As usual people look, but no one says anything. Hippies are tolerated here, even the naked one. Momma treads on her silent bare feet unobtrusively, somehow looking modest and deferential, always nodding with eye contact, smiling, careful not to walk in a way that draws attention to her breasts, her pubic hair, her butt. Today she is in town with Manfred to get a few things at Ray’s and check the mail. They rent a post office box because there is a lot of confusion about the street address. The key is tied to her hair. She used to tie the money pouch to her hair too, but it’s easier to use if it’s down in front. Supported by a string around her neck, it hangs between her breasts, bouncing along with them.
Ray likes to hug people in general, so his embrace of Momma as she leaves with the new vegetable strainer is taken in stride, though she humors him with a jokey gesture of lifting her leg back and wiggling her upturned toes. After a short conversation out on the sidewalk with Mr. and Mrs. DiMartino, who are still enthusing about her performance before the Board of Appeals, they go into the post office where they go in back and say a brief hi to Sofa, who works there.
In to the vestibule with the post office boxes, under those scary “Ten Most Wanted” photos. It’s usually Momma and Manfred who check the mail, sometimes Frodo. Sarajane went there exactly once, and found out she bears an unfortunate resemblance to one of the “Most Wanted”, Katherine Ann Power, the girl with the glasses. Stone Tree Farm’s box is in the bottom row and Momma has to bend way over with her hair to use the key, with not a shred of awareness that her buttocks are separating and she is displaying her anus to public view.
This week it’s the usual four or five envelopes, all personal stuff. Mail is their method of long distance communication, what with the sack of coins needed if they try to call by pay phone. They’re smiling, thinking of their last trip here. “Hallelujah!!” Momma had screamed, abandoning her usual in-town diffidence. It was from Montreal, a letter from Soul Man (and return addressed as such)! He had made it! Free! She jumped up and down, breasts bouncing, money pouch hitting her chin. Everyone over at the stamp counter heard the joyous slapping of bare feet on the cold tile. Back at the house Umma set up a “peace prayer circle” that night in celebration and they all sent their “energy” to him, 400 miles away. Prayers, of course, easily jump over borders.
Today is different though.