A Little Deception

Contributor: John Laneri

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Most Saturday mornings, I bypass the town cafe and head straight for breakfast at Aunt Jillie's Boarding House. It's a large Victorian known throughout Texas as the finest establishment in Neverton, a small community along the cattle trail to Fort Worth.

Once there, I always eat breakfast with Jillie, my best friend. She's an good looking, fun loving woman that folks call, 'Aunt Jillie'.

That day though, Lucinda, Jillie’s maid, stopped me in the foyer of her house, whispering, “Miss Jillie's too busy for pancakes.”

Surprised, I replied, “But, she always eats a stack of your pancakes on Saturdays… says it’s her favorite.”

“She's too flustered to eat,” Lucinda said. “All she’s been doing is flying around like a whirlwind. I’ve never seen her in such an excitement.”

Hearing a flurry of activity coming from the parlor, I turned about to see what the commotion was all about.

“Why Sheriff Carson!” Jillie said, in a startled voice. “You surprised me.” She paused to wipe the moisture from her cheeks then continued, “I've had a busy morning... got up at five o'clock.”

While Jillie was usually well groomed and fashionable, today a scarf covered her hair and a man’s shirt with long tails hung to her knees.

“You’re lookin' mighty casual this morning.”

She pecked my cheek with a kiss. “Lets have coffee. I'll tell you all about it.”

With my stomach growling for pancakes, I followed her through the dining room, toward the back of the house where we settled across from one another at a kitchen table.

“Why so busy?” I asked, as I poured some coffee.

“I’m getting the house ready for the Senator,” she replied, smiling brightly.

In the background, I noticed the aroma of a pot roast slowly cooking. Savoring the smell, I went on to say, “I take it, you’re referring to that fellow passin' through from the state capitol.”

“Can you imagine, a real senator staying at my house. There’s so much work to do.”

“You seem to be going to lots trouble just to please a senator.”

“If I treat him right, he’ll go back to the capitol and spread the word that my house is the finest in Texas.”

“Your house already is the finest in Texas.”

“But, I want the important people with lots of money to know that too.” She touched my arm. “He’s promised to pay me one hundred dollars.”

“One hundred dollars,” I said, surprised. “That’s a powerful amount of money for one of your girls.”

“He wants me,” she replied, happily. “I’m getting’ one hundred dollars for a night of pleasure as well as a pot roast dinner and a splash in my new bathtub.”

It took me a few moments to sort through her words. Finally, I said, “What I don’t understand is, how you plan to satisfy both the senator and me at eleven o’clock – our usual Saturday time.”

She removed the scarf from her hair and began adjusting several knots of ribbon hidden underneath. They were the kind women use to tie the hair into little balls close to the head. It's a grooming technique that most fellows know give ladies a terrible look.

Smiling, she continued. “I didn’t think you’d mind postponing our Saturday night, knowing it’s for one hundred dollars.”

While I generally enjoy the rich texture and reddish highlights in her hair, the curlers distracted from that pleasure. Forcing a smile, I asked, “What about that girl from Abilene, the one with the blue eyes. She gets fellows plenty excited.”

Jillie paused to adjust another curler. “She's too skinny for a distinguished gentleman, and besides, she likes to use spurs... can I get you a coffee refill?”

I rubbed my belly, my eyes still directed to the curlers. “I’ve had enough coffee. Some things tend to upset my insides something awful.”

Finally, she replaced the scarf saying, “I hope you’ll come by the house tonight and visit with the Senator.”

“I doubt the Senator will be much interested in me,” I replied, as I reached for my hat. “Actually, I'm thinkin’ of playin’ poker with some of the boys at the saloon. I need to win some money... seems my pocketbook is getting mighty thin. I'll need at least another twenty dollars so as not to go hungry before the end of the month.”

“Your official presence would make the house more comfortable for the Senator. You know how often fellows get out of hand when they get liquored.”

“One of my deputies can check by every hour or so.”

“Your official presence would mean so much to me,” she said, as her bare foot began creeping playfully up my leg. “What time can I expect you tonight?” she asked, her voice purring sweetly.

Setting the foot aside, I came to my feet saying, “I need to get going. Some of the boys are already tossin' horseshoes over by the livery stable. I might just win a few extra bucks to carry me over.”

In desperation, she finally said, “Would twenty dollars be enough money to buy your official presence?”

Laughing to myself, confident that a little deception works like magic, I stuffed the twenty into my pocket and headed for the door, knowing that if I played my hand right, the Senator would end up getting spurred, and I'd get Jillie as well as a splash in her bathtub and generous portion of pot roast for my evening meal.

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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 on a number of internet sites and in short story periodicals.
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