Who Needs a Woodsman?
Crimson rushed to the market before it closed. Unlike the huge supermarkets in other parts of town, the family-owned one kept bankers' hours, closing at three-thirty sharp every weekday afternoon. They also charged much higher prices for food, but it was on her way to Granny's place. Still, she couldn't believe how expensive the Granny Smith apples were, the only kind her grandmother would eat.
By the time she left the store, her cloth bag full of apples, she'd missed the bus. She'd have to walk but it was a beautiful day for it. She tied her red hoody around her waist and headed off.
The quickest route was through the park. She'd been avoiding it ever since her best friend was mugged there. But wondered what could happen during the light of day.
The sidewalk on both sides of the roadway through the part was crowded, and she joined the throngs of folks enjoying the spring weather. As she strolled along, a car pulled over and the man inside whistled. It wasn't one of those kinds that construction workers use whenever they saw a hot chick, but rather the kind someone might employ to call someone over to them.
“Hey, you, Ginger. Need a ride?”
He was good-looking with a full head of wavy black hair and a sheep-skin jacket, but those looks were marred by the leer on his mouth and his very large ears.
“Thanks, but no thanks.” She resumed walking, ignoring him.
He drove slowly, continuing to call to her, but after a couple of minutes, he gave up and drove off.
She relaxed and practically skipped the rest of the way, hampered only by the weight of the bag.
Granny lived in a cottage on the other end of the park. Once Crimson caught sight of the stone walls, she broke into a jog.
She entered to find her grandmother tucked up in her double bed. Something wasn't right.
She squinted. “Granny, have you been dying your hair again? I don't remember it ever being so black.”
“A girl has to take care of her appearance, my dear.” Granny's voice sounded a little funny too as a hand patted the hair.
“And your new hearing aids seem to have made your ears grow.”
“But now I can hear you just fine, my dear.”
Crimson put the bag of apples on the table and stepped closer. “I don't think I like your wolfish grin. Are those new dentures? They sure are big.”
“The better to eat you with, my dear.” And with that, the figure leaped from the bed.
But Crimson was too fast for him. She hefted the bag of Granny Smith apples and bopped him in the noggin with them.
He fell to the ground and clutched his head in his hands as she hit him again, harder this time. He cried out for mercy as she swung the bag at one ear and then the other.
“You should be ashamed of yourself.”
He coward on the floor. “No one likes me because of my big teeth and ears. Girls don't give me a second glance.”
“Oh, you poor dear!” She knelt down to rub his head where she'd first hit him. A goose egg had already formed. “But it serves you right for trying to pickup girls in the park.”
“I was only trying to help.” His voice was a whine.
He was getting on her nerves and she was tempted to hit him again. Instead, since she was a kind and generous person, she helped him up and handed him one of the apples. “Here.”
He pointed to the bag. “At least there'll be one fewer apples in that bag the next time you hit me.”
“Where's my grandmother?” she asked rather belatedly.
He shrugged, then winced as the pain in his ears increased from the motion. “She was leaving as I drove into the clearing in front of this house. At least, I guess the woman was your granny.”
“Gray hair in a bun, granny glasses and round face and figure?”
He nodded. “She took off as if she was on a mission.”
“But she knew I was coming. I called her yesterday.” Crimson looked around the kitchen area hoping Granny left her a note. Nothing. “Are you sure she was leaving?”
He shrugged. “Look, if you're not going to hit me upside the head again, or even if you're planning to, I'm leaving.”
She nodded at him absentmindedly.
He went out and around the building, got into his car and high-tailed it out of there.
Crimson tried calling anyone she could think of who might know where her Granny went. Noone knew.
At five, she decided it was time to leave. She wrote out a note, poured the apples into a bowl, and left.
Days later she found a text that her Granny sent, telling her not to worry.