Fried Chicken Night

Contributor: John Laneri

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A September moon was just beginning to appear when Jarvis Thornton, a quiet, little man, stepped away from the food table and started across the town square. In the air, a hint of fall made the night perfect for an old-fashioned election rally.

Smiling broadly, he worked his way through a crowd of people, acknowledging friends and acquaintances. In just two short months, he hoped to be the next mayor of Baxterville, a small community near Waco.

From all indications, his candidacy was pulling ahead, especially after the town council had refused to endorse Big Al Slocum, the current mayor and local Chevrolet Dealer.

“Howdy folks. How y’all tonight,” he said comfortably, his voice inspired with power.

“You’re lookin’ good,” a voice screamed from the crowd.

Once on the grass away from the crowd, Jarvis relaxed, glad to be away from the scrutiny of voters, and lifted his dinner plate close to his nose. To him, the aroma of fried chicken was hard to resist.

“Hi Jarvis.”

Startled, he lowered the plate, his pulse quickening.

The voice of Miss Suzy Blaze, one of several young girls that worked the motel row along the highway, started the bells of disaster to ringing.

“Would you like to dance with me tonight?” she asked merrily, as she hurried to his side.

“I don’t dance,” he replied, as he moved quickly away. “Now, get going. Folks might see us talking.”

“But, you promised.”

“I only said I’d think about asking you to dance and that was a long time ago – too long to remember.” He continued on, forcing a smile with each step.

“I’ve been practicing the two-step.”

“I’m not interested in dancing. I’m here to eat fried chicken. And besides, my little lady might see us talking – not to mention what the voters might think. They’re already looking in our direction.”

“But, you told me you liked to dance.”

“Forget I ever said that. I was sippin’ whiskey at the time.”

She lifted her skirt. “Can I show you what I’ve learned? I’m getting’ good at slow dancing.”

Jarvis stopped and forced another smile. “Go ahead and show me, but be quick about it. I’ve got serious campaigning to do.”

She inched her skirt higher and began slowly dancing in place.

“Your legs sure are pretty,” Jarvis said. “But with the mayor’s election, I need to maintain discretion.”

“What’s discretion?”

“It means you have to act like you don’t know me.”

“I don’t understand. On Wednesdays, you say you love me.”

“Wednesdays are different. That’s when….”

Suddenly, he gasped. “There’s Margaret, my little lady. Oh my God, she’s moving in our direction. You need to go. She’s worse than Big Al. She always brings trouble.”

“Who’s that girl?” the wife growled, when she arrived beside him.

“Oh her... she’s some young kid trying to dance. I was tellin’ her how to vote.” He loosened his collar and looked about. “The fried chicken sure smells good. Where’re we sittin’?”

The wife looked away to watch Suzy twirl in circles, her attention going to shapely legs and a colorful skirt flowing to the sounds of fiddle music. “Have you been admiring at that girl’s legs?”

Jarvis took a deep breath, his lips quivering. “The only legs I see are the drumsticks on my plate.”

Suzy stopped dancing. “My legs are pretty. They’re not drumsticks!”

Shaken, he turned to her. “I’m not calling your legs, drumsticks. I’m talking to my wife – if you don’t mind. So, please keep quiet.”

“But, you always say my legs are pretty. Now, you’re calling them, drumsticks. That’s rude.”

“I was only talking about the chicken legs on my plate,” he replied, his shoulders beginning to slump.

Margaret looked from Jarvis to Suzy, her eyes narrowed. “Tell me something mister, how would you know what her legs look like?”

Cautiously, Jarvis glanced about. “I'm a people watcher and sometimes I see legs. Right now,I see people watching so keep your voice down. We could be living in the Governor’s mansion next year.”

Margaret considered the situation, then grabbed his ear. “You come with me Mr. Thornton. We need to have a serious talk.”

Suzy watched Jarvis stumble away, his candidacy ended.

A short time later, as she was making her way around the crowd, Big Al Slocum stepped from the shadows.

“Did I do good?” she asked, turning to him.

“You did very good, Little Lady. We’ll have to take another ride in one of my Chevrolet's.”

He looked her over, his eyes running her length. “From what I see, I’m thinkin’ real soon.” He handed her a hundred dollar bill and started away. “But now, I have some serious politicking to do, so I’ll get back to you later.”

She took the money and followed after him. “Can I ask you one question?”

Big Al looked around uncertain. “You can ask, but be quick about it. The voters are always watching.”

Suzy raised her skirt. “Do my legs look like drumsticks? That other gentleman made some derogatory remarks that hurt my feelings.” She raised the skirt higher. “You always say my legs are pretty when we're in the backseat of your new cars.”

Big Al again glanced about, hearing those same bells of disaster. He started to speak. By then, the crowd around him was already applauding in laughter.

Still thinking about pretty legs, Suzy Blaze drifted away, unaware that she had left behind two fellows – fried chickens so to speak – cooked to a sizzling, well done.

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John is a native born Texan living near Houston. His writing focuses on short stories and flash. Publications to his credit have appeared in several scientific journals as well as a number of internet blogs and short story print editions.
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