By Eileen McGarvey
Pink is an overweight, somewhat infantile woman. She runs her own business from home; Pink’s Pig Parlour, which caters to the grooming and accessory needs of pigs and their owners. Pink’s own piglet, Inner, acquired her name because every time Pink’s little daughter, Peggy, saw her she would say "I’n ‘er cute!" The name stuck and Pink would take great delight in relating the story of how the little pig got her name.
Pink is into avoiding pain and maximizing pleasure, she doesn’t like to deal with the "ugly" parts of life, believing that if you focus on something you will make it come true. In addition to the pig parlour, Pink runs a boarding house to help make ends meet. Pig grooming and accessories have not quite taken off the way she had hoped they would.
She is sitting outside the empty parlor planning a snack and waiting for customers. Full package of crackers? Check. Peanut butter and raspberry jam? Check. Sliced and individually wrapped American cheese? Check. The snack was in order. She folded the cheese slices in four. Each quarter fitting perfectly on a saltine cracker. She would make a plateful; half cheese and half peanut butter and jam, rising into four towers on the plate, each balancing the other. Pink had discovered the combination as a kid on lonely afternoons waiting for her mom to return home from the clinic. It was like having a friend to watch cartoons with and made the time pass by in comfort instead of fear and anxiety. Now she fixed it to add to the enjoyment of sitting out front of the shop waiting for customers.
A huffing sound was heard in the distance. If you were close enough you could hear words between the deep breaths. "I do not believe I am seeing this… Tell me I am not really seeing this… Bad enough to have to see that garish building every day coming home, but this takes the cake…" Ellen bit out a hello as she passed Pink. Pink said "Hi, Ellen" in her cheery, loud, irritating way at the same time as she attempted to swallow a mouthful of crackers, so it came out sounding slurred like she’d been drinking. Ellen struggled to keep the disgust off her face as she sidestepped past Pink and her ugly little pig as quickly as she could. She didn’t want to give her a chance to fully swallow and maybe try to engage her in conversation. Ellen sighted the door to the house and kept her eyes fixed on it. She was of the mindset that the shortest path is a straight line and she intended to waste no time getting to her room where she could shut out the rest of the house and its inhabitants.
Pink heard LouLou before she saw her. Lou was dragging a gigantic tree stump into the yard. Each time it hit a stone in the path a chunk would pop off and make a loud bang as it landed. Pink protectively pulled Inner closer to her. Although she had spoken to her on several occasions, LouLou could never seem to understand that pigs are really quite delicate creatures and easily frightened by noise.
"Hey, Pink! How’s it goin’?", LouLou grunted out between deep breaths as she hefted the log closer to the back yard. Without waiting for a response she pulled the log past them, inches away from where they sat in awe and intimidation. Without taking her eyes off the woman and her log, Pink moved the plate full of crackers back a little so it wouldn’t get knocked over.
Pink watched LouLou disappear into the distance. What an odd mix the boardinghouse tenants are, she thought, very different from each other but close, almost like a dysfunctional family.
LouLou is a hooker, somewhat older but she’s still got the goods. Her clientele is limited strictly to women or feminine men, "girlie-men" as she calls them. She doesn’t seek anyone out, preferring that they come to her of their own volition or are recommended by a current client. She is often at loose ends so she has taken up sculpting, using any odds and ends she finds and creating monstrous, large abstractions in the back yard. She is quick to take offense if this is referred to as junk and can quite vigorously and intelligently argue its artistic merit. Her tongue and mind are both sharp and easily wakened.
The baby glyphs appeared in a basket on the front porch one day. They were named "little pink bean" and "baby choco". It was thought that they were severely disabled because they were missing appendages; baby choco had no arms and little pink bean no legs. The only movement they were capable of at first was crying and wiggling in their basket. Then one day they wrapped their appendages around each other. To everyone’s amazement a perfect yin-yang symbol in brown and pink was formed and they were able to move about together as a unit using choco’s legs and pink bean’s arms. Now they are inseparable (except when asleep; choco would inadvertently kick in her sleep and wake bean up so now they sleep on opposite sides of the basket.)
Anne is a loner and often melancholy. She sits in her room reading most of the time. Her eyes are often red. No one in the house knows if it is from reading or crying.
Ellen, an accountant and office manager, never thought she’d end up in a boarding house. She hates her job although she doesn’t admit that very often. With the way things are now she will have to work there until she’s old enough to retire. She often thinks of the beautiful "Martha Stewart" home she had until her husband Jeff decided to throw it all away and have an affair with their son’s ex-girlfriend. Now no one in the entire family is speaking to each other and she is staying at the only place she could afford. She tries to avoid contact with the others in the house (whom she considers losers) but cannot help but make an occasional "helpful" remark. She knows they resent her and believes it is because they are jealous of her competence and her solid approach to life.
Then there is the mysterious woman on the billboard. The billboard sits up on a hill overlooking the backyard. The woman is beautiful; she always seems to be glowing. Maybe it is just the way the light shines on the board but her eyes are kind and seem to take in everything. She has spoken to each member of the house at least once, although none of them know that because they are afraid to talk about her to anyone else.