Sara and I decided that a mash-up of Lonnie and Tiny with Life Coach Injustice H. Chocolate would be a hoot. I hope it is. Juss Chocolate is the main character of my cozy mystery, BAR SINISTER.
Lonnie, Me, and the Human Emu
by Marian Allen
My wife, Mary Lee, and me were across the street having supper with our best friends, Lonnie and his wife, Leona, when Leona got the call.
Not the call to Jesus, the telephone call. Leona answered the altar call at a Baptist revival, and she hasn’t backslid once, except when she married Lonnie. Her preacher said it was more like a mission than a misstep, and blessed the union. Good thing, because nobody wants to get between Leona and something she thinks is right.
Anyways, Leona came back to the table kind of flushed and kind of smiley and kind of shifty-eyed, like she was proud of something she knew she was gonna catch flack for.
She flapped open her napkin and put it in her lap like she meant it and said, “That was Jolene.”
Lonnie helped himself to more mashed potatoes and said, in an exaggerated drawl, “You mean Skybird, duuuuude?”
Leona play-slapped him on the arm and told Mary Lee, “Jolene’s mother is Betsy Collins’s cousin.”
“Betsy Collins from high school? Is that her cousin that ran away and joined some hippie commune outside of town?”
“Yes!” She looked pointedly at Lonnie as she said, “And she left and got married in the church and then she had Jolene. Jolene never was named Skybird or anything like it. But what I was going to say is, Jolene’s mother kept up with a couple of the other hippies, and one of them has a daughter or something that’s a Life Coach.”
“A Life Coach?” Lonnie said, and I knew he spoke for me and maybe Mary Lee. “Last I knew, people didn’t need a coach to live. Ain’t living something you do without thinking about it?”
I looked at Lonnie and thought, Some of us do it without thinking about it, but I kept that to myself.
“So Jolene called Doris,” Leona said, “and Doris talked to her daughter or whatever, and the daughter or whatever said she’ll take your case.”
“Whose case?” Lonnie gave Leona the side-eye, like my big dog, Samson, when I run the tin tub full of water and bring out the dog soap.
“Yours.” Leona passed the plate of pork chops around like she hadn’t just dropped her husband into fifteen gallons of suds.
“I don’t need a Life Coach,” Lonnie said. “Tiny’s my Life Coach.”
Tiny is me. I’ve been overgrown since I was five, so naturally everybody calls me Tiny.
I reckon I’m lucky, at that, because Leona said, “This Life Coach’s name is Injustice H. Chocolate. Jolene’s momma didn’t name her funny, but this poor girl’s momma did.”
“Ya think?” Lonnie had just picked that expression up from television, and he’d be using it until he wore it out.
Mary Lee said, “How is Jolene?” and the conversation went off to somewhere I couldn’t follow.
Lonnie came over to our house the next day, saying he wanted to look at the fishing gear I got from online. He kept peeking out the front window, though, so I knew he was hiding out.
Mary Lee, who’s really Leona’s friend but likes Lonnie because I like him, said, “Did Leona say what she hopes this Life Coach’ll do?”
“Help me make better decisions.”
“Well…,” Mary Lee said, meaning, “I can’t argue with that.” Then she said, “What do you think is gonna happen with this Life Coach?”
“Nothin’ good,” he said darkly.
I married Mary Lee because we love each other, but sometimes she’s so smart it like to takes my breath. She said, “If she used to be a hippie, maybe she uses … you know … like medicine.”
Lonnie is fascinated by what he calls special plants, even though he’s never experienced any, no matter what he thinks.
So, when a little black-and-white Morris Mini-Cooper pulled up outside his door, Lonnie straighted his Jesus Rocks t-shirt and headed for the kitchen. I use the front door. Mary Lee uses the front door. Leona will use the front door if she’s dressed up, but Lonnie would walk farther rather than use the front door “like I was company.”
He said, “Ain’t you coming, Tiny?”
“I wasn’t planning on it.”
Mary Lee poked my elbow, smiled, and said, “Oh, go on.”
So we went through the house to the back door, around to the front, across the street, around to the back of Lonnie and Leona’s, in through their kitchen door, and through the house to their front room.
Leona was sitting on the couch, facing a woman who had been sitting in one of their glider rockers before we came in and she stood up.
Leona stood up, too, and said, “This is my husband, Lonnie, and this is his best friend, William Canter.”
“Tiny,” I said, sticking out my big paw for her to shake.
She had big, dark eyes and a long, sharp nose. When she smiled, her upper lip came down to a point like a bird beak. An emu – that’s what she looked like, like an emu from a Fantastic Birds of the World program Mary Lee and I watched the week before.
“Lonnie, Tiny,” Leona said, “this is Juss Chocolate, that Life Coach I told you about.”
We made small talk for a while, and then the Life Coach asked Lonnie to take her out to his shed and show her how he’d blown it up that time. I wondered if he was going to tell her the truth – that he blew it up trying to raise the devil – or if she didn’t want to know at all, but just thought he’d take coaching better without an audience.
Leona gave me coffee and cookies while we waited. They were just oatmeal cookies, and with raisins, at that, but Leona can make even that taste good. She’s almost as good a cook as Mary Lee.
They had the door open and we could hear Lonnie’s voice going up and down, louder and softer, while he talked, and the Life Coach laughing from her belly now and then. I hoped Lonnie liked her, because I always like somebody who isn’t afraid to laugh all-out.
After about an hour, they came out, the Life Coach wiping her big emu eyes.
We went out on the back porch to meet them and Leona invited the Life Coach in for cookies and coffee.
The Life Coach (I can’t say “Miz Chocolate” – I just can’t) waved the invitation away. “I have more clients to see today. But Mr. Carter wanted me to repeat my advice so you and Mr. Canter can hear it.” She turned to Lonnie and made him look her in the eye.
“When you have a good idea,” she said, “think about very carefully before you act on it. The better the idea is, the harder you need to think about it. The better the idea is, the more likely it is that it’s a bad idea. Whenever you have an idea like that, tell your wife. You can tell your best friend, too, but if it’s something you don’t want your wife to know, that’s an idea you don’t want to act on.”
She shook our hands, told Leona there was no charge for a consultation and a good laugh, and drove away.
“I didn’t need no Life Coach to tell me that,” Lonnie said, but his face and past experience said different.
Sara gave me the line, “I don’t need a Life Coach,” Lonnie said. “Tiny’s my Life Coach.”
I said I loved it, and she said, “I didn’t come up with it. That was Lonnie.” That’s how easy Lonnie is to channel. Good or bad? You decide.
My nails this week are simple and elegant. That’s what I was going for, anyway.
The base coat is Maniology’s Sweet Peach, which Sara got me for Mother’s Day. I stamped with Paradise Polish’s Chakram, Maniology’s Violet Spectrum, and Maniology’s Cloudburst. Although it doesn’t show in the photograph, I topped my index and pointer fingers with Top Shelf Laquer’s If the glass fits Quick Dry Top Coat. The designs came from MoYou London’s Fall In Love Collection — 07.
MY PROMPT TODAY: Lonnie and Tiny and BAR SINISTER.
Dan AntionMay 25, 2022 at 8:23am
I’m glad I circled back to read this one, Marian. This was wonderful. From great inspiration comes great stories. Good job all around.
Marian AllenMay 25, 2022 at 10:05am
Sara and each think we’re lucky to live next door to our best writing buddy.