Yoharie: Stalking (part one)
“Val said he didn’t want it. And I’m finished with it.”
Walking down to the cul-de-sac, she’d seen him in his driveway.
“What is wrong with Jeremiah Hibbler?” had been the thought crossing Giarma’s mind. Her eyes watched Trevor’s garage door jerk, stick, creak, touch concrete. He was just home, just pulled in. And then Hibbler, from nowhere, driving past her…slow…tapped his horn. She’d been within an inch of giving him the finger.
But she’d had counsel on this from Roberta and Cathlyn. And agreed…that an armed creepo needed no stirring up.
“Is he stalking me, Cathlyn?”
“Oh…” Ms. Burris was, like professor Witticombe, busy; her needing to be getting something done present in her body language, and a shying from speech that threatened to grow into conversation. But on this point, she had fallen analytical.
It was the day the Hibblers held their yard sale.
“Well, you can stop by and see if they have anything like a birdbath, or a feeder…something your dad would like.”
Giarma couldn’t counter this, another of Dawn’s subterfuges…a word just bumped into in The Totem-Maker, and not an apt word…
But Dawn, artless though she was, had this idea of pushing Giarma into friendships. Or, at least, neighborlinesses. And she was right. Roberta was right. The instinct to glare at, to frost the Hibblers with silence, would only make Giarma Yoharie conspicuous to them. Kate would call her a snob (she did), and say (to Mat), “I’ve been nice as anything to her.”
She’d met, as she dawdled, Cathlyn struggling up the opposite way with a rocking chair. She lifted her eyes and saw Hibbler, in the distance, struggling with a trunk…to ratchet this into the trunk of a car.
“Here. I’ll give you a hand.”
Giarma gave the logistics a glance and added, “Turn it upside-down. I take one rocker, you take the other…that way they won’t bang into our legs.”
“Hey, smartie…” Cathlyn had just begun, and they’d just been situating the chair, when Hibbler jogged up. The dog Beatty jogged up, lunging nose-thrusts, darting hand-licks.
“I’ll get that,” Hibbler said.
So, lingering at Cathlyn’s for just a minute longer, even though Hibbler had shouldered the rocking chair in the way he’d shouldered the trunk (“chest” he said); lingering because she’d become party to this enterprise, Giarma had asked her question.
“I think, if it matters, he just can’t figure women out. He’s like Beatty with people food. There’s something better than what I get? It’s sexist to say, but don’t you think Kate is sort of a climber…I mean, she’d ditch Jeremiah…? For Mat, I guess. Mat’s got a better house, and no kids.” Cathlyn apologized then, for the dish—as Roberta had. “Ha. Sorry. What a harpy!”
(2018 Stephanie Foster)