Redefining the character of Zelta Erikson, mother of Abel and Bernard
ZELTA BERGSTROM-ERIKSON, widow of Jacob Erikson, mother of Abel and Bernard
She reached into the bag of M&Ms, realizing she had never lived with a Negro before. There was a time when Negro fellows weren’t even allowed to sit alone in the same room with white women or look at them, else they could be lynched or tied down to a stone to drown at the bottom of a creek. But this one, this young fellow, wasn’t terribly bad looking.
He was handsome, in fact, and hadn’t stolen anything from them as far as she could discern. He didn’t curse in front of her, didn’t have body odor, and Abel certainly appreciated him. She certainly liked the way he made her shakes. They were the very best. But what was his name? Pray tell, it couldn't be Blackey? That was her pussy's name.
“I forget your name, young fellow, what is it again?” “Zeno.”
“Zeno.” She pondered his name for a long moment. “Is it with a `Z’ like my own?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Well isn’t that something. A `Z’ like in my name. You must know I am Zelta. Zelta Bergstrom-Erikson. Bernard Bergstrom was my father. Zelta begins with a `Z’. You’re a Zeno with a `Z’ like in my name. Only you’re a handsome young fellow. I’m an old lady and not very beautiful anymore.”
“I think you are beautiful, Mrs. Erikson. You’re an absolute doll.”
“But not like I were many moons ago,” she said, delighted he had stopped fumbling with that picture book and was looking directly at her. She blushed or swore she could have blushed like a young courting girl, which was improbable at her age, yet she believed she blushed. “Have you not seen the photographs when I was beauty queen?”
“Abel has shown me many of your photographs when you were Miss South Carolina.”
“That was a very long time ago.”
“You were very beautiful. Stunning red hair more striking than Rita Hayworth.”
She remembered them–Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe, Lana Turner or thought she had met them long time ago when she was horseback riding somewhere in Riverside county, and one of them, Rita, Marilyn, or Lana, were horseback riding with her and a devlish director was there and someone else.