Excerpt from, Red Dirt Rocker
by Jody French
..."Whatever," Heather dismisses. She grabs me by the arm and cuddles into my sore ribs like a purring kitten. "Can you pleeease turn the music down a little bit?" she asks, rubbing her temples, I believe, in an attempt to fake a headache.
"That's twice already this morning," I mumble.
"What babe?" Heather asks, as she surveys her perfect manicure. Each fingernail is embossed with a tiny orange and black tiger paw. I wonder how girls think of these things.
"Oh nothin'." "Your hair looks nice," I compliment.
Heather smiles and kisses me on the cheek. Her good mood returns with my flattering words. "You're a living doll Forrest," she beams as she pulls my rearview mirror down to her eye level. She stokes her perfectly straightened and highlighted hair and reapplies her powder.
I reach up to wipe her finger smudges off my mirror. Sometimes I think Heather bases her good days and bad days on how many compliments she gets. This was compliment number two, if you count the honk she got from the farmer in the one ton truck earlier, and it wasn't even 8:30 a.m. yet---her day is probably shaping up nicely already.
I make a right onto Broadway. It's the second day of October and most of the small worn houses that line the street are already decorated in the Halloween spirit. Hay bales, pumpkins and strung up spider webs make for creepy, quaint curb appeal.
My brakes squeal slightly as I come to a stop in front of Sticky Buns Donut Shop. Heather has to have her morning cappuccino. As I enter the small coffee and sugar scented shop, I hear two elderly women whispering rather loudly. I wonder why they were bothering to whisper at all, since everyone within a twenty foot radium can hear them---the donut shop is probably only a hundred square feet altogether.
The two women have strategically positioned themselves at a table directly by the door so that no one can escape their fastidious inspection. A black velvet painting of a tabby cat with huge green exaggerated eyes hangs above them.
They continue to cluck away and their conversation unfortunately drifts along with me as I make my way to the orange and gold chipped linoleum counter.
"Oh Thelma, I knoooow! Ruth Walton has not been widowed for more than eight months and she is already holding hands with John Franklin in church at Sunday service! one of the ladies clucks. Her wrinkled, thin lips are pursed together as though she has just sucked on a sour lemon slice
"It's just scandalous!" The other blue haired patron of the pastry shop agrees. She turns up her nose and shakes her head under hair that is piled high in a perfectly pinned, bluish-silver bun.
Well, I happen to know Ruth Walton, and wish the two women would mind their own business. Mrs. Walton had lost her husband to long bout with cancer almost a year ago. She found a companion in John Franklin, who's an elder in my church. He'd also been widowed years earlier. They're both very sweet, kind hearted souls who, deserve continued happiness.
I purchase a sugar-free vanilla cappuccino, two maple bars and try to make a clean getaway from the two gossiping hens. As I pull on the door to exit the shop the dangling brass cow bell that is wired to the top of the door clanks loudly above me. It draws attention to my departure and I know instinctively as the two women eye me carefully up and down, that I'll be their next topic of conversation.---