Jeff Smith 6 p.m., Oct. 8
- Community Blog
Like any small town, the rumor mill here can sometimes seem like the thing to make or break a person. Except I'm not sure that we are a small town anymore, perhaps nothing more then an "unincorperated" part of San Diego now. What ever the fitting title for this place, we have a small town sort of character who resides here, and her level of notoriety is anything but small.
For years she has called me "Suzie." For the first year or so of this I always corrected her and reintroduced myself. At those times she seemed lucid enough to understand. Until the next time when I'd become Suzie again. I'v given up on the name thing, a long time ago now. Thinking back on it, maybe because I was never really sure of her name. She never spoke it regardless of dozens of (re)introductions; but I knew what to call her. Everybody around here knows what to call her. I think its the most readily given info in this town, more available then the name of Main st. We call her Betty.
Betty can often be seen with a large stick in her hand, swatting at, and I think, attempting to maim her invisible demons. She is always seen wearing red. Really. Red from head to toe, day after day, year after year. I have also seen her take her redness to a whole different level. Sometimes she will frequent one of the (3) local bars, but with her own unique set of stipulations. If her drink is beer in a bottle, it must have a red label attached. If it's from the tap, it has to be a red beer. (Which is basically beer with tomato juice.) When it comes to bumming a cigarette, no parliment will due. It must be a smoke that comes from a redish pack, lest she not so gracefully decline. Or perhaps thats not fair to Betty, she might just as easily decline politley. The manner in which, unpredictable, but the outcome being constant- nothing if not red.
The stories that surround this woman can both intrigue and terrify. Some say that she is'nt really a she at all, but a man. That, ever popular among the teens, frought with their own puzzling identitys. Another often repeated (true or untrue?) tale, is that she was once a mother; and as a mother watched as her entire family (a detailed rumor this is! Has it as her two sons and husband) were murdered. Specificly murder by machete. Throats slit and hack 'n' slash. Blood and red everywhere. Maybe something about mafia ties thrown in there on occasion. Some say she is actually very wealthy. Supposedly she has a caretaker, though no one I've ever spoken with has met this person; and sometimes its said that she really has her own house. Though its location is unknown. So, our rich, cared for, Mother of the murdered wanders.
Now the intrigue and tragity grow....She was once on a televised documentary, on none other then the discovery channel. This story being that she is the sole survivor of a serial rapist/murderer. She was picked up hitchicking locally as a young woman, and taken to the desert. The killers claim to fame was the ripping out of a womans insides, reproductive organs, through her most holy of holy areas. With his hands. So Betty crawled out of the desert, bleeding, and lived. Gruesome, but (supposedly) the true story. So, our poor, broken, Survivor of the murdered wanders.
For awhile Betty was the sole topic of a myspace group, counting several hundred members. When Betty would disappear from our streets for a day or two, the group member tweens and teens and twentysomethings would speculate her where abouts. The rumor mill showing no bounds. She now has an extensive fan base on facebook. If for no other reason in this town, she is valued for some strange nostalgic effect she has on many. She IS cared for.
Every time she calls out to me in passing, 'Suzie,' I can't help but wonder who this Suzie might have been. I dont bother to ask around though, ten different stories would'nt make a difference now, because when Betty says it, she always has a smile on her face, so I'm thankful for that. And when she has that big stick in her hand, I smile back. (Bam-Ba-Lam) Get 'um Betty.
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