and a heart- shaped face with big grey eyes. “Now honey, don’t mind her, you know how she gets.”
“I get honest, Jacqueline, which is more than I can say for most women around here. God forbid we say the truth instead of sticking our heads in the sand and forgiving a man and taking him back every time he strays. It’s not like she’s married to him.”
I decided to enter the conversation with my usual diplomacy,
“Y’all calm down. There’s no use in us ganging up on each other when the real party who needs to be dealt with is out having a grand time. We don’t stick our heads in the sand, Char, we don’t sit around discussing it. We get proactive.”
“Holy hell, Lilly Atkins, I thought I’d never have to hear your hoity-toity vo ice again. How the hell are you? … A nd what the hell was Cash Stetson doing in your office this afternoon?”
“We were just catching up,” I tried to explain away the implication with a wave of my hand, “You know, old friends and all that.”
“Since when are y’all friends of any sort?” Fae Lynn’s mama, Grace snorted, “I swear, that man is still a heathen, no matter if he is Chief of Staff at the hospital. I still remember him peeing on my prize rosebush and killing it off before the contest.”
“He was nine, Grace,” I defended, as I usually did for Cash. Some things never changed.
“Exactly,” she asserted, “Old enough to know better.”
“ Can we get down to business?” Fae Lynn interrupted everyone. Fae Lynn already had all the gossip on me she needed and wasn’t one for wasting time on things she didn’t deem imminent. We all took one more gulp of sustenance and returned our attention to the task at hand. We exchanged news and laughter , trying to calm Brandy down with soothing pats while we plied her with brownies and tequila . I got a round of hugs from everyone until Fae Lynn’s phone rang , and she confirmed we were set to go.
Char, Fae, and Grace gathered up a variety of cheeses and stuffed them into a black cloth bag while I grabbed keys. Nonnie gathered up a tear-stained and tequila-soaked Brandy and led her to the foyer, while Mama and Jacque flanked the rear.
“You brought the gun, right?” Fae Lynn questioned.
“Yes ma’am. You’ve got the tool don’t you?” I asked.
“Oh, shit , I forgot that and the go ldfish,” she turned back toward the kitchen.
“We should get the tequila,” Nonnie volunteered as she followed Fae Lynn. They both returned a minute later, Fae Lynn carrying a small metal tool that looked like a tire gauge and a plastic baggie of what appeared to be dead goldfish. Nonnie held up the thermos triumphantly, “Got it!” she chortled.
“What in heaven’s name is in that bag and where did you get that?” I gasped at Fae Lynn.
“Goldfish. I overfed them and they died real quick. I figured I’d go get some more before Hazzard missed them.” Fae Lynn and Scotty’s son was named Hazzard, which is a story in and of itself.
“You murdered your son’s goldfish?!”
“It’s for a good cause, Lilly. Don’t get on your high horse. You’re just jealous you didn’t think of it first,” she snapped defensively, “He’ll never miss them. I’ll just go get new ones tomorrow.” I shook my head and headed out the door after everyone.
In Dallas I used to go out and have a glass of wine with my girlfriends. I come home and all of a sudden I’m an accessory to knocking off goldfish. It was for a good cause.
We piled into the car and checked seatbelts. We were dressed in a variety of black, from Saks to Wal-Mart. Black slacks, stretch pants, jeans, yoga pants; black tops, sweaters, blouses and boots, tennis shoes, and heels were our intermingled outfits. Our one common accessory : the dark maroon cotton gloves we all sported. It was obvious we’d been in this same situation before, as we all knew the drill. Never let it be said that a man got the best of a respectable woman in Brooks, Oklahoma. I