Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wise Sudey

Wise Sudey, 2005

Wise Sudey, so called because many people believed she had a gift of prophecy, entertained visitors on the porch of her old home. Like many backwoods sybils, Sudey was gifted at foretelling the obvious and clever at wrapping more complicated entanglements in a web of ambiguity. But people came to her just the same in search of insight regarding the sex of unborn children, affairs of the heart and for the occasional message from the dead. Women consulted Sudey about the fidelity of their husbands and boyfriends. Farmers and watermen who wouldn’t be caught dead near Sudey’s place sent their wives and girlfriends to Sudey to forecast harvest prices and get bearings for fishing.

A small woman of no noticeable bearing, Wise Sudey’s was theatrical. She didn’t use a crystal ball or any of the other traditional trappings of her trade. An old lady who witnessed a number of Sudey’s sessions described: “After chatting with you, Sudey’s foot would commence to shaking. Her eyes would roll back. The timbre of her voice would change. Her normal singsong voice would be replaced by a sound that was all nervous and jumpity. When she hit her stride, she’d be going as fast as a steam engine, so fast you could barely keep up, her voice pitching and yawing as she leaned into and out of her rocking chair. Many’s the time I thought Sudey was going to rock herself right off that porch.”

Everyone knew Sudey’s business and for the most part they left her alone. Every few years the local Baptist minister would convince the sheriff to “set an example” and arrest Sudey for fortune telling. But Sudey would usually end up working out a deal with the sheriff—whose wife was one of her best customers—whereby she would agree to lay off the sessions until tempers cooled.

For every glad tiding, there were sad tidings. Her closest friends think it was the stress of the latter that finally did Sudey in. “She was always saying she didn’t ask to be able to see into the future,” one friend described. “She said it was more like a curse. Some people have the same nightmare all their lives, “ she said. “I get a new one every time I meet a new person with sad prospects in their future.”

1 comment:

  1. Great tale! And love that porch! I can picture Sudey rocking away there...