The latest from Marge and Earnest.
***Earnest was to find out a few things after Marge moved in. He found out that Wednesday was poker night and that his doublewide was the new favored location for the game, the guys from Marge’s old shop sitting on their coolers of beer around the coffee table, Marge dealing nachos and bean dip along with her colorful remarks. Earnest also found out, that first time, that he was not very good at poker, and that he did not care for the loud bantering of the group.
So the next Wednesday Earnest declared it his pub night, and he went out alone for the first time since meeting Marge over three months before. The table near the small corner stage was empty and he sat there alone as he had so many times before. Unlike all those other times though, this time he was not to be left alone. He was to find out that he was, for the first time ever, desirable.
Though it was fairly busy, the waitress came right away, called him by name, welcomed him back, asked how he was, where had he been. Earnest blushed and mumbled that he’d been busy; he was glad when she left to get his beer and gladder still when she brought it to him but quickly returned to the busy tables across the room.
She had no sooner left when an energetic, big haired woman approached his table, listing a little to the left because of her prosthetic leg, leading with the drink grasped in her right hand, talking at him well before she plunked herself down in the chair beside him.
“Hi, remember me? From the department store? Ilene. Ilene Higginbottom.”
Earnest stood awkwardly, bumping the table and spilling both their drinks. The waitress came by, wiped the table while winking at Earnest, and promised to bring another round.
Ilene then bombarded Earnest with compliments. “You were so kind, so helpful in the department store. I said to myself, now there’s a good man.”
Earnest was the color of a radish.
“So tall, so handsome.”
No one had ever told Earnest that he was handsome. He squirmed uncomfortably, turning a deeper shade of radish.
The band had started playing, and Ilene Higginbottom asked Earnest if he would like to dance.
“Oh, gosh, please, no, I, uh, I’m no good, I have two left feet.” There isn’t a radish that could now compare to Earnest’s red face as he remembered that Ilene Higginbottom had only one right foot. He gulped and stared at his boots. Ilene Higginbottom didn’t slow down a bit.
“Ah, poor thing, I was joking, you dear, sweet man… You know, I settled out of court with the mill. I am pretty comfortable, if you know what I mean.”
Earnest wasn’t exactly sure what she meant, but he did know that he was incredibly uncomfortable, especially when Ilene Higginbotttom leaned in and stroked his big calloused hand. He took a deep breath and stood up carefully, not spilling a thing. Earnest would never have the vocabulary to describe the range of emotions that he felt at being able to honestly tell Ilene Higginbottom that he was taken by another, but he did tell her, with relief and with pride, and he also asked her to please excuse him, but he was late for his poker game.
Without even having finished a beer, Earnest left the pub, feeling kind of handsome. He was willing to bet that Marge would think so too.