TKnC welcomes Thomas...
Bless Her Heart
"You see what those Yankees did to Mrs. Dufresne's live oak?"
"Oedipus and Helen Keller were staring at it all week," I said.
"Tore that lovely old tree down. Isn't that a shame? If Mrs. Dufresne were alive to see it, she'd be spinning in her grave," Miss Patty said, giggling and jiggling in her housecoat, like one of her own prize pigs.
She can hold a conversation all by her lonesome, bless her heart. We were in my kitchen with sweet tea and biscuits, like every afternoon now that our husbands are in the ground.
"Mrs. Dee's lucky she cut herself while chopping up trinity. Way she was driving, she was likely to plow down somebody's children, wasn't she?" Patty chuckled. "Poor old thing bled to death before she could dial 911. Isn't that just awful?"
The Yankees' dog burst through through the hedge like a little bug-eyed demon, spied us, and took a leak on my magnolia in front of God and everybody.
"Well look at that, Myra."
"As long as he stays out of the roses," I said, and bit into a biscuit.
The little rat dog must've heard me, because he took off for them like a shot.
I can move fast when I have to. I was a school teacher in Baton Rouge, and before I retired the kids were carrying straight razors. I tore one right out of a young man's saggy pants pocket and dragged him by the ear to the Principal's office. The paper called me a hero, but the Principal didn't see it that way.
By the time I got to my roses, the Yankee's critter was burying his business right in the middle of my Ruby Red Dreams. I gave him a stare that would freeze the devil's privates, and he took off like I was a mailman with a shotgun.
I put his present in a baggie, and marched up the block to give the Meltzers a visit.
I rang the bell, but the music thumping inside told me it was a waste of time. Through the blinds I saw Mrs. Meltzer twisted up like a pretzel in front of the big screen.
I'd spoken to her about that little rat dog before.
"Darcy is a Cavalier King Charles spaniel," she'd said.
"That's well and nice, but I still prefer he not drop his royal nuggets in my rose garden."
She sported a pony tail, skinny square glasses, and a jogging outfit suitable for pole dancing on Bourbon Street. "Oh, I've heard about your roses, Myra."
Sure she had. County fair champion, six years and counting. Ever since my Henry's accident. When a woman's got time to herself, without a randy old fool and his little blue pills keeping her on her back, she can accomplish a lot.
"Best in the state. And it isn't easy growing them in Louisiana."
"Oh? With the hot weather I thought they'd be easy."
"The humidity is bad for disease."
"So what's your trick? I might try my hand at it."
"You need the proper fertilizer."
"Darcy's doing his part then, isn't he?"
She picked her rat dog up and kissed it like a baby.
"Just keep a leash on him, if you please."
"You don't like the leash, do you Mr. Darcy? It makes you nervous, doesn't it?'
I listened until I was fixing to retch. Memaw always said to kill 'em with kindness.
Today, I rang the bell three times. I should've just put the bag of dog mess in her mail slot, but that my memaw wouldn't approve of that now, would she?
Now Miss Patty's got me doing it.
I tuck the bag of royal refuse into my trash can, and head back inside.
"Did you give her a piece of your mind?"
"She's doing her yoga with the music loud."
"You know what I think?"
"That we should have her over for tea and biscuits tomorrow?"
"I think we should have her over for tea and biscuits tomorrow."
* * *
"So you haven't seen Darcy all morning?"
"Not since I let him out this morning. He always comes back for his nap."
"There's such meanness in this world," Patty said. "He'll turn up, won't he?"
"His nibs will turn up," I said. "Have another biscuit."
"Oh, they're so fattening. At least they don't have meat in them.
Even the vegetables have meat down here!"
Miss Patty gives me a look. She's never ate a green thing that hadn't cozied up to a ham hock first.
"Myra's trick is to use lard instead of shortening, isn't it now?"
"Is lard vegetarian?"
"It's just like butter, only richer, isn't it?"
"They are delicious."
"You haven't had but a bite," I said.
"Is that how you stay so skinny?"
"Jogging. In fact, I'm gonna go for a run by the lake to burn this off, and look for Darcy."
She got up without even a goodbye, imagine that. She had her hand on the door knob.
"Is that your little dog in Myra's garden?" Miss Patty's quick on her feet, too.
When her pony tail whipped around, I grabbed it and yanked her down to the floor. She didn't even have half her biscuit, so she fought like a cornered possum while my trusty razor cut her scrawny neck to the bone. Patty had to waddle like a fat old raccoon getting chased by hounds to get the mixing bowl under her neck in time.
Her kingly dog was in my rose bed, and she would join him. Champion seven years in a row, I reckon.
Bless her heart.
Thomas Pluck is a writer from New Jersey whose work has appeared in Blue Murder and The Morning News. He has stories upcoming in Beat to a Pulp, Flash Fiction Offensive, Crimefactory, Shotgun Honey, Utne Reader, and Pure Slush.
Thomas blogs here.