Bubbles and Alfalfa: Part 4 - Mary Enters the Picture

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Mary was 34 years old with a completely unruly head of fiery red disobedient curls – a trait she had inherited from a great-great grandfather who was rumored to have taken to drinking various tonics in an effort to straighten out his own head. Needless to say, he had spent much of his time walking around in a wobbly fashion muttering about inventing the perfect straightening tool. Mary was quite proud of the fact that her great-great grandfather had actually without inventing invented the straightening iron. It was unfortunate that he had never taken out a patent, she would often hear her father sigh, as they would have been filthy rich and he would not have had to work as a chicken sexer, a somewhat challenging and frustrating job, as unknown to most people chickens were actually rather shy about revealing their 'sections' as he called them and would often make bashful attempts to hide who they really were.

Mary had a penchant for wearing flowery overall dresses making her look older than she was overriding the fact that she actually looked younger than she really was. This habit had been taken up after browsing through a French fashion magazine and gazing upon beautiful gauzy flowery chiffon frocks. Of course, they were quite different from the ones that Mary had actually taken to wearing but not living in Paris one had to make do. Besides, she convinced herself, her dresses were just as, if not more, stylish as the French had seemed to miss out on the unique embellishment of the overall straps.

One day as she happened to walk by Larry’s Pet Shop she glanced in the window just as Bubbles was going into full swing on that wretched lime green contraption. Being more clever than the average canary, and almost a candidate for MENSA he proudly often reminded himself, Bubbles had managed to figure out how to swing from nearly one end of the cage to the other. Mary stopped transfixed, marvelling at the athletic ability of the sweet, fluffy little yellow bird.

What a delightful pet he would make, she thought. Her next thought was, ‘Wouldn’t chicken be nice for dinner.’ As she was watching Bubbles swing along while thinking of a nice crispy chicken drumstick, it dawned on her that she had never had a pet in her life. She had often wondered what it would be like.

Reflecting upon the idea, Mary imagined the two of them sitting in the salon after she had finished her supper. Bubbles would be singing merrily along and Mary would be doing her crochet or knitting or whatever other craft she decided to take up which would nicely accompany the jolly bird music. Her mind made up, in this happy fantasy state, Mary entered Larry’s Pet Shop.

Larry looked up upon hearing the bell which had been tied to the door tinkle. Ah, a customer. He put on his best ‘I am here to help you expression’. As he, in reality, did not have that many customers, it was not always an easy task, especially if he was more in a ‘Animals are stinky and I am only doing this because my stock options haven’t come in yet’ mood.

Putting his true yet somewhat warped feelings aside, he smiled at Mary. “Hello. Lovely day.” he said in an appropriately cheerful tone.

“Yes, indeed.” She replied, smiling brightly back, her pearly white teeth which she had professionally cleaned by the dentist just the week before reflecting the light of the bright fluorescent lamp on the shelf behind Larry’s head.

Momentarily blinded, Larry raised his hand across his eyes.

“Are you alright?” she asked in a slightly flirty voice, wondering if he really found her so attractive that he had to shield his eyes.

“Yes. Yes. Just a bit of glare from outside.” he replied.

Mary turned puzzled towards the window. It was raining buckets out there. The man must be delusional. She found that strangely appealing. However, pushing aside all thoughts of romance, she came to the business at hand. “I am interested in that canary. How much is it?”

Larry had to stop himself from clapping his hands in glee. He was about to get rid of that annoying bird! Forcing away the silly grin that threatened to creep uncontrollably across his mouth, Larry casually asked, “With cage or without.”

Ah, this was true. She couldn’t exactly keep the bird in a lidded pot. “With.” she answered, mentally crossing the purchase of the new daisy covered hideous, but to her eyes beautiful, gingham smock she had been eyeing in one of the multitude of catalogues displaying photos of equally hideous garb stacked on her night table.

“The one he is in now? Or this other deluxe sure-to-please one?” Larry said pointing to a white wrought iron cage with flowers and birds scrolled through the bars while keeping his fingers crossed on his non-pointing hand.

Mary found the white cage positively enchanting. Just like a fairy tale, she thought, and white went so well with yellow – a very egg-like combination. “How much?”

“$52.50 for the cage he is in now and $275 for the nice one.”

At the price, the previous moment of enchantment quickly wore off. Things were surprisingly expensive in fairy tales and Mary had to quickly shake herself back to reality. The thought of a set of a new set of rhinestone studded earrings also ran through her mind. She was prepared to give up the dress for now, but really, she couldn’t sacrifice everything, especially not for a little bird that she wasn’t even acquainted with.

“The one he’s in now.” replied the reluctantly sensible side of Mary.

“Very well.” Larry said, sighing and thinking ‘Phooey, hamburger again tonight.’ Well at least he was getting rid of the damn bird.

Larry rang up the sale and Mary took Bubbles happily exited the store with her new pet and headed home, unaware that a small brown rodent was scampering along behind, hiding behind the bushes to keep out of sight.

© 2012 Maria van Santen


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