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Shame-O Episode 13 by Dave Riley Printer Friendly

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 few 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.

Mr. Bailey slurred: “This really shits the bed! One last drink, and then can we go?” He noticed the full glass of bourbon in front of him and chugged all of it, hoping it wouldn’t count as “one last drink.”

Mrs. Bailey didn’t hear him ask; the cacophonous strains of St. Bubba’s Junior Choir enchanted her. Her head mimicked the pendulum of an inaccurate metronome as she wagged it from side to side and used her fingers to tap the table in time with the yowling brood. He stared at her while waiting for an answer; it irritated him that she confused the upbeat of the song with the downbeat.

Mrs. Bailey’s simple spirits eventually plummeted back into reality. She stopped wagging and tapping, regarded the flushed cheeks across the table and asked, “Did you say something?”

“Damn fuckin’ straight I said something.” A sloppy grin disarmed the potentially confrontational response. “I said: Those yodeling brats are really starting to chap my ass. If we leave now I can catch part of Gunsmoke.”

She leaned toward him and glowered. Her mouth shot flecks of saliva as she angrily whispered: “My Creator and I will thank you to speak your piece without cussing. Don’t you love and respect me like God orders in the Ten Commandments?”

Mr. Bailey garbled: “Of course I do.” He didn’t look directly at his wife when he answered, rather he scanned the room. He wanted to find Kitty—he guessed that he would be stuck at the Hickory Inn for a while.

Pull up to it, don't drive through it,
Back it, up twice, now that fits nice

“Please look at me when I’m talking to you.”

He faced his wife and squinted. He saw two images of Mrs. Bailey floating into one another to form a single image at the center of his vision.

As Mrs. Bailey’s agitation grew, her whispering became more strained, her delivery rapid-fire. “I thought that maybe we could have a nice night out alone together. But you have to go and ruin everything by getting drunk and flirting with the waitress and finding fault with these sweet children—at least they’re trying, which is more than I can say for you. You know, the Lord only helps those who help themselves and, my goodness, you don’t seem the least bit interested in working at our marriage.”

Mr. Bailey opened his mouth to defend himself but involuntarily belched. This caused him to giggle like a child.

Pull up to it, don't drive through it,
Back it, up twice, now that fits nice,

Race it, straighten it, let me lubricate,
Pull up to my bumper baby

With awkward nonchalance, Mrs. Bailey ignored her husband’s sniggering and continued: “Fr. O’Bannion and I think you should try to act more like Jesus.”

“The Bible says that Jesus drank, right?”

“Well probably, but . . .”

He got Kitty’s attention by waving one hand above his head while pointing to his empty glass with the other.

Episode 14


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