The Coffee Klatch
by Walter Guest
"Have you seen that new guy? He moved in a week ago over on "A" Street. In a single wide." The last was said with a sneer.
"No. He has a Jap kid with him. He says it's his son. If you can believe that. Doesn't look like him. I hear there are kids for sale over there. Perverts go and buy them."
This was the coffee klatch of the mobile home park. The six regulars were there. Others drifted in and out. On this morning the park's French lady had joined them. She was accepted because she contributed gossip and laughed at the right time.
"The kid's not Jap, he's Vietnamese. That guy just came from there. Said he'd been there seven years."
"He's a soldier?"
"No," one said dismissively, "he never did no fightin'. He was a construction worker."
"If the kid's his, where's the mother?"
"Mary asked him that. You know what he said?"
There was no reply during a dramatic pause.
"He said he killed her!"
There was a gasp all around.
"That's right. Looked her straight in the eye and said killed her."
The gasp turned into a general hubbub.
The woman continued. "Mary's husband tried to talk to him a little and asked him about it. He said he always told women that because they seldom ask a single mother 'where's the father'. Now isn't that just silly?"
"I heard he doesn't work."
"Wanda said he's rich."
"That's because Wanda's daughter babysat for him and found a bunch of Wall Street Journals."
"You know what else she found?"
"Yeah. A bunch of Playboys."
"And they were hidden away."
"Really hidden. She almost didn't find them."
"What a wierdo."
"You know what else he told Mary's husband?"
"About why he came here to live in a single wide?"
"He said, get this, he said after living in tents and mud huts all those years, it was all he could cope with."
Now there was a round of indignation.
"Is he saying we live in mud huts?"
"How dare him!"
"I will have nothing to do with him and that Jap kid of his."
And so on.
The meeting soon dispersed leaving the French lady alone. She had taken no part in the conversation. She was deep in thought as she finished the rest of her coffee. She spent that night in bed with the new guy.