I once wrote a couple of stories about a bag lady (here and here) although they were nothing like the one I’m going to tell you about now. They (both about the same bag lady) were fictitious whereas this one is real life.
Up the road and round the corner from my house, in a road lined with superb properties, there lives a woman I think of as a bag lady. She looks like one. Her clothes are, to say the least, drab and dirty. She dresses from head to toe in black and whatever the weather she is clad in a hooded black raincoat, a flowing garment that completely encompasses her enormous size. As she shuffles along the soles of her shabby shoes flap as she lifts a foot and squeaks as it falls into place when her foot hits the ground. In twenty years I have never seen her look any different, even the bag she carries resembles a black plastic bin bag.
The woman lives in a wonderful house, big and beautifully designed, with two garages. As with the other houses in the road hers must have at least five bedrooms, a bathroom, two very big living rooms, separate dining room, and a massive kitchen, but the curtains are always drawn so no-one can see inside. The gravelled drive is a dramatic one, curving gently as it heads towards the front door, bypassing several unruly shrubs and a birdbath that looks ready to fall down. I know from other residents that her back garden is a huge wilderness.
She leaves the house at the same time each morning and returns at precisely four o’clock, both journeys undertaken without a word to her neighbours or a remark to passing strangers.
The story goes that she is filthy rich. Filth I can understand, but rich? Yet the more I think about it the more I believe it to be true. She is never seen in shops yet she returns each day with a bulging bag. Does she go begging or is she one of those that ransacks litter bins? Considering the high rates we have to pay the upkeep of the house must be expensive, not to mention the cost of utility services, and she certainly doesn’t squander money on clothes!
What turned her into a recluse? How did she come to own such a fantastic house? Did a broken love affair turn her mind or did a marriage go wrong? Or could she have been a daughter who gave up her life to care for parents? I guess we’ll never know the answer but speculation is intriguing.