Saturday, May 23, 2020

Part 5: Chip Overplays Her Hand

The story thus far: While Miss Irene has been organizing Pleasant Glen's virus-relief efforts, we've been temporarily sidetracked by the story of how Muffy became head of PG's face-mask sewing efforts. In order to proceed, we need to back up a sentence or two and get a running start:

Ehh-vry-one's who's ehh-ny-one is talking about it,” Chip said.

Muffy imagined she saw Chip's eyes roll back, like a shark preparing to attack. “Shark Week” was “Must See TV” for Muffy, and she knew that a quick bonk to the snout was (sometimes) enough to repel such an attack.

Oh that old news,” Muffy said in a bored voice. “I thought you had something new and interesting to share.”

Chip flinched, then circled again, still probing for a weak spot. “I heard Miss Irene's meeting with the mayor this afternoon. I heard he's giving her the key to the city. Again.”

Muffy sneered, revealing razor-sharp teeth of her own. The mayor was her second cousin, twice removed, and in Pleasant Glen, family gossip spreads even faster than community gossip. She knew all about Miss Irene's attempts to blackmail (Muffy's opinion) the mayor for his toilet paper hoarding (reported in Part 1 of this series).

Oh, I seriously doubt that,” Muffy said. “In fact, the mayor and I were just discussing how I would handle relief efforts much differently.” She had actually called him to commiserate about TP-Gate – since she, too, had been caught with extra rolls – and to assure him that she hadn't been the whistle-blower. (At least, she hadn't been the first to snitch on him, a point which she thought cleared her of all guilt.)

You?” Chip said, incredulously. “But you're . . . lazy!” The mayor had reacted the same way. Muffy's usual mode of operation was to steal someone else's idea, graciously accept the title of chairman before it was offered, then humbly select a co-chair to actually do the work and take the blame.

The temperature inside the small car dropped rapidly. Poppy and Bitsy leaned as far away from Chip as they could, which, given the size of the back seat wasn't far. What Chip said was true. Even Muffy knew this. All of the women knew it was true . . . of each of them.

But it was one thing to say this behind someones back (which they did frequently), and quite another to say it to their face.

The silence in the car turned awkward. Chip, realizing she had been cast adrift, did the only thing she could do: She led the sharks to weaker fish.

Did you see the picture Mitzi Finderstien posted on Facebook from her granddaughter's second birthday party last weekend? Definitely more than 10 people in that tiny yard of hers. No social distancing. And a pony ride!”

Are you sure that picture was from this year's party and not one of those 'Memory' posts?” Poppy asked. “Didn't it rain all weekend?”

I wouldn't know,” Chip said haughtily. “I was inside all day, self-isolating and sewing face masks.” She held up a sad scrap of fabric held together with safety pins and good intentions as evidence, then quickly stuffed it back into her purse.

In fact, Chip didn't know when the picture had been taken. Unless the post featured a cute kitten or a nearly naked fireman, Chip scrolled right on past it. She had only noticed Mitzi's post because the man leading the pony had a tattoo of a kitten on his well-formed bicep. “What does it matter? It's people like that who are putting the rest of us in danger.”

The women eagerly took the bait and began discussing other photos they'd seen on Facebook which may or may not have been taken during the shutdown.

Muffy ignored the frenzy. Seeing Chip's poor excuse for a face mask had given her an idea....

To be continued. 
For more stories about life in Pleasant Glen check out my novel "Scout's Honor" and soon to be released "Scout's Redemption."

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