Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Maltese Rooster

Two o'clock in the morning, and the only light in the joint came through the window, red and mean. If I walked to the window, I knew it would say Paradise, winking on and off. I was only across the street but as far from Paradise as you could get.

The power was off, and there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it. The condo board was gone, leaving me high and dry--dry except for the bottle I was drinking out of. The paper bag it was wrapped in was still damp from the rain. Another day, another chance for glory. But it was two a.m., and so far no glory had come knocking. I took another slug.

I heard someone tramping up the stairs, whistling. That would be Smitty from the condo. Never anyone so glad to give bad news to a woman drowning her sorrows with the last bottle on tap. There probably wouldn't be power for weeks, going by the whistling indicator.

Slam! Slam! Slam!
Okay, not Smitty. He always tapped the glass with his key, the jerk. I screwed the top back onto the bottle and set it in my desk drawer. They don't drink Doctor Pepper in these Northern burgs. I get tired of explaining.

Slam! Slam! Slam!
"Keep your shirt on," I growled. "Coming!"

I toddled my way to the door, in light as fleeting as my prospects. I took my pistol out of its holster and like a spring chicken, opened my door at two a.m. to a complete stranger. Call it the drinking, the red light, or maybe, just maybe, that trouble is my business.

"Now here's real sugar." The voice was low, cool.  I like that in a man.

"I'm fresh out of sugar, buster."
"I'm not Buster, I'm  Humf. Looking for a lonely angel."

Humf, like Humphrey. "I'm not alone." I brought up the pistol, aimed it right to the brisket.  "I'm entertaining Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson. And if they don't like you, all your angels will be fallen ones."

"Fallen, huh? You don't have a clue. I'm making a delivery." He held out a bird statue.
"It's a Maltese Rooster," he said. "It's for you."

Some people say never to look a gift chicken in the beak. But in the end, nothing's free. I don't always mind paying. I just want to understand the lay.

"Right. I have a clue or two," I lied. "The bird contains some key to a state secret, but you whacked the goose with the golden egg. Now I'm supposed to fry while everybody scrambles."

He spread his arms wide. "It's on the sunny-side up, sweetheart."
"It's a chicken, and this ain't a roost." It's better that way.

"You just gotta say thanks, link up to the giver," he said. "Guy name of Slamdunks. He's got a blog, says you're familiar."

"Yeah, I know Slamdunks. But I don't know how you know him."
"Everybody knows Slamdunks. That's just how it is."

He was right about that, but I still had the pistol up. It was still two a.m. The Paradise still was the only light in town. Humf leaned against the door jamb, casual-like. But I wasn't fooled.

"The real catch is you gotta say five things about yourself," he said. "You do that, and you get me for life."

"Be still, my heart."

"I figure a dame like you has something to say for yourself. I hear you're always cracking wise." He grinned in the suddenly on-light of the Paradise. "You can keep the Maltese Chicken if you say how you like  your eggs."

"Hard-boiled."

"So, the Maltese Chicken is yours. Now you gotta give the Quillfeather Award to some other people. Spread the glory, you know."
"That's it?"
"Sure, that's it. Slam, he'd never set you up." He snapped his fingers. "I figure you can say five things. Come on, look at this mug. Don't you want my image for all time?"

"One rooster at a time, Humf." I was still cracking wise, but something about the big yegg--

I lowered my guard, holstered my pistol and accepted the Maltese Chicken. Now it was only Humf. I'm a sucker for a guy who doesn't give up.  I walked to the window. Humf didn't know it, nobody did. But talking from the heart isn't easy for a gal like me.

The lights of Paradise blew on again. So did the lamp on my desk. Damn if it wasn't Bogey. So it was true confessions time. Sometimes a gal just has to grab for the glory . . . or for its image . . .
--
1. The most embarrassing date I ever had was with one college student from a fraternity with bad manners. We were being waited on by another guy I had dated casually. Oooh, eek! Then the waiter brought our coffee. Mine was all milk with a dash of coffee thrown in. "That's how she likes it," he told my date.

Zing, zing, triple zing! I could not Wait to get out of there.

2. I sometimes make refrigerator magnets for a hobby. I take interesting pictures to Kinko's, reduce them on a color printer, paste them to magnet sheets, then cut them up. When I left RiverTown, I gave every employee at my store a set of hand-made refrigerator magnets in a theme they would like. The one I remember best was the series of Altoids advertisements for the guy who always had a tin of them, and who frequently shared.

3. My desk is a dining table, fairly old, from Ruff n Ready furniture. The guy that runs it has hair down to his waist and has obviously lost teeth from too many fights with pool cues. The table sheds sawdust. At first I was afraid it had termites (!), but no--it's from getting wet once too often. It works great and is still pretty. Next to my chair is a pile of books. Thesaurus, Atlas, and Rhyming dictionary, two maps of Manhattan and a poetry anthology are permanent in the stack. Everything else changes. A week or so ago, World War II. Yesterday, Joseph Mitchell. Today, Machiavelli--

4. I like beautiful things, and I like them to be a bit dilapidated. Unless it is a tube of toothpaste or a paperback book, new things are never quite as good as the things that have absorbed the stories of others. When I buy used books, frequently they have old bookmarks, old notes, old train tickets. I always leave them in the books. They are new every time I find them, and I see the signs of other lives.

5. I lied to the yegg. My real favorite way to eat eggs is over-easy, with homemade hash browns, whole wheat toast or a fluffy biscuit, and crispy bacon or link sausage. This is about a million calories, so I have it about once a year. And I Really enjoy it, too. With orange juice and strong coffee with some (not all) milk in it.
--
Now that I have claimed my Awards, I can confer the Award on others! All you have to do is keep the chain, link to me and then to your future awardees. That way people can backtrack their way across the blogosphere.

Quillfeather Awards
I'm giving these to the guys whose shells are tough to crack. Maybe they'll open up about breakfast.
Captain Joe Schmoe at Report on Conditions
For leadership, the love of the desert, and the Men of Moron . . .

Bob G. at The Pa-in Erudition
For flowers and bald eagles, crime reports, and boot-strappin' philosophy . . .

You're Going Places, Baby Awards
 Tell five things about yourself, large or small. And may the going places  be grand!
peedee at Queen of the Dogs
music, fun, self-improvement, and let's kick-it-back n' shoot the breeze . . .

The Observer at The South Kansas City Observer
she loves her hometown, stray animals, EMS, cars, politics . . .

Here's looking at you, kids! Thanks again, Slamdunks! And to all my readers for stopping by!

9 comments:

Bob G. said...

Ann:
I haven't been this humbled in a LONG time...

Now, since I'm an old fart, I like to have things "splained" to me, such as:
1) how many folks I gotta "give the bird" to?
2) Does BRUNCH count?

Guess that about covers it.

I'd like to thank:
Ann T.

Miss Ellen (I know a good set of spokes when I see 'em)

My parents

The Academy

My faithful readers (and you five KNOW who you are)

And God.

:)

thanks again.

Ann T. said...

Dear Bob,
I'm ROFL. Brunch DOES count! Pick two to six awardees.

Have fun with it! I did!

Ann T.

peedee said...

I come back from my nightly walk to the beach, somewhat defeated (because I can still only run about 4 blocks total and not all at once), tired and sweaty. Flip on the puter read my new comments and smile. You always make me smile Ann.

And Bob took the only word I can think of to express what I thought. You do humble me.

You give me confidence.
You keep coming back when I got nothing.
You are a friend.

And now I get to blab about me. As usual. lol
Thank you. ;)

Can I give this one away too??

peedee said...

BTW, your story about getting your award rocked!! Loved it!

Ann T. said...

Darling peedee,
Blab away, you know that's what we do!

Yup, give it away, give it away, give it away now! As many as you like.

<3
Ann T.

BobKat said...

I liked that... interesting writing; unique.

Thanks...

Slamdunk said...

An A+ with this one Ann T. You have creativity overflowing there.

Now that you have spilled the beans on one frat house encounter, I can't wait to hear more. Those Greeks did not stand a chance with you on the scene.

Ann T. said...

Dear BobKat,
Thanks for the kind words! I keep trying--
Ann T.

Dear Slamdunk,
I'm glad you enjoyed it! I had another one going, but this one was too much fun.

I'm thrilled to have a Maltese chicken. And I don't know Why that date memory popped up, but it does kind of take the lid off . . .

Thanks, what fun!
Ann T.

Capt. Schmoe said...

Wow. I am truly honored to receive such an award. I have doubts as to my worthiness. I am afraid my acceptance post will pale in comparison to yours.

I still need to work on my "trophy case" to display the bling.

Thanks Ann T.