“I cannot believe you did this,” Violet said, as she snapped Carmencita into her car seat and gave her one final kiss.
“I promised them a fun day and I thought they’d like the carnival. My kids did,” Victor said, as he put Peter into his car seat and buckled him securely in.
“I mean you buying this van,” Violet said, closing the door with a wave to all the kids.
“They don’t all fit into my other cars, so…”
“So, you had to buy this?” she said, incredulous. “They aren’t even your kids.”
“Shhh! They don’t know that!” he said.
“Why thank you, my dear. I do try,” he replied with a slight bow. “May I entice you to join us?”
She shook her head sadly. “I can’t. I have to clean up and stuff.”
“May I help or would you prefer your former helper?…after he thaws out, of course,” he said, grinning.
“Good grief, no! I had enough of him. I think you may have scared him off for good. Can’t thank you enough,” she said.
“You didn’t seem too happy even when you did need his help,” he said moving around to the driver’s side.
She frowned. “What do you mean?”
“You had to serve several people at once yesterday, so he was a bit helpful then.”
Her eyes widened. “You mean you were here yesterday and you didn’t stop to say hello?”
“You were very busy for a time,” he said casually. “And I didn’t think you’d want to see me anyway. You made that perfectly clear the last time we…”
“Oh, Victor, I was wrong to send you away. I’m sorry. Please forgive me,” she said, taking his hand in hers.
He squeezed her hand and smiled. “I’ll come back after I drop off our angels and help you clean up. Perhaps I can take you to dinner afterward?”
She smiled and nodded.
He jumped into the van. “I’m hoping for something other than carnival food if you don’t mind. I feel like Peter,” he said rubbing his stomach and pouting.
Violet laughed and waved until she could no longer see the kids waving back. She had only just arrived back at her booth when she was accosted again, thankfully, not by John Yearly.
“Hey, girlfriend, been looking for you. How ya been?” Jocelyn said, linking arms with her best friend and steering her away from her booth and down to the music tent from which you could hear a particularly bad rendition of Devil went down to Georgia
“Uh, I’m fine, but I have to go clean up,” Violet said, cringing at the music. “Lordy, can’t they ever get someone who can actually play decently?”
Jocelyn laughed. “You are such a music snob,” she said.
“What? And you’re not?” Violet said.
“But you like country music. I may be from Mississippi but that don’t mean I like country!”
“You know I like all music, but it has to be good. Well, in truth they’re much better than the dudes they had playing last year,” Violet said.
“What did they play? Every Lynyrd Skynyrd song ever made? Heaven help us! What I’d do for some real jazz!”
Violet laughed. “Honey, you’re not getting any of that here. Which begs the question, why are you bringing us to hear this awful stuff? Trying to torture me? I thought you loved me!” she shouted in her best melodramatic voice.
Jocelyn threw back her head and laughed. “No, we're not stopping to listen. I would have to hate you for that! I just haven’t seen you in… like…forever. I miss you. So, tell me what you’ve been up to.”
Violet shrugged and went through the usual litany of things, all work and no play.
“Come now, Luvy, you can do better than that,” Jocelyn said, as she continued past the music tent with a shake of her head.
“Well, I do enjoy my new job. Why wouldn’t I? I’m playing in the garden and learning all sorts of…”
Jocelyn waved a dismissive hand. “I’m not asking about that! Of course you love it. That’s obvious. I want to know…” she said looking around them for prying ears. “Are you seeing anyone?”
“Of course not!” Violet shouted.
Jocelyn cocked an eyebrow, pursed her lips and said, “Uh-huh…that right? I heard different…just a few minutes ago in fact.”
“Oh, Lordy! I thought this would happen. What did you hear?” Violet asked, grimacing and wringing her hands.
“Well, not just heard but also seen.”
Jocelyn grinned and started to sing. “♪ ♫ just a kiss on the lips in the sunlight…♩ ♬. Oh, that’s supposed to be moonlight, isn’t it? That may be the problem. You should've waited until darkness fell.”
Violet’s eyes widened. “Oh, that…uh…how…how many people saw that?”
“Girl, the whole town,” she replied laughing at the horrified look on her best friend’s face. “You were trying to get rid of John Yearly, weren’t you?”
“Yes! That was it exactly,” Violet earnestly explained. “Victor and I have this deal. Neither one of us wants to date and…we kinda use each other to scare off… uh… how’d you know about John Yearly?”
“Violet, I know you better than I know myself. I saw the way he was all over you in the guise of being helpful and I know how much he creeps you out. Actually, almost everyone knows that.”
“Then why doesn’t he?” Violet shrieked.
“He’s a stupid redneck…oh, that’s redundant, isn’t it?” Jocelyn said, making a face.
Violet laughed, but sobered quickly. “I had to do something, Jocelyn. He was going to ask me out and he’s such a…”
“Racist pig? Self-centered idiot? Obnoxious jerk? Ignorant bastard? I could go on,” she said.
Violet laughed again. “I love you, Dovey.”
“Of course you do. How could anyone resist all this?” Jocelyn said sticking out her ample chest and seductively swaying her hips.
“I’ve been saying that forever,” Violet replied.
They walked on in comfortable silence occasionally waving to people they knew as they past.
“How are you really, Jocelyn?” Violet asked tentatively.
Jocelyn smiled though tears filled her eyes. “Something’s gotta give, Honey. I can’t live in grief forever.”
“No one should,” Violet agreed.
“I can’t stand being alone,” Jocelyn whispered.
“Oh, Jocelyn. I wish I could help,” Violet said, pressing her friend’s hand in her own.
“You can. All I need is for you to find me a strong, tall, handsome, dark knight in shining armor. Oh, yes, and he has to like Jazz. Tell me, does Victor have a brother?”
Violet wished to high heaven she could answer affirmatively.