http://patreon.com/personalias A professional babysitter in a quiet little town comes across a bottomless diaper bag that can make supplies for any size. ANY size. What's the worst that could go wrong?
Howdy howdy! Welcome to Bastion, Florida. You lost, friend? You’ve got that look about you. Even though tourists don’t have to unfold big ol’ road maps and can just gaze down at their phones to try an’ sus things out, we still find a few stragglers from time to time.
Tryin’ to find Disney? Maybe go to that Bucs game? You wouldn’t be here. If you’re here to cheer on the Gators you’ve come too far South. Can’t be headed to Miami. No amount of roadwork or detours would have you this far off the interstate. Or did you come to try some of the local cuisine? Real estate shoppin’? Yer a might young to be a snowbird. More than a might young. Maybe you’ve got somewhere to be tonight and just want to kill some time without racking up more credit card debt.
In that case, you’ve come to the right place, I’d say. Nothing like a small town to people watch and gossip on and on about. It’s free, anyway. Here, have a seat. Nope. Nobody’s gonna mind that we’re hanging around the gazebo. That’s what gazebos are for.
Not what you expected, is it? Most people, when they hear “Florida”, they think sunny beaches and palm trees. Not here, though. Not in most of Florida, truth be told. Outside of the heat, most places around here you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in someplace like Ohio. Suburbs and stretches of flat farmland where cows and horses graze as far as the eye can see! What ain’t that is just more forests, lakes, and swamplands. Add in all the snowbirds that are constantly coming down here in the winter, and it can be joked that Florida is the most Northern state in the South.
Heard that joke, have ya? Or maybe it’s just not funny.
Bastion’s a pretty big city, though. Big enough. Three highschools for a decent football rivalry com Fall. Two movie theaters- the good one and the cheap one. Plenty of chain stores; your McDonald’s, your Walmarts, your Starbucks, and what have ya.
Decent number of Mom and Pop shops too: Thrift stores; cafes; independent insurance agents. That and we have the advantage of being just a little over an hour away from Disney and Tampa and Jacksonville and the Gators. We get access to all the tourist attractions without having to deal with obnoxious tourists most of the time.
We’re in the middle of downtown right now, right on the edge of the Historic District and City Hall. Most of the buildings are older than you and me combined. Or at least older than you OR me. It’s why everything here has that old 1950’s retro look like in that one time traveling movies; all boxy and such. But this ain’t no Hill Valley, even if you’d be forgiven for thinking such.
Town’s changed a lot over the decades; on the inside, if not the outside. Like you see that one place over there on the corner? The one with the steep steps and the fancy white columns? Banner reads “Grand Opening”?
No, that’s not City Hall; too small for that these days. Not a bank, either, though it was when it was first built in the early 1900’s. What is it, then? That is easily the worst spot for business in town if you ask me.
Ever since the bank moved, that place has been through more refits than a rich lady who just got stomach staples. It’s been a Christian youth group site; shame they went out of business. Was also an improv comedy theater; no great loss there. Even used to be a nightclub called “Eden”. I didn’t know till after it’d already closed down that it was some kind of freaky swingers sex club or something.
Imagine that? A bonafide freaky deaky sex club. Here. No wonder that didn’t last. Most people are either too conservative or just not exciting enough to even dip their toe in such things; regardless of what they might think about when not in Church.
Besides them things, that spot’s been home to at least seven other businesses that either failed or had the sense to move to a better front when space became available. Can’t quite remember what them places were, but you get my point. When it’s not being rented out, it’s left abandoned and picking up dust for longer than some of the businesses in it managed to run. Some folks joke that it should be turned into one of those Spirit O’ Halloween stores. You ask me, that place is cursed.
What about now? Based on the advertisements in the paper, the coffee news, and the radio, it’s gonna be some kinda thrift store..
“Lost Things Found” it’s called. What else would you expect in a store like that? Don’t quite see the point of it myself. Bastion’s already got a Goodwill. And there’s no windows up front. Good for an old timey vault, or a theater or a sex club...them places need privacy. But an old fashioned store? Not so much. Hard to show what you’re selling with no display windows. Still; place might make for a few good stories, even if it just adds to the list of failed ventures in that spot..
That’s one of the other advantages of living in a place like Bastion. Plenty of stories. You get enough space from people that you can watch ‘em and gossip, and you don’t have to feel too bad because you’ll most likely never have to look ‘em in the eye. Best of both worlds I say. People can talk and gossip and you know who they’re talkin’ about, but then you don’t have to feel so bad when you end up talking more than two sentences to ‘em.
Take that lanky thing walking on down the street, the one with the ratty pink purse? Kind of looks like Olive Oyle from those old Popeye cartoons? That’s Lynn Gilligan. Nice girl from a broken home, but she’s got a couple of screws loose, I say.
She’s too young for me, obviously, but she’s a woman, even if she doesn’t quite look the part. Some ladies just don’t grow into their own bodies till they’re closer to thirty than twenty. Nothin’ wrong with that. The problem with her is she’s either nutty or slutty.
Why do I say she’s nutty? It’s that bag of hers. That’s not a purse, that’s an old diaper bag; filled up too. Girl don’t have any babies though. Not even a little brother or sister. I know, I know, why does she carry a bag full of bottles and baby toys then?
Y’see, when she was still in highschool, Lynn got popular babysitting for folks out at the Country Club. Rich folks love having children and buying ‘em toys to spoil them with. Only thing they love more is paying people to watch their children for them so they can go and spoil themselves.
Skinny britches over there on the sidewalk is still sitting and nannying to this day; using the money to help pay for her tuition over at the community college. I’m not gonna jaw on her about that; that’s just good entrepreneurship right there. Old fashioned entrepreneurship an’ elbow grease. Peculiar thing is that ever since that first summer Lynn’s been toting around that old baby bag wherever she goes. Was probably her diaper bag back when she needed one. Says she brings it to be prepared for whatever gig she’s got.
That don’t ring true, though, you ask me. I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of hardly any instance when a body with a toddler wouldn’t already have bottles and diapers and wipes for their own kid. Seems to me that for Lynn it’s less preparation and more pretense. What’s she tryin’ to do being ready to swaddle a newborn in the unlikely event that she’s gotta deliver somebody’s babe in the backseat of a car? I don’t think so.
Some people say a lady carrying around all that baby stuff is looking to get knocked up; got the fever; want a rugrat for themselves. But not me. Call me old fashioned, but most boys her age see that kind of stuff and they think a little too much about the after effects of doing the deed to want to do it if you catch my drift.
Nope. I see how she clutches it; more like a security blanket than anything. Her papa split town when she was just starting Kindergarten, maybe a little before that. The ol’ went out to get cigarettes save that he wasn’t a smoker. I suspect something is broken in that girl that can’t quite be fixed. And her carrying around that bag is just puttin’ a band aid over a much deeper cut.
Oh? Well look at that. Speaking about band aids and such, poor thing’s bag just broke.
Coodie · Jun 14, 2021This is an incredibly well written story, and I can’t wait for the next chapter.
Stories of Age/Time Transformation