Thursday, December 13, 2012

Rusty Pails #52: Raquel Rainwater

by Rocky G. Macy

It was Saturday morning and the usual suspects were gathered at my place where we were working on repairing the damage caused by the Thanksgiving explosion.    The day was sunny and the temperature was surprisingly pleasant for late autumn, a perfect day to get some serious work done   I was anxious to have the repairs completed so that I could extricate myself from Shadetree Mike’s domino palace and move back home.

The first that I knew something was amiss was when Baker came running in through the open screen door yapping like she had just been shot.   At almost the same instant I heard a screech and a crash out on the country lane that usually leads peacefully past my place.  Rushing to the door, I noted with some alarm that Rupert Rainwater’s Willys Jeep had just taken out my mailbox.

“Hey, everybody,” I yelled, ”Rupert’s back to hauling the mail!”  

That was great news, even if he had just killed my mailbox, because we had been treated to a succession of substitute mail carriers over the past few weeks, each somewhat worse than the previous.   I rushed out into the yard to check on our wayward mail carrier, followed closely by Heck, Judge Redbone, Shadetree Mike, Esther, and finally the ambling and arthritic Truman Treetopper.  Our rescue mission came to a sudden stop, however, when the driver of the runaway Willys climbed out – and she definitely was not the guy who had spent the last twenty years carrying the mail to rural Sprung Hinge.

“Oh my goodness,” stammered the slight, but very well built, blonde as she fished around inside of the jeep and came up with a red high-heeled shoe – in two pieces.    “My heel got stuck in the brake pedal, and I seem to have broken it off.  I am so sorry about the mailbox.”

We weren’t sorry.    Well, maybe Esther was, but she didn’t count.  The beautiful mail carrier was wearing a tight sweater and a very attractive (and very short) skirt.

“Which one of you gentlemen is Mr. Pails?”

My hand went up, like a school boy eager to impress the teacher, but my voice didn’t seem to be working.   The goddess turned and again reached into the jeep and brought out my mail.  “I’ll take care of the mailbox she said.”
“No need,” I finally stammered.  “We’re having a fix-it party today.  My crew will put it back up.”

“Your crew?” mumbled Esther, who appeared to be on simmer but heading toward boil.

Heck Frye ended that bit of conversation when he pushed forward between Esther and me and fell to his knees in front of the gorgeous civil servant.  “Heck Frye at your service, ma’am.”  He reached for his hat which had apparently fallen off during the rush into the yard – and instead doffed his toupee.   Aghast at his mistake, he quickly slammed the tacky hairpiece back onto his head, lopsided, and continued.  “I would be honored to fix that shoe for you.  My glue gun is in the kitchen.”

The woman handed him the shoe and the heel, and he passed them to me without looking up.  “Rusty, be a good neighbor and fix the lady’s shoe.”

“Fools,” Esther muttered, not quite silently.

“Ma’am," Heck sputtered, "would you perhaps be a single lady, Miss… er…uh?”

“Rainwater, Raquel Rainwater, and it is Miss.”

“Rainwater?” Judge Redbone had suddenly found his voice.   “Surely you’re not Rupert’s daughter?”

“Surely I’m not.  I am his twin sister, and I am his permanent replacement on this route.”

“Where has Rupert gotten off to?” asked Esther with a healthy dose of skepticism in her voice.

“He has taken my apartment out on the coast and enrolled in art school – his lifelong dream - and I have moved into Mama’s house and will be running the mail route.”

“With more sensible shoes, I would hope.”  If Esther could have gotten any cattier she would have been meowing.

“Shoe, Rusty.   Shoe!” Heck commanded, still on his knees.  I turned and went inside to find the glue gun while my posse stayed stuck to Raquel Rainwater like flies on a fly strip.  When I returned with the repaired footwear a few minutes later, the group was telling stories and laughing.  Even crabby old Esther seemed to have softened a bit toward our newcomer.  The cheery and chatty Raquel Rainwater was clearly nothing at all like her shy and somber brother. 
“Mr. Pails, you are such a dear!”  Raquel took the pretty red high heel and then gave me a quick peck on the cheek. 

I was suffering from a blush worse than sun burn when Heck Frye spoke up, “But it was my glue gun!”

“Yes it was,” Raquel conceded as she handed the shoe to Heck.   “Perhaps you could give a girl a hand since you’re already down there.”

Prince Charming proudly placed the red slipper on Cinderella’s dainty foot, a moment that would live in Heck’s dreams forever.  Then she patted his tilted toupee, got in her Willys coach, and drove on down the lane.

“What a wonderful girl!” Heck lamented as he watched the last of Raquel’s dust drift off in the noonday breeze.

“Truly an angel!” said Shadetree Mike as he finally got his vocal chords vibrating again.

“A vision of loveliness,” chimed in Judge Redbone.

“And she’s mighty easy on the eyes,” I added with a sly wink to Esther.

“She’d be even prettier’” Esther whispered as she returned my wink, “without that chunk of apple stuck in her throat!”  And with that, Esther Pearl turned on her sensible heel and marched back into the house.  “Time’s a wasting you lazy louts!”

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