One of the family traditions in my house was singing old songs while Daddy played the guitar. One of my favorites was Mean Woman Blues. My favorite part was the line about the black cat dying of fright when the mean woman crossed his path. So, I decided to write a story about a mean woman.
Jolene has gotten under my skin, and I have a couple of storylines I'm letting simmer a while. In the meantime, here is a glimpse of her.
Damned if she aint downright pretty when she smiles, Lidge thought.
Jolene had had a hard life. She was forty-three years old and looked every day of it plus some. She was what people meant when they said, It aint the years, it’s the miles. She had been a lot of miles. Hard living and drinking had done its duty on her face, but anyone could see the ghost of her beauty haunting her high cheek bones and long neck. She had not gotten fat like many of the women she had gone to school with, and had retained her slim frame, though there was not one ounce of muscle to be found on it. Still, she looked good in jeans, her usual attire. Jeans and a tank top because the heat in southern Alabama was unmerciful most of the year. In cool weather, she wore the same uniform with a sweater thrown over it for the cold, adding a jacket when the weather reached its coldest.
Jolene had not worked in years. She once had a job at Clayville’s sewing factory, which she hated. One day she couldn’t take it any longer and walked out. She got the idea from one of her cousins who had been to Vietnam. She could get help from the government if they thought she was crazy. When her cousin had come back, he really was crazy. The government paid for his housing, food, and nearly everything else he needed. Jolene called him up and asked where he went to get his “crazy check.” He gave her all the details.