Ambition is a poor excuse for not having sense enough to be lazy.
-- Charlie McCarthy
As the sun sets that night, Despina dutifully shows up at the campfire sans escort. Parking in the dirt by a rotting log, she frowns. Around the campfire, talk trails off. After several minutes, a recumbent Paul Peter addresses the nearly asleep Despina as she reclines in a "nest" of loosened crust she and Alberto had created the night before by repeatedly poking through the rind with the broken ends of a hiking stick. Paul Peter’s voice booms out loudly enough for all to hear and enjoy.
"If you're short on cash, you could always charge admission to your 'floor' show. You've built up enough reputation to be quite a draw."
"Stuff a rag in it, PP," Despina replies drowsily.
"I think I could interest Tex in a return bout -- best two out of three falls."
"Feeling a tad bored, are we? I'm not in the mood for this, PP. Back off."
"Let's face facts, here. You're a better show than most stand-up comedians."
Snoring sounds emanate from Despina.
"Most folks get lethargic for the first two weeks or so they're out here, but I have to admit, heat makes you positively lively."
"Ever tried to nail jello to a tree, PP? Stow it, or I may substitute that wagging tongue of yours for the jello."
"Jello! Super idea! I could be your manager. We could bill you as 'School Marm', decorously teaching her charges during the day, but a tough contender on the mud wrestling circuit by night."
"The night air seems to have addled your brain."
"Friday Night Special is the 'lime jello slime' bout. You could come out in a floor length 1800's style dress, in lieu of a dressing gown, then throw it off and there you'd be, all decked out in a string bikini with 'Conan, the Barbarian' maiden-style pointy cups."
"They don't make 'pointy cups' in my size."
"That's part of what would make it so interesting. Where's your spirit of adventure?
As the evening draws to a close, the sheriff's car pulls up. Despina, who is heading back to her hovel, half asleep, greets him.
"Was that you this morning I saw rushing back to the reservation?"
Despina nods, "I made a used refrigerator run, surely hitting every pothole in that entire stretch of road, but I arrived before the start of school."
Spying Paul Peter eavesdropping as she passes, she hails him.
"There's a slight hitch."
Bruno walks over, listening intently.
"The refrigerator doors are still on, but the Freon's still in, too."
"And the motors?"
"Presumably. And the piping, as well."
Rubbing his jaw reflectively, Bruno offers, "Need more hands, tools, and how you say? Assemble line for Saturday?"
Turning briskly, he sets off toward his hovel, where he houses a first-class tool chest.
"Spoken like a true engineer," Paul Peter says as he fires up the jeep for a fast trip to town to tipple. “I’ll bring the English students to town then to facilitate the loading process.”
As Despina returns to her hovel to prepare for bed, she thinks, as long as he doesn't have to dirty his hands, then chides herself for being waspish when he is helping her.
If the math flash cards stick to my arm like this afternoon, I'll just have to prepare them in the mornings. I hate having red and green numbers all over my skin! as Mickey examines her arm in his headlights, raising his eyebrows in inquiry.
“You don’t have to look at me like that! I didn’t get them in a concentration camp or prison!”
Looking as if he’d like to kiss her pique away, he laughs, heading back to his patrol car since the campfire group has broken up.
Music: "Lime Jello, Marshmallow, Cottage Cheese Surprise" sung by Joan Morris, with William Balkan at the piano. If you haven't
heard it, you're missing a true cultural classic!
Last updated 12/12/09.
Word Count: 644