The Cough - #4
This is the story of one’s inevitable evolution, based on a true story.
Ursula, had to go stay with her Mom, in an active senior community, for undisclosed reasons. If she’d let you look into her eyes, for longer than one nano-second you would know that she used to be strong as diamond nails, however, in this moment, she was weak, beaten to a purple pulp by the world. If she’d let you look into your eyes, you would know she was running from something. You would know that she had a secret.
Her Mom knew Ursula was dealing with a lot, she had always been a productive, manic depressive, bipolar boss, with a borderline personality. This time around, Ursula was at a crossroads, crushed between the jagged, slicing edges of another nervous breakdown, a low a bank balance, wavering confidence, a shattered, butt hurt heart and the glittering silver lining of her next glorious phase of her evolution twinkling just over yonder, a rosy hued, spirited horizon. Ursula just had to focus and press on through the swampy, messy muck of her current life. Ursula would have to work hard on herself to get out of her current state. Yoga, meditation, visualization, eat right, not scarf down the fried overcooked shit her Mom made from recipes gathered from newsstand ‘Ol’ Lady Magazines’ and work her shit out, stay out of random arguments with her my Mom over modern art and music, that her mother hated and she loved. And not to forget to smell the roses, watch sunsets and daydream the routes her life could still possibly take. She’d have to remember and believe with all of her heart. That if she could dream it, she could do it. For some reason she couldn’t see or visualize her future. All was dark.
Her mother a mostly silent and sometimes moody, supportive bestie knew this about her daughter, and let her stay trouble free, in her grandma-y cottage-y duplex, in her pre-pre-hoarder-esque spare bedroom of stuff she’d never use or wear again. The room she’d store her never ending micro-piles of Big Lots and Target merch and internet or consignment and thrift shop purchases As Seen On TV light clutter and her vast collection of rare, high end, expensive, brilliantly colored designer robes, which hung neatly in the closet like a Wikipedia of Fashion, a prestige spectrum of Skittles-died history in the closet. Knowing her daughter’s disposition, which was similar to her youthful spirit, she knew that Ursula would be on her way soon, like a pretty little rocket, as soon as she gathered herself, visualized and owned her future, rested deeply and found her newly adjusted dream route and strength again. After Ursula would complete that, she would bounce, usually in a moments notice.
Ursula’s Mom’s active senior community, was filled to the brim with smiling, thankful, friendly yet nosey Gramps and Grannies who were right out of a Doug cartoon, fully equipped with tradeable homemade comfort food delights and hugs that lasted way too long. This inviting tiny district was fully flourished with the fragrance of blossoming lemon, and orange trees and charming, welcoming flowers of an enchanting variety, and had mild wild life of curious, sweet, scurrying little critters like lizards, birds and squirrels, oh my! It was a pastel watercolor, gently manicured botanical garden, which was quiet and chill, and extremely peaceful...in between ambulance sirens for this one and that one...one could really, really rest there.
Figuratively and literally there was one old lady who refused to rest easy, nothing could lull her energy. She went by a lot of names, sometimes she’d tell you she too had a secret, it was darker than most. She coughed, she coughed alot, one of those, loud, husky man distorted, disgusting and wet coughs. One of those wicked whooping coughs that sounded as if she was hacking up dozens of weighty concrete dipped iron lungs doused in bucket of sticky fluorescent-Slimer green mucus. The kind of cough that made your fucking lungs ache, after she was done spitting her nastiness in a balled up overused, stained, diseased-ridden dirty little napkin of hers.
She always wore black from head to toe. From afar she looked like a ancient, fragile bum, however, if you got up close on her you would see that she was smothered in vintage brands of yesterday’s past, tucked into the front of her pants of her bone-skinny body. Coco Chanel, Pierre Balmain, Christian Dior, all loose and dripping off her like blank ink. She was continuously coughing. Her hat though was something else, something of a safari variety, it was rather worn and weathered, also in black, a very dusty black. She wore it down, down, low on her tiny shrinking head, so you barely could see her shriveled testicle face. Ey, that hat, if it could only speak, the tales it would it tell. It was beaten with black, not solid in coloring with a round brim, with bollo strings tied up tight around her fatty, spotted, flapping chin, a scarf draped around her head and hat all of that grotesque-ness.
She had not aged well. Her little frame, her silhouette was, quite menacing underneath all the black outwear. She went by a lot of names, sometimes she’d tell you her name was Cleopatra, Harriet Tubman, Esther, Sappho, Hatshepsut, Catherine the Great, Sacajawea, Joan of Arc or Lil’ Sweet Tea Tea. Her real name was Kelly. Everyone called her Hobo Kelly behind her back and Kels to her face. She spoke of the billions of dollars she had stashed in her boat in the Marina. She spoke of knowing where the bodies were buried and that she knew the Colonel's secret fried chicken recipe. She spoke a lot of nonsense. Always coughing out her spleen and pacing around the property puffing on her cancer sticks with her walking stick and her nasty napkins in tow, the old bitch Hobo Kelly was always in earshot and eyeshot.
Whenever Hobo Kelly, whenever she looked at young Ursula, her casual, hipster fashion, the way she effortlessly rocked blood red lipstick and her mother’s classical robes over shorts and leggings with a messy bun with bangs and what not, over by the pool for water-aerobics meditating, over in the rec room for poker day and potlucks socializing living in the moment, or picking up her mother’s junk at the mailboxes being a good kid, she couldn’t help but to take her all in. If she could be young again, at least in her 30’s, today, that’s what she would look like. However, whenever Ursula encountered the old woman Hobo Kelly, all that came out was disdain, a thick smoke of evil. A series of judgmental barks covered her admiration for the girl.
Ursula’s mother informed her not to conversate, or interact with the old hag Hobo Kelly, but whenever Ursula went outside for anything there was the old heifer Kels. It seemed the old woman was always lurking in sight, just feet, just inches beyond Ursula's radius, sometimes she’d talk to herself in some unrecognizable dialect, a gibberish only Hobo Kelly could understand. She gravely inhabited this veil, between Ursula and the outside world.
For 3 weeks the old woman coughed that cough of hers just outside Ursula’s window. There was a small patio out there, and 9 times out of ten the old woman would be out there smoking like a jealous chimney. The old woman was doing whatever she could to be a part of Ursula’s world.
On this one early morning around 4 am, Ursula could take the coughing and the old women’s protrusion no longer. She threw on one of her Mother’s old japanese robes on, and carried her mother’s baseball bat outside and perched it against the outside of the door. Just a safety precaution.
“Hey there Mam, how are you?” She asked, Not waiting for a response. “Can you please stop coughing directly outside my window? I understand you have to cough, but must you do it here?”
The old woman, stood up and said, “You are not supposed to be here,” she whipped and wagged her hands about her own face, like some scary, fucked up version of Madonna Voguing in reverse and shook her walking stick about. She spoke in her native tongue, that unknown language, whatever the fuck that was and loc’ed up on the Ursula girl. She began to attack Ursula, punching her with her elbows in the face, kicking at her with her shins, forcefully mashing her body against Ursula’s taut bod. As the Hobo continued to strike Ursula she smiled. Today was the day, Hobo Kelly, Cleopatra, Harriet Tubman, Esther, Sappho, Hatshepsut, Catherine the Great, Sacajawea, Joan of Arc or Lil’ Sweet Tea Tea, her real name was Kelly, would become her newer truer self, live her new life in her new body. Ahhh, living in a 30 something year old body. No digestive IBS issues, no more sagging skin, no rotting teeth or hair loss, no need to wait for your body and mind to mature. She would be able to curse and fuck like a sailor and eat cheese by the handfuls, and outwit the regular folks...and in a matter of a minutes without regret the Hobo Kelly was going to throw all of her cautions to the wind, like a 100 mile an hour fastball, and within seconds she would be able to fucking be alive again.
Ursula just took it all in, frozen in time, not knowing sure what to do this ol’ white biatch was attacking her, no one would believe what was actually happening, black lives would not have mattered, only ol’ white biatch life mattered. Ursula geeked out, spazzed out and panicked in that order and ran for the propped up baseball bat, clearly battered and out of breath, at last she reached and grabbed the bat, just as the wrinkled papyrus skinned woman groped and grasped at her with daggery fingers scratching, slashing through the back of the cobalt royal blue silky slippery japanese robe fabric. She gripped the robe and roped Ursula in, with her shockingly absurd MMA fighter strength filled up in that flimsy bod of hers. Just then the old woman misjudged the sturdiness of the robe, and as it ripped in slow motion between her fingers the old woman Kels fell back, back, back onto her head, which immediately cracked open like a melon filled with intestines, splattering out important cup fulls of bodily gunk and goo, spilling out hefty amounts of chunky brain matter and black, black blood. It all ran as far as it could staining the concrete.
Shocked and stunned, Ursula in a daze but with tremendous speed grabbed the bat, and slid in the house in the slinky ripped robe. She closed quietly the door behind her, she sat against it, on the other side, on the other side her life flashed before her eyes. “I killed a woman,” she said, streams of tears fell out her eyes.
“I killed a woman,” she said, a smirk swiftly made it to her face only to disappear a flash later. By the 6th time, she said, “I killed a woman,” she was laughing hysterically and never felt stronger. As she giggled, she exited her Mom’s crib, she walked over the Hobo’s bleeding, now completely crippled form and grabbed the old woman’s hat and placed it on her head like a crown. That’s just what she needed to feel like herself again, like her warrior self. She knew she could take on the world….again...Hobo Kelly’s accidental suicide was just what she needed to make it so.
Ursula coughed uncontrollably, the last few remaining pieces, parts of the old woman Kels, she suppressed her, she swallowed her down hard. Ursula stood up steadying herself. She was in control, strong in breath, strong in stance. That Hobo held on for dear life inside of her, clutching, scratching into to Ursula’s soul. Ursula was too strong. She was an ox. She overpowered the woman, the women, she soaked up the layers of their essence. Cleo, Harriet, Esther, Sappho, Hatshepsut, Cathy, Saka, Joanie, Lil’ Sweet Tea Tea they were steeped into her now, they clung to her like soot dipped wisdom. She was all of them. They lay dormant inside of her now. Ursula walked away barefoot from the property 100% empowered. 100% in control. Her head tilted high, higher and higher, her heart full of generations of unfulfilled ambitions full of light and swag.
She had ample remnants of these women’s physical spirits contained inside of her now. Ursula knew, the world was finally hers, this time around as she hailed a minion in a Toyota to take over his mind, and take her to the Marina to reclaim her fortune and new life. Ursula cleared her throat of the yellowy nastiness, of the poison that belonged to the Hobo. Ursula cleared her tongue with her teeth and spat out the last scattered painting of venomous phlegm from the Hobo, from her body. She could now visualize her future, “My possibilities are endless,” she told herself, as she looked back at her Mom’s place, adjusting her dusty crown in the Toyota as an ambulance approached in the distance. “The world is mine again. All mine.”