In the many years that I worked in the women’s shoes department there were many customers that I grew very close to.
One of favorite customers to serve was a short elderly lady name Martha. Two times a year Martha would come into the store and buy a few pair of shoes from me.
In the time we would spend together we would tell stories to each other.
Here is one of the best stories I’ve been told.
Welcome to my short story called The Rise and Fall of Martha.
Ever since she was a child Martha’s passion was bowling. She loved it and she was good at it. From the time she was a teenager she could bowl about a two-sixty.
She met her husband at a bowling alley and at her church she started a bowling group for group for the ladies. Twice a month woman of all ages on a Friday night would enjoy food, fellowship and some mild competition.
For the most of her life Martha was a very happy-go -lucky person. And why not, she had a great husband who was very loving, she had two sons she was proud of and at her church and in her community she had a long list of good friends.
But then when she started to head into her seventies life began to change and Martha’s world became a darker place. She lost her husband of almost fifty years and her children had moved away to different cities to find better job prospects. Topping her loses at the age of seventy-five she lost her passion when the onslaught of debilitating arthritis made it to where she could no longer throw a bowling ball.
Living in her home of forty-five years became so hard for her to take care of that she had to move into a small apartment. In her apartment she started become isolated. She came to feel vulnerable and fragile. She now wondered if her life had any meaning.
Between eating and sleeping she spent her time waiting for her maker.
Crime in the Neighborhood
A few years into living at this apartment complex crime in the area began to rise. At first the crimes were minor ones and then as time went by the crimes became worst.
One day Martha received a flyer that the leasing office had put on all of the doors of the apartments. The flyer told of a big man who was breaking in to people’s apartments and stealing their valuables. The valuables he stole included things like jewelry, money and electronics. Lastly the flyer said that the big man had also robbed and hurt three elderly women.
An Unlikely Hero
A few weeks before Thanksgiving Matha’s an event happen that would forever change her life.
On a typical sunny morning in Texas Martha woke up around 7 a.m. As she had done for most of her life she drank her coffee outside.
In her pink bathrobe she slid open the patio door and proceeded to sit down on a chair that sat in the middle of her patio. Her apartment was on the second floor where she had a view of and empty lot of land.
Though she lived mostly in isolation every once a while she would have a long conversation with her neighbor on the other side of the staircase. The neighbor was Mrs. Avery, a woman who was about the same age of Martha.
The apartment complex that Martha lived in was your modern standard run-of –mill structure. The stairs had landings and railings on both sides of the apartment buildings. And on each floor of the apartment buildings was a breeze way that connected one side of the apartment to the other.
At the time of this life changing event Mrs. Avery was visiting some friends in Florida.
As Martha sat there drinking her coffee from out of the corner of her eye she saw a big muscular man emerge of the patio window of Mrs. Avery’s apartment. Getting up quickly Martha walked up to the edge of breeze way. She noticed that there was broken glass in front of the Mrs. Avery’s patio door.
Martha whispered to herself, “It’s him. It’s the robber.
The robber was 6.3, 250 and he was all muscle. In his hand was a white gunny sack that he had made with Mrs. Avery’s bed linen and inside of the gunny sack was money, jewelry and electronics.
As the robber made eye contact with Martha a chill from complete terror ran down her spine has her eyes became big. On the face of the robber was snarling grin that sent one corner of his mouth upward.
Mustering strength to talk Martha stuttered out, “You…you can’t do that! She doesn’t have much!”
Walking slowly toward her the robber stopped a few feet away from Martha. Leaning toward her he smiled and asked, “What are you going to do about bitch?”
Martha took a stepped back and lowered her shoulders. She didn’t want to get hurt she didn’t want to be crippled by this big man the way he had crippled three other women around age.
Slowly and without any urgency the robber whistle a tune as he started walking down the breeze way to the other side.
Though she was terrified, something in Martha’s heart knew she had to take action now. She had to stop this violent criminal. Running into her apartment she went into the kitchen. For a moment she entertained grabbing a knife, but she thought to herself that she didn’t want to kill robber she just wanted to incapacitate him. Next, she looked at the roller that sat near the oven range, but quickly she figured out that it would a bad choice as a weapon. She realized that the roller could easily be taken from her and used on her by the robber.
Suddenly an idea came into her head. Going to the freezer Martha pulled out a round ten pound turkey she had won a few days ago at the grocery store. Grabbing it by its yellow handle she went outside into the breezeway. Quietly going down the breezeway a couple of yards, with her right hand griping the handle, with all of her might she threw the turkey like a bowling ball.
With tremendous force the turkey hit the upper back of the robber pushing him down the steps across the landing. Flipping over the railing he, the gunnysack and the turkey crashed down on the cement sidewalk below. Now sprawled out on his back he laid there unconscious with the gunny sack to the left of him and the turkey to the right of him.
Trembling Martha went down the steps and slowly peered over the railing. Through her glasses she could tell that the robber was still breathing.
When she saw a security guard in the distance walking toward the robber she turned around, climb up into the breezeway and disappeared into her apartment.
Due her paranoia that had engulfed her life she was afraid that somehow if the authorities found out that she had been the one that stopped the robber she would get in trouble.
For the next days she prayed that the security guard hadn’t seen her and she prayed that this whole incident would quickly fade into history.
Suffering from cabin fever, one week later Martha emerged from her apartment. After a short trip to the grocery store Martha went to the leasing office of her apartments. During the weeks before Thanksgiving the leasing office had been collecting cans for the nearby food bank. As she had done in the last few years Martha bought some cans of good and had decided to drop them off today at the office.
Entering the leasing office she smiled at the young manager that sat behind a big desk that was covered in paperwork.
Martha, “Well hi Karen.”
“Hi Martha, Did you bring some cans in for the drive?”
“Yes I brought in a few.”
“With a brimming smile Karen pushed back her brown long hair and said, “I knew I could count on you.”
Pulling them out of a brown paper bag Martha added her cans to a pile of cans that sat on a nearby round table.
Karen, “Well I guess you heard that the robber is going away for a long time.”
Faking ignorance Martha said, “What robber?”
Karen’s eyes got bigger. After slapping the desk with both palms of her hands she exclaimed, “You haven’t heard about the robber? It’s the news around the neighbor; it even made it on the news.”
“Yeah and it even happened near you. The robber broke into your next door neighbor’s apartment. I can’t believe you didn’t see the broken glass from the patio door or saw the police when they came by.”
“Well I’ve been a little under the weather so I haven’t gotten out very much.
“I see. So are you feeling better now?”
Martha, “Oh yes. Yes I am. So I guess it was the police that stopped him.”
Karen, “No it wasn’t.”
“Oh really. What happened?”
“Well it’s pretty funny. It seemed like when the robber was heading down your breeze way he tripped on the stairs and fell over the railing.”
“Oh my. Is he okay?
“Yeah he’s okay. The fall from the second floor gave him a contusion which knocked him out. When the security guard found him and the stolen property he called the police and then the police called for an ambulance. He won’t be bothering anyone for a long time.”
“I guess so.”
Karen tilted her head, squinted her eyes and said, “You know, the robber was kinda’ weird, most of the time he would steal cash, jewelry and electronics but for some reason he decided to start stealing turkeys.
Martha, “That’s rather strange.”
“Yes it is. You can sometimes get a turkey for free at the grocery store.”
A Good Ending
Weeks after this Martha climbed out of her depression and found not one but two passions. Working with the police she founded a civilian patrol that under her leadership kept crime down in her neighborhood. Next she started taking classes at a junior college where she mastered painting and drawing.