I think it was the year I went mad that I killed her. Although, I killed her several times before that. Time plays tricks…plays tricks it does. Tiddle dee, tiddle da. I think I’ll trim the nasturtiums.
Sandra-Ray grabbed the pinking sheers, which weren’t pink and weren’t sheer, threw on a dusty old cardigan and ran out the door of the withered frame house past a barrel of rotting potatoes, a corroded wash stand, a dozen miss-matched sneakers, and cut off the heads of every nasturtium growing until the grass in the side garden looked like it had measles.
“That’s better,” she mumbled. “Nothing’s as pretty as a plant with no blooms.”
Rudolpho, her three-legged mutt nudged a snail with his nose, watching its thick rubbery head disappear inside the safety of its thin smooth shell. The hot noon day sun streaked down on his short bristly hair as he let out a yelp, then another that caught Sandra-Ray’s ears and drove her toward him in a march. His big paw came crashing down, hammering the snail into goo.
“Lord, you’re stupid,” she said. “Big and stupid stupid stupid. Tiddle dee, tiddle da.
I think I’ll trim your ears.” Rudolpho, was gone in a snap. Sandra-Ray shrugged as his tail rounded the broken corner of the paint-bare house.
Dermott’s late again, she thought, checking the sun. She could read time by the sun better than anybody. He was two and a half minutes late. I’ll kill him. I’ll kill him. She lifted the faded flowered apron high above her waist and sat down on the grass. Its long dry bushiness tickled her legs and crotch as she settled on a spot, then leaned back squinting at the sun.
“Sweet Pea,” Dermott shouted.
“Damn you, Dermott, you startled me,” she said, half looking up, choosing to retain her preferred position. “If you weren’t such a bad ass, I’d shame you for being late.”
“I’m not late,” he said, lowering his bullish body, straddling her long naked legs.
“Back off, Dermott, back the hell off!” She was an ounce to his pound but he scampered off like a shot. “You don’t want me to kill you, do you? I’ll kill you, Dermott, sure as eat a cookie.”
“You nutcase, missy. Only thing you kill is my joy-boy. Look at him. He curled back up like a dew worm.” Dermott grabbed his crotch and pulled the denim away, airing out his pride. “What is with you, girl? I come all the way over here to be friendly and you wanna kill me? What kind of girlfriend are you?”
“Did you see the nasturtiums? Big orange blooms, all pretty and dead on the grass over there? I love ya, Dermott. I just don’t feel like doing the hula right now.”
“Yeah, well,” he said, “how about in a minute or two? Or, five, maybe. I can wait.”
“Oh, look at that hawk!” she said, seeing it land on a neighbor’s roof. “Its wings are like a big black cape. Big and black. Just look at it.”
Dermott shuffled his feet side to side.
“I been thinkin’, Dermott. Maybe we should get married.”
“Married? You shout at me for nothin and want to marry me?!! You don’t wanna marry me, Sandie-girl, you wanna make me crazy.”
“Tiddle dee, tiddle da. I love ya, Dermott.”
“Yeah.” She grabbed a stick of grass and licked it.
Dermott lowered his eyes and sat down beside her. “But Sandie … I got nothing for you ‘cept my jolly-boy,” he said, “and you sure know how to scare him to sleep.” Her eyes softened. “You serious, Sandra-Ray, or toying with me, again?”
“I just as soon marry you as kill you, Dermott. Fact is, I think you being here will keep those bad thoughts from comin. Sometimes my imagination gets the best of me. I keep thinking I killed somebody.” She timidly searched his eyes, afraid of what she might find. “I didn’t … did I?”
“Nah. You didn’t kill nobody, Sweet Pea. You sure hated Nella for what she done to you, anybody would have… and when that truck went and killed her you just somehow started thinking you did it. But, nah … you didn’t do nothin.”
“I did go mad though, Dermott. You gotta know that.”
“Yeah, so did the world. You didn’t hurt nobody but yourself, missy. You just sat down one day and cried … and couldn’t stop. But you don’t need to do that no more. You’re a good sweet honey baby … and if you want me to be here with you …”
Dermott took Sandra-Ray’s hand and they slowly leaned back making a pillow of the earth, and stayed there for a good long while—‘til the sun let out its breath, and the moon rolled them over like a lover.