“Lemmee tell you something Kitty.”
Kitty giggled and leaned forward.
Mr. Bailey also giggled as he indicated Mrs. Bailey with a jerk of his head. “Every word that comes out of that woman’s mouth is like a turd in my whiskey.” He maniacally cackled.
Without a word, Mrs. Bailey stood and calmly walked away.
Mr. Bailey looked up at Kitty and, through sputtering laughter, managed to ask, “Where do you think she went?”
Kitty still giggled. “Probably the sandbox to powder her nose—you know how us ladies are. Listen sweetheart, you just let me know when you need another drink.”
He chugged the bourbon she had just served and presented his empty glass to her. She took the glass and made a beeline for the bar. Mr. Bailey imagined his wife dabbing her nose with an oversized cosmetic brush, causing wafts of white powder to form a dense cloud that engulfed her head and made her cough. He slovenly ran his fingers through his hair and belched.
In less than a minute, Kitty returned carrying another generous drink. Mr. Bailey unceremoniously snagged it from her tray, guzzled the bourbon, and returned the empty glass. Another belch became an implosion when it ricocheted off his clamped lips.
Kitty observed: “My, aren’t we thirsty?”
Mr. Bailey’s slurred: “Gotta drink up before she gets back so I don’t have to listen to her flap her gums about how I shouldn’t drink so fuckin’ much blah blah blah.”
“Well, it seems to me that you’re a grown man and can make your own decisions.” Kitty ogled the stereotypical henpecked husband with tousled hair slumped in a chair under her nose. “I’ll be right back with another drink.”
Mrs. Bailey returned a minute later when Kitty bought Mr. Bailey’s fifth man-sized snort. Mrs. Bailey noticed that Kitty had again forgotten her orange juice. The dual scowls and shushes issued by her waitress and her husband abruptly pulled the rug from under Mrs. Bailey’s polite reminder.
Kitty choked a plastic smile to her face and reprimanded Mrs. Bailey: “The opening act is about to start so please keep it down and have some respect for the other patrons. I’m very busy so you’ll just have to be patient and wait your turn.” While Kitty pontificated, Mr. Bailey solemnly stared at his wife and nodded.
A nun led a line of twenty children onto the stage where they funneled into three rows in front of the black curtain decorated with silver cardboard stars. Mr. Bailey couldn’t understand why no tables had been moved onto the dance floor, but Mrs. Bailey enthusiastically applauded. The sight of a nun modestly turned out, wearing an old-fashioned habit with a veil that completely covered her hair, thrilled Mrs. Bailey. The bucktoothed nun appeared to be in her early twenties, wore sensible glasses and suffered from an unsightly case of acne. The children all wore the uniform of a Catholic grade school—plaid skirts for the girls; plaid ties for the boys; red cardigan sweaters for all.
An astonishingly obese woman wearing a floral-print muu-muu hunched over a tiny cheap foot-pumped harmonium as she wheeled it onto the stage and planted it on the right of the children. She had excitedly pinned a festive corsage over her gagantuan left breast. The nun stationed herself front and center.
Mr. Bailey loudly remarked: “Look at those poor kids dressed like circus clowns! The nun looks like a damn penguin, and get a load of that pork-beast!” The man at the next table started to guffaw. Both wives ordered their husbands to keep quiet.
The nun blew into the microphone, then addressed the audience like it was a classroom filled with children: “Good evening, God bless you, and welcome to the Hickory Inn. We’re St. Bubba’s Elementary School Junior Choir. I’m their leader Sister Mary Esther.”
“Well bully for you you butt-fuckin’-ugly penguin.” This time Mr. Bailey snarled under his breath.
She continued: “We’d like to start the evening’s entertainment with a song that was made popular by a colored. The bible teaches us that God blessed those people with a keen sense of rhythm.”
Mrs. Bailey nodded in agreement.
“Accompanying the children on the harmonium is Mrs. Sylvester, who just celebrated her twenty-seventh anniversary as musical director of St. Bubba’s Junior Choir.”
The audience politely applauded. Mrs. Sylvester beamed from the folding chairs (she required two) behind the harmonium that she dwarfed.
Sister Mary Esther turned, faced the children, and raised her hands, poised to conduct the children, above her head. She nodded at Mrs. Sylvester; the musical director returned the nod. The flab-bags hanging off Mrs. Sylvester’s bare upper arms jiggled as she churned out a standard non-descript introduction on the harmonium. After a couple instrumental bars, Sister Mary Esther’s hands came alive and the children started their almost tuneless caterwauling:
Driving down those city streets
Waiting to get down,
Won't you get your big machine
Somewhere in this town?
Pull up to my bumper baby,
In your long black limousine,
Pull up to my bumper baby,
And drive it in between.