Archive for the ‘A Parlour of Southern VOICES’ Category

Advice from Topeka – by Carol Novack

May 20, 2010 3 comments

Advice from Topeka

by Carol Novack

(initial version published in Yankee Potroast)


“Never trust nobody & you’ll live a long life.” — Alma Peatree Price


A woman slips a note into a copy of the latest “Reader’s Digest” on sale at a shop at Dallas airport. The note says:  “Hi. I’m Muffy.  I’m young and gorgeous but lonely.  Please write to me!””  Edna Appleby finds the note and responds, as follows:

Dear Miss Muffy:

My name is Edna Appleby, from Topeka, Kansas.  My granddaughter, Dotty, bless her heart, gave me that Reader’s Digest with your note in it because she knows how much I love Reader’s Digest, dear. She herself never reads it because she’s a fashion designer in Los Angeles.  I’m much older than you, I suspect, and I’m very very concerned you might be slipping this contact information in other magazines and it will fall into the hands of a ax murderer, one with brains enough to figure out where you live.  And I know all about ax murderers because Elmo, my uncle by marriage to my sister who never had any sense was one.  He done killed six women in a farm outside of Topeka in the space of they say three minutes, including my sister and her bingo friends, because he was a very big horribly strong man with a vial temper and no control at all and ugly as a dungbeetle to boot. And they fried him, thank the Lord, so he’s been getting his just deserts for years.

Your a very lucky young lady, Miss Muffy. I just got this Web TV thing in the mail from my grandson Bobby  and my naybor’s son Billy teached me how to use it and I’m having so much fun.  Just imagine yesterday I found one of my elementry school classmates what lives in Baton Rouge and she writes me all about little Joey Figs, what used to be class clown, so she tells me all about how he’s been indicated for securities fraud.  You never can tell about people I always say which is what you should always be baring in mind, dear, because the world is full of all sorts of terrible people and I don’t know why but the Lord has a reason for everything.  Amen.

Now my husband, Willy, who passed away five summers ago, bless his heart, was a good man and he worked hard while the babies came bursting out of me like little popovers.  We fed those babies and I took a job in the tire factory and they all growed up in good health except for two who was still born.  And except for Elmo and my nasty drunk daddy, I can’t really say I got too many complaints about my life because I was very very careful to never get mixed up with dangerous mean fruitcakes so now I’m ripe as an apple what’s already fallen from a tree, but a little bored but don’t you be telling anyone that.

Maybe you’d like to corespond make a lonely old lady like me happy because the kids and the grandkids don’t write or visit much because their very busy and to tell the truth they try not to speak to me probably because I lost most of my hearing and had to get a hysterectemy, and then decided to go for a sex change, you know life is a bitch when your a woman.   Anyways, I look forward to finding out where you live and what you do and whatever else you want to tell me.



Introducing Mabel Honeycutt (I) – by Michelle McEwen

May 17, 2010 6 comments

Mabel Honeycutt is a character who has yet to find a home in a story. So far, her story is told in snippets: some sound like poems, some sound like songs, some like diary entries. The story will come.

Mabel Honeycutt pt. 1 (Mabel & Sadie)

by Michelle McEwen

My sister Sadie got off work early.
We sat at the kitchen table, talkin.
She asked about my lipstick.
The one she said was the color of dried blood.

I told her I got it from a drugstore back home.
She wanted to try it, so I let her. It looks good on her.
I told her to keep it. I have another tube.

~ Mim

Nettie’s Purse – by Melissa McEwen

May 17, 2010 9 comments

Nettie’s Purse

by Melissa McEwen

Nettie is a character and so is her purse. This is a silly short story I wrong a long, long time ago – probably seven years ago.

Nettie’s Purse

Nettie has only one purse. It is big and brown and bulges. Nettie keeps some of everything in that purse. It is not a lie.

If James, the always-fixing-things-boy down the street, needed a screwdriver because he didn’t know where his had got to, Nettie would reach down in that magic hat of a purse of hers and pull one out. And if James said, “Naw, wait, I need a wrench,” she’d have that, too!

Nettie has some of everything in that purse and everybody knows it. Sometimes, when she is busy in the pantry or the bathroom, and some neighbor or some relative is sitting in her kitchen, they might ask, “Nettie, you got fifty cent I could use?” and Nettie would holler, “My purse is on the sofa; I know I have some change in there somewhere. Dig through it.”

One time her neighbor asked, “Nettie why do you have a knife in your purse?”

Nettie said, “In case someone has an orange to cut …”

Another time Nettie’s aunt Demetra asked her, “Nettie, why do you have buttons in your purse?”

Nettie just laughed. She has needles and thread (from buttercup yellow to dark green), too, in that big, brown purse.

And what a big (and heavy!) purse it is. When she got on the bus the other day, she knocked a lady over with it and the lady shouted, “You got a sack of flour in that purse or something?”

“She just might,” said a man that Nettie knew (he was drunk at the time. He is always drunk) and the whole bus erupted with laughter. The bus driver was choking from laughing so hard.

“She’s got a radio in there, too,” the drunk man continued, “and the Bible.”

“And a pail of holy water!” the bus driver added.

“She got everything in that purse. She’s going to put Marty’s Supermarket out of business,” a young girl chimed in.  Her mother, laughing, tapped her hand and said, “Be quiet!”

“I should have made you pay fare for that purse,” the bus driver laughed.

And all the passengers had tears coming out of their eyes and streaming down their faces from laughter.

“Nettie, now I know you got tissue in that purse,” said the drunk man that knew Nettie.

And Nettie, of course, reached down in her purse and pulled out a new box of tissue. She handed the box to the closest person to her and it was passed around. While the people dried their eyes and blew their noses, Nettie pulled out a magazine and read all the way to her stop.

“That purse is going to kill somebody one day,” another man said after Nettie got off the bus.

“Can you describe the suspect?” the bus driver asked.

Someone in the back yelled out, “Yes, I can, sir. Let’s see, she was, uh, big and, uh, brown!”

The people on the bus roared with laughter as the bus rode on.

“Ah, that purse is going to be famous one day,” the bus driver said, but nobody heard because everybody was laughing so loud.

But laughing doesn’t bother Nettie none.

Everywhere she goes, the purse goes, too. Nettie is always dragging that purse around, lugging it around as though it is a baby too old be carried and should be walking.


Grandma Holmes’ Confusion – by Melissa McEwen

May 15, 2010 5 comments

Grandma Holmes’ Confusion

by Melissa McEwen

These are the first few paragraphs of a story I wrote two years ago. I am rereading it and laughing at myself and wondering why I wrote this story. I think a sign I saw posted in a closed down gas station sparked the idea.

Grandma Holmes’ Confusion

Any other time Grandma Holmes would threaten to  beat Mary-Helen if she came running into the kitchen slamming the screen door behind her, but this is the third time today that Mary-Helen let the screen door slam and Grandma Holmes didn’t say a word. Not even a “I done told y’all about slamming that damn door!”

Mary-Helen wasn’t even worried, either. Usually she’d cover her mouth and say “Oops” while waiting for Grandma Holmes to say something. She knew something wasn’t quite right with Grandma, but she wasn’t going to go check on her. She was happy to be getting away with something and not being bothered. Grandma could’ve been dead in her room and Mary-Helen would have went on about her business, playing and running in and out of the house. But Mary-Helen’s sister Rosa-Lee knew what it was that was causing Grandma Holmes’ change in attitude.

Because this is the fifth time today that Grandma Holmes let something slide. And Rosa-Lee knew of only one thing could make you go from cranky to nice in a heartbeat. She wasn’t even making them clean up or nothing and Rosa-Lee knew why that was, and in the middle of the kitchen she told Mary-Helen why, she said, “It’s love — simple as that.”

And Mary-Helen laughed till she hiccupped, slapped her knee till it hurt.

She may be in love, but who in their right mind gone be in love with Grandma Holmes?” Mary-Helen said after she was done laughing and hiccupping.

Introducing Mabel Honeycutt (III) – by Michelle McEwen

May 15, 2010 12 comments

Mabel Honeycutt is a character who has yet to find a home in a story. So far, her story is told in snippets: some sound like poems, some sound like songs, some like diary entries. The story will come.

Mabel Honeycutt pt. 3 (Mabel & Sadie’s Man)

by Michelle McEwen

I keep catching Ike (Sadie’s man)
watchin’ me.

Sadie keeps catchin’ him, too.

Ike narrows his eyes
when he looks at me
like he is tryin’ to read me
but misplaced his glasses.

~ Mim