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Story ID:5328
Written by:Kathe M. Campbell (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Butte Montana USA
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Madame "X"
by Kathe Campbell

"Now, if you'll just sign your full name at the bottom of each page, Kath." Immediately my heart raced, and I grew tense as my attorney gave me a pat on the shoulder. Horrors, why is my name so long, I puzzled? I had pages to sign and date while sweet gals grouped around me sipping Monday morning coffee, witnessing, and lending support.

I needed to make major changes in my will, and after approving the documents, all I wanted to do was fly out the door and retreat home, far from posh offices and traffic. My right arm had gone by way of a ghastly accident years before, and crippling rheumatoid in my lefty had finally rendered me capable of little more than a backward, childlike scrawl. Despite daily keyboard exercise, I'm now like the old recluse holed up over on Moose Creek who signs his name with an "X," and I'm wondering if we might hit it off together.

While trucking up my mountain listening to Rush whine and moan, I ponder how bizarre that I can change oil, put new batteries in the ranch outfits, or fire up the compressor to inflate low tires. It's even easy as pie throwing on my farm and ranch hook and riding out on my ATV to fix a broken fence, but holding a pen is pure torture. Who could have ever imagined such a cockamamie thing in this pulchritudinous and awkward trek toward eighty?

A would-be artist by nature, my writing was only fair to middlin' throughout life's journey of pencil and pen adventures. Despite good teachers and much practice, my scribbles were only so-so, and I envied all who passed penmanship with certificates of excellence. I've been plagued with a rash of teardrops lately, so named because tears sometimes overcome me every time I drop and break another precious heirloom. Arthritis makes for a weakening hand, and now what remains of this one has finally gone where I pray my mind doesn't go anytime soon.

A recent test of my agility left me plagued with a packet of papers that arrived in my mailbox. By filling out a four-page questionnaire, I could be eligible for yet another senior discount for prescription drugs. I could go for that, so I settled in with a pencil to painstakingly print one letter in each box, then after fixing all the blurbs, I decided to neatly go over each letter with a pen. It would take me forever, but how hard could it be? I should have left sleeping letters lie, for the effort left my hand played out and shaky, and inky fingers smearing black over the forms.

The neighbors were at work and my family was out of state, so I swallowed hard and dialed our local Council on Aging. Oh dear God in heaven, is this really me - youthfully challenged on bended knee begging for help like a bumbling old fool? A pleasant sounding girl answered, had the forms handy, and volunteered to fill them out - even signing my name next to her signature and title. Slick. It was just all in a day's work she remarked as I thanked her all over the place. Within the week a letter arrived stating I qualified for an additional prescription discount. But as I went to page 2 - the catch. Good for only three months. If I fail to fill out those cussed forms every three months, I will lose that whopping big $8. Well hells bells, how could they spare it?

While loading groceries into the house the other day, I caught my index finger in the handle of the storm door as a gust of wind slammed it shut behind me. And hurt? Tears flowed and I knew right away I was in trouble. My neighboring Urgent Care doctor came to the rescue with pain meds and a splint, and I'm finding it amazing how well a one-armed old broad can manage with only four gnarly fingers.

But my biggest worry has been what editors and publishers think when I return a contract signed with my ungodly looking doodle. Don't some of the brainiest folks on our planet sign their work in unwieldy masses of scrambled letters facing every which way with a cool line trailing off________? Maybe my ungainly John Hancock is actually a sign of genius, so I've decided to kick my distress over backward splays and start thinking of myself as a regular Einstein. Being some out of my league, I feel that even though there's not the slightest resemblance between me and the foxy Parisienne hussy of the 1880's, you may now call me, Madame "X."

Two recent presidents
Madame "X"