Crystal squinted then grabbed the binoculars from the window ledge. “Oh my gawd!” she said.
“What?” said Valerie who gripped the wooden arms of her rocking chair as she glided back and forth.
Crystal offered the binoculars. “Look who Angela’s hanging out with!”
Valerie waved her hand dismissively. “I don’t wanna get up. Just tell me what’s happening.”
“Oh my gawd! He’s a psycho! Is that lipstick smeared across his forehead? Creepy. And he’s got missing teeth.”
“Ew,” said Valerie.
“I’m gonna look her up on google. I can probably find some dirt on her.”
“Do it!” said Valerie. She closed her eyes to enjoy the luxury of her rocking chair.
Crystal eventually stumbled back into the room. “She’s total crap.”
“Well, I knew that already.”
Crystal picked up the binoculars. “Oh, I don’t see the psycho guy anymore, but…”
“Well?” said Valerie with her eyes still closed, “Don’t leave me hangin’. What is it?”
“She’s all crumpled on the sidewalk now. She looks injured. And she’s making something.”
After a few minutes silence, Crystal said, “It’s poster board and she’s drawn on it with black marker. She’s holding it up for the cars going by.”
“That’s kind of disturbing.”
“It’s—it’s a drawing of a bank. Our bank, I think.”
Valerie opened her eyes. “Huh? What’s she trying to do?”
“I don’t know.”
“Is she still crumpled or standing up?”
“Why would she put herself out there like that? Ridiculous.”
“You know what it is? Crappy parents.”
“Trust me on this, people like her come from bad parents. If she was like us, she wouldn’t be in this mess.”
“Maybe we can help her.”
“Well, I don’t know. It’s her own fault she can’t get up. I mean look how many poster boards she’s trying to keep track of.” She gestured, indicating Valerie should see for herself.
“No, I’m good. Just keep telling me what’s happening.” She closed her eyes again.
Crystal went pale and lowered the binoculars. “She—it’s—she could’ve become one of us.”
“I don’t know about that. Is she making any efforts to get up yet?”
Crystal raised the binoculars. “Um, no. She’s holding up a different one now—“
Valerie was jolted by the sound of the binoculars hitting the hardwood floor. “Crystal, for crying out loud, what is it?”
“Angela’s crossed the line,” she said, her voice wobbling as she headed for the kitchen.
Valerie stood up and retrieved the dropped binoculars. Next thing she knew, Crystal was running down the driveway with a paper bag over her head and upon the bag there balanced, precariously, a red wig. As she ran, her right hand swooped down to grab a stick from the front corner of the lawn. The wig fell off.
“Oh no, here we go,” said Valerie.
By the time Paper Bag Lady got to the sidewalk across the road, Angela had put the poster boards into a neat pile and appeared to be holding something in her cupped hands.
“How dare you!” shrieked Crystal and jabbed the stick into Angela’s wound.
Fairy dust billowed from between the crumpled woman’s fingers in an array of colors and she began to cry. “I know it’s you, Crystal,” she said through her tears. “I can tell by your crocs.”
That's when Crystal looked down and noticed she was bleeding.