Minerva's Ghost

By: Danielle Elise Girard

Amanda stepped from her scented bath and dried herself with a luxurious white terry towel. She rubbed her curly red hair as dry as she could with another towel, dropping both of them into the washer on the way to her closet. Since it was barely spring she chose a silk and wool blend fitted black dress, sheer black stockings, garter, bra and slip and finally black pumps. She dressed carefully in a futile attempt to look “respectable”, something a woman as beautiful as she found completely elusive. Her legs were too long, her waist too tiny, her breasts too full and high, and her hair too long and wildly curly. Men looked at her and saw a body. Women looked at her and saw a rival. Few people of either sex saw her as a person, and an accomplished one at that.

She dabbed on a little makeup with sunscreen to protect her fine white skin and twisted her heavy hair into a neat twist that began to resist the taming almost immediately. She highlighted her big brown eyes with discreet touches of shadow and mascara and attached her Aunt’s diamond and ruby earrings to her earlobes. By the time she reached the front hall her red corkscrew curls were already escaping the pins.

Minnie had recently hired a consultant named Gabriel Hall to help her with some work related issues. She had introduced him to Amanda but not really given her much of the background of the issues she had him investigating. “He’s going to be helping you learn about accounting controls, the kind of stuff that keeps companies from being robbed blind by their employees,” Minnie said. Amanda knew she needed to know about what he could teach her, but Amanda had been so attracted to him she had not even questioned Minnie as she would have normally. He was tall and dark and built and she lost her train of thought every time he walked through the building. It made her nervous being that attracted to a man and she had deliberately avoided him.

But then things started happening that brought them together. Minnie had an accident. It had been serious. She was hurt when her truck ran off the road. Gabe had been the one to tell her after his friend, the local sheriff had come to the administration building. She couldn’t believe Minnie would not recover, but wishing didn’t always fix things.

Her Aunt Minnie, Minerva Godwin was dead and buried. Now it was time for Amanda to stand without her. The woman who had been her anchor and her strength through her difficult adolescence had expected a celebration for her passing with not one minister in attendance or standard religious rhetoric mentioned. Minerva had been a strict adherent of the old religions, being part Welch and part Cherokee, and had little, if any contact with the usual male dominated, power and money driven churches of modern life. Amanda was no different. It infuriated her relatives, but she was well prepared for the lonely path by Minnie.

Minnie explained that many men feared the idea, much less the reality of a woman who would be more a partner than a possession. “A woman wasn’t made to be an ornament. She’ll start to think for herself at some point. She’s got a brain no matter how young she may be when a man finds her, and she’ll start to think for herself no matter how many times he tells her she’s stupid. Find a man who can handle the concept that you’re his partner in the fullest sense. Any other kind will make you miserable. If he doesn’t view life as a celebration and isn’t sweet to you and respectful, don’t fool with him. He’s not worth the time of day, much less your heart.”

Minnie believed implicitly in the whole concept of having fun, of taking life head on and not compromising. She’d been married just once but had countless male friends and lovers. Her one serious love seemed irreplaceable. She was terrifyingly intelligent, too passionate, and most men were intimidated by her outrageousness and financial success. She was kind to all, but a straight talker, none-the-less, and she never forgot her life lessons. If someone proved untrustworthy, she always remembered. She said it saved confusion, if you managed to remember whom you could trust and whom you could not. “It’s easy to forget in the rush of justifications that people make for doing others dirty. It’s all just excuses. People do what they want. The trick is to know which way they’ll jump and why. You pay attention, Baby Girl. They’ll show their true colors if you pay attention.”

Well, today she would be paying careful attention. There would be some vipers at the lawyer’s office. She was wearing the rubies as a talisman against arguments.

Amanda drove Minnie’s ancient 70’s vintage Caddy, also candy apple red, to the lawyer’s office. It was a growling, souped up hot rod of a car that her Aunt had modified endlessly with Ben Foster, one of her lovers. The monster engine sounded out of place for street use. High performance exhaust headers, chrome tipped dual stainless steel exhausts and little muffling produced a discreet roar that was recognizable a good mile away. The engine had been blue printed and balanced, had a street legal racing cam and big twin Holley carburetors.