The Aluminum Queen
Beverly Vines-Haines

"See that plaque on the mantel? Got it in '45 from a guy with the government. Says I'm the Cook County Scrap Aluminum Queen. Think I'm joking? Go look for yourself. Not half bad, eh?

"I had zeal in those days. Collected paper and iron and tires. Bet to look at me now, you can't picture how I used to be. I'd grab three tires, whirl them over my head and fling them to the top of a pile. 

"But it was aluminum got me that plaque. I was something of a magnet for that stuff. Found it in a god-awful number of places other people didn't look. Glass, pipes and furniture. I once copped a baby stroller in front of the A & P. 

"So I got my plaque and the government guy shook my hand. James came home a month later. Lost a toe. That's all. Third toe on his left foot. He took to the couch and said I didn't look like a woman any more. I think it was that plaque that made him mad. 

"It was true I used to be all soft and blonde and laughing. Things change. James walked out one afternoon and I never saw him again. But you didn't come to hear all that. You came about my aluminum ball didn't you? Jane Pauly says it's in the Guiness Book now. Takes up the whole master bedroom and I just sleep over there on the couch."

First published: May, 2004
comments to the writer: Knob'