Thursday, February 13, 2020

Jim Heightly and Miss Lily (Part 2 of 2 Parts) blog post #375

Courtesy of
Last week, Jim Heightly's little world was turned on its end by a new man in town. A burly, handsome Arkansan who caught Miss Lily's attention. Let's see what happens next. 


           For a while, it looked as if nothing was going to change, and for Jim that was about as bad as having something change. He kept waiting for it… whatever it was going to be. Then the day, or to be more accurate, the night arrived when the world tilted. At two o’clock closing, Jim started up the stairs, but Miss Lily’s hand on his arm put a halt on him.
          “What?” he said.
          “Other plans tonight.”
          “What other plans.”
          “I’ve invited a gentleman friend upstairs. You’ll have to go home tonight.”
          Jim turned, stared into Pistonrod’s dark eyes, and croaked, “Gentleman?”
          “Now don’t make a fuss, Jim. I’m thinking on hiring Mr. Peston as a bouncer. We need to talk over turns.”
          “You never had a bouncer before. Why now?”
          “Ain't you noticed things getting a little wilder? Had two fistfights just this one evening.”
          “In the parking lot. You have people busting heads every night. Never needed a bouncer to handle them.”
          Miss Lily laid a pale hand on her bosom. “We don’t want the Stateline to get a reputation, do we?”
          “Now, Jim. Don’t make a fuss. Go on. Skidoo. See you tomorrow night.”
          “Miss Lily, you don’t wanna do this. This fella’s never gonna be more’n a grease monkey in somebody else’s garage. Heck, I bought you a new Jukebox and put that new neon sign up. I—”
          “Honey, it ain’t always about the size of a man’s wallet,” Mis lily said with a blink of her big eyes.
          “If you’re just gonna talk about a bouncer’s job, it oughtn’t take long. I’ll hang around and—”
          “Now, Jim. You go on home. Scoot. Shoo!”
          His ears steaming, Jim stalked out of the now empty honky-tonk into the cool night air. He didn’t know why, but he took a seat on a stump underneath Miss Lily’s bedroom window as the parking lot emptied of cars and pickups… and a bike or two. Pretty soon he was sitting in the dark not much relieved by the new red neon sign he’d bought.. How long did it take to make a deal to hire a bouncer?
          Then he heard sounds that let him know Pistonrod was already auditioning for the bouncer's job… by bouncing up and down on a mattress. Pretty soon came the sounds that sometimes caught the ear of passing motorists, except this time it was Miss Lily doing the moaning and screeching.
          “Oh, baby, gimme more of that piston!”
          Right then, Sasquatch, a big, shaggy dog of uncertain origins hit the fence separating Jim from the back of the place and raised a ruckus. If Big Foot walked on all fours, he might well have been one. Friendly until now, old Sas turned on him. Just like Miss Lily.
          A harsh voice came from the upstairs window. “Who’s there? Jim, is that you? I already told you to get outa here. You don’t skedaddle, I’m gonna call the sheriff. Go on, git!”
          Jim did, but he took the time to kick out the headlamps on Peston’s black Ford-150. For good measure, he did the same to Miss Lily’s brand-new Buick LeSabre. He got in his panel truck and tore out of the parking lot, screeching and leaving burnt rubber on the asphalt as he made a hard right toward town. And somewhere on that nine-mile drive, as he was seeing red and mouthing threats, the fuse blew or the circuit-breaker tripped… whichever. He almost wrecked the truck pulling a U-turn in the road and scorching pavement all the way back to the Stateline. He roared into the parking lot and skidded to a halt, bailing out of the seat with a 30-30 in his hand. Without even thinking about it, he shot out all the downstairs windows. Then he took out the neon bar sign he’d paid good money for.
          Miss Lily’s voice screeched from the upstairs window. “Jim Heightly, have you gone plumb crazy?”
          Jim noticed old Pistonrod didn’t make a sound. Neither did Sasquatch, for that matter. Two peas in a pod. All show and no go. Yellow right down to the quick.
          Finding he was out of ammunition, Jim rummaged around in the back of the panel truck and found several jugs of the unadulterated stuff he sold… damned near pure alcohol. He pulled out a couple and jogged to Peston’s truck. Emptying the contents of a jug all over the cabin of the pickup, he tossed in a lighted match and stepped back is it caught and flared. Still not finished, he repeated the process on Lily Stopperscale’s Buick. How about that… she wasn’t Miss Lily no more.
          “I’ve called the cops, Heightly!” she screamed from the upper floor. “Now you’ve done it. You’re going to jail.”
          His cork totally popped now, Jim yelled back. “And you’re going to hell.” With that he flung his last jar against the side of the building and tossed a whole book of flaming matches. The wall went up like it was just waiting for the chance. Lily let out a real yell then, and Jim thought he caught a more masculine screech. Should he go round back and set fire to the back entrance?
          A wailing siren in the distance made up his mind for him. He jumped in the panel truck and roared out of the parking lot. Hesitating just a second, he turned east and crossed the state line into Arkansas. That’d stop the country cruiser for the moment, but he was just delaying things. They’d get him sooner or later.
          And Lily Stopperscale? Hell, she had insurance out the gazoo. She’d build the Stateline bigger and better than it was before. But she’d sure as hell have to find a new supply of liquid goods.

I hope we all learned one thing from this story. Never--but never--plug a 150-watt bulb in a 50-watt socket.

Until next week.

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