All Stories, General Fiction

Thelma and Addie by Kathryn Lord

“Jeesily H Christ, son of a bitch,” Addie muttered, not exactly under her breath, as she jockeyed her walker through the maze in the dining room. Why’d they have to cram so many goddamn tables into here, I can’t imagine. Heading for an empty one, she banged her walker into a chair, threatening to send both flying, pulled out another, aimed her butt in the general direction, and plonked into the seat with a thud.  Sometimes she pushed out a loud fart on the way down, just for the fun of it.

Addie stared at her plate. Well, that’s one hell of a plate of goo, she thought. Who’ve they got out in the kitchen, anyway? You have to work hard to cook this bad.

Addie knew better. She had been a whiz in the kitchen, in fact, ran the galley for children’s summer camp on Moosehead Lake in Maine for years. She was not an easy boss, yelling and banging pots, sometimes flinging dirty spoons at the perpetually lazy dishwashers, but she sure could put out tasty meals that the children gobbled up. And she kept the cookie jar in the corner of the dining room chock full all the time. The kids loved her, though they didn’t dare get too close when she was working.

For over thirty summers, she cooked and her husband Bert was the camp’s handyman, General Fixit, they called him. Then every October they’d hitch up their travel trailer and head away from the cold, south, west sometimes, wherever they fancied. They’d end up where all the other penny-pinching old folks from frigid climates go in the winter: Dade City, Florida, in Wandermore RV Park, lot G14, between two old rattletrap fifth wheels from Quebec.

None of the Canadians at Wandermore spoke a word of English, which was fine with Addie and Bert. But Addie could not stop cooking in the huge quantities she was used to at the summer camp, even in her tiny camper kitchen. The neighbors got the benefit: regular platters of cookies – “Bien, bien! Merci beaucoup!” – with the surplus she could not give away left in the Wandermore clubhouse for the card and pool players.

That was the extent of their plans. It was fine, they liked their life. It all worked out.

It all worked out until Bert dropped dead that day when they were in Massachusetts, heading south. He was outside hooking up the trailer. Finally Addie, finished with the inside work and crazy to get moving, got sick of waiting and went out to see what was holding things up. There he was, collapsed in a heap behind the truck, dead as a road kilt possum, a sickly shade of blue. Oh Christ. I’m in deep shit now, she thought.

That was the end of the trailer and life on the road. Wandermore was too far away, Addie couldn’t manage the truck and trailer on her own. Bert had never taught her how, she’d never thought to ask him either. She slapped a hand-made “For Sale” sign on both, practically gave them away to a young guy heading for California, checked into a decaying Red Roof Inn, and waited for things to get worse or her money to run out.

Both did, and here she was at Pleasant Oaks. Though what was so goddamn pleasant, Addie couldn’t figure out, for the life of her. And not an Oak in sight. “False advertising,” she yelled whenever anyone asked how she liked it.

What happens when a woman spends years on her feet in a kitchen and eats too much of her own cooking is her legs swell up and she can’t walk for shit. She hated that Christly walker. Damned rattletrap, noisy SOB, clanking and jingling every step she took. Those silly green tennis balls on the front legs, whoever thought of that ridiculousness? As if the walker alone wasn’t enough to make anyone stare and label her a goner. The tennis balls made her look like she was totally nuts.

Why didn’t I think to use the money from the sale of the truck and trailer to buy one of those big ass Harley trikes that the gray haired hippie wannabe’s in Dade City cruised around in? Addie thought. Christ on a cracker, what I’d give to drive up to the dining room, blast through the automatic doors, and plow right over all those old ladies. Just once, Lord, if that’s not asking too much.

A course, the friggin’ fact that I don’t know how to drive a scooter, much less a Harley, don’t make no difference at all.

Now here’s a thought: I shouda put a notice on the bulletin board at Wandermore, in French, for some old dude to do the driving. I’d sit in the back seat and tell him where to go. It’s okay if he don’t speak English. I could just point. I don’t want to talk anyway.

What the hell. I’d take a tough old broad like me. Why do I want to fool with some old limp dick guy who’d want to give the orders and probably cop a feel? I’d get us matching Harley tee shirts and red doo-rags. Black leather chaps with six inch fringe, motorcycle boots. When we’d pull into a biker bar, all the guys who think they’re tough-as-nails ass holes would take a big step backwards.

Once the money ran out, I’d figure out where the nearest cliff was. I’d have her push the accelerator flat out, and we would head right on over the edge. Just like Thelma and Louise. God, how I loved that movie.


Kathryn Lord

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8 thoughts on “Thelma and Addie by Kathryn Lord”

  1. Jeesily H. Christ, the quickest way to Heaven (where the Canadians never need speak English) may indeed involve taking the good old Thelma and Louise and Wile E. Coyote off the highest Mesa and into the deepest hole. Vivid and defiant.


  2. Kathryn,
    Loved the wake-up call this brought me. Joy to start the day (almost, some stuff already departed here for elsewhere in the mechanics of submissions.) This was a pleasant break. Thank you. Tom Sheehan


  3. I loved this story, and I loved Addie. I hope that she appears again with her wonderful fighting spirit. The world needs more Addies. Best wishes, June


  4. Hi Kathryn,
    I reckon you should check out some of Mitch Toews work. He has the same ethics when it comes to story writing as you!
    You have found a wonderful character in Addie. There are stories we remember and there are characters we remember. Your rebellious pensioner has given us both!
    This is a very uplifting piece of writing.


  5. Movies could the fairy tales of today. Wandermore RV park sounded not too bad.
    They say the main aspects of our personalities grow more exaggerated over time, and that’s shown in this story as Addie becomes more and more cantankerous, yet in the end, cantankerously wistful.


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