“Try it now,” Dink shouts from the roof where he’s just finished installing a dish swaddled in a flannel pillow case, of all things. Betty Lewis’s flannel pillowcase, to be exact. “To protect it,” Dink had said, by way of explanation, when he’d come through the door last last night bearing his apology.
Doreen shoves Frodo from her chair, the Victorian parlor chair with red velvet upholstery that she scored curbside fourteen years ago. She sits in the space vacated by Frodo and notes that it’s warm. “Well, at least you’re good for something,” she tells the dog, who circles around three times before curling up in a tight ball at her feet. Spring is here, but every so often, it decides, like her husband Dink, to skip town for a few days before settling in for good.
Doreen picks up the remote and aims it at the flat screen television, the second part of Dink’s apology, now hanging on the wall like a massive trophy.
“Anything?” Dink comes into the room, wiping his hands on the back of the Levi’s Doreen had found at the thrift store for three dollars a pair.
“Hold your horses,” she says, jabbing a button, shoving the remote towards the television, as if to give it a boost. She leans forward in her chair as the screen comes to life.
Magic fills the cabin: Lights and sounds and colors, the likes of which she had never before seen.
“Looky there!” Doreen points. A man from Ohio is announcing his candidacy for Congress, his wife and children arranged neatly behind him. “His face is full a’ wrinkles.” She frowns. “I ought to send him a jar of my wrinkle cream.”
Dink snorts and half-perches on the chewed-up armrest of Doreen’s chair.
For years, Doreen has refused to disclose the secret recipe for the wrinkle cream she sells for fifty cents a jar. The only information she’s ever shared, which seems rather self-evident, is that it involves copious amounts of horseradish.
Truth be told, Doreen’s wrinkle cream isn’t made for curing wrinkles: Dink can’t stand the smell of horseradish. He goes so far as to claim to be allergic. Doreen sells only to the women in whom she suspects Dink may have some future interest. Old Macy Jones who still, at ninety-five, walks two miles a day? Not a threat.
Last week, after climbing the mountain to reach the cabin; after being shown to Doreen’s Victorian parlor chair; after sitting and breathing heavily and drinking two glasses of iced tea, Macy Jones headed down the mountain with a small jar of repackaged Oil of Olay and the instructions to apply as often as she could stand it, those directions, of course, being the directions that accompany the real wrinkle cream.
“Them wrinkles’ll disappear in two shakes of a lamb’s tail,” Doreen had promised Macy.
“That man’s jest saying the same thing over and over again,” Dink says now.
Doreen points the remote at the television and changes the station. She enjoys this feeling of so much power contained in a small rectangular box. “Oh my Lord,” she says. “I heard about this in town yesterday.”
“Heard about what?”
“That gal’s purse. Crocodile skin. Twenty-four thousand dollars. Hell’s bells, what will they think of next.”
“That ain’t croc. It’s alligator.”
“How do you know?” Doreen turns to glare at her husband.
“The man on the television just said.” Dink points.
She shrugs. “Same thing. All alligators are crocodiles.”
Dink laughs. “That’s like saying all squares are rectangles.” He shakes his head. “Why would they put two labels on one thing?”
“Hush yourself,” Doreen says. “I’m trying to watch this.”
“Where you going?”
“Get me a chair from the kitchen.”
He returns in a moment, two cans of Coke tucked beneath his arm, a folding chair in his left hand. He hands Doreen a can and sets up his chair. He sits beside her, opens his drink and takes her hand.
She smiles and changes the channel.
Perhaps Dink has finally settled in for good.
Doreen spots the flannel pillowcase on the floor. She makes a mental note to cancel shipment of Betty’s order for wrinkle cream and send instead the recipe for moonshine she’s been after for years.
This was written for this week’s Studio 30+ prompt. The word was crocodile.
Kelly Garriott Waite on Google+