Storms this weekend could not escape the notice of local library worker Cassandra Jenson’s hip despite a small percentage of showers predicted for this weekend.
“My hip just knows when the rain’s comin. First there’s a bit of an ache, then a clicking feel like like a rusty gate until it just goes on to be full on poppin and locking before the showers start a goin’. It’s been that way since the accident,” Miss Jenson, 52, said, referring to the surprise storm last summer that gave her this incredible meteorological hip.
Miss Jenson did not always have this superpower. As a small girl in Bannville, she grew up over on High School Avenue in a small two bedroom house with her mother and her sister.
“Daddy left way before. Mama said we shouldn’t hate him, that he always wanted to travel, but I didn’t care. Sumbitch didn’t care at all, why should I?”
An avid consumer of the arts, Miss Jenson acted in every school and local production she could, even gaining second place in the Miss Bannville pageant. After graduating from Bannville High, Miss Jenson looked toward the stage for her livelihood.
“I helped them build the stage and acted and gave lessons on yellin out at the audience. That’s called ‘projection’ in case you didn’t know. Some people just get up there and they just mumble mumble and I take those little girls and I tell them, ‘Baby they gotta hear you in the cheap seats’ and I point far off to the back row but I don’t tell them all the seats cost the same. All I ever wanted was to act and work with them children and teach them to yell.”
Teaching was not in the cards, however. During an outside summer production of the musical Cats, a summer storm came from the clear sky.
“Sure, I remember that day,” says Herb Wheeler, 72, who was working for the Bannville Parks Service at the time, “they was prancing around up there all dressed up as Cats. Kinda sexy and running around... Anyway, the day was all blue and pretty until suddenly the sky became dark and hellish to behold. I remember thinking, ‘Damn, that’s dark.” They didn’t have no electrical equipment, but I hated to think about all them people in them catsuits getting all wet. Hated to think about it. I mean, imagine it. Bunch of wet fur and felines, the water cascading down their bodies... Sorry. So I went to call out, to help them off the stage when it happened.”
Mr. Wheeler is referring to the bolt of lightning that arched down from the thunderstorm and struck Miss Cassandra Jenson in the hip.
“See, the cat costumes normally have that tail thing around the back and hanging down, but I wanted my performance to be authentic so’s I rigged up that tail with a bit of wire. Damn thing was a lightning rod. My hair stuck all up and the plastic hair on the costume melted. It was a mess. But every time it rains since then my hip goes to acting up and I know... I just know.”
“Folks didn’t wanna believe it at first,” she continued, “me knowing the weather. They feared me. I’d look up and feel that pain and that click with each step and I’d tell the family, ‘Storm’s a’comin’ and they’d say, ‘Shut the f#^k up you stupid bi@$h, we’re tryin to watch Wheel of Fortune.’ But I knew and it happened just like I said I knew.”
For a time, Cassandra found herself unable to go back onto the stage, her first love, and went without an income. Then just after Christmas of this year, she took a job at the Banned Library three days a week shelving books.
“She mostly sorts and shelves the new books,” library director Caleb Montgomery said, “I guess she’s okay at it. Likes to talk about the weather.”
“The library’s quiet. They don’t mind that I can’t act no more at the library. It’s about culture. And they listen when I talk about the weather here,” Cassandra said, “Over time I’ve come to be able to read my hip and know what kind of weather’s a’comin. More of a bone ache and its just gonna be a little drizzle. When it gets sharp and shooting and I have to sit down, that’s the lightning coming. If its both then you better watch out, cause tornado’s are coming to town, like that song with Santa Claus.”
Staff at the library have taken to making a chart with Miss Jensen’s hip’s predictions. Turns out, of the last year that she has worked at the library the hip has been correct seventy-five percent of the time. Local teenagers have also taken up the challenge, randomly guessing the weather correctly only sixty percent of the time.
Miss Jenson is unsure about her future, but she remains hopeful. “Shelving’s nice and being an all-knowing weather goddess is kinda cool, but I wanna get up on that stage again, maybe as Mary Poppins or something with an umbrella...”
For now, though, the library and its staff welcome our newest member.
This is just a little place holder story for the fiction section. I’m still working on "Can I Help You" and think the story has some interesting directions it could go, but do not feel it is quite ready for regular consumption just yet... maybe next week... In the meantime I may throw up a few of these types of "feature stories."