January 21, 2018 | Rome, Italy | °C

The Last Stand of Ms. Betty J. Washington

By Jenna Leigh Evans
Published: 2015-12-31

She wrapped her wig in tissue paper while Vida watched with bloodshot eyes from the doorway. "Just had a conversation with the landlord. Very edifying," she told Vida.

Vida turned away, flounced onto the couch. "You shouldn't have done that. This is your whole problem, Betty! You don't listen."

Betty marched past her to the front door, and set down her bags. "Just because you talk doesn't mean I have to pay you any mind."

"Betty, you're drunk," called Vida from the living room. "Come sit down and listen to me a minute. Betty."

"Now she realizes," said Betty. "Begging me." Gracie was dancing around her with agitation, toenails clicking on the linoleum. The front door was crosshatched with scratches, marks of her fruitless pleas to be let out of the house.

"Oh yeah, she loves you all right," Betty told the dog. "She's just too damn lazy to do a thing for you. That's what you call a hypocrite."

From the living room Vida's voice was indignant. "Hypocrite! After everything I've done for you!"

Betty took the leash from its hook, snapped it onto the dog's collar, and picked up her bags. Then it was like she and Gracie rode a cloud to the corner of Butler and Bond, it went that fast and floaty at the same time.

A window opened above her, and Vida's shrieking curses followed them down all the way to Baltic Street. Let her holler and carry on! It would take her twenty minutes to get down those stairs.

The mild March evening had given way to a chilly mist, and people on the street had resumed their wintertime briskness of pace. An ambulance, lights flashing silently, bumped past on its way toward the projects.

Betty paused to fumble in her purse for her subway card and then went on, Gracie trotting at her heels. The ride to the Rockaways would be long, but at least the A Train was only a few blocks away.

Sagely Betty nodded at the dog. "We don't have to listen to a blessed soul," she said.

— Jenna Leigh Evans' novel Prosperity was published in 2014. Other publications include In Pieces: An Anthology, The Toast, FragLit, the Nervous Breakdown, Autostraddle, and the Billfold; she also writes reviews for Electric Literature. She is a 2014 LAMBDA LGBT Emerging Voices fellow in fiction and a Barbara Deming Memorial grantee. You can find her on twitter @jennaleighevans or at jennaleigh-evans.com.

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