Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Wacky Witch of West Covina

She is the Wacky Witch. At least, that's what I was calling her: the Wacky Witch of West Covina. She's not really a witch, but it was hard not to pretend that she was, even just a little bit, especially before I found out how friendly she is.

She is a sweet, fragile-looking old lady who lives, seemingly alone with her scraggly dog, in a corner house on the next block. Her home is just run-down and neglected enough to look a little spooky. Usually, the front yard is an overgrown jungle of weeds and dried grass. This past spring, a large bare branch came crashing down during a storm. It stayed in her front yard jungle for weeks, reaching for the sky like some giant skeletal claw in rigor mortis.

Now and then her yard gets cleared up, making it easier to spot the half dozen feral cats that are always around, staring at you from behind the safety of the metal fence. Vertical blinds hang from the front window, permanently closed year round except for the two or three pulled away diagonally (to let in a little light, I suppose), giving the house a gap-toothed jack-o-lantern grin.

The Wacky Witch herself can usually be seen outside early in the morning, when I am walking the dogs. No matter what the weather, she is usually wearing little more than an old coat and a pair of galoshes. It seems slightly obscene to have her pale, bare legs in such plain sight. Her legs are almost unnoticeable, though, compared to the bed-head high rise that would give Don King a run for his trademark image.

I have seen her around the neighborhood, walking home from the local market with a blind person's walking stick in hand. On Sunday mornings she goes across the street to sit at the bus stop in front of Hong Kong Plaza, her walking stick resting by her side like a petite bristle-less broomstick. She holds a numbered flip chart in her lap, displaying the three digits of the specific bus she is waiting for.

I have spoken to her. She is lovely, genteel woman. She has a slight accent, something European and Old World sounding. I haven't had the chance to ask, yet, where she is originally from. She is chatty and friendly. She likes to ask about my black pug, Prudence, and she asks if I have any kitties at home like she does. When speaking to her, face to face, I get the impression that she has some vision left, but just enough to be considered legally blind.

She also wears a fluorescent yellow safety vest when walking around our neighborhood, a day glow garment made brighter with vertical reflective stripes.
I wear a fluorescent yellow safety vest with vertical reflective stripes, when riding my scooter on the freeway.

I feel a sort of shared sisterhood with the Wacky Witch of West Covina, a kind of unspoken bond in our concern for self-preservation when we are out, flying about. In my own warped way I, too, am a wacky witch in West Covina.


KK said...

I love this description of such a wonderful character. Doesn't she belong in a show somewhere?

Nick Thomas said...

Lordy, she's a dead-ringer for my old Aunt Sarah I was planning to write about some time. Complete with broomstick, too.