Back in 1947 when I was a kid, I saw that thing they pulled out from under The Bridge.
You know- that thing they wrote about in all the papers.
They pulled it up from the Creek late at night, when they thought no one would be out there- and if anyone was passing by they wouldn’t catch much because back then there were no lights as opposed to the three street lights they have there now that burn out every other month.
So anyway, I’m standing there with my Grandmother who shot the thing with her rifle and with her Sister who was the reason we had ‘ that problem with the thing under the bridge’ to begin with.
” The problem with you ” my Grandmother hollered – she had to yell because all you could hear was screeching and swearing coming from below- ” Is your drinking !”
I could see Tia Saturnina smirking, ” What? I can’t hear you! ” She yelled back over screams and people shouting, ” it burns, it burns!”
” And your gambling. So which is this time? Both? How did you end up with that? ” my Grandmother jabbed her finger down towards the dry creek bed below.
” Things went a little sideways for me in a card game and so what? it happens to the best you know.”
My Grandmother’s jaw dropped and then her eyes got all narrow and squinty and before I knew it my Grandmother shoved her Sister over the railing.
Saturnina went overhead first and the only reason she didn’t wind up down in the gully with a broken neck was that my Grandmother had her by the waistband on her jeans.
” That thing down there? Where did it come from? ”
” How the Hell am I suppose to know? What do I look like to you? God Damned Howard Koch? Let me up you crazy old bi-”
My Grandmother yanked and Tia popped back up. When she stood upright on her own Tia Saturnina’s eyes rolled up into her head and then she spun around and got sick over the railing.
When she was done a few minutes later, she said as she was still hanging over the railing, ” Wow, there was three of them? ”
” There were seven but guess who ran into the other four out on Old Creek Road? ”
” Get them back into the truck, get them out of here and then do something about that mess they made under the bridge. It’s making people sick.”
” Oh, and what about me? It’s not going to make me sick?”
My Grandmother handed me her gun and she put her nose right up to Tia’s and she said ” Now Saturnina…move it now.”
“Fine. Whatever you say. Now. Is that right? Now not later?”
My Aunt started to walk away and then she stopped and walked back to us. When they were toe-to-toe again she gave my Grandmother a long and grim look and then she took my Grandmother’s gun from out of my hands and headed down the road.
From behind her back I saw my Grandmother pull out a small revolver and I heard her mumble over someone yelling for his Mother and Jesus ” Just stop and mouth off one more time…please…”
I don’t know if she actually heard my Grandmother because there was this long metallic screeching coming from something being dragged up the other side of the rock lined gully but Tia seemed to raise the shotgun up in reply and was almost swallowed by the dark at the end of the Bridge when it occurred to me that this time she might not come back to wherever it was she was being sent to.
I couldn’t count how many times she had climbed in through our windows in the middle of the night with her hair either cut or dyed or both and how many times she’d drop her purse or jacket and a gun would go off or a knife would open up and get stuck in the hardwood floor or make a hole in the couch.
This time it seemed that it was more possible then all of those other times that Saturnina might not come back with presents from places like South America or Egypt or those little Islands in the South Pacific where she and my Grandmother were from.
I might not get anymore shrunken heads (of course they’re fakes she’d say as she’d toss a few of them to me over the dinner table) or dolls with pointed bits of broken bone for teeth and real human hair.
And worse then not getting the presents or hearing her great stories about card games that took place in graveyards and ghost towns and morgues was the thought she could disappear right now and I’d have no idea where it was she had left for on that night they brought pulled those things up from under The Bridge.
So I ran until I caught up with her and when I did she didn’t slow down and she didn’t even pretend to care how upset I was.
” Tia, Tia,” I asked “where are you going?”
” Your Grandmother is sending me out to rid the world of one less problem- never mind this could spell the end for me because that woman thinks I’m the source of all that is evil.”
I stopped and then Tia stopped and looked down to where she thought I was standing. She looked back and boy was she disgusted. ” No-of course not.” she snapped ” not ALL of it anyway.”
” When will you be back?” I demanded.
She sounded like she knew, but she also didn’t like the tone in my voice so she said ” Don’t know, when I’m done I guess.”
” Come on.” I said trying to sound hurt and defenseless ” please tell me I’ll be worried.”
” Brother…if we could bottle the BS this family spews we’d be the richest fertilizer company on the planet.” Tia looked up and said, ” Somebody screwed me in that game kiddo and there’s gonna be Hell to pay. When I’m done collecting I’ll be back. I promise.”
Saturnina came back a month or so later with presents and a story about how she settled up a score over a game of cards that went sideways for her in a little town called Roswell.
Based on the Soul Food Cafe