Western North Carolina Woman
white trash grace, chapter two
by sally duryea

See Chapter One online: April 2004.

Truth be told, Blue had dibbs on the trailer long before George died.

The fact that it had found a new resting place on the sunset strip by the pond was just a convenience to her. Sonny replacing the goat as a roommate had no traceable effect pro or con on Blue. She just went to work putting the Spartan into ship shape.

There were certain times when Sonny was a bit in awe of Blue. The first day Blue walked through the door was one of them. Perhaps it was with a little competition that Sonny started recalling her weekend singing with George, thinking to gain a little Spartan clout. What she had learned then was that Blue had actually held Paul McCartney's hand. This was no contest for Sonny, she had to hand it to Blue. Blue's hands were amazing and it seemed a bit of luck to have her on board. Blue was already busy reworking the screen door. For hours she reinforced corners, reset the springs, stitched the screen and trued the swing. Sonny was busy going through the dump pile behind the barn where she hauled out a pile of aluminum, what the cell tower could call mini me. She tied it to the roof of the trailer, stretching its feelers to the sky. Her hopes were high that night as the screen door closed noiselessly behind her. Things were getting tuned up. Sonny had always felt the trailer had special qualities of reception. She could still hear George singing when she laid quietly beneath the stars, it surprised her when no one else could. Seeing Blue's foot tapping was the real clue that led Sonny to the roof with the antennae. She knew the rhythms by heart and there was no doubt that Blue was hearing now what had been luring Sonny to sleep since bunking in the Spartan. By boosting the reception through the mini me on the roof, Sonny aspired to channel the music of the stars onto a frequency that could be available at any time. It would be something like having God on call for Sonny. She, at any rate, knew that if she could get the Beatles then God could not be too far out of reach. She fell asleep singing as if to no one...I wanna hold your hand.

Blue had a knack for getting things true. She could take the most complicated systems and render them to basic workability in no time. She finished the door and spent the last rays of light setting the sign straight on its hinges, then sat down on the glider on the porch. Open for business, Private Eye. Sunset Strip. She wasn’t a private eye when Sonny first met her but the Sunset Strip address had always been with Blue.

One thing Sonny knows about Blue is that her light goes further than the average. She is the dip in humanity where the light just stays a little longer and when she is facing the setting sun, she can see so much more. A person can sit with her and she has it in her wits to reveal all the truisms of their soul. Sonny found that out about Blue the first time she did hold her hand. Blue was passing her a drink. She owned a club then. Sonny had gone into the bar for the first time and this Blue, mostly in black leather with a silver studded necklace and a little black poodle perched on her shoulder, with matching silver collar, handed her a drink with a smile. It was then that Sonny knew there were people who could stay lit longer than most. Those were dark times for Sonny; she turned easy as a moth to a candle towards that smile. The bartender reflected a light that was out of this earth. Some future cast of platinum that had yet to be discovered. The vision was lit like neon for Sonny. As Blue turned from the bar, a vivid dragon painted on the back of her jacket was moving in that light. Below the shifting dragon was the word “Baby”. Sonny moved away from the counter mumbling “Be mine”. Blue was probably relieved to have avoided what looked like a bartender crush, but Sonny had seen much more than that. She saw someone who could stay lit longer, she saw the dragon move and she knew that things were waking up all around her. Sonny knew when she entered that bar that her evening prayer had been answered. A bit too easy for Blue's standards, Sonny's prayer had flown true with the light, setting on the chest of the little pooch on Blue's shoulder. The last beam flashed on the silver heart shaped dog tag illuminating the letters ANGEL engraved there. “Bingo” thought Sonny.

Ten years passed before those two laid eyes on each other again. Sonny was walking up to the barn and there was Blue, stepping out of the ditched Spartan, dressed vintage fifties, sporting a hat the goat had mercifully left untouched. The trailer was gleaming as if brand new, casting a light onto a beaming Blue. “I will be here in the summer” was all she had to say as she went her way down the drive. By “here” she obviously meant the Spartan, which was once again looking like its very old neglected self, stuck in a mass of vines beyond a glimmer. Well it certainly was not the street angel of the past that walked by Sonny that day. Clueless as to who Blue really was, Sonny had plenty of reason to believe she would be back. She watched Blue walk down the lane, the hat a perfect fit. Blue really was nothing more than a make up artist presenting herself dramatically into the life. What could be dramatic about a vintage woman walking out of a vintage mobile home? Not much, Sonny thought, feeling reassured that it was not the street angel moving in or any other apparition from an even further past come to shake things up. It was just this vision of Lucy on the Hollywood set of the weekend camp-out. Sonny figured she could live with that.

Two weeks into I love Lucy, Sonny realized that something had gotten by her. Shoot, living with Hell's Angels would be easier than seeing Blue's way. The light caught Blue in such a way that she could see it all. All the way along the strip to where it emptied into the gulf. She was so attuned to the strip she could feel the slow gravitation of the stones along the mountain ridges, the migration of the turtles along the worn pathways, the hatching of the eggs in the Louisiana Bayous. All from the glider on the porch. She seemed to be talking with things that Sonny could never see. Sonny did not have the vision like Blue, but she did have a sense of the past and that is what had her concerned now as she watched Blue chatting to the wind. It was a detail that Sonny could recall, like the silver heart. Clues to a past that gave Sonny the queasy feeling of rough seas. It would be the piracy that Sonny was recalling now. A time when she could envision Blue with a monkey on her shoulder at the helm of a ship steeped in the gloom and frantic energy of beating storms. The picture clearest in Sonny's mind would be the day the monkey had been washed overboard. Blue had been standing there still talking to the little fellow as though he were on his accustomed perch, yet he was gone, his collar sifting through her hands like the rosary, her fingers tracing the letters on the silver heart, ANGEL. Thing is, Blue's hands were never so idle as to have time for prayer; they were always busy taking the life down to the basics. So seeing Blue now sitting on the porch, chanting incantations up and down the strip, twiddling her thumbs, gave Sonny reason to be a little nervous about what may be next. She went into the trailer, poured her self a rum and toasted in Blue's direction “YO HO HO".

Actually the rosary was taken very seriously in the Spartan, having its place of accessibility on the dash. Sonny is a little nervous to touch it, not sure if asking for forgiveness of sins is good to do with stolen property. She does respect it. The day it came into her life was the day of a miracle. The fact that she made it out of the church at all felt like a miracle. Blue just pulled the truck up onto the sidewalk in front of the big red doors, grabbed Sonny's hand and ran into the church. Sonny already felt strange going into this place for the first time, leaving a serious parking violation idling at the front door. That feeling quickly let go though, as she entered into the most beautiful room she had ever been in. Blue gave her the whole tour, lit candles, introduced Sonny to the bleeding heart Mary, leaving Sonny totally overwhelmed until they came to the rosary. It was while Sonny was doing the rosary for the first time, using the primer card, that the miracle of the angels took place. The angels were moving all around her, reflected in the multihued light of the church windows. Blue was muttering something behind her, so Sonny figured she had seen, too. Well, Blue saw something alright. According to Blue, from what Sonny could gather, all of the saints and angels were in the wrong order on the podiums around the outer wall of the sanctuary. Blue was just setting things straight. She had choreographed Sonny's angelic light show by walking back and forth placing a saint here and an angel there. When the priest came into the room, Blue grabbed Sonny's hand again, this time making a speedy exit out of the church and into the truck for what had obviously been set up for a fast getaway. As they wound down the mountain, Blue kept muttering about them never getting it right, tossing the rosary into Sonny's lap. Sonny thought they may not get it right, but they sure do get it easy if all they have to do is rub those little plastic beads to get away with it.

Sonny liked easy. Since the rosary caper she and Blue have included the light up Mary, not stolen, on the dash. Fact is nobody can convince Sonny it wasn’t angels she saw that day, so she respects the rosary. Sonny always had a notion to be with the angels. It was like channeling the beatles. It just seemed so obvious to her. But the angels were never obvious. She had to seek out clues that would move her closer to them. Her desire to meet with an angel is always companion to her prayers at the end of the day. The day that prayer was answered happened to be the day she had gone into Blue's club for the first time. She had entered at sundown, just as she had closed with God. She followed the last ray of light as it struck silver. Blue was standing at the bar, her head leaning into the pooch on her shoulder. Centered on the chest of the poodle was the silver heart, illuminated clear as day, with the letters ANGEL. Sonny felt she was finally in the right place at the right time for a change. She walked right up to the bar, ordered a drink and prepared to enter the chatting rooms of the heavenly hosts. She did not find out if she was in the company of a real angel though. When she said, with true sincerity, that the pooch did not look like an angel, Blue just turned away and had nothing to do with Sonny. The ANGEL tag did swing from a collar that had notorious forged into its every spike and the dog was not exactly smiling at Sonny, so she was a little confused by the Skippy. As she made her way out of the bar she bumped into someone who said “Wait till you hear that dog sing”. Sonny was ten years distant from hearing Skippy sing. The day she did she knew she had broken through the mute barrier in her quest. That dog sang like an angel and nobody could convince Sonny otherwise.

Sonny was not surprised at the growing numbers of truckers listening in on Skippy's broadcast. It was the growing number of dogs in the yard that took her back. Sonny was known in the valley as the lady with a million dogs. She did have a trusty foursome and a few more of motley ownership that she agreed could look like more than the sum of their whole. The morning after Skippy's first broadcast however, it was no illusion that as she filled the dog bowls there was another mouth waiting to be fed. When every dish and pan had been filled there were still more dogs. In fact, the line of hounds stretched such a long way that there was no making heads or tails out of where they came from or where they were headed. Until the evening broadcast. Maybe the truckers imagined some sweet gal serenading them into the sunset, but those dogs knew one of their own, sight unseen. Apparently the pitch was just right to perk every ear of every dog within the valley and Skippy sang sweet enough to motivate them to sit at her door, day and night, waiting for the evening show. After a week of their spellbound devotion, Blue had had enough and marched the dogs up the hill, where they could spend the day with a group well accustomed to waiting. As the light left the valley the four-leggeds would trot down the hill and sit with dogged patience as Skippy got ready to perform, would sit in an absolute trance while she sang, then trot back up the hill to dream on, feet twitching. Skippy would retire into her little dog house that sported a great star by her name. Fame had found Skippy. Fame can have a tricky way about it though. They were about to find out just how tricky.

The first glitch was the water meter reader. Noticing that the reading was way off its normal mark, he had come to find out what was going on. With everything two legged and four legged up the hill out of sight, Sonny just looked at the man and exclaimed “YOU want to now what is going on?????” Sonny wanted to know what was going on, too. But all she could offer the man was the answer that “A peaceable kingdom is going on”. With those words the man drove off opting to forgo looking for any untold circumstance that could be leaching the line. Sonny was a little surprised by her words. She had never really let that dream surface and there she was blurting it out to someone who was probably making it known throughout the valley so the future public would know, a peaceable kingdom can jack your water usage 200%. More than having a peaceable kingdom, Sonny had a deeper secret. What Sonny really was after was the front cover of the Watchtower. She had always loved those magazines handed out at truck stops that pictured everything from lions to lambs, nestled in a happy valley, the sun golden, the water sparkling. A sneak peak at heaven. Sonny wanted heaven at her back door. She was a little concerned that her integrity had been breached with the water department. She felt that as long as they were pirating water from the main line to service the crowd on the hill, that heaven would wait. How to put things straight came from Blue's sense of business. She was just in no mood to foot the bill for the lovelorn and star struck, but could not handle the disappointment

Skippy would feel if she did not have the adoring mugs to perform to, so she came up with a solve-all plan. For a week the folks on the hill were treated to one flick after another depicting the close and loving relationship of human and canine. Soul mates taking on life and all its responsibilities through thick and thin. By the weeks’ end each movie-goer had agreed to adopt a mutt to the tune of water and feed costs. Whether the agreement was reached because the crowd had hoped some compensation would get Blue to switch the theme, or because they had really come to love the dogs was clear the first cold night. Those were happy campers nestled in with their furry friends, like shepherds on a three dog night, staying warm and content. Business was good, the people were good, the dogs were good, and Sonny felt good. Sonny sighed as she moved branches along the trail back to the Spartan. ”A peaceable kingdom indeed”.

© Sally Duryea
NEXT MONTH: Chapter Three


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