by Bargis Tryhol on 23/09/11 at 6:15 amHog Jaw
Hog Jaw Dectective Agency-Chapter three (SatireWorld.com)
‘Call Me ‘Frenchie’ Please’
The Greyhound’s brakes squealed and hissed as the driver pointed the bus away from the Hog Jaw Bus Station. As it gathered speed over the crunching of sparse gravel, the lurching departure was followed by a whoosh of oily diesel fumes and blowing hot air.
The surge of air momentarily caught and billowed out the summery cotton dress of the woman standing on the curb, briefly showing a pair of long legs. She casually brushed the fabric back down in place, her eyes squinting against the glare of the low sun. In the distance she could hear the slow monotone chirp of summer crickets heralding the approach of evening as she walked toward the taxi stand carrying two tattered suitcases, a jacket, and her shoulder bag.
Well, Frenchie, here you are back in Hog Jaw – bum fuck- or whatever! She said softly to herself as if it were a final form of self approval tempered with an equal amount of self disgust. After being away in urban Los Angeles, the smell of the town was still the same…Fresh turned dirt with a hint of summer mildew. Animal smells and fresh hay drifting from over the horizon. Stale air and dry dirt tempered with an aromatic hint of fresh paint. Yeah, she was back at Hog Jaw alright!
Reaching into her fake leopard skin bag, she pulled out the letter she received from her future employer, a certain Father Francis Dubois. The business envelope had a return address..The Christian Salvation Station WAXKT-TV 323 Main Street, Hog Jaw, Arkansas
Unfolding the letter for the hundredth time, she took a seat on the bright red planks of the bench hoping a gust of cooler air would find its way from the tree tops and eddy around the dust filled parking lot of the bus terminal. She was to meet the good Father that following morning, and according to the letter, was to start her employment at the TV station immediately. For that, she was glad. Rosalie ‘Frenchie’ Burke was broke and she needed the payroll advance she negotiated with her new employer just to get herself back on her feet. No easy task in a small town like Hog Jaw.
Burke carefully re-folded the letter and thought about working for a Catholic priest. She smiled to herself. At least she wasn’t preparing to go to work for that no good sum-a-bitch Jeb Thornapple. Visions of his leering face staring at her tied and helpless body enraged her to the point she suffered the beginning of a migraine headache. But she knew a little secret that would put an end to the Reverend Thornapple’s plans. Yeah, a secret so good it caused her to giggle when she thought of how it would damage that no-good’s reputation forever.
Burke had lived on and off again in Hog Jaw for the past several years. In all of her 41 years, she never really had a place to really call home, just a series of dismal rented trailer homes and a scattering of low paying jobs that barely made ends meet. Married six times and divorced three, she had married and divorced the same asshole over and over again for almost 12 years. Now, the venerable Mr. John Burke had his ass parked back in state prison for the next 20 years and Frenchie was back out on her own looking to start afresh for what seemed the umpteenth time.
Across the deserted street she watched as the wind picked up a discarded foam coffee cup. The warm gusts caused the cup to rattle drunkenly across the pavement, performing a solitary ballet of airborne loops and dizzying spins until it found its final resting place against a row of unkempt bushes. Burke thought it was a fitting ending to the cup’s personal finale in honor of its short existence as being just a once used thing. From deep in her heart Rosalie Burke could relate to being used and thrown away.
Along the street where she was now sitting, the only traffic she saw was from a battered pick-up truck that pulled up to several benches way down the street. An elderly man got out and strung a piece of cord across the bright red bench and attached a paper sign. He repeated this with a dozen or so other benches as he worked his way toward Burke. She recognized him as Maple Syrup, the town’s genuine idiot who worked for the Bureau of Public Works for the last 35 years doing odd jobs around town.
Ac0ross the street, near the Farmer’s Exchange, she could see an old black man in worn and dirty denim coveralls loading melons off a flatbed truck. In what seemed an exercise in slow motion photography, the gray haired man bent to pick up each melon from a pile and placed it carefully in a growing stack, only to have the stack suddenly shift from the weight, spilling all the melons all over the ground again. With a shake of his semi-balding head, and shrug of tired shoulders, he repeated the exercise again and again. Yes, Frenchie now knew she was really back in Hog Jaw again and looked down at her watch.
‘Shit! Another Twenty minutes’
She knew her friend, and sometimes lover, Lloyd Merriweather would be by to pick her up and to drive her over to Missy Caldwell’s Boarding House. She got a kick out of the old fool. Up until his company’s bankruptcy, she lived pretty well off of old Merriweather. Those hot vacations down to Gatlingburg, Tennessee and visits to Dollywood made her blush a little. That chic clothing and shoes from Sears. A brief stay at some stupid condo development he was marketing way on the other side of town. He even bought her a used Volkswagen that was finally seized by the assets judge just before she left town to see her husband off to prison. Yeah, Merriweather was a fool, but he had a knack for getting money and spreading it around too.
She retrieved a compact from her bag and freshened up her makeup. The 41 years of hard living were beginning to take a toll on her looks. Her jowl line was fast dropping. Her crudely painted eyebrows arched higher across her brow, the result of a botched Botox injection. The overly applied mascara against her watery, pale blue eyes made her look hard and coarse close up, but from a distance she appeared to be, well, just OK. The teased jet-black died hair didn’t match her rather pasty complexion and adding a tint of red rouge on each cheek bone gave her a phony, overly applied look. She finished adding another layer of red lipstick and snapped the compact shut.
From a secret compartment in her bag, Burke pulled out a small plastic bottle and a tab of papers. Within a few seconds she had expertly rolled a marijuana cigarette and quickly lit it up. The blue, aromatic smoke circled her head and drifted from her nostrils as she inhaled the narcotic weed.
Relaxing while the hallucinogenic effects took hold, she nestled back against the bright red bench. It felt soft and pliable as her back pressed against the surface. Her legs momentarily felt like they were floating in mid air and her mind released from the tension of visiting her ‘old man’ in the Texas State prison.
Maple Syrup was a few benches away and she could see him carefully place a long piece of cord across the red bench and attach another one of the printed signs. Squinting against the setting sun she could make out the words…Careful Now – Wet Paint.
From across the street she heard the tumbling thud of softened melons hitting the dirt, followed by a quick curse and a long groan of heart-felt despair.
Continued-Chapter Four Magazine Section