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Little Stinkers

LITTLE STINKERS

 

by

 

Michael Allender

 

Copyright 2014 Michael Allender

 

Shakespir Edition

 

(The eleventh in a series of fourteen stories)

 

Shakespir Edition, License Notes

Thank you for downloading this free ebook. Although this is a free book, it remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be reproduced, copied and distributed for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy at Shakespir.com, where they can also discover other works by this author. Thank you for your support.

 

 

 

 

Little Stinkers

(Story # 11)

 

“That Catherine Mobley is a little stinker.”

My mother’s words. Mom was quite ill at the time, and wasn’t prone to wasting her strength on idle talk. It’s a good indication of how put out with Catherine she was. I think she made the comments after what happened at the country club. Let me explain.

In 1957, Catherine, a vivacious five foot-ten nineteen year old, was a year and a half older than my brother, Ben, though by the way she dressed you’d have thought she was in her twenties. Ben, on the other hand, at five foot six, could have passed for fourteen. And while he was rather unfamiliar with the ways of the opposite sex, she had an ocean of experience under her hull. She had gone through just about every guy in our town of Navasota, Texas, and had even established ports of call on the foreign shores of Bryan and Texas A&M. And the latter was a rich shore indeed. Most of the girls at our high school called her Cat, which was in quiet reference to something I’ll just leave to your imagination. Ben, however, had managed to elude her. In retrospect, that’s about the equivalent of a week-old mouse eluding a barnyard tabby.

Perhaps their failure to connect was because she was so much taller than Ben. I don’t think he was intimidated by her, though she was a very forceful person, and she certainly was something to look at. I’d call her striking more than beautiful. Her blonde hair had a slight greenish cast to it, and she kept her full pouty lips decked out in fire engine red. Her face had a certain worldliness to it, like she’d been there—done that. Her eyes had the look of a huntress, and she had a chest that would have taken the blue ribbon at the fair, had there been a category. I saw her in a tee shirt once that had a big cushioned chair drawn on the front with the painted image of a man sitting in it. He was nearly lost in the depth of her cleavage and had an arm draped over each breast, as though he was trying to extricate himself. The caption underneath read, ‘Over-Stuffed’.

I reckon. It certainly wasn’t referring to her cranium. I suppose I shouldn’t be too unkind, but that’s the effect she had on a lot of people. Women, mostly. It’s just that she managed to alienate every girl in high school by getting the contents of her tee shirt between each of them and their boyfriends, at least once. In small towns like Navasota, personal relationships are jealously guarded.

Consider, for example, Ben and Sarah’s relationship. Sarah Pritchart was a mild-mannered girl who had encountered Cat once before, when Sarah was dating Ron Baccus. I wouldn’t say Sarah and Ron were a match made in heaven, but still, partners were scarce. Some respect was due. Most of the girls thought of Sarah as a bit of a mouse, with a twitchy button of a nose and big expressive eyes. But she was sweet as they come and quite pretty in a country sort of way. Sarah had a right to be incensed when she found Cat and Ron making out in the back seat of Cat’s convertible. She even had the top down and was parked right out in back of the grange hall while a party was going on inside. Cat’s scruples could square dance in the bottom of a thimble.

Anyway, Sarah dumped Ron and moved on to Ben. A move up, I’d say. They weren’t going steady or anything, partly because Ben didn’t have wheels, and it was fifteen miles into town. Besides, he was always busy helping on the farm, a combination that didn’t make for a lot of time together. But Sarah was faithful and hopeful, and I liked her, on account she was editor of our one-page school newsletter, The Navasota News. She even published a couple of my articles in it.

Something else Cat was short on was shame. She wasn’t even familiar with the word. Cat could flirt with three boys at once and have them panting so hard none of them was aware of what was going on with the others. She flirted with Ben whenever and wherever she bumped into him, even offering him rides home so he wouldn’t have to take the bus. That was a pretty clever ploy, because Ben hated the bus. I was home sick on a day when Ben caught a ride with her. He came in and wandered around the house in a daze for a while, like he’d been grazing on locoweed, and when I looked in his eyes they were glassy as cat-eye marbles. No one was home in there, and I thought, ‘Uh, oh’. It took a bit of hard, sweaty labor with the splitting maul before he snapped out of it, and somehow he managed to stay away from Cat’s claws.

About that time Cat’s family moved to a big new house on the top of what passed for a hill near Bryan, which was about thirty miles north of Navasota. Her dad, Nate Mobley, was a wealthy lawyer, and he wasn’t exactly popular with the local dairy farmers. When a neighbor of ours purchased extra cows and sold the additional milk to a new cheese making plant, a milk processing company retained Nate to sue the dairyman, contending there was a breach of contract. In reality it was just a fat corporation raising a big stink, and their fat lawyer making a killing off the smell.

Anyway, about Sarah. She probably thought she was rid of the menace called Cat since Cat had moved to the other side of Bryan and had no reason to visit Navasota, but Cat was nothing if not persistent. It was like she was standing under a peach tree and up there, just out of reach, was the plumpest, most juicy looking peach on the tree. That would be Ben. All the others were either already picked or had too many bruise marks where she had squeezed just a little too hard.

Cat was left dangerously frustrated. It showed in the unexpected and frequent sightings of her brand new ’57 Chevy ragtop on Navasota’s drag, especially out at the end of town where the co-op’s mill was located. Ben worked there several times a week during summer, and he noticed her and her car. Well, who wouldn’t? What a pretty car, with it’s white rag top, and Nassau Blue on the body. Under the hood was a Turbo-Fire 283 V8. “Sweet, Smooth, and Sassy” Chevy called it, and Cat had a bumper sticker saying so, though I doubt she was referring to the car. If that wasn’t enough, Billy and several other boys egged Ben on, telling him he was just holding on to his baby fuzz. By the end of June, Ben had not succumbed and Cat had stopped showing up.

Then came the party at the country club.

I wasn’t invited and I put on a pretty good front about it. Who wants to go to a silly black tie and lace bash on a summer afternoon? It would just be a bunch of duded up snobs and fat cats, all sitting around sweating, sipping mint juleps and coke, every floozy trying to get her nose stuck up in the air higher than the next.

“Holy cow, Ben,” I said to him. “Why in the world do you want to go, anyway?”

“Billy invited me and Sarah wants to go.”

“To a place we couldn’t get near any other time? Try to get in the next day and you’ll get bounced.”

“Well, so what? It’s a chance to see how other folks live. Might be fun.”

“Fun? You’ll be a laughing stock. All you got to wear is that old blue suit.”

“I’ll rent something. A tux, maybe.”

“You kidding? You’ll look like a penguin and smell like a catfish.”

“I know how to bathe, Ab, and everyone will be dressed up. Besides, I’m going, so drop it. You’ll hear all about it.”

Ben kept his word on that and Sarah had a few things to say as well.

Turns out it wasn’t really what you’d call formal at all, which gave a bit of truth to my description of Ben. He was the only man there in a tux and he felt about as silly as a bull in a milking stall. Got lots of attention, too, like, “Oh, my, Ben. Don’t you look handsome in your bow tie and cummerbund.” Oh, lord, a cummerbund! I had to look it up just to learn what it was and see how to spell it. How could you, Bendigo?

Sarah wore a printed floral dress and a pink carnation corsage, which was about right, though I don’t think either of them was very comfortable in that crowd. There was lots of chitchat, small town gossip, pointed questions about how life was down on the farm. Hors d’oeuvres were served, and drinks, and folks stood around talking about golf, tennis, and fast cars. That sort of thing. The only real ‘in’ Ben had was being a star football player, and that only takes conversation so far. Billy and his date, Gwinn Parker, disappeared a half hour after they got there, so Ben was stuck, as he depended on Billy for transportation. He chewed the fat, talked about how things were at the mill, speculated on next year’s football team, ate finger food, and after an hour of that he was sorely tempted to jump in the pool and turn a few laps.

That’s when Cat arrived, like a toad in a fish pie, as Sarah described it. She sashayed in on the arm of a Texas Aggie senior, with him all decked out in his tall brown boots and khaki Corps of Cadet uniform starched stiff as a sun baked cow carcass. She was all dolled up in a deep V-necked blue dress that matched her car, with diamond earrings, about a pound of mascara on her eyes, and silk stockings revealing plenty of leg. Her hair was piled up like a cream puff and she was talking a mile a minute.

She made all the rounds, and her dad, Nate, smoking a big stogie, introduced her to everyone, like a debutante. Never mind everyone already knew her. Then he peeled a few bills off a fat wad and slipped them to the band leader and they started in on The Yellow Rose of Texas. Like Cat was a real blonde. He raised his arms and called for everyone to dance, like ‘Hey, it’s okay. My darlin’ little girl and her handsome Cadet are here now, so let’s party’. And of course they did.

Sarah told me that Billy and Gwinn reappeared about then from somewhere, and she was brushing leaves and grass out of her hair. Ben had had more than enough before Cat arrived, and he wanted to leave, but Billy was just getting started and surprisingly, even Sarah wanted to stay. I guess it wasn’t everyday she got to dance with Benjamin Joules, especially right in front of Cat Mobley.

Ben managed to keep his distance from Cat and her date for most of the next half hour or so. Everyone was dancing around the swimming pool, which had hundreds of flowers floating on it, so he just started dancing on the opposite side of the pool from Cat and kept moving when she did. Several times Cat stopped and started walking around the pool toward Ben and Sarah, but Ben was alert. He just followed suit. It got kind of ridiculous, really, like tag or something. It took Cat a while to figure it out, but she finally enlisted the aid of a companion who tapped Ben on the shoulder and asked if he could dance with Sarah. Of course Ben agreed. He was a gentleman, and he rather enjoyed watching her dance from a distance. Gave him a whole different perspective on how she moved and looked, her graceful curves…

“Why, hello, Ben.” Cat’s sugary voice cut into his reverie, and Ben knew he’d been had. “I hadn’t a clue you were going to be here, with…what is that girl’s name? Saran Preacher?”

“Sarah,” Ben said, and I can just hear him spitting it out, like ‘Sarah, you half wit’. “Her name is Sarah Pritch…”

“Oh, yes, yes, yes, of course. How silly of me. Sarah Pritchy. I remember her now. She certainly does like to dance close to Leroy, doesn’t she? And you! Don’t you just look spiffy in your little outfit,” and she reached out to brush something off his shoulders. Ben took a deep breath about then and looked up at the six foot three inch senior cadet by her side. “Well, where are my manners?” Cat crooned. “Ben, I’d like you to say howdy to Lieutenant Stephen Reisbeck. He’s a senior yell leader at A&M. Steve, this is Ben Joules. He’s a farmer down on Peach Creek and will be a senior at Navasota High. A football player, too, aren’t you Ben?”

“A pleasure, Mr. Reisbeck,” Ben said and offered his hand. I really can’t understand why he would be so civil, but like I said, Ben was a gentleman.

What happened next was partly Sarah’s own fault. Not that she was to blame or deserved it or anything of the sort. It’s just that there are sometimes when you’ve got to use your wits, keep your eyes open and have a sixth sense about things. It was a charged atmosphere, with sign everywhere, and Sarah was heedless, totally gullible. I don’t know if Cat had it all planned out or if it just came to her on a sudden whim, sort of recognizing opportunity when it strikes, but I have to hand it to her, she knew when to strike.

The music stopped and Cat asked her date to fetch them all some drinks. Sarah returned from the dance, and there the three of them stood, Sarah next to the pool, with Cat between her and Ben. There was small talk for a minute, and then Stephen returned with a tray of drinks. It all happened in a flash. Cat took a drink from Stephen, handed it to Sarah, then another to Ben, and then as she took one for herself she backed into Sarah, stepping on her foot. To keep from falling into the pool Sarah grabbed Cat, which ‘caused’ Cat to lean forward, spilling her drink all over Ben’s front. Cat shrieked and turned on Sarah with a look of pure indignation and screamed, “You clumsy little…trollop! How dare you!” and she shoved Sarah every so slightly. It was just a little push, really, but it caused her to fall, drink in hand, into the pool of water and flowers.

That ended the dancing. Ben was totally flustered and shocked, as you can imagine. He didn’t know whether to push Cat into the pool in retribution, slug Stephen as the ‘manly’ thing to do, or help Sarah out while Cat strode away in a huff. Unfortunately he vacillated there between options at the edge of the pool for just the tiniest moment too long while Sarah flailed away. She surfaced with a blue mum balanced on top of her head, her dress floating up on around her neck, and she was madder than Ben could ever imagine her getting.

“What are you standing there for, Benjamin Joules? Get me out of here!”

 

Very little was said in the car on the way home, but I’m sure that’s where the plans began to formulate. Rightly or not, Ben was in the cellar of Sarah’s doghouse, right along with Cat, and she wanted—she demanded—revenge. It was a side of her that I had never seen, but then I never got to see her floating in a pool, fully clothed, with a mum on her head, either. Honestly, though, I don’t think she had anything to do with what happened at the County Fair a month later. She was just the fuel feeding the fire.

I suppose there were lots of petty, mean things they could have done to get even, but none would have given everyone a chance to fully savor the sweet smell of revenge. That meant Billy, Gwinn, Ben, Sarah and even me. The fair brought all the players together one more time. Cat’s father was a member of the fair board, which means he got his daughter a cushy job of walking around the fair grounds, all dressed up in a sundress with an official badge on, smiling and telling visitors where various events were being staged. Sort of a wandering ambassador of good cleavage. Sarah was an exhibitor in the homemaking tent, where she had entered food items in several categories. Of course Ben was there to keep her company. Billy, Gwinn and I were taking in the whole show as well. Just a big old, fun time.

Both Sarah and I had noticed that Ben and Billy were acting a little more strange that day than usual, and on several occasions they excused themselves and took off on undisclosed errands. There was much to do and see, so we just let them go and the three of us girls made the rounds. The fourth time this happened, only Ben left, and this time I grew quite suspicious. Just the bug in me that likes to keep tabs on people, I suppose. I followed him while he hid in a crowd of people and discovered he was keeping an eye on Cat. She was still walking around sipping on a drink and answering questions. After about a minute of this Cat turned and walked away. Ben followed for a short ways, and then started back. He saw me and took me aside.

“Listen, this is real simple,” he said to me. “Just go tell Billy it’s time. He’ll know what to do. Tell him the east side. Got it?”

“Ben?”

“Don’t ask. Just go,” and he turned and left.

Wow. This was pretty good. Spying on people, secret instructions…I went to tell Billy.

“Oh, good,” was all Billy said at first, and then looked at his watch. “Ladies, would you care to accompany me to the restrooms?” Like an idiot I said, “Yeah, I’ll go,” but Gwinn and Sarah said they didn’t need to. “Well, I do,” Billy said, “and I would really like for you to come along. Something tells me you’re going to want to be there. Please?”

The other girl’s curiosities were aroused then, and we all walked toward the east side outhouses. There were about twenty of them, all stacked right next to each other so you couldn’t see behind them. There were not many johns for the number of people at the fair, and just about any time you passed by there were at least a few people in front of each one. I saw Ben off to one side, looking quite nervous as he stood in line for the last john, and in the middle was Cat, with one person in front of her. It took a few minutes for Cat to get her turn, and in the meantime Ben had allowed two people behind him to go in front of him. That was so like Ben. A real gentleman.

When Cat finally approached the john and went inside, I looked at the last line and Ben was gone. I was so excited I thought I was going to have to storm one of the johns myself, but somehow I managed to hold it in. The crowd was mostly quiet as they waited their turns. Toilet lines are seldom places of high conversation, and everybody heard what happened next. Probably only a half dozen of those closest to the middle knew it came from Cat’s john, but at the sound, all eyes swiveled in that direction, and it got almost silent, like everyone was unsure of what they’d heard and were waiting for a repeat. Then it came again, like a whoopee cushion, only a horse sized one. It was a really wet raspberry of a noise, and as it was apparently coming from Cat’s john, it was devilishly hard for the people to ignore. I thought I was going to melt on the spot. I looked at my friends and Billy had his eyes and lips squeezed shut, like he was about to explode, and the girls were staring open-mouthed with their eyes fixed straight ahead.

Then Sarah covered her mouth and said, “Oh, my God…” Cat was apparently in more distress than I could appreciate, as there was a kind of muffled, high pitched whine, and then another wet, rude raspberry. No way, I thought. No way is Cat ever, ever going to come out of that john. She was probably trying to pry off the back wall right then so she could escape. There were some other sounds, too, not unlike what fingernails might make trying to cut through fiberglass, and little cries from the pain it might cause.

I noticed that the crowd had changed its configuration. Instead of twenty separate lines, as before, there was now a semi-circle of onlookers with the middle pushed back a bit. They were more like spectators, really, awaiting with undisguised interest and embarrassed smiles for whatever might happen next. None of those coming out of other johns left, either. They just took a place among the crowd and gawked, joining the others as they stood around in that circle, staring at Cat’s john like it was about to give birth. It was beginning to get almost too embarrassing.

A moment later Ben joined us as though from out of nowhere, and said, “Hey gang. It’s moving kind of slow, isn’t it?” I think that was about when the crowd began to notice it: the odor. Not that you could find a group of well used outhouses anywhere that would smell like roses, but this was different. This wasn’t like that awful, blue formaldehyde stuff they toss in to disguise the smell. This was the real thing, or it’s closest relative, times ten. It moved quietly in the still air away from that center maroon and white john, hitting people like a slow, thick wave. I don’t believe I will try and describe it. Let your own imaginations loose, as in ‘very loose’. Folks began to back away, starting with the ones on the front lines, their eyes watering, and in doing so the crowd began to compact. They became a tight, semi circular gathering, a mumbling, squinty-eyed, half gagging knot of unhappy souls, torn between their need for the johns, for the satisfaction of their curiosities, and the searing need to draw a clean breath. I don’t know if anyone else noticed, but I could see a whiff of something, smoke maybe, coming out from under the john. It was almost like a vapor, and it vanished quickly. Its olfactory component, however, lingered in a big way. And that’s when I remembered where I had encountered the smell before: two years ago on the Fourth of July…a stink bomb.

Then the door sprang open, and the murmuring stopped. All eyes focused forward, and Cat emerged in a faint cloud of white vapor. Her sundress was decidedly askew, but she showed considerably more dignity than I could have mustered. Her mascara had become black ribbons on her cheeks, her face was a dangerous shade of purple, and she strode with a sense of purpose straight toward the crowd of people. They parted for her like she was a Biblical plague. When she drew even with us I nearly fell over from the odor that followed her, and I heard Ben say, very quietly, “Hey, Catherine.” Just like that. Nothing snide or suggestive. Ben was such a gentleman. But when I looked at her I was amazed at how much raw emotion could be conveyed in a brief, sideways glance. She didn’t hesitate, though—just kept on walking. When she was in the clear I saw her move in a way I had never seen before, heels kicking up, feet flying, arms pumping: going like a scalded cat.

The crowd went back to their lines, but the middle john, and the two on either side, remained empty. The five of us turned and walked away, and Ben said, “You know, I think Mother was right. That Catherine Mobley really is a little stinker.”

 

 

{Author’s Note: The twelfth story in this series of fourteen stories, Harley’s Last Ride, will be published soon. Go to Shakespir.com to see if it is available, as well as other works by the author, including his novel, Alone, On The Wild Side Of The River.}


Little Stinkers

Revenge is not always sweet, but it can certainly be entertaining. This is the 11th in a series of 14 short stories by Abbie Joules as she recounts the exploits of her and her brother, Bendigo, growing up on a farm in east Texas in the early 50's. In this story Abbie recounts the relationship of Bendigo with a local female "hustler" named Cat, who is determined to add Ben as a notch on her garter belt. A resulting fiasco at the country club embarrasses Ben's girlfriend, Sarah, and Ben's revenge, orchestrated at the county fair, is rewarded with the not so sweet smell of success. Come along for a hilarious story of intrigue and a country-style eye-for-an-eye retaliation.

  • Author: Michael Allender
  • Published: 2016-10-04 18:20:09
  • Words: 4265
Little Stinkers Little Stinkers