The Chinaberry Album
Excerpt from The Chinaberry Album
Our next door neighbor, Miss Red, knew all the signs from the Book of Revelation and thought the end of the world was coming at most any time. When the picture show was completed, she was certain the end couldn’t be far off. It pained her terribly to see people drawn to a place of sin, especially young people.
Living so close to Miss Red made it pretty hard on me at times. Nearly every Saturday it was the same thing. I’d dress with special care, and when it was time to leave for the picture show, I’d clutch a quarter tightly in my hand, eager to join the line waiting for the double feature to begin. But then I’d stop and look out the side window. Miss Red would be waiting for me on her front porch. There was no chance of my missing her by leaving early. Not even bothering to finish her meal, she’d come out and wait for me with a glass of iced tea in her hand. I’d stand for a minute with my hands against the screen door; then I’d fling it open and race across the porch and down the steps as fast as I could. I’d pretend I didn’t see her, but she’d holler anyway.
“Hey there, Anna Lee Owens, how’d you like to be in the picture show when Jesus comes?”
I’d often wondered how she was so sure Jesus would pick Bay Harbor for His Second Coming, but I never asked her about it.
“This just might be the day, you know. He’ll come like a thief in the night. Now think Anna Lee, think how you’d feel if He found you in the picture show!”
She always spoiled a little of the show for me. Sometimes in the middle of the picture, I’d hear noises from the street and think the world really was coming to an end. I could almost see Jesus standing in front waiting for me to come out.
The New York Times Book Review --Katherine Burkett, April 10, 1988