Chronicles of Poodle endeth
By Ed Stuart
Editor’s note: This is the third of a three-part column.
A neighbor lady about half a mile down the road had called the sheriff’s office because it sounded to her like a full-fledged riot was breaking out at Maidie Belle’s house. The sheriff’s department consisted of the sheriff and one deputy. The sheriff was answering the phone himself until his wife got back from the beauty parlor. He wasn’t too concerned because he figured it was just Maidie Belle hollering at Ruthie, so he called his deputy on the radio to go by and see what was going on.
Slats, the long time deputy, didn’t get very excited about it either. He was busy driving Bigelow Brigham’s cows out of the road and back into the pasture they’d broken out of. That was a regular part of Slats’ duty because old Bigelow was too stingy to keep his fences up. The sheriff didn’t much like this abuse of the taxpayer’s money, but he put up with it because Bigelow had considerable political influence at election time. Slats was pretty philosophical about it. He figured it just gave him job security.
Traffic was light, and the people who used that road regularly were accustomed to watching out for Bigelow’s cows, so Slats didn’t see any problem with leaving them grazing belly deep in Johnson grass along the ditch. They weren’t likely to wander off very far, and whatever was happening at Maidie Belle’s place might break the monotony. So he got in his pickup and drove the few miles there.
When he pulled up, Beulah Bess was still sitting in the road, mournfully surveying her mortally wounded big shiny black car. It had apparently bled out because nothing was dripping any longer. He took her by the arm and got her back up on her feet.
When he asked her what was going on, she immediately launched into a near hysterical tirade about Truman committing hit and run against her poor defenseless car and a naked wild man running around Maidie Belle’s house and she thought it might be Ruthie and things were coming to a pretty pass when an honest citizen was subjected to all that kind of indignity and……………….! She finally ran out of breath, giving Slats a chance to calm her down.
He still didn’t know what was going on, so he walked up on the front porch and knocked on the door. When Maidie Belle came to the door and saw Slats, she opened it questioningly. Before either of them could stop her, Beulah Bess had elbowed her way in. Maidie Belle wasn’t at all impressed with Beulah Bess’ highfaluting ways, and she sure hadn’t invited the stuck up old biddy to come in.
Slats asked where Ruthie was, and Maidie Belle pointed toward the back.
Beulah Bess shoved Maidie Belle aside and stomped back to the kitchen where she saw Ruthie almost completely immersed in a bathtub in a little alcove. “There the pervert is. I demand you arrest him for indecent exposure,” she shrieked at Slats.
Ruthie, his misery having eased, had been peacefully dreaming of the breakfast he still hadn’t gotten. Now, startled by Beulah Bess’ outburst and having no idea what was transpiring, he jumped straight up and stood there dripping in the tub, looking not unlike a nude blue statue from ancient Greece and wondering why everybody was staring at him.
Up until that point, Maidie Belle had been totally speechless, shocked by the whole turn of events; but now she had found her voice. This was her house and her husband and she was just as good as Beulah Bess and she didn’t intend to look up to her or anybody else. She said a lot more too, but this is a family newspaper so the narrator cannot repeat the rest of it verbatim. Suffice it to say, she used language that even Slats had never heard, not even around the jailhouse.
Slats, a veteran of many such skirmishes, realized it was time to decamp. He hustled Beulah Bess out to the road; and in his sternest deputy sheriff voice, he addressed her, “I don’t see Truman anywhere around here, and I don’t see any evidence he hit your car. As far as Ruthie is concerned, it looks to me like he’s been punished enough. And you are going to be lucky if Maidie Belle doesn’t decide to file charges against you for bodily assault and breaking and entering. Now then, I got a chain in my pickup; and I’m going to drag your car down to the filling station and maybe they can fix it for you. After which I’m going back to Bigelow’s place and drive his cows back in the pasture and prop up the fence before it gets dark.”
And he proceeded to do just that.
There are three morals to this story directed specifically to those listed below:
- To Ruthie – keep the grass cut short so you can see to mow around the ant mounds instead of plowing straight across them.
- To Maidie Belle – Ruthie is not ever going to change. You ought to run him off. It would make your mama happy; and besides, it would save you enough money on groceries you could afford to quit that night job.
3.To Beulah Bess – Stop following Truman around. People are beginning to talk.
Thus endeth The Chronicles of Poodle.
Oh, one more thing. The boys down at the filling station have quit calling Ruthie, Ruthie. Now they just refer to him as Little Boy Blue.