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Miss Nettie & Ms Marzy Meet, Pt 1 – The Invite & Reply

May 18, 2010 Leave a comment

 

The Invite & Reply

by Melissa McEwen & Walter Bjorkman

Date: Today
To: Miss Nettie as she told me later.

“Dear Miss or Mrs or Ms Nettie and kin I never know what to be called these days,

Eddie says he talked to some friend of yours why I don’t know and she said you got stories about ya an that ya should come over to Granma’s and with friends and something about a table.

The address is Brooklyn we are up the street from where I work 236 31st Street Qwik-Bake not that its at that address its where I live not work.

Sunday is good for us there might be some saturday pie left over if Eddie and his friend Sid dont get to it first but they wont because they are not comin over unless they do.

Marzy, Eddie’s Gal

Reply:

Dear Marzy, Eddie’s gal (you should git that tattooed on your hipbone or back if you haven’t already):

I would loooove to come over and tell stories as long as y’all got stories to tell, too — like a swap meet. Stories and Saturday pie on Sunday — yum.

Miss Nettie (Miss is fine because it’s too late for me now to become a Mrs.)

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Miss Nettie & Ms Marzy Meet, Pt 2 – Nettie Leaves for New York

May 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Nettie Leaves for New York

by Melissa McEwen & Walter Bjorkman

 

South of Somewhere, Alabama

Nettie and her purse and her drunk friend Snow and Snow’s work buddy Zee (short for Zed which is short for Zeddy which is short for Zedadiah) are in Snow’s long mustard colored car for the long drive to New York.

The only reason Nettie asked Snow to come is because she needed his car. She can’t drive, never learned to drive. And Snow only drives his car when he’s going somewhere far and New York is far-far. Snow invited Zee to come along to help drive. Nettie hopes Ed and his gal don’t mind the extra company.

Nettie and her purse take up most of the back seat. All she is bringing with her is stuffed in that big brown suitcase of a purse of hers. And Zee tried to squeeze back there with her because he’s sweet on her even though he’s married. Nettie made like there was not enough room. Zee made like he wasn’t going to go to New York but Snow tells him, “There are mo’ finer gals than Nettie in new york city,” and Zee hopped in the front seat so fast he almost slammed his leg in the door.

“They may be prettier, but they ain’t gonna want y’all,” Nettie says from the back seat.

“You will always be the prettiest to me,” Zee says, turning around to face Nettie who was sitting behind the driver’s side.

“Humph,” Nettie says, moving to sit behind the Passenger’s seat.

“Once you see them gals in New York, you will forget about Nettie, Zee,” Snow, starting up the engine, says. “Her purse gets more attention than her.”

Zee laughs at that and then they are off. Before the car can even turn onto the main street, Nettie is out cold in the backseat. Her head on the seat, her purse as her pillow.

Meanwhile, back in Brooklyn . . .

“Eddie, roll over, hon, your bony knee is right in my gut an ya know I’m trying to watch my waist, my tight pants are getting tight an tell me howd’ya come to get Nettie and friend to come here? An how didya meet? I gotta worry ’bout her an you?”

“Marzy, sweets, oof – now your knee is in my never-no-mind, ouch! tell me why we can’t get more than a twin in here.”

” Cause if crazy lanlady Baumgartner sees me movin in a big bed she’ll know you been stayin’ here most nights an’ have to pay more rent an I tole ya that already moron and why did ya ask them you dont know them and how did ya come to? She planted that palm tree out front an when it started to die in the winner she brought out heating pads an when that dinnit work she just said she spent the summer in Miami Beach and you didn’t know they are in Ala BAMA comin’ all they way up here for just Sunday dinner and what’s this about Saturday pie? you know Granma bakes on Sundays I meant Baumgartner not Nettie who could grow one in Alabama.”

“I read one of Nettie’s stories and it was so funny I just said it would be cool for her to come to Granma’s and she jumped on it, I didn’t know she was way down south and not here in Brooklyn. And Nettie’s gotta be closer to 50, 55 than your 39 and my 24”

“A-hole, you know I’m not a day over 36 and you’re 26 an why do ya always bring that up do we need booze?”

“Marz its 6 am on Saturday, I don’t want a drink, let’s go back to sleep, or some . . .you know, slide the firepole?'”

“OOOOFFFF – that knee was no accident”

“I gotta bake some Saturday pie is why.”

Miss Nettie & Ms Marzy Meet, Pt 3 – Marzy Bakes, Nettie Awakes

May 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Marzy Bakes, Nettie Awakes

by Melissa McEwen & Walter Bjorkman

 

Marzy Bakes a Saturday Pie

“Mmmmmm that must be the Saturday pie I’m getting a whiff of, how did you do it so fast?” Eddie dozed off for only an hour after shaking off Marzy’s well-timed and placed knee, the aroma making him hungry.
 
“That’s just Granma she thinks its today which its not so’s she put on her cherry parfait perfume that Gertie bought for her down at the Bohack’s though of course its today cause it can’t be tomorrow even though it is the dinner I mean an I told Grans women ought not to be smellin’ like fruit less they want a bite taken out an I know its not been Bohack’s for years but when ya grew up with it an she spilled half the bottle on her dress.”
 
The only thing Eddie could do is hightail it to Mait’s, the after hours club that he has the keys to, call up Mitch, Chalky and Sid to join him for shots and poker all day while hoping the house was still there when he got back.
 
“What’s Saturday pie anyway, and who asked for it?” came from Granma to a startled Marzy. Granny wouldn’t say more than two words at a time unless she had a bellyful of gin, at which time her lineage to Marzy became evident. When Marzy had a bellyful of anything, she turned into Grandma, growing more and more quiet. Marzy’s friends loved hanging with her when she had a bellyful.
 
“I don’ know Grans maybe any pie that’s baked on Saturday” as Marz was shocked into a normal sentence. “But I would think you’d name a pie after the day when it was being eat though then you wouldn’t know its name until that day so unless you know its gonna be ate on that day you wouldn’t know its name for sure with Eddie and his buddies always comin around raidin the fridge though I think you’re supposed to keep it on the windowsill but it must be the bake day cause they’re comin on Sunday”. Marzy had quickly recovered.
 

“Yep, Saturday.” Granny had also.

Nettie Awakes in the Back Seat

When Nettie wakes up it is dark out and Zee is behind the wheel. Snow is in the passenger seat knocked out. Zee hears Nettie stirring in the backseat and says, “Good you woke; now I got somebody to talk to.”

Nettie thinks about pretending to be still asleep, but she is wide awake. “Turn on the radio.”
She forgot that Snow’s radio doesn’t work and Zee tells her so.

Nettie yawns on purpose just to make a sound.

“We in Virginia somewhere,” Zee says as if Nettie asked a question.

“Virginia,” Nettie says to herself and puts her purse on her lap for warmth. Even though it is almost June, Virginia air is nippy to Nettie. She is used to Alabama heat. “I always said if I had a daughter, I’d name her Virginia. Either that or Andalusia.”  Nettie seems to be talking to herself and not to Zee.

Still Zee says, “Virginia’s all right, but I don’t know about Andalusia.”

“Andalusia’s my birth place,” Nettie says as if to herself and she digs in her purse. She pulls out a map and a flashlight. “Up north there ain’t no towns or cities with names you could give a baby. In the south you got, uh, Tallahassee, you got Memphis, you got Florida, you got Alabama, even, you got Georgia, and Pensacola, can call him ‘Cola. But up north, there ain’t nothing but,” she turns on the flashlight, points the light on the map toward the northeast. “You can’t name a child Connecticut or Simsbury or Poughkeepsie. Maybe Brooklyn, that’s where we headed, but not Manhattan, especially not Springfield or Boston.”

Then there is silence again and Nettie rummages through her purse and pulls out a radio and batteries. “I forgot I had this radio in here.”  She puts in the batteries, fusses with the antenna and switches the dial until she finds a station with a song that sounds good. Then she turns to look out the window.

Miss Nettie & Ms Marzy Meet, Pt 4 – Nettie and Eddie Explain

May 14, 2010 Leave a comment

Nettie and Eddie Explain

by Melissa McEwen & Walter Bjorkman


What you think about these folks in New York?

“Turn that flashlight off Nettie,” Snow, waking up, says in a voice rough with sleep.

Nettie, turning from the window, forgetting she had left the flashlight on, says, “Go back to sleep, Snow. I was just ’bout to turn it off.”

Snow sucks his teeth and asks Zee if he wants him to take the wheel, but Zee says, “Nawl,” and Snow falls back asleep.

“I’m just gonna rest my eyes,” Nettie says, humming along to the tune on the radio, her eyes closing. She has the map spread across her lap, the purse on top of that, for extra warmth.

But soon Nettie’s just-gonna-rest-my-eyes turns into deep sleep and Zee, after a while, starts getting sleepy, and then! A horn honking wakes them up like an alarm clock.

Snow, in a sleepy haze still, turns ’round to look at Nettie as if she is the one causing the racket, as if she would be the one to have an alarm clock in her purse. Then realizing that the noise was their own horn blaring away from Zee’s big old head using it for a pillow, he says, “Zee I thought you were good to drive a couplea mo’ hours, man, pull over and let me drive!”

“Y’all was yawnin’ and sleepin’ and snorin’, I couldn’t help but fall asleep, too,” Zee says, pulling over.

“Maybe we should find a rest stop and sleep for a while, plus I gotta pee,” Nettie says as Zee and Snow switch places.

Snow starts the car and they are back on the highway, Nettie looking out the window for rest stop signs and Zee trying to recline the seat, but Nettie’s in the way.

“C’mon, now, move, Nettie,” Zee says.

Nettie sighs and scoots over to sit behind Snow and Zee falls back and falls asleep.

“What you think about these folks in New York?” Snow asks Nettie who is staring out the window. She turns the radio down and says, “What’s that Snow?”

“What do you think about these folks in New York? Do you even know anything about them?”

“Marzy and Ed? I don’t know a lick about them. I just know they want to hear me tell my stories and you know I love storytelling,” Nettie says.

“Are they paying you?” Snow asks. He is always asking about money and Nettie was surprised he didn’t ask her to pay him to drive her to New York.

“Nawl,” is all Nettie says, turning the radio off to save the batteries.

“I mean they should. They asking you to come to their place to tell them stories,” Snow says. “They must think you famous or something.”

“I’m not gonna be the only one telling stories. They got stories to tell, too. We are sharing. And they are cooking. Reckon I shoulda brought something with me?” Nettie asks. “I got a bag of flour and sugar in my purse and baking powder and baking soda, too. I might bake a cake or something when I get there. If they don’t mind me using the oven.”

“You mean to tell me you don’t have an oven in that purse?” Snow jokes but Nettie doesn’t laugh. If Zee was awake, Snow says in his head, he’d be laughing — coughing with laughter. Snow smiles at the thought of Zee laughing and how he puts on a show when he laughs that people laugh at him laughing even if they don’t know why he’s laughing.

Nettie is going over in her mind what she’s going to make. She forgets she has to use the bathroom and Snow drives on in the night-morning, rolling the window all the way down so the wind can blow hard in his face and keep him awake.

In Maitland’s as Marzy bakes . . .

“So Eddie, we’re not in here before noon on Saturdays, what’s the big rush to get out of the house?” Sid was sucking the foam off the top of a short, not used to beer at eight in the morning. Well, not every morning. Usually when so, the group would wind up cursing the gods they didn’t believe existed, while relieving themselves in a city churchyard, or some other foolishness that seemed to have deep import at the time.

“Marzy and Granma are baking” Eddie shuddered.

“’Nuff said” Sid had no idea if Marzy could bake, never heard of such a thing, and Granma’s peach cobbler was more fit for the sole of a shoe than for eating. Whatever the result, he knew getting there would be circuitous, if not outright calamatous.

“Mitch! Chalky! C’mon grab your chairs, Eddie’s got a tale to tell, he’s buyin’ and probably gonna be drawing bust hands if we’re lucky.” Sid was ready, he hoped the others were.

“Not much to tell, Marzy heard that I heard about this story-teller, Nettie’s the name, so she got this idea to invite them over for a Sunday dinner, and when she found out that they were in Alabama and actually were driving all the way to Brooklyn just for the dinner and something called Saturday Pie, which they have no clue as to what it actually is, well, then she puts the whole thing on me. You guys are invited, by the way.”

“I don’t know, Eddie, I mean Marz never really forgave me for getting all hopped-up about her killin’ my snakes.” Chalky hung his usually ashen but now reddened face balefully to the ground, always looking for an edge in the sympathy department, which had long since lost its sway with this group. Out of force of habit he was inclined to do so anyway. Chalky would take bi-monthly jaunts to visit his mother in Miami Beach, come back sun-burnt, which would disappear in two days, going back to its pallid color, never a trace of tan.

“She didn’t kill your snakes, Chalk, a cop in the property department did, when they were held in evidence after Marz used them to catch the scam artists that bilked Granma and sent her to the hospital, by hiding them in her own purse and cruising as bait. One bit the cop, I would’ve done the same.”

Eddie was tired of Chalky’s screed of how he lost his “reasons for living”, always omitting that he intended to sell them for thirty a pop to pay off a gambling debt he incurred on the plane back last year, holding out from the initial offer of twenty each. So there was some concern there, for his wallet, not the snakes. The lawsuit against the city and the police force never went anywhere, and he was slapped with a $500 fine for keeping unlicensed poisonous pets within city limits.

“Never heard all the details” Mitch, preoccupied with his own fiasco a few weeks earlier, muttered, although he had heard the story almost as much as Eddie had lived it.

Mitch was a classical composer and choral director, with a slightly odd bent. He had thought it would be a good idea if his ensemble, “The Euterps”, at their Little Carnegie debut, perform semi-naked while singing Gregorian Chants while he belted out a rousing rendition of Billy Rose’s “The Stripper” on organ, afterwards ala Kauffman inviting the audience of sixty not to a school cafeteria for milk and cookies, but to a schoolyard for beer and games of Kings with the spaldeens. It was bad enough, but when the local thugs mugged all of the twenty that showed, including the reviewers from the likes of the Sunday Times and Village Voice, it would be lucky if he ever worked again in this town. Mitch was contemplating a move to Munich, or Berlin, where he heard they were more open to that sort of thing.

Halfway through, the game was decidedly going Sid’s way, as he was the only one with no relationship, financial or career threatening possibilities in his life at the time. His only worry was continuing his life in academia, bouncing between one grant, grad school and another, before landing a job crunching monotonous data from the Big-Bang cosmic background radiation, his specialty. Sid loved the concept of astro-physics, couldn’t stand the minutae.

Eddie suddenly folded, throwing down three aces, a hand that would have easily stood up.

“What’s up Eddie?” Chalky’s eyes popped at the three bullets, two of anything were all he ever mustered up in any game, anywhere, anytime.

“I smell somethin’ cookin, or maybe burnin’, and the bread factory’s been shut down for months now.”

“C’mon, Eddie, Marzy’s place is five blocks away!” Mitch was pulled from his reverie of Bierkellers in Oktober, with this abrupt turn.

“A little distance never stopped Marzy before, guys. I gotta go.”