“I really appreciate this, Harp.” Cheryl pushed the baby carriage back and forth, a clock pendulum on half time. “My baby girl loves her some big wooly dog, but not…”
“Reckon that’s what brothers are for.” He reached in the back seat of his pickup, pulled a stack of old bath towels, dropped them on the gravel drive. “Not that hosin’ off stinky-ass dogs was ever on any list or anything.”
“Me, too Uncle H. I really ‘preciate it.”
Harper checked the lanky eight-year-old girl in cut-offs and faded red tank top sitting on the back steps.
“You in some kind of trouble over this dog stank, Whacko?”
“Harper, you know that makes her mad.”
“What happens when your parents give you a stupid name like Waco, huh, kiddo? Runs in the family, though, stupid names.” He winked at the girl. “Trouble?”
“Double trouble. Double stupid.” She gave her mom a glare, stood and brushed the back of her cutoffs. “But, um, yeah. It’s kinda my fault you’re here ‘cause Flower, um, sorta got out the way back gate. When I was, um…”
“Bein’ a space cowgirl?”
“Before you go callin’ anybody names it was you bought her that Kindle thing all loaded up with crazy books about smarty pants little girls who can’t behave.”
“Yep. An I hear she’s readin’ like three grades ahead now.”
“Where’d you hear that?”
“Uncle Harp an Miss Gunnison get along.”
“Of course they do.” Cheryl shook her head, Harper pulled off his work shirt, tucked his undershirt back in, picked up the towels and carried them to a warped, wooden in-need-of-paint all-in-one picnic table set up in dry grass off the back patio of his sister’s house.
“Randy ever wants some help loadin’ this piece of shhh-” he glanced at the baby carriage and his niece, “…crap off somewhere, tell him to call me.”
“’Crap’ ain’t all that much better, little brother.”
“For this piece of crap, it is.”
Cheryl barked a short laugh, put her finger to her lips, tilted her head toward the carriage.
“She slept through my truck, big sis. She’s not wakin’ up for nothin’ any time soon.” He checked back with his niece. “Where’s Flower, kiddo?”
“Side of the house. In his kennel.”
“Dawn and a bucket?”
“By the hose. There’s a wash mitt, too.”
“You not comin’?”
“Well, I…” her eyes bounced between her mom and uncle.
“She almost barfed puttin’ him up, Harper.”
“Aha. So Flower got himself into some righteous stank.” He nodded toward the towels. “You gotta help dry, kiddo. Can’t count on other people, even Super Uncle, to clean up your whole mess.”
“Yes sir, I know, but, but,” she ramped up some righteous kid sized indignation. “I didn’t make him go off, go off an… an waller all over in old man Morgensen’s pigs’ shit. He done that himself!”
“Oh. My. God.” The carriage pendulum stopped. “Young lady, that is–”
“Probably exactly what you or Randy said when Flower showed his stankiness at the door.” He raised an eyebrow. “Huh, Cheryl?”
“You stay out of this, Harper. Waco Justine, we will talk later.”
“Yes ma’am.” She rolled her eyes, did the hands in pockets kid amble around the side of the house with Harper. He leaned toward her, lowered his voice.
“Find a way to wake your baby sister up and get her hollerin’ before your mom gets too wound up on you repeatin’ her. She’ll forget all about it.”
Her eyes widened. “Ya think?”
“I know. Your dad and I did it to her when you were a baby. Take the long way around the house, meet me at the towels.”
The last post was about surprises. I have said many times I put the characters together and keep up. Only this one had a premise going in, built into the old dog towels. About how there was this one-stoplight-and-it-didn’t-work town in nowhere west Texas called Lost Socks. Where towels and socks that go missing from the dryer end up. Well, the best laid plans and all that took a hard left at the picnic table. But I thank Cheryl, Harper, Waco Justine and Flower for the ride.
Sit down, listen, and off they go. No wonder I never get anything done.