Our Lady of Palm Beach MIA

In the summer of 2008 I took care of an 8 year-old Airedale in Palm Beach. The owners had rescued her from a shelter. Pom Pom was a little crazy. She liked to growl at people and loved biting little manicured dogs. My friend Lisa thought Pom Pom was a frat dog raised by college kids and they evicted onto the streets after graduation from university, but my vote was for a West Palm Beach crack house or maybe a tough fighter for ex-Atlanta Falcons’ quarterback Michael Vicks. Either way I don’t take Pom Pom around dogs or children or any other living creatures. I know she gets a little lonely with me as her only companion, however better than she tears apart a Palm Beach heiress’ poodle.

We walk on the beach. It’s safer than the dog park in West Palm Beach.

No cars.

No dogs.

A few grey heron.

Our route passed Donald Trump’s Mar-O-Lago. The resort was deserted for the summer. All the cabanas were padlocked and the plastic flotsam gathered at the high tide mark without any beach boys raking the sand clean.

As we returned from our jaunt, I spotted a derelict woman scurrying from the bushes of Trump’s estate. It was obvious her previous night’s resting place had been in the bushes. Pom Pom’s bark frightened her. Dogs were never too friendly with the homeless.

I yanked on Pom Pom’s leash and shouted to the woman, “Hey.”

She looked over her shoulder with eyes glazed by a long series of bad choices and she hurried toward wooden steps. Federal law allows access to the beach up to the high-tide mark, but every path was marked with NO TRESPASSING signs.

Trespassers were not allowed on the beach.

I was the exception.

“Don’t go.” I had $2 in my swimming trunks.

The old woman lifted her plastic bags to her chest like she feared Pom Pom might tear them from her grasp.

“I have some money for you.”

These words broke her flight and she turned around warily to face me from a distance of thirty feet. “That dog bite?”

“Probably.” Pom Pom had snapped at me the other night. She wanted some of my hamburger. I didn’t give her any. “But don’t worry, you don’t have to come here to get the money.”

I placed the $2 under a rock.

“Thanks.” She put down her bags. “I saw you the ther day. I thought you might call the cops on me. I don’t like sleeping in the rough, but sleeping in the country jails ain’t no picnic either. You don’t look like you’d know anything about that.”

“You’re right.” My last time in jail was in Bangkok and the Thai police had processed by papers in an air-conditioned office. “How long you been on the island?”

“Since the beginning of the low season,” she spoke with a lisp. Her front teeth were stumps. “Not many rich people around, so I buy a week of food and live in the bushes. Gets a little scary at night with snakes and insects, but safer than the shelters. They’re no bargain either.”

“You speak with any of the rich people?”

“Damn, no.” She shook her medusa nest of grey hair. “They don’t care a shit for people like me haunting their lawns. And damn they’re plenty enough ghosts hanging around these houses as it is.”

“Ghosts?” I wondered about ghosts after I found the sofa moved during the night.

“Oh, yeah, plenty of ghosts from men shooting their cheating wives and women poisoning their husbands. Wandering the lawns like they lost a gold bracelet. Sometimes I check where they walk to see if there is some gold, but they don’t even leave a footprint. Rich people are just as stingy dead as alive.”

“My friends are okay.”

“Yeah, try asking them for a million.” She eyed Pom Pom, as if the dog read her mind. “They treat that dog better than they treat people. So you be careful of those ghosts.”

“Where you headed?”

“Someplace the sun don’t shine so hard and where the dogs are not too big.” She wandered off after snatching the $2 from the sand. Pom Pom barked twice and the old woman ran up the steps into the bushes. She was gone and we resumed our walk. Pom Pom moaned and I patted her head. She was a good dog. A little crazy, but then again so is everyone these days.

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *