LITTLE OLD LADY • by Ward Weatherford

No matter how hard she tried, the dust always floated in her house. It glittered about in the early morning sun that pierced the kitchen window. It hung in the air like a fairy born on wings powered, not by gold dust, but a dirty, coal-burning engine leaving ash in its wake. This morning was no different in that accord, but was wholly different in another. She no longer peered through the eyes of a lonely widow in a house with more creaks than conversation. She had guests. The loud talker was quite insistent that she lie down on the floor.

The floor, I just swept it yesterday. But look at that, a whole warren of dust bunnies are hiding under the buffet. I can certainly thank him for showing me that. What was his name, again?

“What is your name, hon?”

“Shaddup, and keep your head down.”

There were two men in her house. One was very loud and the other, a bit younger, nodded and paced about the kitchen.

I should brew some coffee. It just isn’t proper to make a guest drink instant coffee even when they are rude. I could scramble some eggs and fry up a bit of bacon. Harold loved bacon. Before his eyesight fell away and his hearing too, Harold could be loud. He was never rude. He would have surely shooed these fellows off by now. Oh, how I do miss him.

“I say, would you boys like for me to brew up some coffee?”

“If it’ll shut ya up.”

The loud talker, I think his name must be Brodie. The young one keeps calling him ‘Bro.’ I guess they could be brothers. Although, they don’t look at all alike. Bro looks a little like the Farleys’ oldest boy, Matthew. I wonder what happened to him. He was such a bright child.

I have to get up slowly. The doctor calls it ortho- hypo- something. But whatever it is, it makes me dizzy if I get up too fast.

She straightened her robe, put her left slipper back on her foot, and looked uncomfortably at herself.

I normally would not wear such attire for guests. What was I doing? Oh, the coffee.

She measured the grounds for the percolator, filled it with water, and plugged it in. Looking down at the glass bulb she anticipated the sound of the boiling water and contemplated her options.

“What are we gonna do, Bro?”

I still don’t think they’re brothers. Brodie, Broderick, maybe Bronson. He doesn’t look like a Broderick, it must be Brodie. I really don’t think anyone would name their child Bronson.

“Stick to the plan. We hide here. Nobody’ll expect us in this neighborhood. Granny num-num will provide decent cover if we need her.”

He probably wants some eggs. I will go ahead and scramble some eggs.

“I, I, I don’t know. What if she remembers who we are?”

“This lady is so old she probably already forgot we were here.”

“No, Brodie, I am getting the eggs right now for you. Is scrambled okay?”

The loud talker looked over at the younger one and smiled. “Yes ma’am. Scrambled is just fine.”

Finally, some manners. He is one cranky fellow. He might just need a nap. Let’s see what do I have here?

Several amber prescription bottles nestled among the spices in the cabinet. Harold was right. Keeping these here is a might easier.

***

The radio squawked, “815 this is Central. It’s Monday, Mrs. Ramsey pressed her panic button, again.”

“10-4, On my way. Over.”

***

The door bell buzzed, but Mrs. Ramsey didn’t need it. She knew Officer Carlos was at the door. She had just put the dust mop back into the broom closet and noticed him pull into the drive. She straightened her floral patterned dress confident that the house was now presentable for her guest.

He is such a nice young man. “Good morning, Officer Carlos. It took you a long while to get here.” She opened the door fully and waved him into the house. “I have guests today.” She beamed. She couldn’t wait to show him into the kitchen.

“There was a bank robbery on the other side of town. Really, Mrs. Ramsey. You shouldn’t call us every Monday morning. You never know when something might happen to you and you would really need us.”

“Oh, I can handle myself most days. You should really meet these boys in the kitchen.”

Carlos walked into the kitchen. A Community Bank and Trust money bag lay on the counter with a sawed-off shotgun draped over the top of it. Two bank robbers rested their heads on the kitchen table. Carlos drew his gun with a snap and told Mrs. Ramsey to stand back.

“Officer Carlos, there is no need for all that. These boys are sleeping it off.” She smiled at him.

“Mrs. Ramsey, really, step back these guys robbed a bank this morning.”

“I know. Tsk. How indecent of them. Brodie is also cranky and rude.” She patted the man on the shoulder. “I am hoping that this little nap will do him some good.”

Carlos told the men to show their hands. They did not respond.

“You can put that gun away, Carlos. They aren’t going anywhere.” She giggled. “I slipped a couple of my Restoril into their eggs. Would you like some coffee?”

Carlos keyed his radio, “Central this is 815, Mrs. Ramsey is fine and well, she has apprehended our CBT perps.”

He slipped zip-tie cuffs onto the wrists of the sleeping bank robbers. “Mrs. Ramsey, you are one surprising little lady. I’ll take my coffee black. No Restoril, please.”


Ward Weatherford started out life as a zygote. He grow’d his’elf into a kid. Then he became a burger flipper, stock boy, auto mechanic, computer programmer, business owner. Now, he is a Husband, Dad, and Writer. You can check out more of his writing on his blog, where he mumbles about life, the writing process, and throws in a story or two.


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Rate this story:
 average 4.3 stars • 18 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • Mccasey

    Probably my favorite story so far this year! Thanks for the laugh, and you have Mrs. Ramsey to thank for it. If she can remember.

    • Dawn Sheibani

      I enjoyed the detailed descriptions of the setting and main character. Both really made me feel like I was in Mrs. Ramsey’s kitchen.

    • Thanks for compliment.

  • Mccasey

    Probably my favorite story so far this year! Thanks for the laugh, and you have Mrs. Ramsey to thank for it. If she can remember.

    • Dawn Sheibani

      I enjoyed the detailed descriptions of the setting and main character. Both really made me feel like I was in Mrs. Ramsey’s kitchen.

    • Thanks for compliment.

  • Carl Steiger

    My only complaint: Mrs. Ramsey is a widow, not a widower.

    • Nice catch.

      • Carl Steiger

        I’m envisioning my own grandma when I read this. Seemingly harmless, she could be quite feisty and resourceful when the situation called for it. But she never had a panic button.

        • Neither did/does mine. Tough birds, them all. Whoop-Whoop for grandmothers. They rock.

  • Carl Steiger

    My only complaint: Mrs. Ramsey is a widow, not a widower.

    • Nice catch.

      • Carl Steiger

        I’m envisioning my own grandma when I read this. Seemingly harmless, she could be quite feisty and resourceful when the situation called for it. But she never had a panic button.

        • Neither did/does mine. Tough birds, them all. Whoop-Whoop for grandmothers. They rock.

  • Hey Bro, Loved the story!! I think I will hold off if you ever offer me eggs tho.

    • Hehe. I think that Restoril can be mixed with just about anything. Would you like a PB&J?

  • Hey Bro, Loved the story!! I think I will hold off if you ever offer me eggs tho.

    • Hehe. I think that Restoril can be mixed with just about anything. Would you like a PB&J?

  • Alie Bell

    Oh, what a delightful story.

    • It was a delight to write as well.

      • Alie Bell

        I love this sentence:

        “It hung in the air like a fairy born on wings powered, not by gold dust, but a dirty, coal-burning engine leaving ash in its wake.”

        I like to blame fairies for the dust in my house. 😉

  • Alie Bell

    Oh, what a delightful story.

    • It was a delight to write as well.

      • Alie Bell

        I love this sentence:

        “It hung in the air like a fairy born on wings powered, not by gold dust, but a dirty, coal-burning engine leaving ash in its wake.”

        I like to blame fairies for the dust in my house. 😉

  • Good story. Never underestimate old people. Every year I believe that more 🙂

  • Good story. Never underestimate old people. Every year I believe that more 🙂

  • Kristi

    Enjoyed the read!!!

  • Kristi

    Enjoyed the read!!!

  • Hi Ward. Some welcome humor in my day. I’m glad no harm came to Mrs. Ramsey. Some minor thing caught my attention.

    I thought her, in one spot, calling officer Carlos by his name only, without title, was not keeping with her character.

    You know I am a stickler for unneeded words and in keeping with flash style you could have done without “about” in “It glittered about…”

    “in that accord” in “This morning was no different in that accord,”

    Re: She measured the grounds for the percolator…” I have always considered the word “grounds” to be the used ground coffee…

    In the last para: “He slipped zip-tie cuffs onto the wrists of the sleeping bank robbers.” could be tightened – “He zip-tied the wrists … ”

    Like I said, picky, but to me, important. Likely no one else will care.

    I thought Mrs. Ramsey’s voice fit an elderly woman well. I wanted a bit more agitation to show through the perps.

    This line: “Mrs. Ramsey, really, step back these guys robbed a bank this morning.” calls for harsher punctuation to get the officers urgent tone across.

    I gotta say my mind kept wandering to the TV show, “Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.” 🙂

    Good job. I gave it 4 stars, much better than 3, but not a 5 in my editorial/reader eye.

    Now, to go back to may cave and pull the stone in behind me.

    Jeff

    • Thanks for the critic’s eye. There can always be improvement and I appreciate your input.

      Don’t hide too long. We would miss your stories.

  • Hi Ward. Some welcome humor in my day. I’m glad no harm came to Mrs. Ramsey. Some minor thing caught my attention.

    I thought her, in one spot, calling officer Carlos by his name only, without title, was not keeping with her character.

    You know I am a stickler for unneeded words and in keeping with flash style you could have done without “about” in “It glittered about…”

    “in that accord” in “This morning was no different in that accord,”

    Re: She measured the grounds for the percolator…” I have always considered the word “grounds” to be the used ground coffee…

    In the last para: “He slipped zip-tie cuffs onto the wrists of the sleeping bank robbers.” could be tightened – “He zip-tied the wrists … ”

    Like I said, picky, but to me, important. Likely no one else will care.

    I thought Mrs. Ramsey’s voice fit an elderly woman well. I wanted a bit more agitation to show through the perps.

    This line: “Mrs. Ramsey, really, step back these guys robbed a bank this morning.” calls for harsher punctuation to get the officers urgent tone across.

    I gotta say my mind kept wandering to the TV show, “Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.” 🙂

    Good job. I gave it 4 stars, much better than 3, but not a 5 in my editorial/reader eye.

    Now, to go back to may cave and pull the stone in behind me.

    Jeff

    • Thanks for the critic’s eye. There can always be improvement and I appreciate your input.

      Don’t hide too long. We would miss your stories.

  • Edward

    Enjoyed the story………….you are a better writer than a cook!!

    • No gumbo for you.

      🙂

      • Tony taibi

        Good job Ward! I agree never serve instant coffee. .even if they are rude.

  • Edward

    Enjoyed the story………….you are a better writer than a cook!!

    • No gumbo for you.

      🙂

      • Tony taibi

        Good job Ward! I agree never serve instant coffee. .even if they are rude.

  • Greg

    Kinda reminds me of Maxine. She left Iowa in 1942 to join the war effort. Ended up building radios for B-25’s.

  • Greg

    Kinda reminds me of Maxine. She left Iowa in 1942 to join the war effort. Ended up building radios for B-25’s.

  • MPmcgurty

    Hi, Ward. What a nice EDF debut! This had all the elements of a complete short story reduced, as they say in cooking lingo, to a tasty flash. Nicely done, Bro. Now pass the Restoril.

  • MPmcgurty

    Hi, Ward. What a nice EDF debut! This had all the elements of a complete short story reduced, as they say in cooking lingo, to a tasty flash. Nicely done, Bro. Now pass the Restoril.

  • Jess Alter

    What a delightful little story, Ward! Thank you so much for letting me know about it on Twitter. The outer and inner worlds were woven together beautifully, and the finish made me laugh aloud.

    Kudos!

  • Jess Alter

    What a delightful little story, Ward! Thank you so much for letting me know about it on Twitter. The outer and inner worlds were woven together beautifully, and the finish made me laugh aloud.

    Kudos!

  • S Conroy

    Nice one! As soon as those tablets showed I figured they’d find their way into the scrambled eggs, but I’d guessed old-lady mistake. Think it’s actually nicer that it was intentional. It’s as if the old lady knows more than she realises she does.

  • S Conroy

    Nice one! As soon as those tablets showed I figured they’d find their way into the scrambled eggs, but I’d guessed old-lady mistake. Think it’s actually nicer that it was intentional. It’s as if the old lady knows more than she realises she does.

  • I read this through excited to read a submission from you. Must say it was a delightfull romp, almost slapstick in the way Mr. Magoo Grandma saves the day. As far as the writing (craft) I belive this could use a twenty percent cut, and a bit of re-do, but I love the way your heart shines through in the effort you have made.

    • Thanks for your comment. Was there something particular that you thought to be superfluous?

      • Nothing serious. Jeff covered a few of them, but Granny num-num’s mind set (to me) would be hard tried to remember the sleeping med’s name, and I didn’t get the feeling she was so out of it that she pushed the panic button every monday – it just didn’t click.
        Third sentence – comma after “powered” had me re-reading the sentence several times. I know this is like pick one, anyone, what’s your choice, but if the comma was after “wings” the flow could be easier. At best is was a mountain of a sentence to begin with.
        I certainly hope you have more stories in the works.
        Mike

        • Thanks for the reply. I love this back and forth that we can do on this site.

          Good take on the med names. I thought that I needed to have something there that was real.

          Big sentences are a bear. I usually try to steer clear of them for this reason alone. This one helped slow the story down (IMO) and set the style of the narrator. However, I do see your point and it could go either way with the comma placement.

          My take on the Monday routine was purely for the attention that she could get from the police that would visit. The relationship between her and Carlos could have been more evident. I had the dispatcher comment and the first name she used as a clue. Albeit, Jeff took the name usage as a mistake.

          The ramblings of her inner-thoughts. That is a slight misdirection, really a partial truth, I used to give the reader the thought that she might not be all there mentally. Forgetful and distracted – those are all indications of a fear response. The readers only glimpse into her plotting is through the glass bulb reference and the meds in the cabinet. I thought more would have tipped my hand too soon.

          She could be quite within her wits but still need the attention of someone else. That need for social interaction is not uncommon among older single people (heck just with people in general). She just is a little over-zealous in her excitement to show off to her officer friend.

          I do have more stories. Most are a bit over the word limit for EDF.

          I am sure to submit more soon.

  • I read this through excited to read a submission from you. Must say it was a delightfull romp, almost slapstick in the way Mr. Magoo Grandma saves the day. As far as the writing (craft) I belive this could use a twenty percent cut, and a bit of re-do, but I love the way your heart shines through in the effort you have made.

    • Thanks for your comment. Was there something particular that you thought to be superfluous?

      • Nothing serious. Jeff covered a few of them, but Granny num-num’s mind set (to me) would be hard tried to remember the sleeping med’s name, and I didn’t get the feeling she was so out of it that she pushed the panic button every monday – it just didn’t click.
        Third sentence – comma after “powered” had me re-reading the sentence several times. I know this is like pick one, anyone, what’s your choice, but if the comma was after “wings” the flow could be easier. At best is was a mountain of a sentence to begin with.
        I certainly hope you have more stories in the works.
        Mike

        • Thanks for the reply. I love this back and forth that we can do on this site.

          Good take on the med names. I thought that I needed to have something there that was real.

          Big sentences are a bear. I usually try to steer clear of them for this reason alone. This one helped slow the story down (IMO) and set the style of the narrator. However, I do see your point and it could go either way with the comma placement.

          My take on the Monday routine was purely for the attention that she could get from the police that would visit. The relationship between her and Carlos could have been more evident. I had the dispatcher comment and the first name she used as a clue. Albeit, Jeff took the name usage as a mistake.

          The ramblings of her inner-thoughts. That is a slight misdirection, really a partial truth, I used to give the reader the thought that she might not be all there mentally. Forgetful and distracted – those are all indications of a fear response. The readers only glimpse into her plotting is through the glass bulb reference and the meds in the cabinet. I thought more would have tipped my hand too soon.

          She could be quite within her wits but still need the attention of someone else. That need for social interaction is not uncommon among older single people (heck just with people in general). She just is a little over-zealous in her excitement to show off to her officer friend.

          I do have more stories. Most are a bit over the word limit for EDF.

          I am sure to submit more soon.

  • Nina

    Enjoyed it. That was a fun read to go with my morning coffee, sans Restoril.

  • Nina

    Enjoyed it. That was a fun read to go with my morning coffee, sans Restoril.

  • Marty

    Nice job Ward! Fun little story!

  • Marty

    Nice job Ward! Fun little story!

  • Chris Antenen

    I really liked this story, and as I’ve said many times, the story is all, so that even if I see some editing needs,(the most egregious one is the bag on the counter. “the bag lay on the counter – intransitive, or had been laid on the counter- transitive’) It gets a five, though the changes do need to be made. I don’t think a five means perfect, just very good.

    Go back and read Shirley Jackson’s famous story, ‘The Lottery.’ You’ll find many editing possibilities, but the story itself has been a model for many years because of the strength of the story.

    Had you considered that the phrase ‘little old lady’ is stereotypical and might be met by one of that description, as I am, with a sigh — as in ‘Not that old saw again!.’ And yet there’s that delightful song by Hoagy Carmichael. .

    Little old lady passing by
    Catching everybody’s eye
    You have such a charming manner
    Sweet and shy —

    plue fiive more verses —

    Your story is still a five. No restoril, please. Just lay it on the table. I might want some later.

    • I did think about the title. Mrs. Ramsey would surely not fit the stereotype. The song about the Pasadena lady was always a favorite of mine to play when I was younger.

      Thanks for the info about the verb usage.

      I am glad you liked the story.

  • Chris Antenen

    I really liked this story, and as I’ve said many times, the story is all, so that even if I see some editing needs,(the most egregious one is the bag on the counter. “the bag lay on the counter – intransitive, or had been laid on the counter- transitive’) It gets a five, though the changes do need to be made. I don’t think a five means perfect, just very good.

    Go back and read Shirley Jackson’s famous story, ‘The Lottery.’ You’ll find many editing possibilities, but the story itself has been a model for many years because of the strength of the story.

    Had you considered that the phrase ‘little old lady’ is stereotypical and might be met by one of that description, as I am, with a sigh — as in ‘Not that old saw again!.’ And yet there’s that delightful song by Hoagy Carmichael. .

    Little old lady passing by
    Catching everybody’s eye
    You have such a charming manner
    Sweet and shy —

    plue fiive more verses —

    Your story is still a five. No restoril, please. Just lay it on the table. I might want some later.

    • I did think about the title. Mrs. Ramsey would surely not fit the stereotype. The song about the Pasadena lady was always a favorite of mine to play when I was younger.

      Thanks for the info about the verb usage.

      I am glad you liked the story.

  • Diane Cresswell

    I love this… and am still chuckling. Never ever estimate little old ladies – we are not dumber than we look… after all, we’ve had plenty of practice over the years. You must have had fun writing this one as some small edits/rewrite would have enriched this a bit more. However, this still was great fun to read this morning. Thank you.

  • Diane Cresswell

    I love this… and am still chuckling. Never ever estimate little old ladies – we are not dumber than we look… after all, we’ve had plenty of practice over the years. You must have had fun writing this one as some small edits/rewrite would have enriched this a bit more. However, this still was great fun to read this morning. Thank you.

  • Scott T. Harker

    Most excellent! A very enjoyable read. Made me smile today. Thanks for sharing.

  • Scott T. Harker

    Most excellent! A very enjoyable read. Made me smile today. Thanks for sharing.

  • Paul A. Freeman

    Good fun – let’s hope Mrs R didn’t overdose the dumb duo.

  • Paul A. Freeman

    Good fun – let’s hope Mrs R didn’t overdose the dumb duo.

  • Victoria

    I can appreciate this from the Little Old Lady perspective. Nice job.

  • Victoria

    I can appreciate this from the Little Old Lady perspective. Nice job.

  • John Harris

    Great story my friend! I enjoyed it.

  • John Harris

    Great story my friend! I enjoyed it.

  • Jason Haley

    Nice work buddy! Love the detail! Made Rosy and I laugh!!!!

  • Jason Haley

    Nice work buddy! Love the detail! Made Rosy and I laugh!!!!

  • Shawn L. Marmo

    COOL GRANDMA YOU HAVE THERE!

  • Shawn L. Marmo

    COOL GRANDMA YOU HAVE THERE!

  • Mike

    Enjoyed the story. Held my attention throughout. Well written with a great ending. Keep’em coming!

  • Mike

    Enjoyed the story. Held my attention throughout. Well written with a great ending. Keep’em coming!

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