Who could that be? “Hello!”
“Hey, Girl. Guess who I saw yesterday!”
It was Lizette. She saw my ex the other day. Well he’s not really my ex. Yet! We’re separated, not divorced. After sixteen years of unholy matrimony, twenty if you count the four years we shacked up together, I left Rob. I say twenty because in the state of South Carolina when you present yourselves as husband and wife to the public, you’re considered married, not in the sacred sense, but in common law. So in the state’s eyes, we’ve been married longer than in the eyes of the Master.
“So what did ya’ll talk about?” I asked nonchalantly.
“Oh, nothing much. He’d been fishing up at Lake Murray and I was driving past, so I stopped and we talked.”
She was trying to get me to be more interested than I had intended. That was her way. She was nosy and always prying in folks business. That was one way about her. She had other ways that were honorable, and I loved her for those. At the same time I was wondering what she was doing up at Lake Murray.
“You know he still loves you,” she said.
“Oh, yeah?” I asked at the same time I was wondering where she got my new phone number. I know Rob didn’t have it. He refused to have anything to do with my move. He said not only didn’t he want my number; he didn’t want to know where I’d moved to either. He wasn’t being hard, he said, he just didn’t want to be tempted to call or come over until I was ready. Well, hell will freeze solid before I’m ready for that nasty piece of work. I wonder if she managed to get it from Lil’ Rob.
“Yes girl. We stood up and talked about you for thirty minutes or more.”
Another thing about Lizette, she tended to exaggerate the facts. If she said thirty minutes, it was probably ten minutes or less. “Oh, yeah? What’s going on with you and Mr. Rich these days?” I changed the subject, because her game was to get you talking about stuff that’s your business and not hers. To be such a young woman, she sure stayed in other people’s business. If she wasn’t talking about folks she knew, she was talking about the ones she didn’t. It seemed that no one ever measured up. I think she watched too much Dynasty in the 80’s. And I say that because of the way she acts and dresses, always overstated, and her expectations of the folks around her were over estimated. She’s sending her husband, Poor Richard, to the poor house. His name is Richard Ezra Davies and I called him Poor Richard - not to his face or in front of Lizette or their daughter, Melissa, of course. I guess that’s kind of deceitful - all right, two-faced, if you will - but that’s how I feel.
“Rich is doing fine”, she said changing the subject right back “But guess what Mr. Robert Edward Davies told me?”
Since she called his full name, I suppose I needed to hear what she had to say. And yes, our husbands have the same last name. What’s even more ironic is their initials are the same, R.E.D. That should have been a sign for me to cut my losses back then when I met him. But thank God, and small children, they’re not kinfolk. I couldn’t stand being related to Lizette. I can just see myself at the Thanksgiving dinner table biting my tongue to keep from cussing her out for snubbing something I cooked. She’s the type of friend you can only stand in small doses, like Scott’s Emulsion. “What did he tell you, Liz?” Oh yeah, she insisted that I call her Liz, now. All the years I’d known her, she was Lizette Pearl Cooper, then Davies. When Rich bought her the Benz, and I mean the big S class Mercedes, she changed her name to Liz Davies. No middle name. You’d think she wanted to change her heritage, too. Now she’s sporting around town like she was some freakin’ movie star.
“He said,” she paused. “Are you sitting down?”
I was silent. I didn’t want her to think that what she was about to disclose mattered a whole lot to me.
“He said you moved out, leased an apartment for six months or a year, and if you didn’t hurry up and come back home, somebody else was going to be done got him.”
Lizette cheerfully released all that without taking a breath. The sad part is he’s probably right. I’ve been gone for two weeks full and no male, or otherwise, has even looked my way. My mother told me I’d better make sure of what I was doing, because a woman my age would have a better chance of winning a five state Power Ball Lottery than she would finding another man to marry her. He on the other hand has had commiseration from almost every woman on our block. How do I know? Folks talk to you when you and your man are doing badly. Some of the neighbors never as much as raised an eye to me before I left Rob and we lived there over seven years. Now they see me in the Food Lion and I’m there best friend. Shirley, the neighbor who lives across the street, said Faye, from three doors down, took dinner over to him two days after I left. Carolyn, who I’ve talked to across the back fence once or twice, invited him to a cookout she was throwing for her son’s graduation. Now I still have the answering machine pass code, so I can check the machine for any messages that go to 1744 Westchester Acres Drive. Rob never checks. So what do I hear? A co-worker, female, of course, is calling to ‘check on him’. Hi Rob, it’s me, Dina. Just calling to check on you to see how you getting along. Call me back.
The nerve of that heifer, calling to check on somebody else’s husband. She left her husband in the house with two teenage boys and bought a small house for herself. That was four years ago. Guess what, she’s still single and he married a girl in her late twenties and started a brand new family with small kids and all. I never understood why she left him, either. He was fine looking and worked steady. But you never know the goings on in someone else’s home. I can attest to that.
“Did you hear what I said, Gail?” Lizette asked in a phone that had a cadaver on the other end. I was cold as a dead woman, but not dead. Yet!
“Yeah! I heard you.” “Well what are you going to do?”
“I’m not going to do anything, but finish unpacking these glasses so I can have something to drink my wine cooler out of.”
“What do you think about what he said?” “Lizette, I really hadn’t had time to think. But when I do I’ll call you first, ok?”
I didn’t intend to let Lizette get next to me. She is my friend, but she makes me sick sometimes. Her superior attitude can unnerve a monk. It’s like she sits on higher ground from every one else and looks down on us, giving all of us nods of approval or frowns of disapproval. Thank God I’ve been on her approval list for a while.
“Well, are you going to call him?”
“No!” I shouted, “Why should I call Rob, Lizette? The purpose of my moving out was to get away from that road kill.”
“Sho you right, but you better heed what he’s saying to you. The buzzards done started to circle around that road kill, as you call him. I’ll call you later. Bye.”