“Liquor?” Maggie frowned and looked at Jess as she pulled into a parking spot and turned off the car. “I suppose you’re right, but I’ll probably start bawling anyway once I start going through our things.”
“It’ll make you feel better.”
“It’ll make me feel hung-over.”
Maggie and Jess walked into the store and up to the speedy checkout where the lottery tickets and liquor were kept. Jess bought a bottle of bourbon whiskey while Maggie bought one instant lottery ticket.
“Big spender,” Jess said, picking up the brown paper bag with the bourbon inside.
“It only takes one to win.” Maggie put the ticket into her purse.
When they were walking out of the store, the old woman who was standing behind Maggie in the checkout lane a few days earlier was walking inside the store. She was hunched over and walked with shuffling steps. When the woman looked up and noticed Maggie, she tipped to the side and into a movie rental machine.
“Are you all right?” Maggie asked, reaching over to keep her from falling.
The old woman adjusted her shawl and her thick-lensed glasses. With cloudy cataract eyes, she looked straight at Maggie. “It is you,” she said, surprised at their meeting. “I may not see well, but I can tell you have something attached to you.”
“Yes, we met the other day standing in line,” Maggie said, backing up. She decided to ignore her comment about something being attached to her.
“Have you left that old sanatorium yet?”
Wow, what is it with no one wanting her to live there? “No, I’m settling in.”
“I wouldn’t settle in if I were you.” The woman then looked at Jess, who was still standing where she had stopped when Maggie ran up to help the woman. “And you, girly, over there. I don’t . . . I don’t like . . .”
Jess began walking out the door, ignoring the old woman. “Maggie, come on.”
Maggie watched Jess walk toward the car and then looked at the woman. “We haven’t been introduced, my name is Margaret McGee.”
“I’m Claudia,” she said as people moved past them. She motioned for Maggie to come closer. “I don’t usually tell people things I see, but I feel you are in danger and that you need to move out of that old hospital and get new friends.”
“I don’t understand. How do you know this?” Maggie said, her face was only inches from the woman’s wrinkled skin.
“I was born with a gift, the gift of healing,” the woman said, tapping her cane on the slip resistant flooring. “Some call it a curse, especially since it took my health. But I can see things most people can’t.” Then seeming like she was becoming annoyed with the conversation she began shuffling away. In the same whiny voice she had used while putting the cantaloupe and prune juice on the checkout conveyor belt a few days earlier, she belted out, “Just trust me!”
Maggie watched the woman continue inside the store. What in the world was that about? Moving out of her apartment was beginning to sound like a good idea, but leaving Jess? Jess was her best friend and she trusted her with her life. Maggie turned and walked back out to the car where Jess was waiting.
“Who was that old bag,” Jess said, backing out of the parking spot.
Maggie pulled the seatbelt across her body and latched it. “I met her a few days ago when I was getting groceries. She’s just concerned.”
“She’s crazy.” Jess floored the car, causing its wheels to spray loose gravel at the car behind her.
Maggie laughed. “I’m beginning to think everyone’s crazy.”