Barbara Weiss clicked down the sidewalk to the Olive Garden. Her high heels were killing her. She tried to remember if she had ever worn high heels in all her working years, and couldn’t think of a time. She’d been a sensible woman.
No more. It was all-feminine, all the time. Pastel colors, dresses instead of pants, high heels, plenty of make-up. She would never look like the profile on her dating site, (a untouched but fluky picture of her, in her slim pose), but she was doing her best.
This was her fourth date, and she hoped at least that this one wouldn’t be cut short. Each time she’d walked into the restaurant, and saw the hopeful look on her date’s face drop, and a polite veneer take its place. Two out of three of the men had been polite enough at least to see the meal through. One of them had gotten an “emergency” phone call within minutes, and adding insult to injury, had stuck her for the bill.
It was all right. She could afford it. She had a generous pension, double dipping both the county and state. Besides, she was beginning to think she should offer to pay for at least half the meal. Not the way she remembered it, but apparently it was the new way to doing things.
This time it was her turn to recoil. The man was fat, nothing like his profile. That would have been all right, but when he gave her a hug, he stunk. A not-bathing-kind of stink, something that he could do something about if he cared. If he stunk on a first date, she could only imagine how he’d be the rest of the time.
She stuck it out. He was actually fairly interesting, but she got the distinct impression that he was hoarder, from his description of all his flea market purchases. She let him peck her on the cheek and hurried away without a commitment to a second date.
That’s it, she thought. Four strikes and I’m out.
She’d never much liked the idea, but so many of her Facebook friends had told her about their luck internet dating that she’d felt she had to give it a try.
Moving down the Arizona was looking like a mistake. Oh, she loved her house. She loved the views. She liked the town and the people. But she hated the fact that old woman far outnumbered old men. She’d never been able to compete on that level.
She’d always been stocky. Not fat, just solid, ‘built like a linebacker’ her Dad had said fondly, not knowing how much it hurt. It was at the senior prom when she’d met Howard. He was with someone who got drunk and belligerent, and Barbara in her take-charge way had taken the woman aside and talked her down.
While she was doing that, he own date wandered off to join his friends, none of which she knew, and she found herself standing and talking to Howard. They’d hit it off from the start. He was tall and strong, and maybe had an ugly mug but he was kind and patient and he loved her.
They’d had two children, both of whom had gone on to higher education and lived back east.
She’d had the best of it. Her career, her marriage, her family, her friends.
Then Howard had died five years ago, and most of her friends had wandered off or passed away, and she was forced to retire by mandatory state and county guidelines. She’d rattled around the big house for a few years, hoping for an occasional visit from Jeremy and Sarah. Her kids had instead invited her to move back east, closer to the grandchildren.
Barbara had finally decided she needed to get her life going again. She needed a change. She moved to Arizona.
She walked out of the Olive Garden and the blast of heat almost melted her on the spot. Her makeup seemed to be drying into a solid mask on her face. She wanted to cry, but she raised her chin and marched to her car. She couldn’t remember when the last time she had cried. One long cry when Howard died, and before that…? Never?
She tore off her high heels and gripped the steering wheel.
She drove home slowly, taking the long route, unwilling to sit in her big living room by herself, watching TV or reading a book.
After meandering about, driving down roads she’d never seen before, she pulled up to her driveway and pushed the garage door opener. She sat there idling, thinking about nothing. She glanced out at her front yard. She’d decided when she’d moved her not to put in a lawn or a garden, conscious of how much water it would waste.
She smiled to herself. Her old coworkers would have laughed at the idea of her being an environmentalist, but she’d always been secret liberal, despite her occupation. In fact, the only social activity she enjoyed down here in Arizona was the group of other liberals she’d found, who had afternoon barbecues and patio parties once a week. Jenny and Barry Hunter, Stacy and Cameron Stevenson, the Silberstein’s, the Foster’s, and old Billy Patterson, who’d been making eyes at her, but was so old she hadn’t seriously considered him.
Maybe time to reconsider, she thought. I think I just need a companion, and I’m not going to be particularly picky about it. Except…they couldn’t stink.
She pulled car into the garage, and got out, and walked around the back of the car to get the door into the house. She passed briefly into the sunlight, and saw the three pigs approaching. Ordinarily, she’d have ignored them. She’d heard that her neighbors were having trouble with the javelinas, especially Barry Hunter who brought the subject up at nearly every meeting of the Bleeding Hearts Club. But because she didn’t have any plants to attract the critters, so she hadn’t seen them much.
They were a new species to her. Central Oregon didn’t have them. They kind of fascinated her in their boldness.
These three were being especially bold. They were getting closer and closer. She looked into the eyes of the leading pig.
She didn’t hesitate. She reached into her purse and pulled out her Glock and started firing. Her first three bullets hit each of the pigs square in the head, but she emptied the clip as she was trained and grabbed the second clip and reloaded. She held the gun out, looking for movement.
Then Barbara Weiss, the Sheriff of Crook County in Central Oregon for over twenty years, went to her doorway and pushed to button to close the garage door.