One of my characters Sara wanted me to mash up with Lonnie and Tiny is Mrs. DiMarco. So I did.
Lonnie, Me, and the Seventh Deadly Sin
by Marian Allen
Father Dan, one of our pals back in the old neighborhood called and invited Lonnie and me to come play poker. He had a regular group of players, but three of them couldn’t make it that night, and he’d been down his list of possible replacements until the got to the bottom. Then he thought of us.
“Leona would kill me if I took Lonnie gambling,” I said. Leona is Lonnie’s wife. Leona is a hard-shell Baptist, and gambling was one of the things she was dead-set against, especially Lonnie doing it. Let’s just say that if Lonnie bet the sun would come up in the morning, it wouldn’t.
Dan was disappointed that we wouldn’t play for money. Like I said, he knows us from back in the day.
But he agreed, and even Leona said it was okay, that it wasn’t gambling if we were just playing for fun. That might sound like splitting hairs, but one of the reasons Lonnie and Leona have been happy in their marriage is that she lets him off the chain now and then. Only if I’m with him, but still.
My wife, Mary Lee, is a Presbyterian, and she doesn’t care if I gamble as long as I don’t lose.
So I drove us in to the old neighborhood and parked in the lot behind Sts. Crispian and Crispianus, next to the rectory.
We got in and settled down, got our poker chips and our corn chips and our beer (Leona didn’t know about the beer), and Dan dealt the cards.
I had nothing, so I didn’t mind when there was a thundering knock on the rectory door.
Father Dan’s housekeeper had gone home for the night, so he opened the door himself.
A woman grabbed him by the lapels and rasped, “He’s gone! I can’t find him anywhere! What am I gonna do?”
She was too long in the tooth to call her a damsel in distress, but the distress part was true. She wore a blue calf-length summer-weight coat (yes, Mary Lee does take me clothes shopping with her, why do you ask?) and a black straw hat with a pushed-up veil and black flowers around the brim. She was either a hipster or had inherited her clothes from her granny.
Father Dan uncurled her fingers from his lapel and led her into the living room.
“Gentlemen,” he said, “this is Agnes DiMarco, formerly of this parish. Mrs. DiMarco, these are some of my friends.”
“I don’t care if they’re the Beatles, you gotta help me! Please!”
“Come, sit down. If it’s something you want to tell me privately, we can go into my office.”
“Ragmop!” Mrs. DiMarco said.
Father Dan’s sympathetic expression got confused. “I beg your pardon?”
She snapped her fingers in front of Dan’s face like she was waking him up from hypnosis.
“Ragmop! He’s a cat! All white, smooshed face, hair all over.” She held her hands about a foot away from her face on each side. “I was coming to visit the old gang, and Ragmop was at my house – he isn’t even mine! – and I thought I’d bring him to show the girls. Don’t know why I thought it was a good idea.”
From the smell, I’d say more than one long-necked bottle could have told her.
“So they were all oohing and aahing over him, and Jenny’s stupid little poodle came in. He was supposed to be shut up in the bedroom, but he …. Well, it doesn’t matter. He’s still stupid. And Ragmop made a stand – he’s game, I’ll say that for him – but Jenny’s stupid husband came home and Ragmop ran out the door! He wouldn’t come when I called him, not even when I used his real name!”
“What’s his real name?” Lonnie asked, like that was the point.
“The girls helped me look, but it got dark and they said it wasn’t any use. I know better than to wander around down here alone, so I came here.”
“I’m glad you thought of the church,” Father Dan said.
“Yeah, well,” said Mrs. DiMarco, which sounded a lot to me like Any port in a storm.
She rummaged in her purse. “Can I smoke?”
Dan shook his head. “Not in here. But I’ll go out with you and we’ll look around a little, all right?”
“Heck, we’ll all go, won’t we, fellers?” said Lonnie, so he must’ve had a bad hand, too.
Dan’s regular player threw his cards onto the table and said, “Why not? It’s not like we’re playing for money.”
So we all went out and looked for a white cat as best we could with streetlights to help us, hoping nobody thought we were prowlers and called the cops. Dan and his friend and I went one way and Lonnie and Mrs. DiMarco went the other way. After a while, we could hear them in the distance, singing a song that seemed like it didn’t have any lyrics but Ragmop and doo-de-oo-DOO-de-oo-doo.
We lost the sound of that, and the only patch of white we found was an empty plastic grocery bag. Dan picked it up and clucked about litterbugs. Dan used to be the king of the five-finger discount, and now here he was being all civic. You never know, do you?
We looked around for about an hour.
Dan said, “We’re not going to find that cat tonight. Agnes needs to go home and come back tomorrow. We’re probably scaring it more, if it’s around.”
That made sense to me. All in all, this wasn’t turning out to be the boys’ night out I was hoping for, or anything like it.
A whiff of cigarette smoke told us Mrs. DiMarco was around. She stomped into the streetlight’s pool of bluey-white we were in and blew a smoke ring.
“Now I lost your friend,” she said.
A chill went through my body. “You lost Lonnie?” Leona was going to kill me!
“He went off to take a leak and he never came back. I called him and beat the bushes a little bit, but nothing.”
“Dan, you and your friend can go back to the rectory, but I’ve gotta find Lon.”
The friend looked at his watch and said, “I gotta go.”
I kind of suspected he wouldn’t have had do, if we’d been playing poker, especially if we’d been playing for money, but I didn’t say anything. He was Dan’s friend.
So there we went again, sticking together this time.
Mrs. DiMarco grabbed my wrist with a grip like a metal claw and whispered, “I see some white! Under that hedge!”
She went around to the far side and Dan and I crept up on the near side.
Lonnie was stretched out on his back, his eyes closed.
Maybe I just wouldn’t go home. Maybe I’d run away to like Canada or somewhere and call Mary Lee to come join me. I couldn’t tell Leona I’d let Lonnie get killed on my watch.
“GOTCHA!” Mrs. DiMarco grabbed at Lonnie, but then I saw she was grabbing a white cat that was curled up on his stomach.
When she did, Lonnie jerked and tried to sit up. He jerked and twitched and flapped his hands above his face.
“Dang little twigs! Like to poke my eyes out!”
“Come on, buddy,” I said, getting him by the arm and his pants leg and dragging him out.
“I went to take a leak,” he said, then nodded to Mrs. DiMarco and said, “pardon my French, and I got lost. I was plumb wore out, so I snuggled up under this here bush and took a little nap.” He registered what Mrs. DiMarco had in her arms. “Is that the cat?”
“He was curled up on your belly,” I said.
“No fooling? I found the cat? I found the cat!”
“My hero,” said Mrs. DiMarco, trying not to set the cat’s fur on fire with the tip of her cigarette.
The cat – Ragmop, or whatever its real name was – draped itself over Mrs. DiMarco’s left shoulder and meowed.
“Meow, meow, meow,” Mrs. DiMarco said. “Cat thinks he can talk.” She hefted his weight a little higher. She dropped her cigarette butt and ground it underfoot.
Dan tsked, picked it up, and put it in his jacket pocket.
“You have to roll your own out of leavings?” Mrs. DiMarco said. “Been there, done that. Anywho, I’m taking Ragmop home. I’ll call his owners and tell them he’s with me. Give him some snicky-snacks. How about that, Ragmop? You want some snicky-snacks?”
“Meow,” said Ragmop.
In case you don’t know, the seventh deadly sin is sloth. My #2 Daughter went to Costa Rica and saw sloths and loves them SO MUCH. So, naturally, when Maniology came out with a sloth plate, I got one.
This week, all the products are from Maniology. The green is Tutu Mele, the black is (of course) Straight Up Black, and the brown/orange is Hatha. The plate is M291. I stamped the sloth outline with black and colored it in on the stamper with Hatha, put sticky basecoat over my base color, waited until it had dried to tacky, and stamped the sloth onto it.
MY PROMPT TODAY: Sloth