The policeman flicked on his lights when he saw the little, red, subcompact car ahead. He could tell by the chaotic way it was being driven that this was the one he was looking for.
You see, this wasn’t the first time someone had called the cops on this particular person. The car was, as usual, going slow and swerving within its lane. After witnessing someone having such obvious difficulty controlling their vehicle, “There’s a drunk driver on the road!” would be called into dispatch on a somewhat regular basis.
As the constable walked up to the driver side door, he saw a little old lady wearing white gloves, a winter jacket and a toque, looking quite unsettled. The bucket seats were covered with bed sheets, and the floors with newspapers. The dashboard was spotless, as if this 10-year-old car were brand new, but there was no radio.
“License and registration” he demanded. Celia, for that is the lady’s name, fumbled and fidgeted with her purse for a while, then said in her Italian accent, “I must have left it at home. I live just around the corner, I can go and get it.”
“No. Stay there.” came the response.
“Officer, I have to go to the washroom. Can I please go to my house?”
“No. Stay in the car.” he commanded, and started walking back to his cruiser. Celia opened her car door and stood up. “Officer, I really have to go-“
“Get back in the car!”
The officer noticed how small she was as she stood there. He also saw the phone book that she had been sitting on so that she would be high enough to see over the dash. Celia was flustered, but got back in as she was told.
While the cop was on his radio with dispatch, trying to get more information on this unusual woman, he saw the little red car pull away from the curb and try to go around him. He threw his cruiser into drive and turned to block the roadway, lights still flashing. But he didn’t know what he was up against. Celia drove up over the curb, onto the sidewalk, and around the cruiser while the officer watched the little 70-year-old in disbelief. She beetled around him, pulled back onto the road with a thump as each of her tires came back down to the asphalt, and the chase was on!
* * *
Bob was stirring his pasta while garlic chicken baked in the oven. It was a snowy, winter night, and he was happy to stand by the stove in a house that was usually too cold. He heard the sound of someone pulling into the garage, followed by the opening of the door between the garage and the basement.
“Rrrrobert! Rrrobert!” his name was called along with the sound of the pitter pattering of little feet rapidly heading up the stairs. The door opened again. “Police!” boomed a strong, male voice. A second later, Celia was in the kitchen, running around in a panic, and a few boot thumps later, a tall policeman entered right behind her. Next, Celia gasped, grabbed a rag, dropped to her knees and started yelling at cop while she mopped up the melting snow his boots were leaving on the kitchen floor. Bob just stood there, holding his wooden spoon, trying to figure out what an appropriate response to this situation would look like.
Fortunately, the man in uniform realized as he watched this eccentric ole gal mopping the floor, that this was no ordinary (read: psychologically well adjusted) person, and he would either need to be gracious to this little runaway, or he would have to show up at the station with a semi-senile old lady in handcuffs.
He wrote her two tickets and let her be (which she later fought, of course).
I wish I could say that was the last time we had the police in that house, but I can’t. I wish I could give this story a tidy little ending, but I can’t. This woman is far too complex, too bizarre, and too interesting to sum her up in one article. She’s really more herself in the summertime, so next week I will present Celia in her natural habitat- her garden in the summertime.
In the meantime, the thrice-weekly throwbacks continue, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Maybe Wednesday’s post will be about Andy Amsterdam, Willow the Hippy Chick, or the pranks I pulled on Pauline. But for certain, next Monday’s post will give you deeper insight into Celia: one of the strangest and most wonderful people I have ever met.