Friday, July 20, 2007

Friday Snippets 2: Of Cats and Claws and Curiosities part 2

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Of Cats and Claws and Curiosities

part 2

The three women watched as a lanky, uniformed body unfolded from behind the wheel of the patrol car with the sinuous grace of a ballet dancer or a cat waking from a nap, as long arms rose to settle the regulation wide-brimmed hat atop gloss-black hair and lowered to close but not latch the car door. Only when boot clad legs commenced a measured pace toward them did they exchange glances among themselves. Faye lowered contrite eyes to fidgeting fingers under Julia’s reproachful glare, but Wilma’s unwavering gaze held an unmistakable glitter of satisfaction.

“Who asked you anyway.” Julia hissed but Wilma only raise a single eyebrow, a taunt Julia had no time to respond to.

“May I be of service ladies?” The contralto voice thrummed with concern, not the expected official reproof. Julia was more disconcerted than if she had been ordered to put her hands over her head. When she looked up her gaze was met by twin images of her own wide eyes reflected in the trooper’s mirrored sunglasses.

“N-No thank you, Sir.” She finally managed.

“It’s ‘Mam’ actually, but you ladies can call me Cassie.” The hovering face broke into a glorious cover-girl grin as the policewoman removed her sunglasses. “I saw that motorcycle cut you off while I was southbound. Looked like a close call.”

“We’re fine officer.” Julia repossessed her aplomb. “My sister was shook up some. But we were just headed for the diner.”

“Sounds like a good idea. I’ll just follow you on in. Make sure they treat you right.” Before they could object she hurried on, “No problem. Really. Time for my coffee break anyway.”

By the time Julia collected wits enough to form a polite refusal, the officer was halfway back to her car. “Do I look like someone needing molly-coddled?” She muttered as she put the Chevy in gear. The car lurched forward as she stepped with the force of her indignation on the gas pedal.

Faye, sitting forward to see better, was thrown back into the heap of packages, some of which tumbled into her lap, pinned her arms to her sides. Before she could cry out, the cat’s paper coffin slid off its perch and settled in front of her face, muffling her naturally soft voice. Her plight went unnoticed until they reached the diner. As Julia pulled up to the curb looking in the rearview mirror to spot the patrol car, she saw the spun-sugar curls peeking over the top of the sack containing the object of her sister’s self-compelled behest. Anger evaporated in the scorching heat of concern and remorse.

“Faye!” she braked abruptly, jostling the packages in back which only embraced Faye more snugly. Kneeling on her seat, Julia lifted the sack away from her twin’s face and gasped as she saw eyelids flutter faintly against parchment-white cheeks. She pulled at parcels heedless of contents, calling urgently.

Wilma calmly got out, opened Faye’s door and stacked packages on the curb fast but precise. With Faye stretched out on the seat they massaged her arms and legs until she moaned and turned her head feebly from side to side.

Julia’s shrill calling for an ambulance penetrated Faye’s fog-enshrouded mind. She fought coming to. Tried to sink back into cool, calm and quiet mists. But the persistent sound of Sister’s voice, commanded attention and long habit of obedience to this voice compelled response. She tried but managed only a drawn out “MMMMMMMM…” that to her ears sounded like a cow with laryngitis. She laughed at this comical image, or thought she did, but that sounded like a frog coughing. Where were these silly mind pictures coming from? She simply must get control of herself!

“MMMy…MMMy Goodness Sister. How you do go on!” Faye forced between numb lips, trying to focus on Julia’s face, which exuded a concern so palpable she felt it as a fog emanating from the eyes to envelope her in a viscous, marshmallow-cream cloud. With laborious effort she pushed away harassing hands and fussing fingers and attempted to sit up. “Nothing wrong with me a bit of air-conditioning and ice-water can’t cure.”

“We’re taking no chances, miss Faye.” Cassie pushed past Julia and Wilma and scooped Faye into her arms. “This heat is nothing to mess with if you’re not used to it. How long since you drank water? Too long, I bet.” And thus gently chiding, she carried her into the diner, set her in a booth and requested of the waitress who hurried to them, a bowl of ice water, a cloth, and two extra tall iced teas.

Faye watched Wilma and Julia reload the car while Cassie applied cold compresses to the back of her neck and a continuous chatter of innocuous content to her ear. “Woman!” Faye exclaimed. “are you suffering from a case of logorrhea, or is this a new conversational fashion?”

“Actually, Miss Faye, it’s a technique I’ve found helpful in situations like this. I don’t know if a doctor would validate it, but it seems to help fainting victims get a grip on consciousness.”

“Works on the order of the Chinese water torture I surmise.” Faye said with a wry smile.

“Could be, Miss Faye.” Cassie grinned impishly.

“Enough with the Miss, Mam. But how do you know my name?” Then recognition widened Faye’s eyes. “Only my students called me ‘Miss Faye’…” Her voice trailed off as she stared at the young woman grinning in anticipation. “Why if it isn’t little Cassandra Cosgrove.”

“Music lessons ten years ago.” Cassie grinned wider, pleased Faye remembered. “And how is your partner in crime?” Faye asked.

“You mean Fancy Morgan? She’s releasing her second album before Christmas.”

“Are you ever sorry you disbanded the Rag Dolls?”

‘Not really. Winning a few small-time talent shows does not a stellar career make. I didn’t have her fire so our duo was doomed.”

Just then the walkie-talkie strapped to Cassie’s waist gave a burst of static and a soprano voice recited a string of official sounding syllables. “Gotta run. Afraid I overstayed my coffee-break.” She drained her iced tea as she stood. “I see the ladies have finished. I leave you in their capable hands.”

This last she said with a wink and a twist of irony to the words ‘capable hands’ as if she meant something less or other, implying that Faye shared in knowledge that made a subtle joke out of two perfectly innocent words. Why the impertinence of the child! Faye opened her mouth to reprimand her as if she had spoken out of turn in a long-ago classroom. Instead she found herself returning the wink.

What has gotten into me today? Fay silently chided herself as Cassie departed. Her thoughts and behavior were mortifying. Defying Sister! Fainting like a maiden over a little heat! Exchanging winks with an impertinent girl implying…Just what did it imply? That there was some question of Wilma and Julia’s capability? That their ‘capable hands’ were often more nuisance than help? But what would Cassie know about that? And why would I credence such a thought by acknowledging it?

Disconcertion blushed her pale cheeks. In a daze she took the damp cloth from her neck, dipped it in ice water, and without wringing it out sank her hot face into it. The icy water running down her neck to soak her collar and down her arms into her lap, sent a cold wind blowing through her mind, cleansing it of the confusion which confounded her thoughts. Before Wilma and Julia arrived she was convinced the wink was a momentary indiscretion committed under the influence of heat exhaustion and excitement.

“Well, land’s sakes Sister! Looks like you’ve taken a shower with your clothes on. Did that meter-maid have to throw water in your face to revive you?”

“Really, Julia, you exaggerate.” Faye lifted the cloth from her face. “Try it. It’s quite refreshing.

“Thanks just the same, I’ll pass.” Julia pushed the bowl of ice water away and slid into the booth beside Faye. “A nice tall wine-cooler over ice is the ticket for me. What an invention! Even the name sounds refreshing.”

“It will be the ticket for you all right.” Wilma dabbed at a film of sweat on her lip with a fresh linen handkerchief. “A ticket for drinking and driving, most likely. As you are already called to the attention of the police it seems an unwise choice.”

“Oh shwise, shmise! A wine cooler has less alcohol in it than that cough syrup you swig.”

“That is a prescription. But you digress. Driving under the influence of alcohol is against the law.”

Faye was relieved to see the waitress approach. Those two could continue such exchanges endlessly, unsheathing insults like cats spoiling for a fight--or settling on ones lap to sleep.

to be continued...

Part One ~ Part Two ~ Part Three ~ Part Four

Comment: This story is from the same story world for which I am currently sweating for Sven but not part of the new material that counts for the challenge. I posted part one last Friday. There will be two more parts.

3 tell me a story:

Bri 7/20/2007 9:15 AM  

Wonderful! I absolutely loved Cassie - especially the description that you give right off to make us think she's a guy. What a great way to lead the readers on :D

Also, I love the conversations between the ladies - especially the "i told you so" moment when they get pulled over. Can't wait to see what happens next week!

Ann 7/20/2007 9:24 AM  

Good scene. Loved the whole almost suffocated by a dead cat, between you and Cheryl with her tastefully expiring from grief and lack of toiletries, our gang is certainly coming up with creative ways to kill characters *g*.
Just one editorial note: the paragraph that starts with "The last she said with a wink." I'd take out everything between that and "WHy the impertinence..." and make that sentence a new paragraph. What comes between the two just explains and isn't really needed when the two sentences who it so well.

Unknown 10/14/2007 8:23 AM  

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there are no others available. We have a small inventory, and will be selling original Antique French and German dolls, which are also only one of a kind. Our duplicate Dolls are handpainted with exact paints and colors used over 80 years ago.

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