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Walk About, Chapter Nine


Darlene Franklin-Campbell's new novel, Walk About, is being posted online chapter-by-chapter, for people to read for free. Previous Chapter: Walk About, Chapter Eight, or start at the beginning: Walk About: Chapter One.

Chapter Nine

By Darlene Franklin-Campbell

"We could just go for the border," Ace said, brushing her long blonde hair in front of the hotel mirror. "Make a new start in Mexico."

Pinky laid wigs out on the king-sized bed. "We could."

Rosie perched on the window ledge, pulling on a pair of stockings. "I don't want to live in Mexico. I don't even speak Spanish."

"Pinky could do the t...talking for you," Clyde said from the other bed where she lay on her stomach doing a word find.

"I don't like hot," Rosie said. "It's too hot down there."

"Do you think James Allen has been reported as a missing person yet?" Ace asked as she pinned up her hair.


"Do you think I've been reported as missing?" Rosie added.

"Maybe we all have," Pinky said. "Maybe we haven't." She took a denim jumper out of Rosie's suitcase and studied it. "Clyde?" she said.

"They haven't said anything on the television," Clyde said. "And I ain't w...wearing no dress."

"It just feels like the longer we hang around the United States the more chances there are for us to be discovered," Ace said.

"That's true," Pinky added. "Rosie can wear the jumper." She picked up the auburn wig. "And she can be the redhead tonight."

"I don't want to be a redhead," Rosie snapped.

"Okay then, I'll be the redhead," Pinky said. "It's important that we change appearances often, never look the same way twice and as much as possible, stay low-key."

Clyde snickered.

"What's so funny?" Pinky asked.

"You f...forget that we have Rosie and Ace," she said. "Low-key," she said, then snickered again.

Rosie huffed. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"It means she thinks we stand out," Ace said.

Rosie stood, pulling her T-Shirt over her head then, in bra and panties and stockings, put her hands on her hips and scolded, "I stand out because I have good taste."

Pinky raised her eyebrows. "You stand out because you're ditzy, have big boobs and flirt..."

"You're just mean!" Rosie said, "and jealous because you're a scrawny stick with no...."

"It's okay," Pinky said. "Don't get your panties in a twist. We can use your assets." She handed Rosie the jumper which Rosie snatched.

Rosie wiggled into the jumper. "I'll be the blonde then."

"That's the spirit," Pinky said.

"I'll be the brunette," Ace said.

"Give me the pink wig," Clyde said.

"No, that would draw too much attention for what you're going to be doing. You wear a togie." She pulled a stocking cap out of a bag on the bed. After all those years and a Ph.d. in archaeological linguistics, she still called a stocking cap a togie just as she had done as a child. It was a colloquial expression from south-eastern Kentucky, but it had stuck.

Two hours later the big white truck, driven by Pinky, slowed along the street in front of the pool hall that she had spotted before the pregnancy heist. A sign out front advertised "Pool Tournament." She pulled into a shaded parking lot located behind the building. A group of people stood near the rear entrance of the building, talking, and smoking, so she drove past them and parked so that a van would block the view of their vehicle from the building. "Rosie, you go in with Ace. You know what to do?"

"Easy," Rosie said.

"Ace?"

"Natural as breathing," Ace said. She and Rosie got out of the truck. Rosie, sporting a blond wig, straightened her short, tight jumper, making sure plenty of cleavage showed. Ace wore a pair black pants, a velour top and the brunette wig. She took her shoulder bag, which housed her pool stick, off the back of the truck where all their other bags rested. She had the passing feeling that she was thankful it wasn't raining.

"Good luck," Clyde said.

Ace nodded. "You, too." She and Rosie headed toward the building. They walked past the back entrance and took the sidewalk around to the front of the building.

Inside the building, smoke hung heavy in the air. A hefty woman in a baseball cap manned the counter where bar stools housed patrons of the establishment. Country music, blaring from a corner juke box, filled the room. Several pool tables lined the center of the building, each with between two and four men standing around, taking turns. Ace surveyed the building, making her mark.

"Who's the reigning champ?" she asked the woman behind the counter.

The woman chuckled. "You ain't from around here, are ya?"

"No," Ace said.

"Right over yonder," she nodded toward a tall, thin man in a checkered shirt and a white cowboy hat, a bottle of beer in one hand and a pool stick in the other.

"He's not playing," Ace said.

"Oh, he will," the woman replied. "Tournament hasn't started yet. He's just sizing up the competition. He does that."

As if he knew he was the topic of someone's discussion, the man looked their way.

"Oh, he's looking at me," Rosie said.

"What's his name?" Ace asked.

"Mark Evans," the woman said.

"Mark," Rosie repeated. "I like that name."

"Where do I sign up for the tournament?" Ace asked.

"I can fix you up right here," the woman said. "But..." she scanned Ace with her gaze, "Honey, I can tell you right now that you don't stand a chance."

"Just sign me up," Ace said. "How much?" She dug into her bag, retrieving a change purse that had what little cash she had left in it.

"Ten dollars," the woman said. "Five for Calcutta."

"What's Calcutta?" Ace asked, feigning ignorance.

The woman grinned. "Oh, sugar, you sure want to play this game?"

Ace shrugged. "Got no man. Got no job. Just got Rosie here, why not?"

"Hey," Rosie said, "what do you mean you just got me? I'm good company."

"I'll bet you are," said a dark-haired man in a tight blue T-shirt who happened to be sitting at the bar. "Go ahead, Bess, sign the girl up. Might be fun to watch two girls learn to use a pool stick."

"All righty then," Bess said, "Calcutta is what you take bids on yourself. Every player puts in money and at the end the winner takes the pot. You bid on yourself and then the people around you raise the bid. So tonight, it's five dollars with $700 added. Nine ball tournament tonight. Whoever walks out of here the winner this evening is going to eat good tomorrow."

"I'm in," Ace said, handing Bess her money.

"You think I could borrow one of those sticks over there to practice with while I wait for start time?"

Bess laughed then waved toward the sticks. "Help yourself."

"Boy, I hope you win," Rosie said, "or else we're gonna be living off jellybeans for the next week."

"Not you," the man in the blue shirt said, "if your friend here goes belly-up," he paused to look at Ace and lit a cigarette, "and I'm guessing she will, you can come stay at my place and I'll feed you."

"Oooh," Rosie said, jumping slightly so that her attributes could not be dismissed. "Now that sounds awful nice of you."

"What's your name, Sugar?" the man asked.

She remembered how Pinky had said act natural but don't use real names. "Jolene," she said. "You know, just like in that song. Jolene, Jolene, I'm beggin' you please...."

"Please shut up," Ace said.

Rosie put her hands on the man's bicep. "Oh don't mind her. She's just down in the dumps because her man got drunk on vanilla extract and had to go to jail. Why don't you take me over there and introduce me to your friends?"

He grabbed his beer from the counter and walked arm-in-arm with Rosie.

"She always that flirty?" Bess asked.

Ace turned and looked at her, "You noticed? It's not just me?"

"No, honey, it's not just you."

"I tell you the truth," Ace said. "She embarrasses me every time we go anywhere."

"Then why bring her?"

"Well, see we're sisters and when Jolene was five, she had a bad fever, fried her brain and what-not and the poor child hasn't been right since. I promised my dying momma that I'd look after her, but let me tell you, it ain't been easy."

"You don't say?" Bess said. They stared after Rosie who was now surrounded by male pool players.

"Just look at them," Ace said. "You'd think they'd never seen a blonde before." She shrugged. "Oh, well, I guess I better practice and if I aim to play." She took a pool stick down from their place on the wall and asked a young man with dark skin and black hair if he'd like to play a game with her.

He smiled then said. "Why not?"

Ace played like an amateur while several men stood around and watched, shaking their heads as if they were embarrassed for the poor lonely girl who thought she could play pool. Some of them made remarks, but not Mark Evans. He kept quiet. He stood with such good posture and seemed to be relaxed, laid-back, polite, but Ace had been watching him, his style, his demeanor, and she was sure she could beat him. She felt a twinge of guilt that she was about to take him for a ride.

Then it was time for the tournament. She nodded to Rosie who went over to the juke box and played "Purple Rain."

"What kind of crap music is that?" Mark Evans asked, allowing Ace to really hear his voice for the first time.

She straightened. All the notion that he was good-looking, that he was maybe a gentleman and the guilt about defeating him went out the window. "It's my house-cleaning music," she said. Then she reached into her bag, pulled out her purple shooting glove, her own chalk, and her precious purple stick.

While Ace cleaned house inside, Clyde, with her giant purse slung across her body, scoured the parking lot, searching for another truck. All she needed to do was switch license plates while Pinky stood guard should anyone come their way. Their task was completed in minutes. Now all they had to do was wait for Ace and Rosie, but as Clyde sat on the back of the truck, wiping her tools with an old red rag, she picked up her socket wrench. "You did good, old girl." Then she leaned forward, "What? What's that you say?" She smiled. Clyde never stuttered when she was along with her tools. "Yes, you're right. That would make the night more interesting. Let's do it." She put the socket wrench back into the case with its attachments, closed the case, adjusted her gloves, and climbed off the truck.


Darlene Franklin-Campbell, an Adair County native, holds an M.A. from Lindsey Wilson College but has also done post-graduate work in storytelling and literacy at Western Kentucky University and is an alumnus of Campbellsville University. She is a member of the Elizabeth Maddox Roberts Society, the Adair County Arts Council, The Adair County Genealogical Society, The Green County Genealogical Society, Phi Theta Kappa, and the Mysterium Society (an IQ society for linguists). She has attended the Appalachian Writers Workshop, WisCOn, and Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. She currently teaches Art at the Adair County Primary Center. You may visit her webpage at https://www.dardet.com or her writer's blog at https://whisperingwind.blog to check out more of her work.


This story was posted on 2022-01-17 20:08:59
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