Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Maizie, Maizie

" Pssst.  Hey, looka this.”  No more had I brushed away the cobwebs and crawled through the attic door than Skinny Man stepped from the mouth of the alley onto the sidewalk directly in front of me. Startled?  Not that the man had stepped from the alley but by his appearance.  He was wearing a wheat-colored three-piece linen suit.  The Shelby-knotted white tie laid in stark contrast against the plum-colored shirt.  He shot his cuffs to display the pearl links and extended his right hand toward me.

“I want to thank you, Captain,” he said.  “You saved my life.”

No longer startled, now I am stunned.  “How did you go from that to this in only a week?  Don’t tell me.  You bought a scratch-off ticket with the dollar, won five-hundred bucks and blew it all on clothes.”

“You are not only a gentleman, Captain; you are a card!  No, no, nothing like that.  I took your advice to clean up, pitched my inventory into that trash barrel there beside you, went over to the mission above Pier 18.  Got scrubbed up, cleaned up, and the preacher over there introduced me to Jesus.  I am a new man!’'

“I can see the difference, but how did you get rich in seven days, short of robbing a bank.  Don’t tell me you robbed a bank?”

“There you go with the jokes again.  No, Captain, I told you I met Jesus, and he has changed my life.  I have some skills and a spot of education, was just sunk too deep into myself to do anything useful for the past five years.  Mission cleaned me up, suited me up, and I got a job with GulfTel.  I am working, Man, and I owe it all to you.  And to Jesus, of course.”

“Well, look.  I am thrilled for you and all, but I’ve got to be around the corner before eight-thirty.  Good luck to you.”

I stepped around Skinny and headed on toward the café.  “Thanks again, Captain!”  I heard him say to my back.

I grabbed the door pull.  No dice; the door was locked.  Missed her by moments.  I turned, but as I did, I caught a glimpse of the yellow dress out the corner of my eye as Maizie moved toward the entryway.  She hit the panic bar and said, “Come on in here.  I thought you weren’t going to come.”  We sat in the back booth next the kitchen and sipped our coffee.

“So,” I said, “you were forty, broke, jobless, and alone except for a kid wanting to go to college.  Then what?”

Maizie lit a  cigarette, took a long draught, exhaled through her nose, twin streams of smoke rebounding in billows from the table top.  “Then what?  That is the question, isn’t it?  Well, I got a good gig in a swell restaurant in Biloxi.  Clientele was good people, not rich people, but people who could afford to eat out once, twice a week; people who had earned their own way.  They knew that good work should be rewarded, and they tipped well.  I was rolling in dough, so to speak, and never had to make a single loaf of bread!  The kid went up to Jackson State, and you might think I had it made.

"Well, it did look like I had it made.  Between my work and his, Will, that 's my boy, Will got through school, good job in Memphis now.  But then Arlo walked into the restaurant one night, twenty minutes before closing time.  Say, that was just what you did here the other day.  I sure hope you are no Arlo.

©2015 David W. Lacy


Secondary Roads said...

This reminds of the Saturday matinee at the movies. Each episode ended with a cliff hanger. You just had to come back next week to see how the hero would escape the villain's evil clutches.

vanilla said...

Chuck, the movie operator got your quarter; I get the fun of stringing you along.

Ilene said...

Maizie, Maizie give me your answer do. Then what Captain?

vanilla said...

Ilene, there must be more to it than that. I mean, who is this Arlo, anyway?

Sharkbytes said...

I totally missed this. It didn't come up in my feed. Weird. So I read this piece out of order. You've got some great characters here.

vanilla said...

Joan, I guess you'll have to flip the timeline in your mind to make the tale sequential. ;-)