Sunday, June 22, 2008

Rusty Pails #42:
The Ruby Bee Caper (Part 6 - Conclusion)

by Rocky Macy

The first thing that I noticed as I pulled up to Gladys’s was that construction was already underway on her chicken mansion. The concrete floor had been poured and the framing was up. It was going to be quite a place. Those girls would be living in style!

Henry ambled out to meet me as I got out of the truck, and I handed over the baloney sandwich that I had packed for him. I followed him up to the back porch and was working up my nerve to knock when I noticed a sign pinned to the screen door: “Gentlemen Callers Please Report to the Front Door.” It was going to be one of those nights!

I knocked timidly at the front door, hoping that she might not hear me and I could convince the Judge that I had made an honest attempt. But my luck had been rotten since the night we burned down her chicken coop, and it wasn’t about to get better tonight. Old bat ears, who could hear a mouse fart at fifty feet, swung open the door and clamped onto my arm with the gentle clasp of a bear trap and pulled me into her lair.

“Why, Mr. Pails has come a-courting – and he’s brought me a corsage!” She jerked the flower away from me with one hand, and pushed me onto her sofa with the other. Normally my fight-or-flight instinct would have kicked in at that point, but the room was smothered in a smell of fresh-baked coconut pie that left me paralyzed.

Gladys sashayed around the room making sure that I got a good look at the new dress she was wearing and then left for the kitchen. She came back with a tray that held a root beer for me, with a glass of ice, and a coffee for her. She seated herself on the couch next to me and then commenced to pouring my root beer over the ice. "What about the pie?" I asked.

"That's for later." Then as I settled in for a cold drink, she pinned the corsage on herself. I hate to admit it, but with the new dress, the new hair do, and the corsage – she didn’t look half bad. Maybe I could make it through the evening after all.

Gladys opened the passenger door and let herself into my truck, saving me the anguish of doing it for her. She looked as though she wanted to scoot across the seat and cuddle up next to me, but a convenient fresh oil stain in the middle of the seat kept her snuggled up next to the passenger door. Mama Pails didn't raise no fools!

Gladys 'suggested' that we drive to the city and visit a new French restaurant that she had heard about. It was a long drive, but it was that much more time that I could stare at the highway and not at her. When we finally pulled up to Chez Bob's, I commented that the parking lot looked awfully full and there probably would be a long wait. Gladys said not to worry because she had called ahead that afternoon for a reservation.

Chez Bob's is one of those fancy places where the only lighting comes from the candles on the tables. Under other circumstances, it might even be considered romantic, but not tonight. The low lighting served to keep customers from reading the prices on the menu or getting a good look at what they were eating.

Gladys ordered something that I couldn't even pronounce, and told the waiter to bring her a nice glass of red wine. When she saw me wince, she said, "Oh, what the heck - bring the whole bottle!" Her meal turned out to be pot roast with mushrooms and green beans. I have to admit that it made my French toast and French fries look mighty puny.

Gladys got a good buzz going from the wine. As we were pulling out of the parking lot, she had the passenger window rolled down and was singing, "Mademoiselle from Armentieres...parley-vous!" to the people lined up and waiting to eat..."parley-vous!"

Ten miles back toward Sprung Hinge she was still feeling no pain as I pulled into the VFW Hall. "Up for a little dancing?" I asked.

She was.

We Texas-Two-Stepped around the glorified quanset hut two times, before I led my date to a table. I wiped the sweat from my brow and settled down to a cold root beer. I barely had the first bottle down when a handsome young man approached our table and asked Gladys to dance. The name sewn on the fool's shirt pocket was Hank. Gladys was dee-lighted to be whisked away by the young stud.

Thirty minutes later when they made it back to the table, Gladys was smiling like a cat full of canaries. She reached for her purse and pulled out the form that the Judge had given her. She quickly signed my freedom papers and passed them over to me. "Rusty," she said coyly, "you are free to go. Hunk will be taking me home."

I wanted to tell her that she was old enough to be "Hunk's" mother, but more than that I just wanted to get out of there with my virtue in tact. Even so, I found myself stammering, "What about my pie?"

"I'm sorry, Rusty, but I have plans for that pie - and they don't include you!"

I'll bet she had plans. I slowly made my way to the door, pretending to be mortally wounded. As I stepped out into the cool evening air, I turned and handed a fifty dollar bill to Hank who was right behind me. "Thanks, Uncle Rusty," he said. "I almost hate to take your money. She's a lot of fun!"

"To each his own, Nephew. To each his own." He went back in to dance the night away, and I headed home - pie-less, but virtuous. It had been quite a night!

Hinky, dinky, parley-vous!

No comments: