I hate it when life takes a right on a left-turn arrow. It can mess up just about everything. Less than six months ago, I experienced that exact scenario.
“Flossie May Campbell, you’re fired! Clean out your desk. You got fifteen minutes to vacate the premises.”
Before getting the boot, I enjoyed my duty as Miss Broken Heart for a neighborhood newspaper. Readers submitted their romance concerns and, if Cupid’s arrow went awry, I offered bandages and
A reader wrote in and said she'd found her husband in bed with another woman. She asked if she should give him a second chance since he apologized and promised never to do it again.
I told her to dump his butt and take him for everything she wanted or could get. In that situation, promises mean nothing. A woman in that predicament needs the cold, hard facts—not a wimpy,
politically-correct excuse for an answer. I got axed for telling the truth minus all the warm and fuzzy crap.
Sometimes life kicks you in the ass. There’s no other way to put it. And it sucks.
So does Lucy McDaniel. She's half the reason I’m happily divorced, my ex-husband the other half. Three years ago I came home and found my former best friend’s face planted in my ex’s crotch.
Arms crossed beneath my bust, I faked a cough. The shock on their faces when I addressed my discovery exceeds my ability to describe.
“She giving you mouth to mouth for some reason and got lost?”
“Listen, honey, I can explain!”
Being neither blind nor stupid, I needed no explanation.
“Take the house. And I don’t want a penny of your stinking money, your last name, any part of your business, or the Lexus. I simply don’t want you to exist in my world.” I exaggerated my one-finger
salute. “Goodbye, adios, and screw you!”
I shifted my gaze to Lucy as she fumbled with the buttons on her blouse. She started to say something, but I shushed her with a finger over my lips. The fire from my eyes could have melted a
block of high-quality kryptonite in five seconds flat. I pointed to the end table nearest her. “There’s some ChapStick in the drawer if you need it.”
My mama named me Flossie May. I’m convinced my parents were smoking something besides Marlboro Lights when the nurse came by with that blank birth certificate. That was twenty-eight years ago. I’ve
almost forgiven her—almost.
I stepped onto my bathroom scale, usually a daunting experience. A hundred and thirty five—not too bad for five feet and eight inches of assembled girl parts.
As I stepped off, my cell phone rang.
“What's up, Pumpkin?” Swamp’s Cajun accent waxed over his words like stink on poop.
Swamp's kinda my boyfriend. No stated commitment but an unspoken understanding. It's not unusual for the understanding to be misunderstood at times. But at the moment, everything was cool.
“Doing okay, I guess. Had to have my neighbor jump-start my car this morning. That's three times this week—I think the battery's shot. What's up with you?”
“A pretty good day, so far. You still coming over?”
“Unless something changes, I'll be there around three.”
“See ya when you get here.”
Swamp, full name Pierre Alain Fontenot, grew up in the Louisiana bayous and moved to my hometown of San Antonio, Texas with his parents when he was in high school. Someone on the football team
tagged him ‘Swamp’ and it stuck.
I’m not exactly sure what Swamp does for a living. It has something to do with the FBI. Said he couldn't talk about it. Sometimes he was gone to parts unknown for a few days to a couple of
weeks. Said he couldn’t talk about that either. I took it in stride—well, most of the time.
I’d taken a job at another newspaper, The Alamo City Tattler. It wasn’t exactly a Pulitzer-quality operation. It’s what most folks call an underground rag. In other words, digging up
indiscretions of the San Antonio elite and then serving them, with all the fixin’s, for public consumption.
Initially, I wondered why I even applied for the gig, much less accepted it. Then it dawned on me—the thought of living under a bridge and eating at soup kitchens didn’t appeal to me. I also loved
the autonomy. I don’t do well in an environment with a supervisor looking over my shoulder and down my blouse, not that there was much to look at.
A few prominent people weren’t thrilled with the dirt I’d dug up on them. You know, the usual stuff—caught with a prostitute, accepting illegal campaign contributions, cheating on their taxes. That
kind of stuff. But hey, they did it; I didn’t make them do it. I just reported it. Sometimes the truth is karma with a bad attitude. Karma isn’t all that concerned about who it picks on. It’s an
equal opportunity ass-kicker.
I finished putting up groceries I’d bought earlier—from the first bag, I pulled out a box of Twinkies, hamburger meat, and some buns. As I sorted through the second bag, I was delighted
to find two additional boxes of Twinkies, a variety of canned veggies, a bag of chips, and six frozen TV dinners. Three 12-packs of Dr pepper were stacked next to the bags. I was good for another
week, maybe longer if I skimped here and there.
I checked my bank account on line. Enough money to buy a battery for the land slug and more Dr Pepper and Twinkies with a few bucks left over. Sometimes life is just too good.
I drove away from the tire and battery shop in my 1988 Cadillac Sedan DeVille with a new battery pushing a gazillion volts, watts, amps, or whatever it is they create to make electricity.
The Caddy was bright metallic gray when new. Over time, it had sun-faded to a dingy gray-white, particularly on the hood and the roof. The right-front fender was a sparkling red and the
canary-yellow door on the same side was a nice touch. If it counted for anything, three of the original hubcaps were still there—guess I could've checked eBay for number four.
But the air conditioner worked. The high temperatures in South Texas suggested to me what a pizza must feel like in the oven. And the suffocating humidity can bring you to your knees in a matter of
I drove northeast on Austin Highway, a major thoroughfare on San Antonio’s east side, my house less than ten minutes away. I had nearly passed the Terrell Shopping Plaza when I spied the sign for
my favorite ice cream place, Heaven In A Cone. I jammed the brake pedal and jerked the Caddy into the center turn lane.
Traffic in the opposite lane was closing in fast, but I figured I could make it if I stompoed the accelerator. The beast belched forward and crossed the northwest lanes barely in time.
Two oncoming cars were forced into an asphalt boogie, but I cleared them. Do not get in my way when I'm headed for a Dr Pepper, a Twinkie or ice cream. Same applies for lipstick and eye make-up at
the mall. A girl has to eat good and look her best at all times, ya know.
I paid for my double-decker, soft-serve cone and made my way out the door. A gruff voice startled me as I reached to open my car door.
“Flossie May Campbell?”
I turned and spied an unsavory-looking guy, probably in his forties, leaning against the driver’s door of a white Toyota, arms crossed over his chest, hands tucked into his armpits. I estimated him
thirty feet away.
“Who wants to know?” My tongue swiped a dollop of soft-serve into my mouth.
“It doesn’t matter. But I have some bad news for you.”
“Yeah? What kind of bad news?” The ice cream swirled in my mouth, somewhat distorting and muffling my words.
He pulled a cannon-sized handgun from his right armpit with his left hand and pointed it straight at me. “I reviewed my to-do list this morning—you’re next to die.”
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