April 23, 2018 | Rome, Italy | °C

The Last Stand of Ms. Betty J. Washington

By Jenna Leigh Evans
Published: 2015-12-31

"So, Betty, where're your people from?"

"Queens," Betty said shortly, clicking on a site she loved to visit. "Done with them, anyhow. I could pass any day now. Not that they care."

He chuckled uneasily, looking over her shoulder at the screen. She was scrolling through her favorite catalogue items.

"What's this?"

"Unh, unh, unh. He thinks it's funny that a woman is dying. Now tell me: there's this one" - she zoomed in on a gleaming casket with opulent pink satin innards — "and this one. They're the same price." Click, click: the same casket with a lining of ivory-white.

Betty turned to him. "Now: which one is the very most elegant? In your opinion."

He cleared his throat. "Eh, the pink?"

"Well, that's a Puerto Rican for you," Betty muttered. She was in that mood where she got a nearly physical sensation of wanting to jab something.

The man straightened up. "Ah, I beg your pardon, ma'am? First of all, I'm from the D.R."

Betty snorted, and clicked on a selection of tufted casket pillows. Probably pillows. It was hard to see unless she squinted out of the bottoms of her eyes.

His face worked, flooding with color. "You know what: I didn't come over here for a fuckin' funeral," he said at last. He stood up so abruptly that Gracie yelped with surprise.

The door slammed after him, and Betty went to go hang up her blouse.

"Talk to me," she huffed. Well, she hadn't told him to leave, so Vida could take a flying leap. And oh, how good it felt to be in bed, as she sank into a dense luxurious oblivion.


When she woke up, Vida had only made enough coffee for herself, and was drinking it at the kitchen table, speaking rapidly on the phone in Spanish, which for once Betty wished she could understand. Vida hung up and gave her a look.

"You still owe me for the week, Betty."

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