If you read my stories, you have noticed that I write about people that I met. I met all kinds while on the Rome Police Department. Some I remember, and there are others who I try to forget. Gladys was one of those who brings a smile to my face.
I can remember the first time I saw Gladys. It was on South Broad. She was walking down South Broad going toward town. I made a remark that someone ought to pick that old lady up and carry her to town. My partner laughed and pulled into a service station, turning the patrol car around. He pulled back out into the street and headed toward the old lady. When he pulled up beside her I noticed that she was pushing a small cart and walking with a cane.
When the patrol car came to a stop she turned and, putting her hands on her hips asked, “Well, pea brain what do you want?” My partner said, “Miss Gladys, my partner wanted to know if you would like a ride to town.” She took her hands from her hips and did a little twist of her body. She let out a laugh and stuck her head in the window of the car. With a laugh and a snarling sound, she asked, “What about it, pout head? Did you ever see a woman who could twist like that needing a ride?” I had moved as far over in the seat of the patrol car as I could get. With a twist of her hips she let out a laugh that could be heard a block away. Grabbing her little cart she danced off down the street toward town.
I picked my cap from the floor where it had fallen. Dusting it off and putting it back on my head, I asked, “What did I do to her that set her off?” With tears in his eyes from laughter, my partner just shook his head. At the end of the shift he couldn’t wait to tell the others about my first meeting with Miss Gladys. I smiled thinking how an old, ninety-pound woman could be so spunky. I had met Miss Gladys for the first time, but it would not be my last.
I walked the street for a while and finally was put into the patrol car with the Whiz. It was on a cold night that we got a call that someone was trying to break into the house of an old lady. The Whiz was driving when we pulled into the front of the house. I was the first to hit the street. I was moving as fast as I could to get around the house and check it out. A window went up and a woman’s voice said, “What’s the matter stinky? Is it cold out there?” I stopped and took a good look at the woman in the window. I knew that I had met Miss Gladys again. I went around to the front of the house.
I knocked on the front door to let her know that everything was okay, that there was no one around her house. Then from inside, “Well, birdbrain, you going to stand out there in the cold?” I turned to leave but the Whiz grabbed me by the arm. “No, you don’t leave me alone with that woman.” He opened the door and we went in.
She sat curled up in a large recliner. She was so small that she resembled a stuffed, old doll. She had a smirk on her face that turned into a smile. Then her attitude changed. “My, my,” she said, “look what they sent me. Two big, young tomcats.” I tried to tell her that we had checked around the house and didn’t find anyone. “Hush,” she said, “I know that there is no one out there, I just wanted to see what they would send me. The last two were old and wimpy. One of them had a belly so big he needed a wheelbarrow to haul it in.” She jumped to her feet and came toward us doing a dance as she approached. She stopped in front of me and, smiling though lips that had no teeth behind them, she measured me with her eyes, then she turned to the Whiz. “You,” she said, “is a mite shorter, but you will do. Now which one wants to dance with me?”
I remember thinking, “I will play her little game.” She stood in front of me with that toothless smile on her face. “I sure would like to play your game, but I can’t,” I said.
“Why not?” she said.
I then put my little story to her, it went like this: “I am married to the meanest woman in Rome, Georgia. She beats me up twice a day, once in the morning and once at night.” A funny look came on her face, and then I threw in the ringer. “I have 13 kids that goes ever’where I go. I will bring them over some day to see you.”
“No, you will not! Get out while I talk to this other one.”
I turned to open the door, only to find it open already. The Whiz was in the car. I heard the motor start up and grabbed the door handle. I jumped into the car and Whiz drove away from there in a hurry.
We had a good laugh about it. We would pass by and blow the horn if Miss Gladys was out in the yard, but we never answered another call to her house. I know now that living by herself, she got lonely, so she called the police. It gave her someone to talk to.
Lonie Adcock of Rome is a retired Rome Police Department lieutenant. His latest book is “Fact or Fiction.”