A worse day all around
Violet heard gravel crunch in the driveway and, resigned, turned to the kitchen window. As she feared the crazy woman was back. The vulgar, house invading, cheesecake stealing, pen napping, fake boobied, pistol waving, tobacco smoking maniac from yesterday was back, just as she had threatened. The camo painted jeep with the tinted windows and the “NoBama 2012” bumper sticker could belong to no one else.
And she had apparently been busy during the night as well, because when Violet had roused the children and descended to the kitchen to prepare breakfast, an envelope was taped to the refrigerator. On the outside was a single letter V. Inside, a note written on a scrap of what appeared to be a fast food bag read simply; “Be ready by 1:00 pm. Dress sexy. Delacroix.”
“Dress” and “sexy” were underlined twice.
Violet really did not know what to do about this uninvited scourge. Seldom had she been so alone. Victor, who it seemed was always underfoot had shocked her last Friday, when he stopped by on his way to the airport.
“I just wanted to say au revoir,” he said. “I’m on my way to the Bahamas for rest and recreation. I’ve rented a beach house and I’m going to go spear fishing and skewer some bonitos if I can find them*. I’ll be back in a week.”
Violet had never known that Victor was a trained diver or had any interest in spear fishing but sure enough, the car fairly bulged with swim fins, wet suits, air tanks, diving weights, masks, snorkels, spears and a whacking great spear gun. But the real point was that just when he could have been useful Victor was out of reach and out of cell phone contact.
*To Victor’s credit he was incapable of lying outright to Violet. He had found Consuelo and Marguerite Bonito on their Rio based website (they usually worked the high priced hotels but were willing to travel if the price was right) and by Wednesday night he had rested and recreated so often, and with such ardor and intensity that his spear gun was for all intents and purposes, out of spears. He spent Thursday reef diving just to get some rest.
She had considered, briefly, actually calling the police but decided against it. Catalpa did not have a police force as such, but rather three village constables. These had police powers and some basic training but were not, frankly, capable of more than directing traffic at the various funerals, socials and traveling carnivals.
Chief Constable Wily Stithers was a mild non confrontational fellow in his late sixties who’s sole claim to investigational expertise derived from his undeniable success in solving the Case of the Missing Kitty, now a half decade removed, when after 3 days of intense detective work he had decided to check the local Animal Shelter. He was re-elected in landslide victories every four years, primarily because he was never opposed.
Constable A.C. Branmuffin was even older than Stithers and functioned primarily as custodian of the Constabulary Office during daylight hours; from which vantage point he would shuffle hopefully forth at precisely 10:00 AM, 12:30 PM and 3:00 PM each day to check the 16 parking meters in the Village shopping district on the off chance that a vehicle from out of town had allowed the red meter flag to pop up. He seldom met with success but he was diligent in his duties.
Constable Branmuffin’s service revolver had not been drawn since it had been first been holstered 45 years ago. By a gradual process of accretion similar to that which causes sedimentary rocks to form, holster and revolver had gradually become one.
Constable Branmuffin also liked geraniums.
Acting Constable Billy Tibbets looked far younger than his twenty two years and was cursed with thinning hair of a peculiar orange tint, pale skin, freckles, a plump and pear shaped physique and what would be a room temperature IQ on a day when air conditioning would not be required. He longed to be called Officer Tibbets but was called Constable Billy by most and Fat Billy Tibbs by others. Billy spent as much of his time as he could on duty and off at The Happy Weenie Restaurant, - Be safe! Use a Condiment! - trying to impress Jeannie Fettuccini, an adorable double bubble waitress, with his spurious tales of law enforcement heroism.
He put Jeannie, who was half again his age and twice as intelligent into a catatonic trance every time he opened his mouth.
“That kid,”,she once told a good looking truck driver from Green Bay as Billy waddled out, “is a walking wave of narcolepsy*.”
*The driver grinned and made a mental note to check “narcolepsy” on his laptop, in case it turned out to be something good to smoke.
These three stalwarts, acting in concert could conceivably have apprehended a drunk, had that drunk been courteous enough to pass out in front of the Constable's office and was not too heavy to carry to the lock up.
Violet correctly judged that putting the massed array of Catalpa Constabulary in Delacroix’s line of fire would be like tossing minnows at a Great White shark.
She momentarily considered calling Handy Man Ed to come over and bring his biggest wrench but Ed was always late to the jobsite and whatever was going to happen was going to happen fast, Violet was sure of it.
Even the household ghosts had taken leave of absence. It was uncanny.
Delacroix, unfortunately, was very much present. Violet watched her exit the Jeep, cigarette dangling from her lips, and open the vehicles rear hatch. She extracted a cardboard carton, slammed the hatch closed and turned to the kitchen door. Pausing, she removed her cigarette, looked around and apparently not finding what she was looking for, dropped the butt in the birdbath. Violet rolled her eyes and went to the door.
Delacroix placed the box carefully on the kitchen table. She reached in and removed two large paper cups of coffee with lids and handed one to Violet. A grinning, dancing hot dog logo adorned each cup. A small white cardboard box followed, which when opened revealed…
“Strawberries?” Violet looked puzzled.
“Give them a little sniff, Violet Honey,” said Delacroix.
“The real deal! Not a roach by product in sight. And wait until you taste it.”
“Ummmmmm!” opined Violet, “and they look so real! And there are even little flecks of dew on each strawberry! I wonder how he does that.”
“Ah told you Barkmann was the best. But this is what is going to solve your Yearly crisis.” Delacroix removed a tall cylindrical box from the carton. She detached the cylinder from its base and lifted it, with a theatrical “Tada!”
“A pineapple? A marzipan pineapple is going to rid me of Yearly? What can you possibly be thinking? It looks more realistic even than do the strawberries though, I will give you that. What’s the plan? Is there a plan?”
“Violet, how much do you really know about John Yearly?” asked Delacroix. "Did you know he has a dishonorable discharge from the army?"
“I never knew he was in the army at all, but if he was discharged, dishonorable sounds about right. I know he is pond slime and darkens my day whenever he’s near. And that’s about it.”
“Yes. Well,” said Delacroix. “Our boy has had a busy life. Yearly is not his real name he has about twenty aliases and in aggregate they are wanted for the followin’.” Delacroix dived back into the cardboard carton and removed a legal pad. She took a deep breath.
“Arson, burglary, robbery, armed robbery, assault, aggravated assault, assault with a deadly weapon, assaulting a police officer, spilling the salt, buggery, white slavery, weapons trafficking, failure to keep right, receiving stolen goods, warehousing stolen goods, selling stolen goods, stealing goods and thereby rendering them stolen, Murder one, Murder two, manslaughter, disturbing the peace, rape, ogling, speaking on a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle, drug trafficking, hunting without a license, fishing without a license, hunting fish without a license, littering, loitering, menacing, grand theft auto, identity theft, embezzlement, bestiality, poisoning a nunnery, cattle rustling, composing doggerel and reciting same in public. He is wanted in every state of the union and most of South America. If this gets out he’ll have to run for his life, and he will never be able to return.”
Violet looked stunned. “Doggerel? My God I had no idea! But I think I see. We are going to tell him we know all about him and he has 2 hours before we go to the State Police. And then we eat the pineapple!”
“Not exactly,” said Delacroix. “That would not punish him for what he’s done to you. He is used to runnin’. So what we are going to do is tease him with what he wants most, that would be you, and then yank the rug out from under him by takin’ you away and then makin’ him run.
“I’m listening,” Violet said.
Delacroix looked at Violet closely.
“Honey Ah left a note tellin’ you to dress sexy didn’t you get it?”
Violet flushed. “This is sexy! It’s a tight skirt!”
“It’s below your knees!”
“It’s a tight top!”
“It’s an effin’ sweater! And what is that on your feet?”
“Sneakers?” Violet said, weakly.
“Violet! You are hopeless! That wouldn’t be sexy in a Nebraska high school in 1955! Do you have any eff me shoes? Oh why am I askin’? What size shoe do you wear?”
Violet told her.
“Ah have a pair in the Jeep that you can borrow.”
“I can just imagine,” Violet said.
There follows a painful interval where in Delacroix, having retrieved the offered shoes bullies Violet into trying them on. They fit and Violet has to agree that they looked nice in a trashy sort of way. This precedes a trip to Violets clothes closet, where an indignant Violet fumes, arms folded across her chest while Delacroix rummages for something hot in the top department. Her running commentary does little to cool Violets rapidly boiling temper.
“Violet Honey this is just awful! Don’t you ever want to strut your stuff, you’ve got some stuff to strut you know. Oh this is terrible! Oh my GOD would you look at this! This is simply tragic…Violet you need an intervention!”
She worked her way to the far end of the closet, clucking in disbelief and horror. Violet had a sudden unwelcome premonition. A second later it was born out. Delacroix snatched a flimsy garment from the last hanger on the left...
“Now we’re gettin’ somewhere!”
“It was a gift.” squeaked Violet.
“From a close friend,” agreed Delacroix. She held the blouse to the light; most of it passed through undisturbed. The blouse was a sheer garment carrying a print of violet flowers on a pale violet background, and you could read a newspaper through it by candle light.
“It’ll do, Sugah!” said Delacroix.
“That is not going to happen; I am not wearing that around Yearly or anyone else for that matter. And besides you need a special bra to wear that and I don’t have one!”
“No,” said Delacroix.
“No what?” inquired Violet.
“No bra,” said Delacroix. “Put your C’s in the breeze and you’re bound to please. An old stripper told me that once.”
“Are you out of your effing mind?” Violet shouted, and then clapped both hands to her mouth, appalled.
Delacroix’s mouth twitched, she sighed and bending, tugged up the bottom of her black sweat pants, pulling something from her boot. She stood with a very large knife in her hand. It looked sharp enough to split molecules. It may have been sharper.
“Violet, you are becoming a pain in my ass, and more trouble than Ah figured you to be. Ah want you to stand very,very still. Do not move a muscle. Mr. KABAR and Ah do not want to cut you; not by accident anyway.”
Violet froze. Against her will her eyes squeezed shut. She had forgotten, momentarily, that she was dealing with a dangerous, armed, crazy woman.
She felt three quick tugs at her skirt. Something soft fell around her ankles. She thought she would faint.
“Now then Sugah that skirt looks much better. I believe you can open your eyes now.”
Violet did so. Most of her skirt was on the floor. What remained covered the danger zone, but just barely. As long as Violet didn’t reach, bend, stretch or probably, walk, technical modesty would be retained.
“My butts hanging out,” Violet said miserably.
”You have a nice butt, Honey you shouldlet it hang out now and then. Now are we going to have any more trouble about that shirt? Say No, Lacey.”
“Aw that’s nice,” Delacroix returned the knife to her boot.
“Well put it on we are behind our time!”
Violet was finished with protest. The sooner they implemented whatever demented program this lunatic had in mind the quicker she would be gone forever, if said lunatic was a woman of her word. For some reason Violet thought that, although certifiable, Delacroix could probably be trusted to do what she said she would do. Violet certainly hoped so.
She allowed Delacroix to apply her makeup for her, shuddering at the result but making no real protest.
“I look like a whore, but I guess that’s the point.”
“Uh huh. You are a Yearly wet dream. Close your eyes Violet, That’s my girl…”
Violet heard two short hissing sounds and felt a cool mist on her face and neck. An overpowering sweet odor assaulted her nostrils.
“And now you smell like one too. That’s it Sugah we are done. Grab a jacket its not even spring yet.”
©2013 Mac Pike All Rights Reserved
©2013 Mac Pike All Rights Reserved