First there was the taxman. Then the landlord, then the liver, then the bank. I’ve quit them all. I’ve sought refuge in the confines of a Lower Pacific Heights Victorian with a tabby cat, and a Maltese olive oil heiress who was once called Vicente.
Vera, the heiress, doesn’t like to talk about being Vicente. That was a long time ago. I understand. We all have our (phallic) skeletons in the closet.
Things are nice here. Everything is where you’d expect it to be. There’s plenty of cold-pressed olive oil, and no linoleum. That’s nice. The absence of linoleum puts me at ease.
Not much has happened since I quit it all. There’s not much to report—unless, of course—you count the death of Ms. Juanita Price.
Juanita, as I knew her, wore a vest that was sometimes yellow, and sometimes maroon. She had cornrows that often overgrew their respective rows. She was fond Philadelphia cream cheese with ham and cheese Hotpockets.
The jaundiced man with the square glasses and the square teeth, who I call Chas, but whose name I don’t definitively know, was the first to tell me about Juanita.
“I’m sure you heard about Ms. Price,” he said.
“I’m sure I didn’t.”
“Heard the news myself, just now in the break room. She passed last night in her sleep.”
“I’m sorry to hear that… Who was she again?”
“Ms. Juanita Price.”
“Juanita! Really? I can’t believe it.”
“She died in her sleep last night.”
“Well, at least she had that going for her.”
Juanita, who I’ll try to never forget again should her name come up, often called me darling, honey or if she was properly stoned young thang. She never learned my name in the three years we walked passed each other in hallways with alternating marble floors and industrial carpet.
What I’ll remember most about Juanita is that she owned about five pairs of sunglasses with ice blue iridium lenses. The kind I imagine Randy Johnson wore in the early nineties.
I hope tonight, on my behalf, you’ll pour out a little of your vodka soda for Juanita Price. I have to go now. Vera wants me to walk the cat.