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The Old Lady was angry again. No surprise, it took little to get her riled up these days. The world seemed to be against her all the time now. People didn't know their place. They didn't respect their betters. Her idiot neighbors of over 40 years were prime examples. Idiots they may be, but they always seemed to win the battles she provoked.

She and her husband tried to be kind at first. Invited the couple to her river plantation for cocktails on the lawn. She even let them bring their four noisy, snot-nosed children. They had moved to Arkansas from New Mexico and bought the 250 acres that surrounded her 15 acres. She had to drive through their property to get to hers, which irked her. She had brow-beaten the previous owners regarding the road. They had wanted the road moved further away from their house. As it was, it was a mere 30 feet from the front door.

The Old Lady knew the road belonged to her, but the new owners brought up the same subject of moving it. Feared for their children's safety, they said. Stupid kids should be smart enough to stay out of the road. So, she told them, kindly, that she just couldn't allow her road to be moved. The husband said the road was not hers, that the title only stipulated the presence of an easement to her property. He would make the road better and safer for all. She said she would take him to court if he tried to change it. The party ended and tension built from then on.

But they were smarter than she thought. They also weren't cowed by her words or actions. She tried to widen the road so her Cadillac wouldn't be scratched by the trees along the roadside. She hired a bulldozer to do the work but the neighbor stopped him! They sued her when she tried to make a new road to her property through their back woods. If her attorney hadn't been so incompetent she would have beaten them. The $4,000 she had to give them as a settlement still irked her, even 30 years later. She tried to sue them for other things, but somehow they got her blacklisted, no lawyer would take her cases.

Now she was alone. Her husband died years ago, and her son passed from cancer. His children, now grown, only came by when they needed money. She had very little of that left. But her property was worth something and those grandkids hoped to get it some day. Ungrateful brats were just waiting for her to die!

But she still had her anger. Now it was focused on the solitary figure in some kind of heavy machinery in the neighbor's pasture. He was very close to her fence line. She walked out to get a closer look and realized it was one of those stupid kids working a skid steer. He was grown now, but she still recognized him. He saw her and stopped the machine.

"I know you," she yelled. "You used to be such a cute child, now you're just an ugly man. In fact, I've never seen an uglier man in my whole life!" She heard him laughing, which made her even more angry.

"Ma'am, I remember you, too. I'm just clearing out the brush next to your fence line, which is really a mess. I can replace that for you, if you wish."

"Don't you touch that fence! My husband put up that fence and if you bother it I will sue!" He laughed again. "I'm not afraid of you, Old Lady. You tried that with my father and you always lost. Now, I'm just trying to help you because you're old, alone, and pathetic. Oh, and 'sticks and stones' to you, ma'am." He started laughing again as he got back in the machine.

The Old Lady was madder than ever. Such insolence! She was sure he had called her some vulgar names! She went back in the dilapidated house and got her rifle. She drove the old Cadillac to the fence line. The stupid man was moving his machine along the fence but away from her. She got out of the car, balanced the rifle on the door, and aimed it at the machine. If she was lucky, the bullet would hit him. She would claim self-defense! Her hands were shaking, though, and her breathing was ragged. All she had to do was pull the trigger...

The grandkids found her several weeks later, lying next to her car by the fence. Coyotes had done a lot of damage to the body. Maybe that was what she was shooting at when her heart gave out.

-- Devin Houston is the president/CEO of Houston Enzymes. Send comments or questions to devin.houston@gmail.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 10/16/2019

Print Headline: The Old Lady

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