Good News

This afternoon, Farmer Orville and I worked on re-wrapping Scout the cat’s scratching post. She had torn it to shreds over three years, but this morning I saw her start to scratch then change her mind then walk to the couch and look longingly at the arm rest. There is no reasoning with or punishing a cat. I knew my Aristotle: I had to take an action.

(Scout the cat has three other scratching posts, none of which she will use. No, it had to be Old Scratchy or nothing.)

I bought some sisal and some nails, and I joined Orville under his carport. Good news: We wrapped and nailed the sisal into place, and Old Scratchy was as good as new.

Orville’s wife Quilt Queen drove up. She’d been out shopping and visiting friends in nursing homes and spreading good cheer. She climbed out of the pickup and told us to join her in the kitchen.

There on the counter was the first batch of homemade Christmas cookies—peanut butter. Quilt Queen always makes cookies in a certain order, and peanut butter is always the first. We ate cookies and drank coffee.

“Thank you, Orville,” Bev crooned, “for my Christmas present you bought me this morning. Look at me you guys, and tell me what’s different.”

She twirled her head from side to side. Her husband looked at me and crossed his eyes. Finally, Bev ran her fingers over new gold earrings.

“They were on sale,” Bev said. “Down from five hundred dollars to two hundred fifty.”

“Of course,” Orville said, “it you hadn’t bought them at all, you’da saved five hundred dollars.”

Orville knows his math. That didn’t stop his wife from pointing out that, in the fifty-seven years they have been married, she had scrimped and saved and raised three kids and cleaned and farmed and cooked, and gone without nice things.

“Why won’t you let me buy anything?” Orville looked at me again: touché.

“Because, old man, you never want anything.”

“I want me a gold nose ring.”

“Oh yeah, I can see you wearing a gold nose ring. Wouldn’t our church congregation love that.”

Talk turned to a local possum which broke into a liquor store, tipped over a bottle of whiskey, lapped up its contents, and passed out drunk as a—well, possum. The owner let the critter sleep it off, and today the hungover marsupial was relocated.

“She’d like to relocate me,” Orville said.

“Well, I would if you start going crazy like Charlie Rose. Or our president. Trump better not grab me.”

That is how I left the happy couple. I drove home with the refurbished Old Scratchy. Scout the cat nearly cried with joy. She stood up and started ripping the sisal with renewed vigor.

The cat got Old Scratchy, the possum got Old Granddad, Quilt Queen got gold earrings, Orville got plenty of nothing, I got peanut butter cookies.

Cookie Season is long and arduous and requires much practice. I made a note to myself to go to a local workout place and learn some hand strengthening techniques and stretches, for maximum cookie efficiency. The next time you hear from me, I will be buffed and ready to go.

About Eugene Jones Baldwin

I am a writer: non-fiction, fiction, journalism (Alton Telegraph), essays (The Genehouse Chronicles) and have a website: I've published a couple dozen short stories and had eleven plays produced. Current projects: "Brother of the Stones" (available on Kindle), a book of short stories; "The Faithful Husband of the Rain, short stories"; "A Black Soldier's Letters Home, WWII,;" "There is No Color in Justice," a commentary on racism; "Ratkillers," a new play. I am an avocational archaeologist and I take parts of my collection of several thousand Indian artifacts (personal finds) to schools, nature centers, libraries etc. and talk about the 20,000 year history of The First people in Illinois. (See link to website) I'm also a playwright (eleven plays produced), musician, historian (authority on the Underground Railroad in Illinois, the Tuskegee Airmen) and teacher.
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