The Tiger Lady

pier along cape cod i i
iStockphoto.com
pier along cape cod
iStockphoto.com

For Round 6 of our contest, we asked you to send us original works of fiction where one of the characters tells a joke and one of the characters cries.

Seems there is always somebody getting killed in Georgia. Guess that's why we have so many ghost stories. I suppose slaves brought their stories and others like mean ole' Mr. Byrom just made 'um up out of spite to scare little kids. Or maybe he was just plain filled up with haints and had to let'm out 'cause they were poisoning his insides.

Mr. Byrom married the Tiger Lady that summer. I didn't know she was my aunt. No one ever told us till were grown (maybe they wanted it that way). She was always just "Tiger Lady" to us. Mama said she had old money. She lived in a big house near the beach. A sign over the door said "Aqua Vista." We'd walk by going to the pier and there she'd be, sitting on the porch doing what old tiger ladies do. Some days we'd pay her no mind. Sometimes we'd yell, "Tiger Lady, Tiger Lady," and run.

The pier was an old wooden structure that pointed into the sound like an old man's knotty finger. It was covered at the lands' end and open where the ferries tied up. Two ferries came in twice a'day, bring'n them uppity folks from the mainland.

One ferry burned up. The other sank in the marsh on the north end, in a little creek between St. Simons and Long Island. No one really knew why the ferryman went up there. We thought he was court'n Mrs. Eva Wynn. Her house sat right on the marsh and had a dock. Mr. Wynn was always in Atlanta on business. She was some kinda pretty. She could've been in a J.C. Penny catalog and she played a guitar.

Mama said she was no lady and knew she was seeing that ferryman. She said if Mr. Wynn catches them, the only ferry'n he'd be doing was on the River Styx and Miss "Thang" would find herself in the mud waiting on high tide.

The Wynn's moved to Atlanta about the same time that ferry got swallowed up by the marsh. I suppose that ferryman moved, too.

Mr. Byrom was a gambler from Augusta. He arrived with all the other uppities one day. Tallest man I'd ever seen. His top hat gave him the look of a factory smoke stack. He was the kind of man that made babies cry. That's just what happened too. Mrs. Mizell's baby was shoot'n tears straight out when he got near. The kinda man you didn't look right at. Now, there he was, sitting right next to the Tiger Lady on the slideswing, having tea.

Just weeks after Mr. Byrom's arrival, funny things started happening. Not funny like, knock, knock. who's there? Orange. Orange who? Orange you glad I didn't say apple. Closed bank accounts and cats, a lot more cats. That kinda funny.

We stopped going by her house, but not before noticing Mr. Byrom's absence.

Mama said she died, but we knew she hung herself in the attic. Some say it was the lighthouse reflecting in the attic window, others say it was the candle she took with her. Didn't matter, I was glad when they tore Aqua Vista down. When the workers came across the remains of Mr. Byrom in the root cellar, they said it looked like he got on the wrong end of a tiger.

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