Written by: Larry J. Pitman
This is a story about how the crazy lady disappeared.
I believe It all begins and ends with Victor.
Victor is a middle class Limeño living in a nice neighborhood. An older man, slight of build, well worn by life, Victor never seems quite sincere in his dealings with others. He can be friendly if he thinks you can help him, or he can be friendly if he can avoid any problem you might cause him. However, friendly for him means saying hello, shaking your hand and inquiring after your family even though you are sure it is just a formality. Unfortunately, being friendly does not mean offering any kind of neighborly help.
Victor is naturally secretive; he plays his cards close to his vest. Even though he might have information helpful to another, he is not going to volunteer it without some benefit accruing to him. After a few dealings with Victor, I realized how he was. To him, information is like gold and has to be hoarded.
His long suffering wife goes every morning to mass. Some people think that she is praying for the Good Lord to take Victor as soon as possible. It is hard to imagine such a sweet thing as her with those thoughts. Even so, neighborhood gossipers believe that her supposed wish is well justified.
Victor lives just one block from the park. He likes to dress well and to walk around the neighborhood. His favorite destination is the Municipalidad* where he loves to chat with some cronies. You see, Victor enjoys meddling in local politics, envisioning himself as the kingmaker for the elections for Alcalde**. Actually, he does have a small group of followers which might lead mayoral candidates to think that they should court him.
In fact that seems to have happened. The successful candidate in the last election for Alcalde did actively solicit Victor’s support. That’s why the whole neighborhood believes that the crazy lady in the park disappeared.
As I said, Victor liked to walk. But he usually avoided the nearby park because that was where the crazy lady was. Just the sight of her made him angry. Every day she was there, sitting on a park bench surrounded by large boxes full of plastic bags. Thin, thoroughly wrinkled, with stringy grey hair, she perched there from morning to evening, mute and immobile, a fixture in the park.
How long she had been there, I don’t know, but I guess that it was years. The neighbors around the park tolerated her and even helped by providing a bathroom, and, I guess, some food. Where she slept I don’t know. She had a shopping cart to move her boxes which she did every morning and evening. The crazy lady never caused harm to anyone except for those who were offended by her appearance.
That was just what bothered Victor. He thought that it was a disgrace that this ugly old woman planted herself in the park every day. Often he would mutter about how someone should do something. I thought that Victor was just blowing off steam and that his animosity came because he, too, was old and ugly. Clearly, I felt, he didn’t like to be reminded of this fact.
Came the election and Victor’s candidate was victorious. A few days after, the crazy lady disappeared from the park and has never been seen there again. I don’t know anything for sure, but the rumor is that city officials gathered her up and took her to an institution for impoverished elderly citizens where they are maintained with food and shelter until they die.
Not long after, Victor had a mild stroke.
Now, if you come to our neighborhood, and visit our little park, you will see Victor sitting on a bench all day, immobile, grey, and emaciated.
His wife continues to go to mass every morning.