Monday, June 16, 2008

Rusty Pails #41:
The Ruby Bee Caper (Part 5)

by Rocky Macy

I served nineteen days in the Sprung Hinge jail, certain that Judge Leonidas T. Redbone would change his mind about his awful plans for me. But Hizzoner, knowing that torture was fine at the national level, stood firm in his plans to torture me.

Esther Pearl continued to stop by jail every evening to offer me comfort and moral support. “Serve’s you right, you durned fool!” She cooed. “If you ask me, you’re getting off easy!” (Well, I hadn’t asked her, but that had never stopped her before, and it wasn’t going to stop her now.)

On day nineteen I had a personal visit from the Judge. He informed me that the county was going to start selling off my belongings to pay for my “jail vacation.” It was then that I swallowed my pride, like a hunk of bad baloney, and told him that I would take Gladys on a date – but he couldn’t make me like it!

“You don’t have to like it, Rusty,” he said, “but she does. I’m giving her a form to sign saying that the date was satisfactory. If Miss Clench ain’t happy with her big night out, it’s back to jail for you!”

So things were set up for Saturday night. Esther came by that afternoon with her barber kit and a suit that she bought at the funeral home’s yard sale. My co-conspirators, feeling guilty for causing me so much grief, also came by to help. Heck and Judge Redbone (the stupid one, not the sadist) detailed my old pick-up and had her sparkling like never before. Truman drifted out to town and came back later with a boutonnière and a corsage. Turns out that the ladies in the flower shop donated them free if Truman promised to leave and not come back!

Esther sent me back to the tub twice before she was satisfied that I was fit to wear the suit. As soon as I got my longhandles on, she hustled me out into the kitchen and proceeded to give me a manicure which I didn’t like, but tolerated. It was when she grabbed my foot and started trying to pedicure me that I drew the line. “Leave my toes alone! There ain’t no way that Gladys is going to see my feet!”

“Oh, I wouldn’t be so sure about that.” Somehow I knew that Esther was enjoying my suffering.

“She’s right, Rusty.” Heck looked up from shining my best work boots and continued, “Gladys is a mighty determined woman!”

“She’s out to assault your bachelorhood,” the Judge chimed in. “It’s a good thing there ain’t none of them all night wedding parlors around Sprung Hinge.”

I tried to get up and start swinging, but Esther pushed me back down on the kitchen chair. “You just stay still!” Esther was pulling out her barbering clippers that looked suspiciously like the ones she uses to groom her goats. “I’ve still got to cut and grease your hair.”

“Ain’t no need for that,” I declared. “I’m going to wear Heck’s!” Heck, afraid that I was serious, backed up so fast that he tripped over Baker and fell backward out the door. Baker refused to allow him back in the house after that stunt, so he had to finish shining my work boots on the back porch.

Fifteen minutes before I was supposed to pick Gladys up, Esther doused me with lilac water and handed me the box containing the corsage. Then, in a solemn procession, my friends walked me out to my shiny pick-up truck. Before I got in Esther gave me a quick course on manners. “Be sure to tell her she looks lovely.”

“Fat chance,” I grumbled. Gladys Clench is many things, but lovely ain’t on the list!

“And if she asks you to pin on the corsage, don’t stick her,” Esther said.

“And my girlfriends think is especially nice when I open the truck door and help them in and out,” Heck said.

“And don’t blow your nose at the table,” the Judge chimed in.

“And if you do,” Esther continued, “use the napkin and not the table cloth.

As I drove off down the lane, I glanced in the side mirror and looked back at the group standing in my yard. Would I survive the horrors that surely awaited me this night? Was the good life that I had enjoyed all these years about to come to an end? And, most important, what did those laughing fools standing in my back yard think was so danged funny?

No comments: