Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: NEWS (07/05/18)
- TITLE: Pretty Girl
By Virgil Youngblood
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Only Erasimo and sixteen year old Karol Cline survived. Karol had been ensconced in a cool potato cellar beside her family’s barn reading Gone With The Wind by candlelight. It made all the papers.
That was 62 years ago. Today a twister of another sort is bearing down on Karol, one she ignited.
“Bud, did you hear about Granny K?” Melinda asked, cradling the phone to her ear and reaching for a bag of lemon flavored potato chips. “She got a tattoo.”
“You kidding me?” Bud sputtered. “Way to go Gran!”
“You don’t mean that Bud, do you?”
“Sis, that woman’s a hoot, but don’t pull my leg. She wouldn’t do that. I – did you see the tat?”
“No,” Melinda replied. “Mom said Granny told her, but Mom never gets anything straight. And Mom’s flapping her gums all over town. I can’t tell you how many calls I’ve had. I thought you might be out of the loop.”
“Where is it, what is it?” Bud asked.
“Olga – you know her don’t you? She chairs the benevolence committee at church. That’s the woman Granny works with fixing meals for families when someone dies and –”
“Get on with it,” Bud said. “What’d Olga say?”
“She heard it was a bird on her shoulder. But Olga hoped it was on her rump. If it is showy she wanted me to know Granny couldn’t be in the food serving line at funerals. She wanted me to confirm her suspicions and pass on her ultimatum to Granny if need be.”
“Wait,” Bud said. “You haven’t seen it. Mom hasn’t seen it. You need to go see Granny and …”
“I can’t do that Bud. That’s why I’m calling you. You’re her favorite …”
“Let’s start over Melinda. Why do you think she has one? There’s not a tattoo parlor in town that I know of. How could …”
“That’s just it. She went out of town for a week, didn’t tell anyone where she was going or why. You know how independent that old woman is. She’s always saying ‘My biz is my biz, and don’t you forget it.’ Duh, Bud! She went somewhere to get it.”
“Hazel said Granny mentioned something about getting a Too, same as Mom said, but you know Hazel. She never knows what day of the week it is either.”
“A too? Don’t you mean a tat?
“Hazel wouldn’t know a tattoo from a hattoo. Forget I mentioned her.”
In a community of 2,503 people little escapes inspection or conversational speculation. The phone and cell lines and coffee shop conversations were humming. The jurors split; the debate intense.
They might comment about Granny’s flabby arms and shuffling walk with a knowing wink and smile, but they recognized her heart of gold. Nearly everyone had received a loaf of hot bread, a cherry pie or a bag of cookies from her on some occasion be it sorrow or celebration.
But why, at her age, would Granny K get a tattoo. And if she did, did its location matter? Freedom of choice or no way Jose; the debate sped along as if it were everybody’s business but Granny’s and her maker’s.
Down at the church the pastor was meeting with the powers that be about what to do. The kettle was whistling steam.
At Kelly’s pool hall, bets were being taken on the kind of bird Granny had picked: dove, bluebird, eagle, Ruby-throated hummer. The pot was growing.
On Thursday, Granny K appeared in Harmon’s Grocery to purchase a tin of Copenhagen snuff, the only place that still supported her bad habit. Sure enough there was a bird on her right shoulder. A white umbrella Cockatoo was bowing and twittering in her ear, “Pretty girl, pretty girl.”
“Howdy, Karol,” Harmon said. “Who’s your new friend?”
“Scarlett, say hello to Harmon.”
“Pretty girl, pretty girl,” the cockatoo said, bobbing.
“I got her from a bird rescue,” Granny said. “Pass the word for me, will you.”
Leviticus 19: 16 NKJ
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