Was that a Firetruck?

Bev sat on the metal lawn chair she kept on her front porch, bouncing a bit, idly swatting mosquitoes who were attracted to her fat arms, and considering her next snack, even though it pained her knees to pull herself to her feet.  Her iced tea had gone watery, and her magazine was so boring that she nodded off.

In her dream she was young again.  A yellow striped sundress blew against her shapely legs.  As she walked down the sidewalk, her transistor radio played, “I Got You Babe” but for some reason Cher was out of tune and apparently traveling by at a fast clip.

Bev pried open her eyes.  She thought she smelled smoke.

13 responses to “Was that a Firetruck?

  1. If it weren’t for the tribal sounds of those lousy cicadas, you could have heard a pin drop when my big brother Billy stepped onto the front porch and delivered the news to Daddy.

    “Old man Clark’s house just went up in flames and Chief Smith thinks it may be arson!” Billy said.

    “Arson? In this town, not possible!” Daddy said as he took to his feet.

    “That’s what they’re saying,” Billy said.

    “But who’d want to burn down old man Clark’s house?”

    “Beats me.”

    “Well, that’s a shame….how is he?” Daddy asked.

    “Dead.”

    “Dead!?”

    “Yes, Daddy, dead! The only one to survive was his old hunting dog, Travis.”

    “Damn! This is terrible news. I’ve known John Clark going on forty years now.”

    “Yes, sir, terrible news…”

    “Well, come on inside and get yourself something to eat now.”

    “No, thank you, sir, I can’t. I promised Melissa I’d be right back home. This whole thing has got her a little nervous. Can’t say I blame her.”

    “Okay, then, give them grand kids a good hug for me and thanks for stopping by.”

    “Sure thing, Daddy, good night.”

    “Good night, Billy.”

    Billy stepped off the front porch and jumped back into his pickup as Daddy reclaimed his favorite rocking chair and pulled out his pipe. Slow and easy he rocked as puffs of white smoke trailed upwards and into my open bedroom window.

    “You awake girl?”

    “Yes, Daddy, I’m awake,” I said.

    “Did you hear big brother Billy’s news?”

    “Yes, sir, I did.”

    “Well then, you get to sleep now and don’t go worrying yourself about old man Clark anymore. I told you he’d never touch you again.”

    “Yes, Daddy, you did,” I said as I closed my eyes and listened while the cicadas continued to scream.

  2. Bev tried to remember if she’d left something cooking on the stove. No, she thought, the lima beans she intended to cook with smoked ham hocks were still soaking, and she had no other plans to cook. Frozen TV dinners were fine with her, and there was always pizza delivery.

    She settled back in her chair, trying not to scratch the mosquito bites. They go away if I don’t scratch them, she reminded herself.

    She thought about that yellow striped sundress and how the local guys wolf-whistled when she wore it. Those were the days. I’d give anything to be thin enough to wear that dress again. She thought about the trunk in the attic where the dress was stored in a plastic bag. Fat chance, pardon the pun, she thought. Can’t even climb the pull-down stairs to get into the attic anymore.

    But, that was a mighty fine dress.

    You’d like to wear that dress again, wouldn’t you, Bev?”

    “Oh, my, yes,” said Bev.

    “And you’d give anything?”

    “Yeah,” said Bev, knowing there was no way on earth she could lose 205 pounds to get back into a size eight dress. “Anything.”

    Wait a minute, thought Bev. Who am I talking with? She opened her eyes and saw…nothing. There was no one there. I must have been dreaming, she decided.

    “Mmmm….. Yes, I guess it could be called dreaming,” said the voice.
    “Who…who are you? Where are you?” said Bev.

    “Oh, bother the details. You know who I am. Your favorite movie was “Damn Yankees”, wasn’t it? Before that “Fifty Shades of Gray” piece of rot, I mean.”

    “Oh, my. Gwen Verdon! ‘Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets…’ Yes, that was a wonderful movie,” said Bev. “Why can’t I see you?”

    “Well, I do have to travel incognito, Bev, otherwise, I’d be besieged with requests and room at the inn is limited these days. Very much in danger of being overwhelmed, very much. Too many politicians in the world, you ask me. We need some variety.”

    “Oh, go on,” laughed Bev, thinking how funny this daydream was and hoping she remembered it well enough to tell Myrt and Alice about it. “I’m daydreaming is all. Must be hungry.” She started thinking about making some microwave popcorn and drowning it in butter. Real butter, not that artificial junk that was so bad for you.

    “You looked beautiful in that yellow dress, Bev….”

    “Yes, I did. I loved that dress.”

    “Consider it done, Bev.”

    Bev laughed. What a silly daydream, she thought. But, it sure would be nice to wear that dress again. She slapped at a mosquito tickling her thigh, but instead of a smart slap against her bare skin, her hand touched cloth.
    Bev opened her eyes and recoiled. Pleats of yellow-striped cotton lay across her lap.

    The smell of smoke was stronger, much stronger, bitter and acrid, and she thought she could hear someone singing, “I’ve Got You, Babe….”

    • Thanks, Jeff. I’ve done 23 Reports from the (Mongolian) Field so far, and that one remains my favorite to date. I do, however, have several more adventures up my sleeve that are trickling down to the keyboard, sometimes over-running each other.

  3. Don’t know if it’s you or me, Ann, but I’m having lots of freezing problems with this site.

  4. It’s not freezing on this end, but I cannot say for sure it’s you. Dang computers.

    My favorite line here is, “Oh, go on.” While people don’t say that a lot these days, it certainly evokes a clear mental picture of a specific expression and gesture. Great way to bring in the song too.

    Back from Mongolia, I see.

  5. I can relate to old Bev…what I would give to fit back into my old yellow dress. Great story, Gullible.

  6. Was that a Fire Truck?

    “Was that a fire truck?” dad blurted, the question breaking the quiet of our afternoon, after-dinner nap on the porch.

    “No, Dad. Someone’s car alarm going off down the street.”

    “They should be more careful where they drive. Crazy drivers.”

    “Yes, they should. Now, go back to sleep, Dad.”

    “I rode on a fire truck last week,” Dad reminisced. “They let me sit up front and everything.” He smiled as he recalled a moment from his Cub Scout days.

    “I bet that was fun, Dad.”

    Dad pushed on his chest, at his sternum. “Son, get me my indigestion medicine will you? That damn chicken your momma fried was too greasy.”

    “Sure, Dad. Be right back.” I went to his bedside table and found the greenish bottle. Picked up a spoon from the kitchen and eyed the red and white take-out chicken box that had held our dinner.

    Back on the porch, I twisted the cap and began to pour a spoonful. Dad grabbed for the bottle, knocking the spoon to the deck. “Don’t bother with no goddamn spoon, son, I need some relief, quick.” He lifted the bottle to his mouth and took a big swig. Then another.

    He belched and patted his chest with his fingers.

    A block away I caught a glimpse of a police cruiser, lights flashing, its siren making a “whoop-whoop” sound.

    “Was that a firet ruck?” Dad asked, his voice rising in excitement.

    “Nah. Cop car after a speeder.”

    “Crazy drivers,” he said with a sneer.

    “Laura, your mashed p’taters were sure good today,” Dad said as he grasped my hand. “Chicken was too greasy, though.” Laura was his wife, my mother, now passed ten years ago.”

    “I’m sorry, Clarence. I’ll try better next time.” I patted his hands.

    Dad’s hands once again clutched to his chest. “Donny, I don’t feel so good.” Donny was my brother who lived in Seattle. I picked my cell from my pocket and dialed 9-1-1.

    “It’s my dad. I think he’s having a heart attack.” The operator took my address. “Help’s on the way, Dad.” I held his hands which felt clammy and chilled. “Help’s on the way.”

    In the distance I heard the wail of the fire and rescue truck.

    “Is that a fire truck?” dad asked, his eyes nearly shut.

    “Yes, Dad, It’s a fire truck. The fire truck’s on its way.”

    I watched a brief smile on his lips as his hands fell limp.

    ~

  7. I know how those “conversations” go. Nice scene, Jeff.

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