Below, in the hollow, Madelaine Krutcher adjusted herself on the floor where she fell trying to retrieve a bottle of gin from the kitchen inside her 40-year-old house, nested among tall loblolly pines, tulip trees, sweet gums and maples. She launched into a harangue as she tried to sit up.
"Hate this thing, what, quad cane, fell again, but no one’s falling for me, don't they know I'm a Red Hat girl, damn legs swollen,” she said as if someone was there. “Cat tripped me, Snookie sweet pup lick my face, Nippy, you're ignoring me - Now they want me to have a motorized wheel chair, little ramps on my hardwood floor."
She had fallen in a hallway alongside three uncleaned litter boxes. Her elbow was in one, part of her robe in another. She was barefoot.
"Feel me, feel my skin, feel it all - nobody touches me - I'm the nice one with cute little dogs, lots of cats. Doctor says at my age, what, I need a health care worker. If he's a man OK, otherwise, skip it."
Krutcher removed her arm from the cat litter with what she thought was a gesture of grace, pretending she was on stage.
"Drink, drink, drink, drink, I need a drink, a man too, Horace is gone, other one also, husband, what was his name? Age makes you forget but how could I forget that. Rusty, Rusty was lusty, dead too. Oh can't get up. Oh no, not Rusty . . . Russell! -- Damn I gotta get up, nobody's going to help me."
Her monologues like this became frequent, nasty in tone. She liked to hear her voice, thought she should have been an actress, a femme fatal. Never too late, she believed.
“Y’all see me out there,” she said to the living room uttering a laugh. “I’m a gonna get up. I expect applause.”
She managed to rise, stabilize herself uneasily on her cane, and reach for the bottle of gin on the black formica counter in the kitchen to return to the screened-in back porch where earlier she had carried a melting tray of ice, a tall floral glass and a bottle of tonic, now on an opaque glass patio table. She sat unsteadily in a lawn chair, filled the glass, took a long drink and shouted;
"You out there, you damn coyote? You the one who was jumping at the porch door for my little pup Nippy?"
A canine chorus of dogs had begun their nightsong of barking from other homes in the older subdivision carved into the steeply bounded hollow.
"Oh yes oh yes sing it sing it. You hear that Nippy, they’re singing to you and me?" Nippy made a little motion with his tail but otherwise didn't move. Snookie was off somewhere.
“Snookie,” she called. “Snookie, get out here and keep me company.
Coyote, you out there?"
Above, on the ridge overlooking Krutcher’s home, stood Billy Daisy, short, disheveled, in his 30s, eyes focusing and unfocusing in the fading late summer twilight, sweating in the heat in front of a double-wide mobile home where a couple inside was cooking enough meth for tonight and tomorrow, they said. ...