Kathryn Katz passed an old blue Ford pick-up as she searched for a parking space. “Damn Ossie was more popular than I thought”, she moaned in her mind. Her old Chevy smelled strangely of feral cats and wadded fast food wrappers. She saw Mayor Mike getting into his pick-up and sighed in relief thinking he was the last person she wanted to see. She found a tight space and pulled in too far and could feel her license plate scratching the cement parking barrier. She slammed the car into park, then reverse and felt the plate scratch again. She sighed loudly and took a breath, opened her door and hit the BMW she was crowded next to. “Great”, she muttered as she mustered all of her strength to get out from between the two cars. She never bothered to look at the mark she left on the BMW. Her floral dress was hiked up so she took a moment to straighten and smooth her dress and long coat. Sixty extra pounds added to her already overwhelming burdens and made her old clothing a bit uncomfortable. She still had her old manner of posture, one that suggested she was once a striking woman. At 67 and retired she was beginning to feel the better years were in the rear view mirror.
Stoney glanced up in thought and locked eyes with Kathryn as she entered the room. “Christ what is she doing here?”, Stoney thought. She knew Kathryn, who everyone called “Kitty”, was more attached to Joan, Ossie’s 4th wife. She remembered a scene from Joan’s funeral and the drama. She wanted nothing of the sort here. She cordially smiled as Kathryn strode past ignoring her. The crowd of mourners and well wishers had thinned considerably. Rita was exhausted, quietly talking to Gayle Sands another long time close friend who was comforting her with stories from their shared youth. A spirit of gravity had gathered and settled on the room. Rory was once again sitting in his chosen spot scanning and listening. He spotted Kitty heading over to Rita and Gayle and decided to stand up for a good stretch.
Kathryn stood close to Rita and Gayle. They both looked up at her. She smiled sadly showing her lip stick smeared teeth. “I’m so sorry Rita” , Kathryn said looking down, “you know Oscar’s in a better place.” Rita held back her thought – where’s that? Kathryn saw her expression of grief and continued,”everything happens for a reason.” Now Gayle was beginning to get stirred – “and what might be that reason?” she wondered aloud softly. Kathryn was taken aback for a moment, at a loss for words. She was all out of pointless platitudes when she became awash in her own shower of discomforts. Momentarily the women were soaked in an awkward silence. Kathryn again was the first to speak, “I’m sorry Rita, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m here for you when you need me.” Rita’s eyes teared as she remembered Joan’s layout and Kathryn confronting Ossie accusing him of keeping her from seeing Joan in her last hours. Ossie had respected Joan’s wishes as she had told everyone she wanted to be left alone in her final days. Kathryn never got over this and blamed Ossie of being jealous of their closeness. The real problem was Kathryn’s – an obsession with Joan. Everyone knew this but Kathryn. This did not make her evil just awkward and unwanted. Rita reached over to Kathryn and gave her arms a squeeze,”thanks Kitty.” Rita pivoted and walked slowly away toward Rory who stood quietly close by, a large brown statuesque man, her protector. They hugged each other in the silent pain of grief’s embrace. Gayle stepped lightly toward Stoney and they both started speaking together in the hushed tones needed to ease the tension in the moment. Kathryn walked over to view Ossie one last time. “Goodbye Oscar, farewell wherever you are” she whispered. She then turned and headed out the door into another cold night of Defiance.
Knick was enjoying the evening air of Fort Winchester Park a site that defied “all the devils in hell” or some such quote. The confluence of the Auglaise and Maumee Rivers attracted few visitors since it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. This little park served the locals for all the reasons people congregate: to play, walk dogs, sip drinks from brown paper bags, engage in sketchy transactions and all kinds of hook-ups. To Knick this was a piece of his old stomping ground, a place familiar and unchanging. His gaze fell to the dark waters in front of him. He opened his mind to the silence surrounding him. In the distance he heard the rhythmic foot slap of a jogger’s approach in a crescendo of synchronized steps and well trained breathing. He thought I could use a little exercise myself. He closed his eyes and entered into the meditation of the moment. Knick sensed the jogger was nearly passing him as he heard the foot strike. He slipped into the thought stream and froze the moment in his mind. Then there was silence. Knick pivoted beyond his body and observed the young runner stock-still as his essence encircled her figure. She was young, fit and beautiful. He sensed her thoughts. She was concerned about her future, and he knew why; she was unmarried and expecting. She had a good job, a steady boyfriend and a future. While continuing to freeze the moment, Knick’s thought stream observed their two figures, the jogger was staring at his figure looking away toward the water. He sensed she was curious and unafraid of him. He used his concentration to rejoin the moment, he then heard the sound of another footfall as the jogger passed into the silence of the night. Knick took a deep breath and exhaled. He knew she would be alright as he continued gazing into the dark river. He turned silently, stretched his arms overhead and thought to himself that was a nice short workout. As he slowly walked back to where he had parked old blue, he felt ready for some pie and good company.