Friday, August 28, 2009
“Annie, I’m firsty. Kin I have some sweettea?” Nancy asked as she settled back into her car seat. Gladys finished checking the air in the tires and looked skeptically at the well worn spare and said “Sure, honey. Let me pay for the fuel and I’ll get you some tea but you need to come inside with me. I don’t want to leave you sitting in the car.” Although Gladys thought to herself I would pity the fool who tried to run off with Nancy. She would probably talk them to death or tie them up and deliver them to the police department single handedly. Yes Gladys often quotes Mr. T to herself.
The older woman and the little tot walked into the convenience store that doubled as a taxidermy shop and made their way through the maze of stuffed squirrels and pheasant frozen in mid fright. They went to the coffee bar and looked to see if they had any tea. “It doesn’t look like they have any Nancy. How about some bottled tea?” Gladys said to the tot. Nancy looked in the cooler and said “no tanks. I git some at de dribe-in. Annie can we go to de dribe-in?” Gladys looked at the little girl and said “they only play movies at night. We need to be home before dark.” Nancy cocked her head to one side and rolled her eyes and said “no, Annie, the dribe-in dat sells fwench fies and milk shakes.” Gladys laughed and said “oh, sorry my mistake.” They paid the bill and got back into the Camaro. The radio came on and started blasting “Black Water” by the Doobie Brothers. Gladys started singing along and so did Nancy as they rolled on toward Itty Bitty City. “Annie don’t forgit my tea” Nancy shouted over the chorus then broke out into “gonna play that funky music all night long…”
Gladys spotted the Coffee Cup Café and pulled into a spot. She rolled down her window and pushed the button. The voice came on the speaker “what can I git ya?” Gladys scanned the board and said “two iced teas, one sweet one unsweet” then from the backseat came “and an order of fries.” Gladys turned and saw Nancy standing right next to her. “Nancy is that you?” the voice asked. “Yeah! It’s me” Nancy answered. A few minutes later a girl on roller skates came out the swinging door carrying a tray. She skated over to the car and stuck her head even with the window. “Hey Nancy. Where’s your mama?” the girl asked as she handed over the Styrofoam cups containing the tea. She took a basket of fries and gave them to Nancy as the little girl answered “she at home. Dis is Annie. We goin to de Lanes to get a new cah.” The girl looked at Gladys and said “What’s wrong with this one? It looks like a pretty sweet ride to me.” Gladys nodded and patted the steering wheel “yeah it’s pretty cool but it had two flats and I have to go to Nowheresville tomorrow. Lurlene is none too happy with me though.” The girl rolled her eyes and said “yeah that’s Lurlene for you. She’s only got one mood and that’s pissed off.” Gladys nodded and paid the girl for their food and asked Nancy if her fries were too hot. The little girl was already belted in and eating her fries.
They made their way to the airport/bowling alley and pulled into the rental car lot. Gladys got out of the car and she and Nancy went into the terminal back to the familiar kiosk. Gladys watched as Lurlene handed the keys to the Dodge Dart over to a couple from Salt Creek. She wished them luck then looked at Gladys. “I need your insurance information. I also need your driver’s license and credit card.” Gladys dug into her purse and handed over her items. “There ain’t nuthin wrong with that Yugo. I took it to Hank and he said it was fine.” Gladys looked at Lurlene and sighed when Nancy spoke up and said “it’s got a pinched power steerin line. Tell Hank to wook at de line when de wheel is turned to the right.” Lurlene looked over the counter at Nancy and said “Hey Nance! What are you doin here?” Nancy grabbed Gladys’ hand and said “I’m hewah wit Annie.”
Lurlene gave Gladys a glare then handed over a paper and stated “I need you to sign this or I can’t give you another car.” Gladys took the paper and started reading. The more she read the angrier she became. She took a deep breath. She counted to ten then she counted again. “I can not sign this paper” Gladys said pushing the paper back to Lurlene. Who answered with “Well you have to sign it or I can’t give you another car.” Gladys took another cleansing breath listened for her heart beat to fade from her ears and said “that statement is full of untruths. I will not sign it.” Lurlene narrowed her eyes and shot daggers at Gladys “ain’t no lies in the paper. I guess you won’t get another car then.” Gladys shot lasers back at Lurlene “fine, give me the paper.” She read and took the pen but instead of signing she started marking through the untruths on the paper. She signed the corrected copy and handed the paper back to Lurlene. “I can’t take this. You can’t mark through this. Now I have to reprint this” Lurlene screamed at Gladys. Nancy grabbed Gladys hand and squeezed tight. She looked up at Gladys and said “chew need to talk to Ms. Kat. She fix you up Annie.” Gladys looked at Nancy and wondered what alien spacecraft had dropped her off and said to Lurlene “Is Ms. Kat here?” Just about that time a grey haired woman walked up from baggage claim and as if cued said “can I help?” Gladys turned to the woman and then looked at Nancy and said very slowly “do you know where I can find Ms. Kat?” Nancy nodded her head yes and then said “dat is Ms. Kat” and pointed to the woman.
Gladys told the woman her story still not sure how Ms. Kat could help but evidently Nancy thought she could help. Ms. Kat looked at Lurlene and said “she can mark through it if she wants and she can refuse to sign it if she wants. It’s her right. Lurlene you can’t be takin away people’s rights. Give her the new mini-van. The one with the DVD player in it.” Gladys looked at her savior and said “Ms. Kat I don’t want to pay sixty dollars extra a day for a mini van. I only want a car that runs. One that will get me to Nowhereville and back without dying and that has 5 good tires.” Ms. Kat smiled patted Nancy on the back and gave her a tickle “Ms. Gladys there is no extra charge. I am sorry you have had so much trouble with our cars. We are working on getting some new ones. Please take the mini-van and there will be no extra charge” then she turned and looked at Lurlene and said “will there, Lurlene?” Lurlene looked down at the paper and said “I’ll take you out there and show you how to work the van. Also I need to take a picture of the Camaro for the insurance claim.
Gladys was just about to let out a sigh of relief when she sucked it back in “what insurance claim?” Lurlene smirked and said “for the flat tire.”
Thursday, August 27, 2009
When we were little because our birthdays were within thirty days of each other our mother would make one cake and invite all of my sister’s friends over then tell me it was a party for me too. Yeah I didn’t have friends. Well except for the invisible kind. So poor Matilda would be forced to share her cake with me. She was forced to let me help her blow out the candles and she was forced to even let me open some of her presents. She always got the best presents too. Straw Hat perfume and Bonnie Bell lip gloss in pale pink. She even one year got this great black stationary that you wrote on in white ink. I was so jealous. I wanted to write my invisible friends on black paper with white ink. Matilda gave me some invisible paper and invisible ink and told me to go to town. I digress.
Matilda would whine and cry and lament about how unfair it was for her to have to share her birthday. I didn’t mind a bit though. I mean think about it. I got cake. I got to play with the big girls and I had instant friends. Oh wait this was supposed to be about Matilda. Let’s see, Matilda got a little sister who tagged along, interrupted her conversations, horned in on her pin the tail on the donkey and got to open her That Girl Paper Doll Book. Wow, Matilda no wonder you hate my guts.
Remember that? When you would get mad at me and say “I hate your guts!” Did that mean the rest of me was okay it was just the innards you couldn’t stand? Or when you tell me, your little sister, that you never wanted to see her again and wished she had never been found under that rock. Then you rode off on your cool purple stingray bicycle with the hand brake. You were so smug and pompous on that bike that you thought you could outrun your brother’s car? Then you promptly ran into the back of your brother’s Corvair and skinned your knee and almost broke your neck? Yeah I don’t remember that either.
Do you remember the time when you were older and we were going out for the evening but Buck was expected in from college? It was you not your pesky little sister who came up with the bright idea to hide the key under the mat and put a note on the door telling Buck where to find the key. Well we all knew no one else would read that note, after all it was addressed to Buck. Nope I don’t remember that either. I also don’t remember the time that you, not your pestering little whelp of a sister who was found under a rock, reasoned that you would get a better tan on the mountain in Colorado because you were closer to the sun. Nope I don’t remember that either.
I do remember you bringing me candy when I was sick. I remember you hurrying home to check on me when I got hit by a car. I remember you rescuing me from a horrible and indefinable relationship. I remember you scratching my back when I had a nightmare and couldn’t fall back to sleep. I remember the sacrifice you made to tend to our ailing mother. I remember the love and care you gave her when she was dying. Those are the things I remember.
Oh and I remember that today is your twenty-ninth birthday. I don’t really remember if it’s the first time or the thirty first time.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MATILDA!
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Gladys turned the volume down and asked “are you two hungry?” Pearl looked back at Nancy then at Gladys and said “we are okay. We can eat when we get home.” Gladys looked at Pearl and knew that she was telling her that it wasn’t a luxury she could afford. Then from the back she heard Nancy say “Annie can we eat at Chick-fril-yeah? Pwease?” Well who could resist that request? “Sure Nancy. Your mother will have to tell me where it is.” Nancy giggled and said “White in fwont of chew.” Gladys looked and sure enough there right in front of her was Chick-fil-a. She put on her blinker and pulled into the parking lot.
Satiated and content they traveled back to Dreary Lane after delivering Pearl’s paperwork to the Cornerstone Bank and Trust. The road they traveled took them past the biggest church Gladys had ever seen. It took up at least a half mile of highway frontage. There was the chapel, the sanctuary, the school, the nursery and the church for animals. Gladys was amazed and turned to Pearl and exclaimed “Wow that is a big church.” Pearl snorted and said “yeah, that’s the Church of What’s Happening Now. They are real to themselves and think they are the only ones going to heaven. They even make their young daughters marry old men to keep the true religion alive. I think they are all a bunch of lunatics. I pray for them every Sunday though.” Gladys smiled and said “well, isn’t that nice.” You see the old southern ways were coming back to her.
They arrived back at the Bed and Breakfast just as the sun was setting. “Annie can you push me? Pwease?” begged the little blond headed imp. “Push you where?” Gladys asked. “On dee big girhul swang” she answered as she pulled Gladys into the backyard. Nancy climbed up into the yellow swing and Gladys began to push her as she screamed “highwer, highwer!” Gladys felt the first bite and heard the second one. She looked on her arm where she saw a squadron of blood sucking insects. They were gigantic nuclear waste exposed mosquitoes that could carry away a small cow or maybe even a baby elephant. Gladys not wanting to anger their leader brushed them off and grabbed Nancy. She ran for the back door ducking and running from the dive bombing needle noses. They made it to the back door just as a giant stuck his beak into the screen door. Gladys slammed the back door and inspected Nancy for bites. She had a few on her legs but other than that looked unscathed. “Wow Annie did you see them skeeters?” Gladys looked at the whelps starting to form on her arms and said “yes I did. Did they get you?” Nancy scratched at her leg and said “yeah, I don’t want skeeters no moe.” Gladys dug at her arm and said “me either.”
Gladys thanked Pearl for accompanying her for the day and retired to her room. She packed and repacked her bag in preparation for her trip to Nowheresville. She laid out different outfits trying to decide on the least sweat producing and most comfortable for the long car ride. Finally exhausted she lay down on the bed and began to read. She had been in the room for several hours and not once had the computer made a sound. The screen had sat black and empty. She started to dose off when once again the possessed machine sprang to life. It whirred and whooshed and buzzed. She jerked awake. She got up and walked to the computer. She looked at the screen and there was a picture of on the screen then it was gone. She sat and tried to get the picture to come back up but to no avail. Finally she pushed the blue button, waited for the whirring to stop and switched off the monitor. She crawled sleepily back on the bed and flopped down on the pillows.
She was on the disco floor. The lights were flashing and she was dancing. John Travolta was spinning and lifting her and she could hear the Bee Gees in the back ground. Then the music changed and it was Abba declaring she was the Dancing Queen. She could feel her feet moving and her body swaying. Then the record got stuck and it was making that whop, whop, whop sound. She sat up in bed and realized she was not on a dance floor nor was she eighteen and a dancing queen. She looked across the room and the blue lights of the computer were flashing and the screen popped back on. Gladys had had enough. She got up felt around behind the computer and unplugged it. There she thought that ought to do it. She crawled back in bed and lay back down. Whirrr, whoosh, buzzzz, pop went the now unplugged computer. She didn’t even look. She just pulled the covers over her head and tried to sleep.
She was all packed. She had made sure she had gotten everything from the bathroom, then went back and checked again. She grabbed her purse, camera bag and suitcase and rolled it into the parlor. She looked around and saw Bud sitting watching the Hog Report. She saw fruit on the table and the coffee waiting. She hauled her belongings out to the car and popped the trunk and noticed she had not one but two flat tires. She took a deep breath in then breathed out slowly. She got down and examined the tire. It looked brand new, no holes, no nails, and no visible damage. It was just flat as a pancake. She examined its twin and found nothing unusual except the absence of air. She walked around the car and saw nothing else out of the ordinary. She again reminded herself to breath and walked back into the house and into the parlor.
She looked at the chair where Bud normally sat but it was empty. She wandered into the kitchen and found Pearl washing dishes. “Pearl. I have a couple of flat tires. Does Bud have a compressor I can air them up with?” Pearl looked out the window and pointed with her chin towards the garage. “If he has one it would be out there. Honestly, though he has taken almost all of that kind of stuff up to his lab at the school. You want me to call Mitch? He’ll come take a look at em for you.” Gladys agreed that even if she found the compressor if the tires had holes in them it would do little good. While Pearl called the mystery man named Mitch, Gladys did what any red blooded Southern Woman would do, she had a warm biscuit with butter and honey and another cup of coffee. “Mitch will be here soon and he’ll get you fixed right up” Pearl called from the kitchen. The back door flew open and slammed shut “Annie, your cah is sittin funny” Nancy said as she flew around the corner. “Hey, can I have honey?” she added. Gladys buttered and drizzled honey on another biscuit and handed it to the little one. “No! I don’t want dat. I jist want de honey” she cried as she grabbed the plastic bear full of sweet nectar and ran from the room. “You might want to bring that back” Gladys called after her.
She got up to refill her cup and saw a large man in overalls outside eyeing the Camaro. She grabbed her keys and went out to meet the man who must be Mitch. “I didn’t see any puncture marks” she told him as she watched him walk around the car. “Sweet Ride” he said as he retrieved his floor jack and some boards from his truck. “The tires look in good shape. I didn’t see anything stickin out of em. Where did you get this baby?” he asked as he worked. Gladys bent over and looked at the driver’s side rear tire “it still has the valve stem cap on it. Oh I got it from U-Drive-Em over at the airport. It’s a rental.” Mitch crawled around to the other tire and took a look. “That Lurlene, she sure gets some doozies.” Gladys wasn’t sure if he was talking about her or the car and decided from the way he was caressing the car it was she to which he was referring. He worked fast and efficient and had the one tire changed out and checked and the other inflated. He rolled the tire and plopped it into the trunk and turned to Gladys “here’s the thang. That there tire has a bad valve stem. Nothin you can do bout it. It’s a brand new tire so I’m a guessin that it came from the factory that way. Now the other one I don’t know. It looked fine and didn’t look tampered with. It may have just dumped its air because it was feelin sympathetic twards the other one, but I doubt it.” Then he handed her a form to sign and was gone.
Gladys checked her watch and went in to call U-Drive-Em. “Hi, this is Mrs. McGuillicutty. I rented a car from you and I changed it out yesterday. Yeah I have the Camaro. Well the thing is…” and she went on to explain the problem. “Well you didn’t buy the LDW. Your gonna have to buy a new tire” Lurlene responded. Gladys noticed once again she was holding her breathe. She made herself blow out the breath and then counted to ten. “Why do I need to buy a tire? I picked up the car yesterday and this morning it had a flat. The tire was not blown out nor was it damaged. The tire was defective” she explained. Lurlene snorted and said “well that car you brought back ain’t got nuthin wrong with it and I took it over to Hank myself. He drove it and put it on his machine and said it is jest fine.” Gladys took another deep breath and said “I don’t know what’s wrong with the other car but it died on me. We aren’t talking about that car, we are talking about THIS car and the fact that I am not buying a new tire.” Lurlene screeched into Gladys’ ear “you didn’t take out the Loss Damage Waiver. It states in your contract you are responsible for anything that happens to it as soon as you drive off the lot.” Gladys sat there a moment and said “Lurlene, do you have a boss? A manager or supervisor.” Lurlene sat quiet then replied “yeah but she’s on the other line.” Gladys mustered every ounce of her calm and gathered it around her like a shawl and said “I’ll hold.” Lurlene then clicked the button.
Gladys waited in silence. No muzak, no George Strait trying to get to Amarillo before morning, just silence. She waited and waited until her calm started to buckle and wane. She pulled her phone from her ear and realized she had been disconnected. She sat down on Bud’s chair and blew out the air she had been saving. She marched out to her car and retrieved her little bag which contained her computer. She sat down on the porch, plugged in her wireless card and pulled up the number for the corporate office of U-Drive-Em. She got an answer on the first call. She ran through the whole scenario with first a woman named Monique. Monique transferred her to Twyla who transferred her to Sinjinni in Roadside Assistance. She listened patiently to Gladys tell her story. She calmly told Gladys that while the woman named Lurlene is correct in the Loss Damage Waiver it would only be so if the tire were damaged and not defective. She also asked if Gladys would please hold while she called the Itty Bitty City branch and sorted it out. Gladys agreed she would hold and did so this time listening to Celine Dion. Sinjinni came back on the line and explained to Gladys that she must take the car back to the agency and retrieve a new car at no extra cost. She also said that she had confirmed the availability of another car and it would be waiting for her. Gladys thanked Sinjinni profusely and went to tell Pearl of her predicament.
“You are not going to drive all the way to Nowheresville after all of this are you?” Pearl questioned. Gladys really hadn’t thought it out. “Well yeah, I mean I only made reservations with you for the 3 nights and I probably really should get on down the road” Gladys explained as much to Pearl as to herself. “Well you are more than welcome to stay here. I don’t have anyone coming in until tomorrow night. Why don’t you come back here and leave out early in the morning?” Pearl suggested. Gladys thought about it and then agreed “yeah I think your right.” She grabbed her keys and cell phone and started out the door “can I come? Mawma can I go wid Annie?” Pearl looked at her daughter and at Gladys “no you better stay here. Ms. Gladys doesn’t need to try and keep up with you.” The little girl stuck out her bottom lip and looked up at Gladys “I be good. I pwomise.” Gladys looked at Pearl and said “I don’t mind. I mean if she wants to come and it’s okay with you.” Pearl looked at Gladys then looked into Gladys and said “I’m sure you will take good care of her. Go get your safety seat Nancy.” Gladys and Pearl weren’t strangers. No in fact they were old friends. They were the type of friends who had come through hell together and were forever linked to one another. Pearl knew that Gladys would not anything happen to her baby girl. She had seen Gladys in action a time or two. So she smiled a knowing smile at Gladys which was returned in kind.
Nancy put her hands on her hips and said “I aweady did. It’s in de cah. Wets go Annie.” Then she was gone in a flash.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Gladys gathered her belongings and drug them once again into the little house with the little girl tagging behind. “Whatcha doin Annie? Where you goin? Where you been? What are you doin now?” came the barrage from the little girl. “Nancy you get in here right now” Pearl called from the kitchen. The little girl stopped put her hands on her hips and said “I ain’t goin in der no mo!” Then she ran towards the back of the house away from her mother. Pearl came out of the kitchen wiping her hands on a towel a scowl on her face. “Hello Ms Gladys. Did everything work out for you?” Gladys smiled and said “not exactly. Lurlene didn’t have the car she promised me so I have to go all the way back over there tomorrow. You know this is really messing up my schedule. I am supposed to be over at Nowhereville tomorrow and it looks like I’m going to have to reschedule. I just wish it wasn’t such a long drive in the opposite direction of the airport.” Pearl gave a little tsk and said “I’m so sorry. Hey if you have to go over to Itty Bitty City would you mind if Nancy and I rode with you? I need to drop off some papers at the bank and it’s on the same road as the airport.” Gladys sighed and said “I would love some company. You sure you don’t mind riding in that little rattle trap?” Pearl looked over Gladys shoulder at the little car and said “Nope not at all.”
Gladys made her way to her room realizing the lack of sleep and the jet lag was starting to take over. She laid down on the bed to rest. The sun was setting and the little room was very cold. She pulled the blanket over her feet and settled in to read. She heard a whir and a whush the screen on the computer popped on. She got up and looked at the screen. No cryptic message so she again tried to turn the computer off laid back down on the bed to read in peace and quiet. Sometime later she drifted off to sleep. She knew she had been asleep otherwise she could not have been awakened from her dream. She was in a boat on the water. She was rocking with the waves and what sounded like a storm was wailing and sloshing the boat about. She kept telling herself to push the accelerator down and release and it would be okay. She extended her foot and something grabbed it and was pulling and stabbing her foot. It hurt she tried to jerk it back but she couldn’t. It felt as if her toes were being bent backwards. She woke and looked around and yet there was no one there. Her foot was killing her and she realized she was having a Charlie horse. She got up and walked around trying to loosen it up. She looked at the clock and it was four in the morning. She stretched out her calf until she was able to relief the pain and crawled back into bed. “I just need to go back to sleep” she said to the night. She closed her eyes tight and willed herself to sleep. The more she tried the more it eluded her. Then she heard the whirr and the whush and the pop of the computer. She crawled deeper under the covers and tried to sleep. Sleep would not come and now her stomach was talking back to the computer whiz and whush with a grumble and a growl.
Gladys entered the room to find the same scene she had the morning before. The young man in front of the big screen television and Pearl in the kitchen. Gladys grabbed a cup of coffee and some fruit and went to watch the morning Hog Report with Bud.
“So Bud,” Gladys inquired “do you raise hogs?” Bud slurped his big glass of tea and said “nope.” Gladys thought well this guy is a real talker and ventured further “what do you raise?” Bud looked at Gladys and said “I’m not a farmer. I am a scientist and a professor. I am in the middle of a huge research project right now. I am in the process of refitting a tractor with a flux capacitator that uses ordinary household garbage and turns it into fuel.” Gladys blinked and swallowed back a laugh and said “isn’t that what Doc outfitted the Delorean with in Back to The Future Part 2?” Bud answered never taking his eyes from the giant television screen “that’s where I came up with the idea. You know sometimes I get my best ideas from science fiction movies.”
Gladys sipped her coffee and thought either this guy is a genius or an idiot or maybe a bit of both. “Where is Nancy this morning?” Gladys asked. Bud grudgingly took his eyes off the screen looked around the room and said “She was here a minute ago or maybe that was yesterday.” Gladys made herself shut her gaping mouth and said “well you have a real blessed day.” She wandered into the kitchen where she heard Pearl banging pans “I don’t know about that girl she flits around here and in and out. I can’t get her to settle down and eat her breakfast. She is driving me out of my mind” Gladys knocked to make her presence known and Pearl immediately pasted a smile on her face and said “is everything ok? Do you need some more fruit or some biscuits?” Gladys smiled and said “no thank you. I was just wondering where Nancy went.” Pearl sighed and said “I wish I knew. That child is like a little wild animal. She is here and there and somewhere all together different within seconds. Would you send her in here if you see her?” Gladys patted Pearl on the back and said “she is just adventurous. She will be all grown up before you know it.” Pearl looked at Gladys with tears in her eyes and said “not soon enough” and went back to stirring her gravy.
Gladys started walking back toward her room when she heard giggling coming from the closet. Gladys stood outside the door and said “I wonder where Nancy went. I wonder if she went fishing.” With that the door flew open and Nancy yelled “I don’t wanna go fishin no moe.” Gladys laughed and said “you don’t? What about going for a car ride? Do you want to go for a ride in my car today?” Nancy put her hands on her hips, rolled her eyes and said “I don’t wanna go in your car no moe. I go wit you Annie but not in yo cah.” Gladys patted the little girl and said “I don’t want to go in that car no more either but I have to turn it back in to the rental agency. You want to go with me to get a different car?” Nancy looked up at Gladys and said “Yeah, I go wit chew.” Gladys knelt down and looked Nancy in the eyes and said “okay, but right now you have to go in the kitchen and see your mother. She wanted me to tell you to go see her. I think she has a biscuit for you. Are you hungry?” Nancy shook her head yes and then there was just a streak of blond hair and a lingering scent of baby lotion.
Gladys entered the little room and noticed that things weren’t where she had left them. She went into the bathroom and began putting her anti-wrinkle creams into her satchel along with her anti-sagging, anti-puckering and anti-plumping creams next to her extra plumping creams. You see when you are a woman of a certain age there are things you want to be plumped and things you don’t and they make a cream for both. She reached for her engagement ring that she had left sitting next to her wedding band and her antique pave ring. Her heart went to her stomach it was missing. Her engagement ring was not there with its family of rings. She went through every bag and box on the counter. She emptied out her bag and searched the floor. She tore back the shower curtain and even reached into the toilet. OH NO! She cried not my ring. She extended her search into the bedroom. She tore the room apart. She searched the drawers, the closet and even went through the bedding piece by piece. She searched her suitcase and her purse. She checked pockets and bags. This was so unlike her. She lost things but never her engagement ring. The engagement ring that Kahuna had given her on the windy ridge of Pali Lookout in Oahu; where the Japanese tourist all clicked pictures and applauded when he proposed. It couldn’t be missing. Where would it have gone. If someone had broken into her room and taken it why didn’t they take her other jewelry? Why would they just take the one ring? She sat on the floor and began to cry.
Then she heard “what wrong Annie?” She looked up and saw Nancy standing there licking jelly from her fingers. “My ring is missing. It is a ring my husband gave me” Gladys cried to the toddler. The little girl put her hand on her shoulder and leaned her head over on Gladys’ head “it’s otay Annie. I find it fo you.” Gladys looked into the child’s blue eyes and said “Oh Nancy I wish you would. My heart is broken.” Nancy smacked another glob of jelly from her knuckle and said “I know where it is. I put it in dee yaundry room.” Gladys grabbed the little girl by the shoulders and yelled “NANCY DID YOU TAKE MY RING?” The little girl’s eyes grew wide and she said “I go get it fer you.” Gladys hugged the little girl and said “yes go get it. PLEASE.” The child ran out of the room and Gladys got to her feet and began putting her room back in order. She picked up her make-up bag and took it into the bathroom where there on the counter sat her engagement ring. She looked around but did not see Nancy anywhere. She looked out in the bedroom but still no sign of the child. Gladys shook her head put her ring on her finger and swore to never remove it again.
Pearl knocked on the door “Gladys if you’re gonna be to the Lanes by ten we best get goin.” Gladys grabbed her purse and her keys and headed out the door, careful to lock it behind her. She walked out to the little car and there already buckled in the big car seat was Nancy. Pearl was standing next to the car saying “Nancy how did this seat get in the car? Did you put it in here?” Nancy shook her head yes and said “I put it in there no moe.” Pearl checked the straps and declared it good. They got the little car started and rolled out of the drive lurching and swaying. “Annie, you makin me dizzy” Nancy cried as they crunched out the drive and down the lane. “Sorry, Nancy but if I don’t massage the pedal when I turn right it will die.”
They arrived at the Itty Bitty City International Airport and Bowling Alley just on time. They parked in the lot and Pearl dismantled the car seat while Nancy and Gladys walked in the roll up door. They made their way to the kiosk and found the boy who had driven the Yugo the day before manning the counter. “Is Lurlene here?” Gladys asked. The boy looked up from his comic book and said “nope, she ain’t here. She ain’t gonna be here today.” Gladys took a deep breath and repeated in her head “breath in, breath out, breath in” then she swallowed hard and said “did she leave a car for me?” The boy put the comic book down and said “well, I had one but it’s done gone. Now I jest got a car from Springfield but it ain’t been warshed yet.” Gladys shot laser daggers at the boy and said “does it die when you turn right?” The boy blew a bubble and said “nope.” Gladys thought a moment then said “does it die when you turn right?” The boy popped the bubble and shook his head no. Gladys finally said “does it run and is it roadable?” He shook his head yes and said “it’s actually a pretty sweet ride. I went over it with a fine tooth comb when it came in. She is a honey of a hoopty.” Gladys took another deep breath and said “fine. I’ll take it. What is it?” The boy scribbled some things on a paper and said “75 Camero. Metallic black.” Gladys blew out the breath and said “Do you people have anything newer than the last ice age?” The boy looked at Gladys and the three eyes she had just grown. “Do you want it or nawt?” Gladys figured anything was better than the Yugo so she acquiesced.
Gladys took the keys signed the paper and thanked the young man. He smiled and said “Lurlene wanted me to up-sale you to the baby-bus but I figured you were more of a Camero type woman. Sides I didn’t figure you wanted to pay for the Aerostar.” Gladys smiled at the boy and said “well bless your heart, I appreciate that.” Now for those of you not from the south the phrase “Bless Your Heart” can be taken several ways. It can mean “you sorry son of a you know what” or it can mean “screw you” or it can mean “that was nice”. Gladys meant it in “that was nice” vernacular. She reached down and grabbed Nancy’s hand and walked out into the hot muggy summer day.
“Pearl, we are in the black Camero.” Gladys shouted. Nancy ran to her mother and said “I can do it me self.” She grabbed the car seat and before Pearl or I could get to the car once again she had it strapped in and was awaiting the ride. They both just stood in disbelief and starred. Gladys walked around the car noting the dents and scratches. Pearl stood looking at the car and mumbled “sweet ride”. Gladys rolled her eyes and crawled in the oven of a car. She turned the ignition and the 350 roared to life. She revved the engine and then the engine purred then from somewhere deep inside of Gladys came her sixteen year old self and it said “Far OUT”. They left the parking lot in a whirl of inertia and the scent of High Karate. The radio on loud and “Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting” was radiating through the cockpit.
Gladys blinked trying to take it all in and acclimate herself to her surroundings “alright I guess. What time is it?” Pearl turned her wrist over checked her watch and said “it’s a quarter to four. I kind of slept in this morning. I’ll have breakfast out in a bit.” Gladys tried to smile but did the math in her head. She was still on west coast time; this was east coast time, which meant it was one o’clock in the morning! Oh sweet Jesus, I need sleep. She shut the door and crawled back into the bed and listened to the whir and whoosh of the computer. Finally realizing she would not sleep she crawled into the bathroom and turned on the shower.
Freshly coiffed and made up Gladys made her way to the small dining area just off the parlor. She noticed there was a young man sitting in one of the chairs; slack jawed watching the big screened television as if it were going to reveal the mysteries of the world instead of the local farm report. Gladys grunted out a good morning and the man grunted one in return. There on the table sat some cantaloupe, watermelon and some biscuits. She could hear Pearl banging around in the kitchen talking to the little girl “Put that bowl over there. No, put it there. No come back here with that bowl.” Then Gladys heard a door slam and Pearl yelling “Nancy get back HERE! You bring back my bowl of gravy!” Gladys pushed the door open and stuck her head in “is there something I can help you with?” she asked the harried looking Pearl. “No, Nancy just ran out into the back yard with the bowl of gravy I made to go with the biscuits. I’m afraid I’ll have to make some more” Pearl answered sadly. “No, no please don’t make any on my account. I am just fine with the melon” Gladys insisted.
Pearl shook her head and said “no, I HAVE to make more gravy. Bud won’t eat nuthin but biscuits and gravy for breakfast. He won’t touch a melon, or a fruit, or for that matter anything that is green. He pretty much will only eat bread, meat and taters.”
Gladys felt sorry for Pearl but more so for Bud. His cholesterol must be sky high. Pearl pulled out the big black frying pan and spooned some fat into it and told Gladys “You go on out and get yourself some coffee. I do this every morning.” Gladys complied and found a mug some cream and filled it to the brim. She walked over and sat in one of the chairs facing the gigantic television and tried to concentrate on what the man with the overalls on was talking about. She tried not to imagine the gigantic boulders of plaque building up in the man in the next chairs arteries. She thought the announcer said something about farm futures and rising cost of hog feed, although he could have also said hog feet. Then she felt eyes on her again she turned quickly and saw the little girl once again within inches of her face staring at her. She smiled and said to the child “my name is Gladys, what’s yours.” The little girl blinked her big blue eyes and said “nu-uh. Your name is Annie. I’m Nancy.” Gladys smiled and said “no, my name is Gladys. So your name is Nancy. Like the book Fancy Nancy?” The little girl shook her head no and said “your name is Annie. I’m Fancy Nancy.” Then she giggled and ran out the front door. Gladys looked at the man sitting in the chair in order to compliment him on his child. The man still staring at the television seemed to be oblivious of the exchange. “Your daughter is so cute. She seems like a live wire” Gladys commented. The man said “Yeah, um-uh” and continued to stare at the television.
Gladys got up and looked out the window. The sun was starting to rise and the colors outside were pinks and greens. She saw the little girl sitting in the gravel drive eating gravy with her fingers. She saw the sad little car sitting a lopsided on the drive. She wondered if it was too early to call the U-Drive-Em to see about trading out the car. She looked at her watch and decided that five thirty in the morning was probably too early to call Lurlene.
Gladys went back to the little haunted bedroom and retrieved her book, made her way to the porch and sat and read. It was hot and humid and Gladys wasn’t used to the climate plus she hadn’t slept well the next thing she knew she awoke with her hair plastered to her forehead, drool oozing out of the corner of her mouth and her fingernails painted pink, purple and green. She sat up with a start and looked around when she heard “hold still Annie. I gots to get your yittle piggy.” She looked down and saw Nancy with a neon pink Sharpee coloring on her toe. “Oh thank you Nancy but I just had a pedicure. I don’t think your coloring inside the lines or in this case the toe nail. What kind of marker is that” Gladys inquired of the little tot. Nancy looked up giggled and said “all done.” Gladys looked at her toes painted a rainbow of colors, not her toenails but her toes. She sighed and thought “oh well at least I’ll be unique” and went back to reading her book.
She looked at her watch and realized it was close to ten and that Lurlene the car rental lady should be by the phone. She grabbed her Crackberry and dialed the number but nothing happened. She moved to the front yard and still nothing happened. She walked to the end of the drive and still no service. Gladys took a deep breath because that is what the cardiologist told her to do and retrieved the keys to the little car. She got in and drove up the lane, still no service. She drove up the farm to market road, still no service. She drove on until she could see the major highway and finally she had service.
“Good morning” said the cheery voice “U-Drive-Um. This is Lurlene how can I hep you?” Gladys rushed through her problems with the little car, “It stalled at the gas station and I had to get a nice lady to help me start it, then it died when I turned right. Well not every time I turn right just most of the time. It dies like 9 times out of 10.” There was a pause and Lurlene responded “well then don’t turn right. I mean just take lefts. It worked for Dale Earnhart. Well up until he crashed.” Gladys sat there a moment and said “regardless I need to exchange the car for something in a little better shape.” Lurlene chuckled and said “oh yeah? Alright bring it in and I’ll give you a different car.” Gladys explained she would be there that afternoon because the trek back to the Itty Bitty City International Airport and Bowling alley was 45 miles away and in the Yugo it would take her most of the day. Lurlene told her that was fine and would be looking for her.
Gladys back tracked to Dreary Lane Bed and Breakfast and freshened up, grabbed a bottle of water and a granola bar from her suitcase and headed towards IBC. She drove and drove pushing the little Yugo to its limit of 45 miles per hour. She hugged the right shoulder of the highway and held on with both hands when the eighteen wheelers blew past her threatening to either suck her under their wheels or blow her off the road. She exited to the right and had to crawl to a stop and restart the car, the drove white knuckled until she finally saw the sign indicating the bowling alley parking was to the right and the airport rental car return was to the right. She chugged into the lot and looked around not expecting more praying there would be a newer, larger vehicle waiting. She gathered her belongings from the little car and entered through the roll up door into the terminal/bowling alley and up to the rental kiosk. Most of the lanes were empty other than some older ladies rolling the ball at the far end. She looked around and saw no one in the kiosk. She looked at the bar in the center of the area and it too stood empty. “Hello! Anybody home?” Gladys called out. She called out several more times and received no answer. Finally one of the ladies from lane one came down and looked around “Lurlene must be parkin the 2:10 from Springfield. She’ll be right back. Just have a seat at the bar. Unless you’re a cracker jack bowler. Then why don’t you come down here and show Maude how to bowl. That woman ain’t never thrown more than a 80. Old fool won’t listen to no one.” Gladys smiled and thanked the woman and explained that Maude’s score was miles above what she could do.
Finally a woman with some head phones and a flashlight in her hand came around the corner. “Well, hey there! I hope you haven’t been waitin too long” she said as she entered the bar and removed her head gear. “I have come to trade out cars with Lurlene?” Gladys half stated and half begged. The woman pointed toward the rental kiosk with the orange coned appendix and said “I’m Lurlene let’s go on over to my office.” She went behind the counter and said “hon, I don’t have a thing I can trade you out for. I just rented out the last vee-hicle I had. Although I have a Ford Areostar Mini-Van I can upgrade you to for $60.00 more a day. Whatcha say?” Gladys stood with her mouth agape and the little voice telling her “breath, just breath” but she was ignoring it. She heard her pulse beating in her ears and felt the heaviness of her anger. “You said you had a car. I drove all the way over here to get a car that doesn’t DIE when I turn right or left or go in circles. Why did you tell me to come if you didn’t have a car to exchange out with me” Gladys spit out through clinched teeth. Lurlene took a step away from the rage that was exuding through every pour of the little woman. She coughed and said “well, hon, I had a car for you, but then the 12:05 landed and I sold right out. Now I couldn’t turn down a cash money payin customer, could I?” Gladys leaned across the counter and said “WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK I’M PAYING WITH? SEA SHELLS? NOW GET ME A DAMNED CAR THAT DOESN’T DIE!” Lurlene shuffled through some papers and picked up the phone and made a call. She whispered into the phone and ended with “I don’t care just git over here.” Gladys stood glaring at the woman wishing she had lasers in her eyeballs to burn a hole through Lurlene’s head. She was getting dizzy and remembered she had not taken a breath. She exhaled the breath she had been holding and inhaled fresh oxygen and tried to revive her system. She said her calming words over and over in her mind hoping this would bring her blood pressure down.
A young man came bounding up to the kiosk and said “Maw, we ain’t got no more cars. I got two of em coming in the morning though.” Lurlene gave the boy the keys to the Yugo and said “This lady here says that the Yug dies when she turns right would you go see if you can do something bout that?” Then she turned to Gladys and said “we ain’t got nuthin to give you right now. I’ll reimburse you your gas if you come back in the morning. I will keep a car in the lot.” Gladys smiled trying to remain calm and said “I want an upgrade. I want my fuel reimbursed and I want a car that does not die. One that was made in this century.” Lurlene wrote up the paperwork and handed it to Gladys who signed and initialed. The boy came back in and handed the keys back to Gladys. “I’m sorry ma’am but it didn’t die on me at all. Are you steppin on the gas when you turn? Cause she is a little touch and you have to give her some gas when you turn or go up a hill. Just massage it a bit. You know put your foot down then let it up and just keep repeating that.” Gladys grabbed the keys thanked the boy and went back to the little car. She started the motor and chugged out of the parking lot. She would have laid rubber but the little car just didn’t have it in her.
Monday, August 24, 2009
One evening he called and asked me to dinner. I had worked late and agreed to meet him at a local restaurant. We were making our way to our table when Kahuna started laughing and said “hey what are you guys doing here?” There walking in our direction was a tall slender young man, dark hair, dark eyes and a smile on his face. The two men began chatting excitedly then Kahuna turned to me and said “This is my son, Techman.” I looked up in this young man’s eyes and I felt a warmth rush through my heart. All he said was “nice to meet you” but I knew we would be friends. That is how I met my future son.
I have to tell you that our subsequent meetings were not quite so sedate. You see he is much like his father in that he loves to debate and discuss things. My first dinner at Kahuna’s home Techman and I spent hours debating the whole creationism versus evolution topic. What could have been a volatile conversation turned into an interesting and informative revelation. Techman has a way in which he without trying he puts people at ease. He doesn’t work at it, it’s just his personality. We spent many hours around the table testing each other’s theories, beliefs and ideals. His discussions are always informed, interesting and peppered with his quick wit. He is the master at turning a potential explosion of difference into an expulsion of laughter.
Techman is also an adventurer. He loves to experience and do. He is not one to sit. He is going to go out and touch, feel and smell everything. His friends call him the Cruise Director because he is always planning, arranging and directing trips for the group. It might be a weeklong trip to Cabo San Lucas for scuba diving, pool hopping and clubbing or a Snowboarding trip in Canada. He is the one who puts it together, organizes the events and then is the entertainment.
I have written before about his talents and his abilities in my story about his Tea Fire pictures. Go on over to his flicker page and check out his second love, his first being Lizzy Doodles of course. Mostly though I just wanted to share a bit of my son with you. He is my son, though I did not birth him, he is my son and I knew it when I first met him. Happy birthday son.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
She looked at her accelerator which told her she had now gone 15 miles but that couldn’t be right. She had just stopped. She as a matter of fact could see where she had stopped under the eerie old tree it was within spitting distance. She eased the little car a little further and noticed that each time the wheel turned one full rotation the odometer registered another mile. She took a deep breath, because her cardiologist told her to and eased the car further along searching for Dreary Lane.
The night hung around her like a cloud. No wait it was a cloud. Gladys had forgotten what it was like to be out of the desert. She felt as though the humidity was sucking the soul right out of her. She was laboring to breath and her hair was kinking ever tighter to the crown of her head. She had taken such pains with it that morning. Oh my, she thought was that THIS morning? She had blown it dry, straightened with serum and a straightening iron then sprayed it with curling solution and rolled it around a curling iron. She had taken the moisture control hairspray and sprayed each and every follicle to perfection. She stretched up on the suitcase to catch the wildness of her new hairdo in the mirror. She reached up and tried to pat it back in place but only heard a loud boing. It was hopeless. She so wanted to make a good impression at the Dreary Lane Bed and Breakfast.
Giving up on her hair she pushed the pedal once more and rolled down the narrow thoroughfare. She passed fence post and mail boxes giving her a sense of civilization. She finally spotted a sign post leaning profusely to the left half hidden by kudzu and weeds “Dreary Lane”. She cut the wheel to the right looking to her left for the black cows. She pressed on the gas to hurry down the little lane only nothing happened. She turned the sound down on the radio and revved the little engine but it was silent. “Oh for crying out loud” she cried to the empty night. She put the car in park and turned the ignition. She was rewarded with a un-nuh-nuh-nuh. Then the little car came back to life and she chugged further up the gravel lane. She drove for what seemed like a hundred miles until she saw a white fence post with a little white sign covered in bicycle reflectors that stated “Dreary Lane Bed and Breakfast”. She pulled into the drive and parked in front of the little house. There was a welcoming yellow glow coming from inside and a sudden sense of relief washed over her.
A porch light popped on glowing bright red. The door flew open and there on the porch stood the inn keeper dish rag in hand. “I’m so glad you made it” she beamed and walked out to embrace Gladys. “Thanks, me too” she said in return. She grabbed her bags and headed up the porch steps with the petite woman inn keeper giving her the full run down. “Breakfast is at six. Eggs, bacon, biscuits and gravy or toast if you would rather. I put you in the big bed and you have your own bathroom.” Gladys was bone tired but tried to take in everything her hostess had to say. She was standing on the porch in the scarlet glow of the porch light. “Why do you have a red porch light” she asked. She wondered if perhaps the little house did double duty. Her hostess laughed a nervous little laugh and said “I know its August and that I should have changed that out months ago. I just never seemed to get around to it, I mean what with the comings and goings. It just seems time gets away from me and besides Christmas is right around the corner so I might as well just leave it up.” Gladys looked up at the red glowing bulb then towards the door where she realized the carriage lights on both sides of the door contained green glowing bulbs. She shrugged and lugged her belongings through the door and into the parlor. The little parlor contained a couple of couches and some chair all cozily arranged in front of a huge flat screen television mounted on the wall. Pearl, the inn keeper, ushered Gladys towards her room clearing away a path of Lego’s and tiny tot sized play dishware. “I’m terribly sorry about the mess. I just got my youngin to bed and I haven’t had a chance to pick-up yet.” Pearl kept gathering up items into a wicker laundry basket and making her apologies as Gladys unloaded her luggage on to the stand. “That’s okay. You said she was three” Gladys inquired. “Yes, she is just a bundle of energy” Pearl said then added “but I’ll keep her out of your way. I hope you find everything acceptable. The bathroom is right here and you can find extra towels and pillows over here.”
Pearl left closing the door behind her as Gladys kicked off her shoes and scanned the room. It was small with a built in desk in the corner. A computer sat in the corner of the desk, a queen sized bed with ample pillows, a television and a wooden straight back chair graced the room, yet it seemed crowded. Well it wasn’t the Ritz Carlton but then again Gladys had never stayed at the Ritz. She would call Lurlene at the car rental place tomorrow and see if she could get a different vehicle but first she needed to sleep.
Gladys freshly washed, lotioned and pinned crawled into the bed after moving the pillows to the side. She flipped off the light and tried to let sleep over take her. She heard a whirring sound then a blue light started flashing in the corner of the room. Pop a bright light came on and the computer screen illuminated. She sat up in bed and looked around the room to see if perhaps someone had entered while she was in the bath. She flipped on the light and there was no one to be seen. Gladys moved toward the glowing blue light and pushed the button on the computer tower waiting for the glow to fade. She held the button in but it did not extinguish.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Tadpole wants to know why it is women are so concerned about what their underwear look like while guys don’t care if they have a 4” skid mark and a torn waist band in their tighty whities? **************************************************************************
If you have ever eaten catfish then answer this.
Aisle Hog to son: Johnny reach around over there and hand me up that Sue-Hav-EH (yes that is how she sounded out Suave) sharmpoo.
Son: MAW. I can’t reach it. It is too high up on the shelf.
Aisle Hog: Then just give me whatever you can reach.
Woman trying to pass Aisle Hog: Excuse me could you please move your cart out of the way.
Aisle Hog: I’m almost done here.
Woman: Well I just want to get by you and get a bottle of conditioner.
Aisle Hog: Can’t you just go round?
Little Girl Riding on Cart: Mommy why is that cart in the middle of the aisle?
Mom: Because some people are just rude and park in the middle of the aisle.
Little Girl: Oh like that lady there? (Pointing at the Aisle Hog) She’s RUDE?
Mom: Yes she is rude almost as rude as you for pointing at her
It is once again Friday and Mrs. 4444 over at Half Past Kissing Time is hosting her Friday Fragments.
Ann Again and Again hosts VGNO on Fridays wander on over and have a Virtual Girls Night Out. She is on Vacay this week but still took time to host VGNO. So let's make up a big ole wash tub of Gladys' Vacay Punch:
1 cup Pineapple Vodka
9 cups water
4 Liptons Tea Bags
2 cups Sugar
1 can Frozen Orange Juice (thawed)
1 can Frozen Lemonade (thawed)
2 six packs 7up
Boil tea bags with two cups of the water. Set aside and let cool. Boil the remaining 7 cups of water with 2 cups of sugar. Bring to boil and remove from heat. Set aside and let cool to room temperature. Once sugar mixture is cool add the Orange Juice and the Lemonade. Add water from the tea and squeeze tea bags. Add Pinapple Vodka. Stir together and Freeze over night. Serve in a highball and top with about 2 oz. of 7up.
Makes 40 - 50 drinks
Now go have a good weekend and be good to one another. Oh and let me know what you did for the weekend.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Gladys put the pedal to the metal or in this gas to the rusted floor board. She gave that little car all it was worth. The Yugo sputtered, spit then chugged up the entrance ramp to the major highway. Gladys kept her foot on the throttle hoping to gain some momentum as eighteen wheelers and lifted 4 X 4 pick-ups passed her by. She pushed harder on the accelerator only to be greeted with a big puff of white smoke and a hitch in her gitty-up. She backed off the gas and hugged the right side of the lane trying to stay out of the faster traffic. The road was dark and she could barely see in front of her when she realized she had not turned on her headlights. She began searching the little car for the headlight knob. She looked high and low and finally found the button marked lamps. She clicked it on then off then on but there was no illumination. She pulled to the side of the road desperate now to find them. How would she ever make it to her destination with no headlamps and if she had no headlamps what about tail lights? Someone would surely run completely over her without them signaling she was there. She searched in the dark little car for some loose wire or what she might be doing wrong with the knob. She searched her giant handbag for something which might shed light on the problem. She dug and found nail files, notebooks, make-up, tweezers, can opener, some lint covered peppermints and a roll of Tums. She looked for her miniature flashlight but remembered they had confiscated that at airport security because a flashlight is more of a weapon than a can opener. Then she had an inspiration and retrieved her Bright Red Crackberry. She fingered the roller ball and it came to life. She shined the illuminated screen around the dash. She brightened the steering column then moved the light toward the center of the dash. There was a piece of duct tape under a toggle switch with LITES written in thick black sharpie. She flipped the toggle downward and there was light and it was good. She looked at the road illuminated in front of her happy that she would now be able to see the road ahead.
With blinker blinking she pulled back out onto the highway and chugged on in the direction of her destination. She still had another forty miles to go before she could park the little car and sleep. Suddenly her eyes were heavy at the thought of driving that distance and she began looking for a Starbucks or at the very least a McDonalds which could satisfy her need for an instant boost of caffeine. There was nothing only darkness and the whir of passing trucks. She took another swig of her tea syrup and plodded on. It would take her days she thought if she continued at this rate of speed.
She spotted her exit in the distance after what seemed like hours on the road. She again flipped on her blinker and moved the little car into the exit lane. The corner was brightly lighted with a Stop and Stab. She pulled into the parking area and checked her fuel gage. She was surprised to find it on E. She motored over to the pump and pulled up to the one marked REGULAR. She walked around the car looking for the gas cap only to find an oily rag stuck in the hole. She removed the rag and pushed the nozzle into the hole. She squeezed the trigger and heard the familiar click of the gas pump tallying up its fare. It passed three dollars, five dollars and then stopped on eight dollars. Gladys squeezed the trigger again only to be met with a flow of gasoline onto her shoes. She removed the nozzle and looked into the tank only to see gasoline at the very top level.
She shrugged and wiped her hands and her shoes with the Germicide towlette she retrieved from her oversized handbag. She then walked into the Stop and Stab to pay for her fuel and hopefully get a caffeine fix. She walked to the rear of the little store and located a coffee pot and some cups. She took a cup then grabbed the pot sitting on the burner. She smelled the charred coffee before she actually saw it. It was too late she had already dumped about half of the pot into her cup. Shaking her head she threw the cup and coffee in the trash and went to pay for her fuel.
“That’ll be nine dollars and seventy five cents” the woman with the bright red hair told her.
Gladys looked up from her handbag and said “no, I only got eight dollars worth of gas.” The red head whose name tag identified her as Shirley replied as if speaking to a five year old “and the cup of coffee with tax comes to nine dollars and seventy-five cents.” Gladys took a deep breath. You see Gladys’ cardiologist told her in order to keep her blood pressure in check she needs to breathe. So in times of aggravation Gladys always breathes deep. “The coffee was old and burned. I didn’t drink the coffee in fact I didn’t even remove it from the store” she retorted. Shirley smacked her gum rolled her eyes and said “well somebody’s got to pay fer them cups and they ain’t gonna take it from my pay. So you owe me NINE DOLLARS AND SEVENTY-FIVE cents. Is that cash or credit?” Gladys heard her cardiologist voice in her head saying sometimes it is better to just let things go than to fight a losing battle and Gladys you just can’t win against stupid. So she took out nine one dollar bills and said “I’ll pay you for the cup but I’m not paying you for the coffee.” She turned while Shirley was still trying to tell her she owed seventy-five more cents and made her exit.
Gladys marched to her awaiting Yugo and climbed back in on top of her suitcase. She turned the key in the ignition but nothing happened. She waited a minute and tried again, still nothing. She took another deep breath and felt a little light headed. Maybe she wasn’t used to all this clean air she thought or maybe it was the fumes from the gas pumps. She once again turned the key and was greeted with a “un-nuh-nuh-nuh” then nothing. That is when Gladys’ active imagination went into overdrive. She remembered an old movie with Rory Calhoun in it. He had some type of roadside store and when people stopped he had one of his workers disable their vehicle so they couldn’t leave. Then he would drug the unsuspecting motorist, plant them in the ground and fill them full of fattening food and make sausage out of them. They became Farmer Vincent’s Crispy Critters. It was really a dumb movie but that was all it took to get Gladys’ paranoia moving. She sat waiting and praying that the little car would start and get her away from Shirley and her burned coffee before she became one of Shirley’s Succulant Sausages.
She looked in her review mirror and saw a giant of a woman get out of her pick-up with giant tires. She walked toward the little car and Gladys cringed and closed her eyes. This was then end. She just knew it. The giant would grab her and stick her in a hole just like a potato. Then she would be force fed butter and gravy. Wait what is so terrible about that? Oh yeah she remembered she would be turned into sausage. The woman bent down and said “you done with that pump?” Gladys opened one eye and looked at the woman whose face took up the entire window. “Um, yes; but my car won’t start” Gladys squeeked in answer. The giant eyed the little car and said “try it and let me hear what it sounds like. I’m kinda good with cars.” Gladys turned the key in the ignition and heard a click, click, click. The large woman nodded her head and walked back to her truck. She returned seconds later with a hammer. Gladys swallowed hard and thought “oh my GOD she’s going to bludgeon me to death with ball peen hammer.” The large woman leaned down to the window again and told Gladys “pop the hood.” Gladys looked around the steering column and located the latch. She heard a pouf then hear the squeeking hinges and the big woman was under the hood. Bam, tink, tink “alright try it now” she called from the front of the car. Gladys turned the key and heard click,click, tink, un-nuh,nuh,nuh, chug, cough then the little engine sprang to life. The large woman went back to her truck retrieving a bottle of R.C. Cola. Gladys watched in awe as she walked to the front of the little car.
Gladys being more curious than cautious stepped from the car and joined the giant woman. She watched as the woman poured the cola over the battery cables. She took a rag from her back pocket and wiped everything down then looked back at Gladys “there you go. You should be good as new.” Gladys craned her neck all the way back, looked up at the good Samaritan who had saved her from the inevitable and thanked her profusely. “I can’t tell you how grateful I am. Can I pay you something for your trouble? Buy you another R.C.? I mean you most certainly saved me from becoming a Shirley Snausage” Gladys effused. The large woman looked a little frightened of the crazy spouting little woman in the Baltic car and said “oh no. That’s okay, really just getting you on your way is thanks enough.” Then she hastily retreated to her truck and locked her doors.
Gladys waved out her window again offering her thanks as she pulled out of the drive and turned down the little farm to market road to her next destination.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
She waited what seemed to be a very long time. The sun had started moving low in the sky and the crowd had started to clear from lanes 9 and 10. “Ma’am has someone tended to you yet?” came a voice from behind the bar. Gladys turned to see a young man setting a couple of Lone Star beer’s on the counter and another man exchanging a five for the drinks. “Um, no. I rented a car and I’m trying to locate the rental agent.” The man looked at Gladys and shook his head “Lurlene done left over an hour ago. She said you might be comin in. She left you the keys on the counter. Just sign the paperwork where she put them yeller marks and leave them in her box.” Gladys looked on the counter and saw a set of car keys attached to a large piece of metal. “These keys?” He looked over the counter and said “yeup.” Gladys read the contract, signed the highlighted areas and agreed that if she didn’t bring the vehicle back full it would cost her $240.00 per gallon. She grabbed the keys then went to stand in front of the baggage claim. She stood with the other seven people from her flight when finally she heard what sounded like chicken screeching. Then the little rolling door opened and bags started flying through it complete with feathers flying and clothes scattering. It closed as quickly as it opened and all that was left were a few scattered chicken crates, a couple of boxes buzzing marked BEES and Gladys’ suitcase half opened with clothes scattered across the floor. She rushed over and gathered up her underwear and night gowns stuffing them back into the hole in the zipper.
Gladys loaded her bags into the back seat and got situated into the driver’s seat. She realized she was unable to see over the steering wheel. The seat had no springs and was sitting really low. She retrieved one of her bags from the back and placed it on the seat. She crawled on top and then adjusted her mirror. She turned the key and waited for the engine to turn over. Several attempts later it caught hold and sputtered to life. She eased the little car out of the parking spaced and slowly putted out onto the main highway. She had driven this area before but always in her own vehicle. She thought she knew in which direction to head but it was getting dark and had been an event filled day. She got to the flashing light of Highway 2679 and loop 161. She tried to remember which way she was supposed to turn. She knew if she went one direction it would take her to a major highway the other would take her into downtown Little Bitty City. Not wanting to go into Little Bitty City but instead head toward the countryside she turned right. She drove along trying to recognize landmarks or find direction signs. She drove along until finally she realized she was entering Little Bitty City. She took a deep breath and turned onto a side street. It had been a long time since she had been to Little Bitty City and it was much worse for wear. There seemed to be an awful lot of abandoned businesses and the neiborhoods no longer looked like cozy cottages but rundown slums. She turned again and this time headed in the correct direction. She drove and drove until finally she reached the main highway.
She saw a glowing sign in the distance, one that looked familiar. She drew closer and realized it was the local burger joint. She had not eaten since early that morning and what’s more had run out of water several hours back so she steered the little tin can of a car into the drive thru lane. She drove up to the speaker to order. Miracle of miracles the voice that came on the speaker was neither garbled or mangled; it was in fact very clear. “Welcome to Burger Joint what can I get for you?” Gladys looked over the menu board and said “I would like a Junior burger without the bun and a large iced tea.” There was a pause then the voice came back on the line and said “You want the Junior burger and no bun? Do you want mustard?” Gladys spoke slowly and clearly “yes, I want the junior burger with no bun and no mustard. Just the patty with some lettuce wrapped around it.” There again came a long pause and then the microphone clicked and the faceless voice said “you only want a bun?” Gladys again took a deep breath and slowly repeated her order “I want a junior burger with NO bun. No mustard. Just a patty wrapped in lettuce.” This time another voice came on the speaker “you want a hamburger patty only?” Gladys relieved that they finally understood smiled and said “YES! And an iced tea, unsweet.” There was a brief pause and then the click “do you want that patty cooked?” Gladys blew out all of her air and said “YES I WANT IT COOKED!” The mic clicked and said “pull forward please.” Gladys pulled up to the window and waited. The window opened and a fresh faced boy handed her a bag and a cup and said “we don’t know what to charge you. We ain’t never had nobody order no bun afore. So that’ll be two and a quarter.” Gladys handed the boy her money and drove out of the parking lot afraid to look into the bag. She pulled under a street lamp just before the entrance ramp to the highway and took a sip of her iced tea. It took her a minute to figure out what was wrong with her tea. They had misunderstood her UN-sweet for EXTRA-sweet. It was like drinking tea syrup. She started looking in the little car for a cup holder only non-was to be found. She gave up the search and stuck the ice cold cup between her knees and fished the hopefully lettuce wrapped burger from the bag. There in all of its perfection was a hunk of red meat cooked crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside wrapped in a big sheet of ice berg lettuce. They had even thought to cut the brick of meat in half. She devoured the beef and greens and forgetting the sweetness of the drink took a long pull from her straw.
Now it was time to hit the road.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
I guess the blackened chicken REALLY is blackened.
I’m glad someone noticed I was gone and that I’ve not been devoured by my 47 hungry dogs.
As opposed to what?
The horse was not what? Drunk? Gosh I hate riding drunk horses. I mean especially those who can’t hold their liquer. I one time had a horse that acted like he was on crack when he ate alfalfa, the hay not the Little Rascal.
His location is probably unknown to him too. You know it is the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, I'm just sayin....
Did he, the camper, spontaneously combust? I mean I’ve heard of that happening and I even watched an episode of CSI where Grissom proved that it can’t happen, and if Grissom says so then it's true.
How do you misplace a plane? Was the pilot so drunk that he didn’t remember flying it there? Hey I think he was my pilot to Little Bitty City.
Again doesn’t sound very harmonious to me.
How many gamblers does it take to remove a lightbulb? 16 to one. (Hey give me a break I haven't had my coffee yet.)
Funny my mother just threatened me with the boogyman or no Santa Clause.
Ok just so you know a slash pile is a pile of brush and wood debris not the ex-lead guitarist of Guns and Roses
My daddy would tell him “You gotta get back up on that horse and ride it otherwise he’ll never know whose boss.”
When IS firing an AK-47 safe?