Ambrose was waiting for me when I arrived. “This isn’t funny, Lucy. It’s serious. Kindhearted Richard has married Gloria Porier.” “He did NOT!” “Yes, he did.”
Gloria 40 plus, a sequel spouse, married the same guy 5 times, owned a a little antigue shop named Quilts and Treasures, euphemistically called Guilts and Pleasures in acknowledgement of Gloria’s affinity for married men, who could not resist skulking around in her company and were, to a man, most remorseful once they were found out. I always thought of Gloria as Gloria 40 plus, 40 plus another twenty would more closely reflect her chronological age. Gloria 40 plus thought she was coy when she disclosed her age with a giggle, 40 plus. She was one of those overdone women, too much fragrance, too much make-up, too much hairspray, too much bosom, everything in excess. I didn’t much care for Gloria. She paid entirely too much attention to my father after my mother left. She used to come to our door and ask for him. When he came to the door she’d try her best to rub up against him, boobs first with her wrinkly old cleavage exuding the aromatic essence of eau de Avon. His face would get pink and he’d try politely to get her back out the door where she belonged. She’d reach in her tacky white patent leather purse and root through lipsticked tissues, cigarettes, rubbers, and whatever else she kept in there until she emerged victorious with an old shopworn Snickers bar she’d give to me as a bribe to “run along.” I knew my father better than she did and better than she’d ever have a chance to. I waited a few minutes and made a terrible caterwauling, gagging, calling for my father, saying I was sick. The last thing Gloria 40 plus wanted was to clean up after a puking kid. Every time she appeared I got sick until I ran her off for good.
According to Ambrose, Richard was tired and lonely. Gloria wore him down. Kindhearted Richard had been married once a long time ago. He swore he’d tried marriage and it wasn’t for him. Kindhearted Richard was about my father’s age. He lived alone in a small house out in the woods. It was easy to see that Gloria could bring comfort to his life. Ambrose said Gloria had a trailer in Gulfport, Mississippi where they’d spend the winters. Kindhearted Richard was going to be a snowbird. They were getting old. Frankie lived in a retirement village, a nursing home in disguise, close to his kids across the state. The yard was getting old too. As people retired or left the positions remained unfilled. My childhood was disappearing through attrition.