Apr. 8th, 2011

They weren't hiring at the docks so I took the only job I could find. That was taking care of Miss Evangelina at the Big Six RV park on Dudro Island. It paid forty bucks a day, two twenties every evening, and truth be told it wasn't hard work.

Miss Evangelina was eighty-six years old and nice as pie. Her son Homer was a friend of a friend; I never met him in person and was hired over the phone. Miss Evangelina had been in and out of nursing homes and hated it there; she really wanted to live in her basically intact vintage Airstream RV. There was nothing physically wrong with Miss Evangelina; she was frail but she could cook and wash for herself; she really just needed somebody there to lend a hand, her son said. It didn't sit right with me that he would hire a man sight unseen to room with his mother, but there you have it.

The Airstream was pretty big inside, and there was a curtain she drew across her sleeping area for privacy. I crashed on her couch. It was my job to shop for her and keep the tiny fridge stocked, fetch her mail, make sure the RV fees and hooks were taken care of, and generally be there to take care of anything that needed taking care of. But Miss Evangelina never fell in the shower; she never slipped and couldn't get up. Every night she cooked for me, shuffling around her tiny kitchen to make pork and beans or sloppy joes. We would sit outside the Airstream on folding chairs, huddling under the scanty awning if it was raining, and eat our supper together as we looked out toward the sea.

"Miss Evangelina," I said one evening in the middle of supper, "I feel like a fool. I'm not taking care of you; you're taking care of me."

"Well, that's by necessity," she said, eating dainty bites. "I don't trust a man to make food of any kind."

"You even brought me a beer," I said guiltily. Miss Evangelina smiled.

"I like to bring a man a beer sometimes," she admitted, patting my arm. "Reminds me of when my husband was still alive and the kids lived nearby."

"It's not right that you should be paying me all this money," I objected. "It would be different if you were in poor health or whatever. How come Homer wants me here so badly?"

Miss Evangelina smiled to herself modestly. "Homer," she informed me, "thinks I'm crazy."

That was a surprise. Miss Evangelina seemed to be in full possession of her faculties in every way I could see, and I told her as much. "I don't think you're crazy, ma'am," I concluded.

Miss Evangelina patted my arm again, then chewed her dinner pensively. She looked down across the mostly empty expanse of the trailer park to the tangle of dunes which rambled aimlessly down to the ocean. "Roscoe," she said, her eyes focused in the middle distance, "I see ghosts."

There wasn't much to say to that, so I sipped my beer. "Mm-hm," I said.

She turned to look at me seriously. "Roscoe, I see ghosts, and I talk to them. All the time," she said, her eyes searching my face.

I thought about that. I didn't believe in ghosts myself, and I supposed I could see how that might make her crazy in Homer's eyes. But I've known plenty of people who believed more disturbing crap than that, and they passed the basic threshold for sanity, so who was I to judge.

"Miss Evangelina," I said, "I believe you. In fact, it makes sense why you would want to live out here. It's kind of lonely, and I don't expect you'll get many ghosts bothering you here."

My employer and roommate smiled. "Well, you're right and you're wrong there," she said. "Back when we lived in Beaumont it was something terrible. Every day there'd be dead folks in my yard. They want to talk about all kinds of things, dead people do, and it's all about them and they don't know when to shut up. It just made me tired. At least I don't get that racket day and night here." Dudro Island was on the Intracoastal Waterway, joined to the mainland by a causeway and State Road 54. It was a long, skinny island and there wasn't a lot of traffic.

"Mark my words, though, Roscoe; there are plenty of ghosts out here," Miss Evangelina continued. She smiled serenely, closing her eyes and leaning her head back to rest on the back of her chair. "I can hear 'em now, singing and laughing and talking. It's a good sound, not a bad one."

I frowned. "Ghosts, but not people ghosts?" I asked.

"Oh, no," said Miss Evangelina knowingly. "The ghosts of trees."

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September 2012

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