First, though, let me explain about the characters. Most of my "silly stories"-- that is to say, the ones that I tell to my sister in bed at night, the ones that consist of more laughing than talking, and not the ones I write down-- have many of the same re-occuring characters. The Weinstein brothers, Harvey, Bob, and Howard, are trademark characters in my stories, and they are always the villains. (I have no idea why I picked these names-- I believe it all began with Howard Weinstein after we watched Father of the Bride--which is why they're all Asian-- but then I added Harvey and Bob as his brothers. Kudos if you actually know who Harvey and Bob Weinstein are!) : P You may notice that Jennie Wren and Betsy Priggs are both Dickens names-- I kind of just picked the names on the spot because I didn't really feel like coming up with my own.
Also, just a note, I don't mean to imply in this that all strange Asian men are cause for suspicion, so if you are Asian, please know that I mean no offense! Keep in mind that this really is meant to be a nonsensical story and is purely for amusement.
With all that said, I hope you like the story! : )
~ In a little town called Blue Island, in the state of Illinois, there lived a middle-aged widow named Jennie Wren who lived by herself in a small but comfortable cottage that had been in her family since Abraham Lincoln was president. Although she lived alone, Jennie was rarely lonely, for she had a great many friends in Blue Island and whenever she was not out paying calls, running errands about the town, or tending to her little house and garden, she could usually be found standing in her cozy little kitchen, talking on her telephone.
Jennie Wren loved gossip, and everyone knows that small-town gossip is the very best. She knew it was a sin, but she just couldn't help herself, so she figured the Good Lord would surely forgive her as long as she meant well and her intentions were always for the best. And her intentions were indeed always for the best, for Jennie Wren had never been known to say an unkind word to anyone and she always held other people's interests and feelings in a very high regard. The only problem of it was that she just couldn't keep a secret, at least not for more than twenty minutes or so, so if something was told to Jennie Wren, it was likely that everyone in Blue Island would have heard of it before the day was passed.
One of Jennie's closest and dearest friends was her next-door neighbour, Betsy Priggs. Betsy had lived in Blue Island for nearly as long as Jennie Wren, and she was also a widow so the two of them spent lots of time together. If there was one person in the entire town who loved to gossip more than Jennie Wren, it was Betsy Priggs, so between the two of them they knew pretty much everything about everyone in Blue Island.
One morning in late summer as Jennie was standing in her sunny kitchen washing the breakfast dishes, she happened to glance out the window and noticed a tall man with a long dark braid walking down the street. Right away she could tell that he was a stranger, and an Asian one at that. Jennie knew it was probably very xenophobic of her, but she couldn't help feeling the slightest bit wary around strange Asian men ever since Ed Hadley's store had been robbed by one last June. Could this be the same man, come to rob her and her neighbours. There was only one thing to do, and that was to call Betsy.
Jennie dialled her friend's number and waited nervously as the telephone rang.
"Hello, Betsy dear, it's Jennie. I'm afraid I may have some unpleasant news."
"Whatever do you mean, dear?"
"Well, I was just washing my dishes at my kitchen sink when I looked out the window and saw a man walking past. He's a stranger, Betsy, an Asian gentleman with a long braid and foreign-looking clothes."
"Heaven help us!"
"No, Betsy, we can't be certain what he's up to yet", Jennie said, trying to be rational. "He may be a perfectly harmless travelling salesman, or perhaps he's even visiting friends in the area, but considering that misfortune at Mr. Hadley's caused by a man of a very similar appearance, I really do think that maybe we ought to call the authorities, don't you?"
"If you say so, dear," Betsy replied nervously. "Oh, dear. Can you see him now? What is he doing?"
Jennie leaned toward the window, stretching the telephone cord as far as it would go, and saw the Asian man turn down the next street past Betsy's house.
"Oh, Betsy, he just turned down Dewdrop Lane. I can't see him anymore. Now calm down, Betsy, here's what you must do. Go downstairs to the cellar and get Ephram's gun--"
"Ephram's gun! Why, I never fired a shot in my life! Besides' I don't want to hurt anybody, Jennie, can't we just--"
"Oh, pipe down, Betsy. You don't have to fire it, but just in case the man does try to enter your house, he will see that you are armed and then with any luck he'll leave without causing any trouble. And besides, he probably won't even try to come in, but it's best to be prepared. Now I'm going to phone Constable Rhodes and tell him to send a car--no, that wouldn't be right since we don't even know yet what the man's up to. I'll just tell the Constable to come to your house, and then I'll be over in a jiffy."
"Alright, dear", Betsy said. "Oh, you're so much better at handling crisis than I. I'll go right now and get Ephram's gun. Goodbye."
"Goodbye, Betsy." And Jennie hung up.
After she had put the telephone back on the hook, Jenni scurried to the window and leaned over the sink to see if she could catch another glimpse of the mysterious man. She couldn't see him, so she went back to the telephone and hurriedly dialled the police station.
It rang for a few seconds before Constable Rhodes answered. "Hello!"
"Hello, Constable Rhodes," Jennie said. "It's me, Jennie Wren."
"Jennie! How good it is to hear your voice." The Constable was always a very cheerful and polite man, admired by all the townspeople. "Is this a call of a business nature or a social one? I do hope you have good news to share."
"I wish I did have good news, Constable," Jennie replied. "The fact is, I believe I may have just seen the man who robbed Ed Hadley's store walking down Dewdrop Lane. That is, he looked very like him. Betsy Priggs and I are both very anxious to find out what he's doing back here, or even if it is the same man, so I had hoped you would come to Betsy's house and perhaps find out what all this is about?"
"Certainly, Jennie. I'll be there directly. If it is the man who robbed Hadley's we ought to lock him up immediately. He's part of a chain gang and is wanted in seven states for theft and attempted murder, you know."
Jennie thought she had better not tell Betsy that bit.
"I'm sorry, Jennie, I really shouldn't have told you that. But don't you worry, I'll be there immediately." And with that the Constable hung up.
What a relief to know that the Constable will be here soon, Jennie thought. What a nice man he is.
Jennie went to the hall closet to fetch her shawl, and then hurried out the back door to go to Betsy's. When she opened the back door of Betsy's house, which was just across from Jennie's back yard, Jennie found her sitting at her kitchen table with her late husband's 40-caliber Springfield repeating rifle sitting on her lap, anxiously sipping tea. She smiled nervously when she saw Jennie come in.
"I called Constable Rhodes, and he's on his way here now," Jennie said. "Have you seen anything more of the Asian gentleman?"
"No, thank goodness." Betsy set her cup back in its chipped saucer-- nearly two-thirds of all Betsy's dishes were either chipped or cracked, thanks to her twelve cats-- and laid the large rifle awkwardly on the kitchen table. Just then they heard a car pull up in front of Betsy's house.
"That must be the Constable," Jennie said as they both rushed to the kitchen window. Sure enough, there was the Constable's patrol car, and out came Constable Rhodes, along with Deputy-Constable Hiram Stone. Jennie and Besty went outside to meet them.
"Constable, I'm so glad you've come!" Betsy exclaimed. "We didn't know what we would do if the Asian man tried to break in, and I confess I was rather frightened of what might happen, but now you're here, thank the Lord!"
"Never fear, Mrs. Priggs, all will be well," the Constable assured her. "Now, Mrs. Wren, where did you last see the gentleman?"
"He was heading down Dewdrop Lane when last I saw him, which was maybe about fifteen minutes ago. He was only walking, though, so he can't have gotten far."
The four of them went around to the back of the house where they could see down the street, and there, walking slowly down the road and looking as though he had no particular destination in mind, was the Asian gentleman.
"Well, I'll be," muttered Deputy Stone, who hadn't said a word up until now.
"Is it him, Constable? Is it the man who robbed Mr. Hadley's store?" Betsy was practically jumping up and down with anxiety.
"I can't tell at this distance, Mrs. Priggs, and besides, I'm not sure I'd recognize the back of his head, but Mr. Stone will drive the car to the end of the street and, if I may borrow your car, I will meet up with him from this direction so that he cannot escape."
"Oh, certainly he can, can't he, Besty dear?" Jennie prodded.
"Of course, Constable," said Besty, and in a few moments Deputy Stone had drive around the block and was now driving up Dewdrop Lane while Constable Rhodes was driving down towards the Asian man. Jennie and Besty stood at the edge of Besty's lawn, waiting and watching.
TO BE CONTINUED........