Leticia loved haunting the Appledale’s farmhouse. It always smelt of blueberry syrup and fresh linen, with a tiny tang of far-off manure to keep it real.
She loved watching the Appledale brothers dig for worms, and later, watching them stuff those worms down their sister Amelda’s cotton blouse.
Leticia loved bobbing invisibly behind Mother Appledale, watching as she darned Papa Appledale’s socks with a slightly arthritic hand. Leticia knew that soon Mother Appledale would “accidentally” be tossed into the combine, but she didn’t try to warn her because it would be handy to have someone like Mother Appledale on the other side; on top of the darning, she made a mean chicken fried steak.
Papa Appledale. Big, overall’d Papa Appledale with the grass stains on his forearms and worn leather belt for whippin’. Leticia generally stayed away from him. He always moved within a flock of pernicious energy which often stunk of cabbaged flatulence.
While Papa Appledale was killing Mother Appledale, the boys were down by the train tracks playing with the box car children, Amelda was at her girlfriend’s house learning about Kegel, and Leticia cowered in the safety of the washing machine.
And that’s where she remained while Papa Appledale lumbered into the laundry room, peeled off his ensanguined murder uniform, and stuffed it into the washing machine, along with Leticia and a handful of sweaty socks unappreciatively marked by Mother Appledale’s handiwork.
“Hey Leticia,” one of her friends taunted back home. “What happened, someone throw you in with the reds?” A bunch of them held their bellies and laughed till they wheezed, all a’shimmer in her God-given pearlescent suits.
“Yep. Something like that,” Leticia muttered, while waiting for Mother Appledale to ladle some gravy on her chicken fried steak.