(You may think this is our elusive cowboy Gary Clark . In spite of the similarities, Yosemite Sam shoots from the hip. Gary is known to shoot from the lip. Anybody seen him lately?)
New-comer to our site Beverly Lucey has discovered the wisdom I read on a bumper-sticker: Money isn’t everything but it keeps the relatives in touch. Beverly has entered our First Annual Peggy Dobbs Write-of-Passage contest, in which each participant is required to use the phrase, “”I swear, it’s not too late” somewhere within 750 to 1,000 words.
This means, if you win and use the word limit, you have become a professional writer earning 50 cents a word. Contest winner takes home $500! Interested? check it out: http://www.awordwithyoupress.com/category/contests/peggy-dobbs-1-announcements/
Welcome, Beverly, to the Towers that are A Word with you Press! Please see if you can influence the judge (moi) by inviting your friends to leave laudatory comments after your story to add to the laudatory comments that I am sure will be posted by our regular writers.
by Beverly C. Lucey
My sister Judy points to a vase I picked up at the First Presbyterian Craft Show last month. She sighs. “I can’t even remember getting something just because it’s pretty,” she says. “I didn’t get lucky and marry someone like Ed.” She’s fidgeting in the chair, trying to cross her legs and look casual but her pantyhose are slippery and can’t hold the pose. After five tries she gives up and looks around my kitchen again. Appliance spotting. “Is that new?” If I know she’s on her way over I do a quick pick up. Today she’s caught me off guard and I’m thinking the new food processor looks enough like the old one that I won’t have to listen to the usual.
“I’ve always wanted one of those Kitchen Aid mixers. What did you do with your old one?”
“I could use some of that, you know. Why can’t I get dibs on the stuff you just throw away?”
“You don’t cook, Judy. You don’t bake. You don’t have the same size bed, so I don’t have sheets to give you. If there’s something special you want for Christmas tell me. I’ll buy it new. Just for you.”
“That’s not going to help.”
Judy tells me the only way she can get rid of her credit card debt is to borrow some money. Start up money, she calls it, the three times she’s mentioned it so far. Judy trots out the same old points whenever she gets herself into a corner. She’s not often out of one.
“I can’t give you anymore money. It’s not worth the hassle with Ed.”
“Why does Ed have to know everything? You work; you’ve got your own money.”
“You work, and you don’t. Explain to me why that is again?”
She rolls her eyes. Our mother did that. Our mother who was never satisfied. Our mother who always started sentences with, “If only….”
Our mother lost every single friend she ever had by holding cosmetics parties, Southern Living parties, Naughty Nightie parties. Mom issued no invitation without expecting to make money on it. Judy takes after her.
“I need five thousand dollars.”
Plop. She says that as though it’s something I would write a check for. I don’t think she’s ever asked for more than $250. The amount makes me think that she’s in big trouble. What if there are ‘goons’ involved. Shady people who make threats about whacking a sister’s kneecaps as a reminder of who is top dog. I watch too many crime shows. I must have made a weird sound because Judy jumps up and thwacks me on the back as though I’ve got a cheese puff caught in my throat. She’s laughing.
“Honestly. You’d think I asked for a lot of money. Come on. I’m trying to take advantage of an opportunity that could change my life. You keep saying I need to focus on something new. Well, I’ve finally got a shot. My credit cards are maxed out. I might also be a little bit behind on some other bills.
“A little behind?”
“But. BUT,” she talks over me. “I’ve got an opportunity, and only a little bit of time to come up with the investment money.”
“There’s a man involved, isn’t there.”
“Why do you say things like that to me? You think I’m brainless? Desperate? This is a real opportunity. Bradley says that if we combine our resources, we can get in on the ground floor of the Mariposa Development Corporation. It’s much cheaper to live out there. And we’d get an apartment free because the venture capitalists are looking for a couple as caretakers.”
“Bradley, huh. Who are you talking about? Where is this supposed to happen?”
“Right in Yosemite National Park. The regs are going to be changed about development, and Wyoming will be perfect for us.”
“Do you even know what a venture capitalist is?”
“I hate that tone you trot out.”
“Well, I hate to tell you that it’s Yellowstone National Park that’s in Wyoming, not Yosemite. Jeez, Judy.”
“I meant to say Yellowstone. I did.” She looks a little startled, as if maybe Bradley might not be perfect. “Please. Please don’t ruin this for me. I’m happy. I want a new start. We’re getting married, and I’ll have a new name. It will be as if I never existed here. And I promise it will be the last time I ever ask you for anything.”
“Judy, look,” I say. “If I come up with the money…”
“Yes! I knew deep down you want me to be happy no matter how much you try to make me feel miserable. I knew you didn’t grow up to be a bitch like Mom.”
“If I come up with the money, I want you to stay. I want you to pay off your debts. I want to help you work out a budget. “I swear, it’s not too late.” Judy, I really want to help, but…”
“I hate my job. Maybe I didn’t mention that I already quit. This morning. After Bradley showed me all the folders last night. I promised I could get the money. He trusts me. Do you know what that feels like? Not like Ed who polishes every nickel and thinks flowers are a waste of money. Not like Ed who wouldn’t even listen when I told him I could make a mint on home pocketbook parties. I bet he never even told you. A measly thousand dollars I asked him for.”
“He never told me.”
“I’m your sister. Help me. I mean it. I won’t ask you for anything else. Ever. You might not even see me again. You probably even think that’s a good thing. Then you can live your perfect little life without your sorry ass sister reminding you how selfish you really are.”
I write the check.
It is the last time I see my sister.
Sometimes helping is precisely the wrong thing to do.