10-14
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