Patsy, a woman now in her mid seventies, lived her whole life in the quaint, rural town of Chapman, North Carolina. She was a proud mother of two sons, eight grand children, and one great grand-baby who was adopted from Russia. Like a lot of folks in Chapman used to do, Patsy had married her high school sweetheart. Then life was dreamy, from then on—well, up to a certain point.
Patsy was blissfully happy, taking part in the traditional role as a wife, mother, homemaker, and a devoted member of her Baptist church. When her sons grew up, and moved out, she worked as a substitute teacher. Meanwhile, her husband worked as an auto mechanic for forty-five years until he was hit by an SUV, during his routine early morning stroll to Howdy Jimbo’s Coffee & StickyBuns. Despite the untimely tragedy, Patsy was blessed with living comfortably on her departed husband’s life insurance, a generous pension from his place of work, and from winning a lawsuit against Howdy Jimbo’s. After all, it was the sidewalk in front of that coffee shop, where the SUV swerved off the road, and flattened her husband.
Widowed, and living alone, she got a job, working at a rinky-dink, Chapman version of a CVS Pharmacy. While at work, she loved to chit-chat with like-minded co workers and customers, who had also lived in Chapman all their lives. The pharmacy wasn’t bustling with business, during most of Patsy’s shift. So she had plenty of idol time to reminisce with the other Chapmanites, about what a wonderful town they once had.
Chapman was the ideal place to raise a family. The town’s neighborhoods were clean and safe. Schools were small, and never too crowded, and the grocery store, post office, and doctor’s office were no more than a mile away. The town was lively with only the most wholesome of activities, such as church socials, the community garden club, and Chapman’s famous cornhole tournaments.
So what went wrong with this once-ideal small town?
Nothing really. Chapman is pretty much the same as it was, some decades ago. Still quaint, with safe neighborhoods, and everything close by. The locals still held church socials and cornhole tournaments, and the community garden club was still going strong. The problem was that Patsy just hated change. The change in society, in general.
She longed for the old times, when people knew their place in society. White people, foreigners, and people of color stuck to living in their own separate neighborhoods. A time when families attended church every Sunday. Children were more well-behaved, and respected their elders without question. And girls and women knew how to act like proper ladies. Patsy missed how music on the radio used to never have any profanity, and TV shows did not encourage and normalize amoral behavior.
Now it seemed, to Patsy, that her beloved home town had join the modern times bandwagon, and it infuriated her to no end. She frequently called her sons, and her friends from church, to rant about the latest offensive horror she had come across.
Her neighbor across the street used to be a sweet old lady, named Minnie, who was a true Chapmanite. Then shortly after Minnie turned ninety-nine, she had to move into an assistant living facility, and her family sold her house. To Patsy’s annoyance, the people who bought the house were an Indian family. Patsy couldn’t believe they had the nerve to invite themselves to live in her neighborhood, and act as though they belonged there. One of the things she couldn’t stand about them, the most, was how they were constantly disturbing her peace and quiet. She would be minding her own business, watching the news, or cleaning the kitchen, and then all of a sudden, those Indian neighbors would start playing their Indian music. And they always had to play it when they were outside, washing their car, or pulling weeds in their front yard. Their music wasn’t really that loud, but it was loud enough to make Patsy grind her teeth. It wouldn’t have annoyed her so much, if they would just play nice, normal music. Of course, Patsy could’ve simply turned up the volume, on her TV, or close her front windows, but that’s not the way she wanted things to be. This was her neighborhood, and she felt that she shouldn’t have to be the one to make compromises. Instead, she would ruminate over how much she couldn’t stand her new neighbors, and stew in her begrudgement until her neighbors’ taste in music put her in a cranky mood for the rest of the day.
Bob and Stacy, who lived two houses down from her, were a couple of neighbors that Patsy adored. They were good devout Christians, who stuck with a lot of the old principles and values. Stacy was quite a lot younger than Patsy, around in her fifties, but the two ladies were good friends. They often exchanged pie and quiche recipes, and gossiped about people they knew from church. Then one day, Bob and Stacy broke some news to Patsy that made her wonder, whether or not, if she should continue associating with them. They had invited Patsy over for dinner, and wanted her to celebrate with them. Their oldest child, and only son was finally getting married. When Stacy proudly showed pictures of her son and his bride-to-be, Patsy thought she was going to have a heart attack. Bob and Stacy’s son was marrying a black woman. What was even more disturbing to Patsy, was how they acted like this was perfectly OK. In fact, they were all smiles about it. Stacy then wanted to talk about planning the wedding, and shopping for dresses, but Patsy was too upset to stick around. She pretended to feel on the verge of an intestinal flare up, and hurried home. She lost sleep over this, for three nights in a row, ruminating about how upsetting it was. The morning after the third night of little sleep, she had worked herself up into having an intestinal flare up, for real.
Patsy nearly lost it, one evening, while in the check-out line, at Piggly-Wiggly. In front of her, was a family with three teenaged children, and one child who looked around ten. The children were all talking about a band they liked, and that this band was having a concert, in Raleigh. They asked their parents if they could go, and their parents agreed to take them. Patsy wouldn’t have thought there was anything wrong with this, if it was a band whose lead singer was not a lesbian. She wanted to scream at those parents, and wring their necks. For shame! It was bad enough that they allowed their children to listen to that obscene band’s music. Patsy couldn’t believe that they allowed such an amoral celebrity to be their children’s role model, and they were joining their children, supporting such a disgraceful woman!
Then the next morning, when Patsy attended church, she couldn’t help gasping out loud, when she spotted the latest new-comers, sitting in the pue behind her. They were Arabs. A whole family of them. If Patsy was not in the presence of the lord, she would’ve wanted to say something rude to them. She couldn’t believe those Arabs had the audacity to show their faces at her beloved church. She couldn’t believe they had the audacity to even come into her country, after what they had done to the World Trade Center.
Patsy wanted nothing more, than for the president, the government, and the good lord above, to put all this madness to a stop, and make things go back to the way they were. Back to the good old days, when there was more order, restriction, and a higher respect for God and country. She began a nightly regimen of reading her Bible for a half hour, and then praying for a half hour, before getting ready for bed. She prayed for God to fix this modern world, and its many people who had lost their way. She prayed about her ever-expanding list of concerns over everything and everyone she knew of, in Chapman, and from watching the news, and reading the paper. She spoke to God, with humble sincerity, but deep in her heart, what Patsy really wanted was for the world to change to her liking. This is how her prayers were answered.
It was another 11:30 to 4:00 work day, at CVS, and business was slow, as usual. It was Wednesday, which was the day when Patsy was the only one working in the pharmacy. She was proud of herself for being able to handle Wednesday’s multiple jobs of giving customers their prescription meds, being the cashier, and just watching over the place.
Songs from the 1960s and 70s played from a very outdated speaker system, on the ceiling. The sound quality was garbled, and it was a fixed repertoire of the same forty songs, that Patsy had heard hundreds of times before, but she tried not to complain. Tiresome as it was, it was better than having to listen to today’s music. Still it added to the boredom of Wednesday’s shift. She walked through all the aisles, and looked at things she had already looked at, hundreds of times before, because she had nothing better to do. By 12:15, her boredom was starting to make her cranky.
“Oh sweet Jesus,” she huffed, as she wandered through an aisle that had skin care products, and classic candy. “Please make a customer come in. Any customer.”
Seconds after her prayer ended, in came a customer. Instead of thanking Jesus, Patsy scowled. It was a dark skinned woman with curly, frizzy dark hair, who was talking a mile a minute, on her cel phone. Speaking, what sounded like Spanish.
“Oh God. Not one of them,” Patsy said to herself, hiding behind a shelf full of facial scrubs and Pezz dispensers. “Bodda-bodda-bodda-bodda-bodda.” she mocked the woman, under her breath.
The chatty woman practically flew around the pharmacy, like a crazed hornet. Both she, and the person she was on the phone with, were talking in their loud, fast language, at the same time. This quickly grated Patsy’s nerves, and her teeth began to grind. The chatty customer found Patsy, before the agitated old lady had any chance to find a new hiding place.
The woman had to get to her second job soon. So she was in a hurry. She and the person she was on the phone with, needed Patsy’s help with picking out a birthday card. She told Patsy that it had to be an extra special birthday card. Her nine-year-old niece, who had been battling leukemia, was now in remission, for a second birthday in a row.
“I’m sorry, ma’am, but I can’t understand you,” said Patsy, irritably. “Could you please speak English.”
The woman repeated her request, and her miraculous story, word for word. She was speaking English, but her English was broken, and her accent was too thick for Patsy’s ears to comprehend.
“English! I said, speak English!” Patsy snapped. “If you can’t speak English, then I can’t help you!”
The woman sighed, and tried repeating herself again. This time, she talked slower, and the person at the other end of the phone went quiet.
“English!” yelled Patsy, getting up in the woman’s face. “El speak-ee-o Eng-glish-ee-o!”
“I am speak English!” the woman protested, but now it didn’t matter anymore. Patsy just wanted her out of her pharmacy. The woman started talking on her phone again, which Patsy didn’t want to hear any more of. “Bodda-bodda-bodda-bodda-bodda!” she mocked, yelling over the phone conversation. “Sorry, we don’t have any tacos and burritos here!”
Exasperated, the Portuguese woman gave Patsy the finger, before storming out of the pharmacy.
“What nerve!” Patsy exclaimed. “If she doesn’t like the way things are around here, then she needs to get out of my country!”
Feeling fidgety from her outrage, she busied herself with rearranging a selection of breath mints and nicotine gum, all while grumbling to herself about that rude customer. She jumped, when the sound of another customer coming in, snapped her out of her ruminating. She sighed with relief, when she saw that it was an attractive, white teenager, with shiny blond hair, and bright blue eyes. The girl was also nicely dressed, which was something that Patsy thought young people were lacking, these days. Patsy welcomed this customer, with a broad smile. “Good afternoon,” she said, cheerfully. “Can I help you with anything?”
The girl kept blinking her eyes, as she turned to look at Patsy.
“Yeah,” said the girl, sniffling. “I’m like, big-time glitter-balling here. I need to upload my shiz-factor, before it’s time to hit the jungle box. Man, me and my friends are going to get dead-set HJK tonight.”
Patsy looked at her blankly. “I’m sorry, but I don’t understand what—”
“You got any stuff for making cake pops?” the girl interrupted, looking a little anxious.
“I believe so,” said Patsy. “We do have a few kinds of cake decorating and baking gizmos. Just go four aisles down that way.” she pointed in the direction. “We don’t have that much, but we should have what you’re looking for.”
“Cool, thanks.” said the girl. Then as she was walking away, Patsy caught sight of a little smirk on her face.
Patsy headed for the manager’s office, in the back of the store, where there was a computer. She was going to look up this girl’s teen lingo, and figure out what she was talking about. “Dead-set HJK?” Patsy thought, turning on the computer. “Why do young people have to use so much darn slang? Young people never talked that way, back in the good old days. They talked in plain English. Back in the good old days, nobody felt that they had to be cool, or fresh, or fly. Or whatever the slang nonsense is now-a-days.” She paused for a few minutes, to decide which new fangled slang term she wanted to look up first, once the GoogleSearch bar popped into view. “Jungle box… glitter-balling… shiz-factor…” she thought. “Making cake pops?” Patsy laughed with triumphant mirth, when she figured out that “making cake pops” was slang too. It had to have meant nothing other than the latest code words for sex. No wonder why that girl was smirking. She didn’t think that an old lady could figure that one out. Well, Patsy was going to show her a thing or two.
“Hello?…” she heard the girl call out, from the check-out counter. Patsy hurried over, anticipating to find a box of condoms, or a tube of KY among that little tramp’s order.
She looked at the girl’s purchases, one by one, as she rang them up. The first item was a box of cold medicine. Then a large bottle of Extra Strength NiQuil. That made sense. The girl obviously had a cold, or a sinus infection. It looked like she had allergies too. The way she kept sniffling, and her nervously blinking eyes were looking a little watery. Then the rest of her order disappointed Patsy. A bag of hard candies, some house cleaning products, an assortment of different pain relievers, herbal supplements, and other cold medicines, and some lighter fluid. No condoms, or any other sex items a girl her age shouldn’t have. “Maybe she realized that she wasn’t so smart as she thought.” thought Patsy, with a smile. Then she looked the girl, square in the eye, and said, in her sweetest tone, “Have a nice time, making your… cake pops.”
The girl backed away a few steps, looking nervous and guilty. Then she hurried out of the store.
Patsy chuckled to herself, as she went back to the manager’s office, and turned the computer off. “Making cake pops,” she thought, laughing again. “She knew that I cracked her little code. Running away from me, like a scaredy-cat. It’s such a shame, how girls these days have lost their way. All their morals went out the window. Now they act like a bunch of two-bit hussies. Dressing inappropriately, using fowl language, having sex before they’re supposed to, and with multiple guys too. It’s enough to make me sick. Girls were never like that, back in the good old days. They dressed like nice young ladies, and they acted like they were supposed to. I hope that little harlet doesn’t come back in here again, when I’m not around, and talk her little sex lingo. For Pete’s sake, this is a pharmacy, not a brothel. I wish this place would just stop selling that sex stuff, all together. It’s not right.”
Just as Patsy began moseying the store aisles again, another customer came in. She clasped her hands over her heart, and almost cheered out loud. This customer looked like her kind of guy. He was a ruggedly handsome, mature aged white guy, dressed in nice casual-sharp clothes, and a MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN hat. Patsy’s cheeks flushed a little bit, as she nervously fluffed up her permed hair. “How can I help you, sir?” she asked, sounding more flirty than she had intended to. Then once the man started talking, Patsy’s heart sank.
She could tell, by his twangy, backwoods accent, and terrible grammar, that he was from Chaga Mahoya. This was a town, two towns to the north, and a much more rural place than Chapman. So he was nothing but a dumb hillbilly. He asked Patsy if the pharmacy had any ammonia-free men’s hair dye, that he could just comb over his gray streaks. Unfortunately, his backwoods accent was so thick that Patsy had a harder time understanding him, than the Portuguese woman, and the girl who spoke in slang.
Patsy shrugged, huffing with annoyance. “I’m sorry, sir, but I can’t understand what you’re trying to say.” she said, giving the man a disapproving look.
He tried repeating himself, but that made his accent even more backwoodsy. Patsy huffed again, and stomped away. This was turning out to be the most aggravating day in her whole twelve years of working at CVS. Then her irritable mood flustered up even more, when she realized the man was following her, still babbling in his Chaga Mahoya gibberish. “I’m sorry, sir,” she said, in a snippy tone, glowering at him. “But we don’t have what you’re looking for. here. Good day.” she pointed in the direction of the door.
The man tried to apologize, if she thought he was being too pushy, or too demanding. He reassured her that he meant no harm. He was just looking for the right hair dye for his gray streaks, but Patsy didn’t want to even bother with trying to understand him. She was fed up with customers who wouldn’t speak proper English. “I SAID… We… DON’T… have… what… you… are… looking for sir!” she said, angrily. “Now GOOD DAY!” she pointed to the door again, giving the man a slight nudge on the shoulder.
He looked at her, like he thought she had lost her mind. Sighing, he said something that she thought sounded like, “Never mind.” before he left the pharmacy.
“Oh, boy, what a buffoon!” she said, throwing her hands up in exasperation. “Duh-hurnee-nurnee-nurnee-nurnee-dur!” she yelled, in a moronic voice, imitating the customer she had liked, just a few minutes earlier. “Why can’t he just get a decent education.”
she wandered into an aisle full of cheap plastic toys, and absently started fumbling through a bin of dusty old fidget spinners. “Oh, sweet Jesus, will you please have someone come in here, who can speak like a normal, decent human being. I can’t take it anymore!” She turned into another aisle, and accidentally kicked over a card board candy display, that still had last year’s generic Christmas candies in it. Patsy groaned loudly, with annoyance. “Help me, God, I’m going to lose my mind!” she yelled, bending over to pick up the scattered candy, and put the display back together. “Can this day get any worse?!”
Right after Patsy said that, a song came on, that was her least favorite, among the music repertoire. She absolutely hated the song, on a day like this. As she continued putting candy back in the display, she sang along. Deliberately singing the silly lyrics about a cake being left out in the rain, with sarcastic gusto, and exaggerated note bending. This eased her tension a little until she turned around, and saw a very good-looking man standing nearby. She was so into her singing, that she hadn’t heard him come in. “Sweet Jesus. That young fellow is a hottie, as young people would say it, these days.” Patsy thought, now embarrassed. He seemed to not even notice that she had been singing like a banshee, when he walked in. “Hmmm, maybe he’s just being polite.”
She watched him casually walk over to an aisle that had electric tooth brushes and shaving supplies. “Oh, lord, forgive me.” she thought, once she caught herself looking at his toned little toosh. She wandered far enough away from his range of sight, and fluffed up her hair, and adjusted her bra, before starting towards him.
He wasn’t very tall, but he was lean and muscular, and had a face that reminded her of a cross between Johnny Dep and Don Johnson. Patsy smiled as she approached him. He was going to be the one who would brighten such an awful day. He would most definitely have no problem speaking in proper English too. “Praise Jesus.” Patsy thought.
“Good afternoon, sir,” she said, in her most cheerful tone. “Can I help you find anything?”
He didn’t respond. She figured that he must be wearing one of those new types of wireless headphones that people don’t see, at first glance. He was preoccupied with comparing prices among several brands of men’s electric razors. Not even bothering to turn around, to see who was behind him. “Excuse me… sir?” she tapped him on the shoulder, which got him to turn around. “Can I help you with finding anything?”
He smiled back at her, and signed his answer.
That did it. Patsy screamed at the top of her lungs, and didn’t stop until her surroundings blurred, and faded to black.
The deaf man took out his I-Phone from his jeans pocket, and called 9-11. The old woman had collapsed to the floor, and was as still and unresponsive as a corpse.
The poor guy was beside himself, as he waited for the paramedics. He had only signed to her, out of habit. He usually came in, during Amanda and Millie’s shift. The two women were knowledgeable about the deaf community, and knew sign language. He could see it frozen on the old woman’s face, that she must’ve been going through a tough time, and the fact that she didn’t understand sign language made her reach her wits end. He wished he would’ve thought to communicate with her, through text messages, but it was too late.
Prejudice Patsy didn’t die. She just had a stroke. To her great misfortune, the stroke gave her a little known, rare condition called Foreign Accent Syndrome. Causing her to have an irreversible, thick Transylvanian accent. She also suffered with uncontrollable outbursts of laughter, that sounded more like sinister cackling.
People didn’t understand that she talked this way, because of a medical condition. She tried to explain herself to pharmacy customers, and people in church, whenever they gave her funny looks, but she couldn’t explain. Patsy herself didn’t understand her condition. People assumed that she was just acting weird, for attention. Or she was losing her mind, because she was old. Her condition made customers and co workers at CVS uncomfortable. The manager and assistant manager had received enough complaints to make them feel they had no better choice, but to fire Patsy.
Bob and Stacy were uncomfortable with her too. They were polite and neighborly to her face, but it wasn’t long until she noticed that they were having potluck get-togethers and barbecues, forgetting to invite her. But they invited just about everybody else in town, even the Indian neighbors across the street. Patsy became so desperately lonely, that she put her prejudice aside, and tried making friends with them. The Indian neighbors were nice to her, but they spoke to her as though she was a child. They too believed that she had cracked up, and they didn’t take anything she said, seriously.
Sunday mornings also became lonely and depressing. Patsy no longer fit in, at her church. A church that she had been devotedly attending, for over forty years. And after all that she had done for them. All her volunteer work, putting their special events together, and substituting for the Sunday school teacher, whenever she needed it. The people there were still very nice and polite to her, but they ignored her, most of the time, like she never existed. This hurt Patsy even worse. If they were rude toward her, because of her condition, at least she would feel that her presence was being acknowledged.
One Sunday, after another lonely morning in church, Patsy decided to take a nice walk in the local park. She sauntered beside the playground, hoping to cheer up. Watching children play and act silly, always made her smile. A group of the most adorable looking kids entered the playground, and immediately broke into a game of mob soccer. There were six or seven of them. Little boys and girls who looked no older than five. They were all still wearing their Sunday best. One little girl in particular, caught Patsy’s eye. She had on the cutest pink dress, and a matching, big pink bow above her wildly swinging ponytail.
One of the little boys accidentally kicked the ball too hard, and it zoomed across the playground, right towards Patsy. She caught it, as the kids hurried up to her. They all smiled, and thanked her graciously, when she handed them the ball.
“You’re very velcome,” she said,, in her Transylvanian accented voice. She bent toward the little girl in the cute pink dress, and patted her on the head. “You’re a very pretty leetle von.” she said, before bursting into sinister laughter.
“She’s a vampire!” one of the little boys shouted. Then they all ran away, screaming.
Tears began to trickle down Patsy’s face, as she turned away from the playground, and began walking through another area of the park. She came to a scenic nature trail, and started down its winding path. She hoped that the beautiful trees and flowers would stave off her sadness. Then the further she walked down the trail, the happier she felt. Smiling up at the green tree tops, and sunny blue sky, she thanked God for lifting her spirits, with the beauty of nature. Patsy felt happy enough to begin singing one of her all-time favorite hyghmns, not realizing how dark she made the song sound, singing it in her changed voice.
Her moment of spiritual rejoicing was suddenly disrupted by the sound of someone snickering. Patsy glanced around until she spotted a group of teenage boys, sitting at a wooden picnic table that was partially hidden among the trees. Only one of them seemed to have noticed her. The rest of them were busy scrolling through photos, on a tablet. She decided to ignore them, and continued singing. Another evil cackle burst from her mouth, at the end of a verse.
The same boy snickered again. “Dude, check out that crazy old bat out of Hell.” she heard him say to the others. Then she felt more eyes on her. When she glanced back at them, sure enough, they were all gawking at her. She stopped singing, and stared them down. “That’s not very nice to gawk, leetle boys. You know zat God eez vatching your every single mooove. And you know vut happens to leetle boys who don’t behave like zay shoooood.” she reprimanded them, her tone of voice making it sound more like a possible death threat. The boys sat perfectly still, and were silent. Satisfied with herself, Patsy went back to her walking and singing.
Although she had her back turned toward them, she wasn’t far enough away to not hear them burst into laughter. She wasn’t far enough away to not hear their cruel comments, and insensitive wisecracks.
“We need to call Planter’s, cuz there’s a nut on the lose.”
“She sounds like she thinks she’s Dracula, or that villain chick from what’s-that-old-cartoon. You know, the one with that retarded moose.”
“Should we send out a Silver-Alert, or something?”
“Maybe a freak alert. I passed that lady, a while ago. I saw her lurking around the playground, and ogling at little kids.”
“Maybe the old farts’ home kicked her crazy, pedo-ass out.”
Patsy unintentionally laughed again, but deep down, she was ready to cry. Her uplifted mood was ruined, and so was her nice visit to the park. She finished walking the nature trail, but without bothering to look at its beauty. Then she headed strait for her car. It was time to go home. She sat in her car, but couldn’t start driving. She needed to have a good cry first. “Sweet Jesus,” Patsy thought, through her sputtering sobs, and heavily pouring tears. “Why do people have to be so judgemental?”