Me and Lulu-Mae were having a right tasty Sunday lunch in the meadow when Lulu-Mae said, “Lyle, just when are you going to make an honest woman out of me?”
I figured no amount of marrying would do that, but I knew that’s what she was getting at.
“Lulu-Mae,” I said, “didn’t I tell you what happened this morning?”
She shook her pretty little head.
“I didn’t tell you about the boots?”
“Nope,” she said, and took a big bite of her sandwich.
I could hear the bees buzzing, and I saw our old black milking cow that was always wandering off had wandered off again.
“The alligator? The gypsy?”
“No, you did not, Lyle.”
I sighed real big so she knew I was mighty disappointed with myself.
“Certainly I mentioned the pigs?”
She looked at me like I was stone cold crazy. Some mourning doves up in the tree tops cooed, and the wind rustled the grass a little bit.
“Now Lulu-Mae, I went to go talk to your Pa about your hand in marriage just this morning –“
“Is that right?” she said, and flicked an ant right off the blanket we were sitting on.
“I dragged my sorry butt out of bed at the crack of dawn. It was cold this morning, so cold I couldn’t fix my hair because the teeth on my comb was just a chattering away, and then when I said something you couldn’t even hear it because the words would freeze right in the air.”
“Who were you talking to?”
“Nobody, that wasn’t the point. I just wanted to get a fresh start in the morning. But I couldn’t find my boots, you see. I looked high and low, under the bed, out on the porch, and nothing. But you know how dang much I want to marry you.”
“That’s what you say when we are up in the hayloft, you say: ‘Lulu-Mae, come on, just one little kiss and I’ll marry you someday …’ but here I am, not even engaged …”
“I wasn’t about to give up, no ma’am — I was lucky. I was standing on the porch in my socks, and I saw that pair of hogs owned by Old Grandma Bones, so I called them over to me.”
“How you do that? Her pigs don’t even listen to her.”
“I took pig whistling in school,” I said, “you know that perfectly well.”
“Oh, I did, but I’d forgotten,” she said.
“So I called them over, and dang, I didn’t need boots after all, I just jumped straight onto to those pigs’ backs, one foot on each pig, and I said ‘Hee-yaa, you dumb hogs, take me over to Lulu-Mae’s house so I can talk to her Pa.'”
Looking very serious, Lulu-Mae poured us both a cup of coffee out of the thermos.
“So I was going along, just whistling at them to speed up because they were moving so slow. I made it to the road in about five minutes, and from there it was a straight shot over to talk to your Pa — but there was Rombaro, the gypsy, just sitting there waiting.”
“A gypsy? Oh Lordy, Lordy,” she said.
“Yep,” I said. “He was sitting in his drag racer, flames painted so perfect on the side of it that you could feel the heat come up. I nearly got a third degree burn.”
“You heard me.”
“I’m beginning to think maybe I shouldn’t go up to the hayloft with you anymore.”
“Just hold on, hold on,” I said to Lulu-Mae, and slurped up some of my coffee, “so what the heck do you think I did? I said, ‘My name is Lyle and I want to get over to my girl’s house fast, so I can ask her Pa about marrying her.’ So after Rombaro introduces himself he says to me, ‘Lyle, I’ll drive you over, this car is so fast I’ve had to brake when I saw my own taillights from going around the block too fast. She’s so quick she makes greased lighting rust.'”
“Goodness,” she said.
“Of course that was what I was hoping for, so he told me he’d give me a ride if I was to give him those pigs. They weren’t mine, but I knew if there was one thing a gypsy likes more than a pig, it’s a stolen pig. So I said, ‘As long as you go far and fast once you give me that ride, then these pigs are yours.’ He was agreeable so I jumped in the car.”
“But you never did make it did you?” Lulu-Mae said.
“Well,” I said, shaking my head in deep disappointment. “That’s where the alligator comes in.”
“That’s right,” she said. “I’d forgotten all about that alligator, how did that play into it?”
“That’s what Rombaro wanted those hogs for. He had a pet alligator right there in the backseat. He told me it had been depressed lately and been on a long crying jag. Like maybe it was needing something special, and he figured a pig would be just the thing. So I tossed back one of them pigs, and lo and behold that alligator gobbled it right up in one big bite. Well, the second pig saw what was in store for it, and it up and bolted. Took off right on down the road squealing all the way. Since I couldn’t keep my part of the deal anymore Rombaro just kicked me right out of his car. The sun was coming up proper by then, and Rombaro took off so fast the shadow of his car just stuck right there for a minute,” I scratched at my chin, thinking. “I’m not sure if that shadow was that slow, or if it was frozen to the ground.”
“You poor thing out in that cold,” Lulu-Mae said. “I bet your feet where just freezing!”
“Yeah,” I said. “But then, what did I see? My boots, they came walking down the road all by themselves. Just happy as can be.”
“Where’d they go?” Lulu-Mae said, and wrapped up the crust of her sandwich in some waxed paper.
“Not sure,” I said. “But I think they were just trying to stay warm, you know how walking will do that.”
“Oh I do,” she said.
“Then, wouldn’t you know it?” I said. “Just when I was ready to go on over to see your Pa, my Pa was bellowing for me to come help with the chores. And you know it just wouldn’t be honest to go running off and leave my poor old Pa to do all the work.”
“Not honest in the least,” she said, and finished packing up our stuff.
“But there’s always tomorrow,” I said, very hopeful.
She smiled real pretty and gave me a kiss on the cheek.
“Well, Lyle, I hope some day you’ll make an honest woman out of me, but I hope I never make an honest man out of you. I’ll just see you in the hayloft after supper,” she said.
Bosley Gravel was born in the Midwest, and came of age in Texas and southern New Mexico. He has worked numerous dead end jobs, and now makes a living working on computer networks and various related activities. He has been making up stories from an early age, and from time to time they end up on paper.