THE USUAL NOTE FROM LB: From the summer of 2002 to the spring of 2010, Gwen the Beautiful and I were the proud and often exhausted owners of a beautiful Ozarks property we called Cloud Creek Ranch.
In many ways, the ranch was paradise. But it was a paradise with a price that started going up before we even knew it existed. Here’s another Monday musing about our adventure and the lessons we learned.
Oh, and if y’all detect any irony, please believe me when I say it comes straight from the universe and not your kindly Uncle Larry B.
by Larry Brody
“I found her, Larry B!”
Jimmy Blue stood in the doorway, petting Emmy the Bold and Decker the Giant-Hearted and ignoring Belle the Wary’s growls.
“Good to see you too, Jimmy Blue,” I said as he came all the way in. “Who’d you find?”
“I found Lindy!”
He looked at me incredulously. “My waitress! I mean our waitress. I mean the waitress at the Mexican restaurant.”
Ah, now I knew who he was talking about. Lindy was more than just the waitress at Paradise’s Mexican restaurant. She was the waitress everyone missed. Her big smile and kindliness had been a Paradise institution. And then she was gone, to no one knew where.
“You’ve been out tracking her down?”
“Can’t let a woman like that get away, Larry B.”
“Where is she?”
“I’ll show you. C’mon.”
Jimmy Blue’s need was like a living thing. I saw it as a big hungry bird sitting on his shoulder. The Need Bird squawked at me, and I knew I couldn’t let Jimmy down.
I hollered up to Gwen the Beautiful that I was leaving and went out with Jimmy Blue to his truck. As we drove to the road and onto the highway, he told me more.
“Ever since Lindy left I’ve had my feelers out. Uncle Ernie and I got ourselves a few connections, and I been using them pretty good.”
Saying that his best friend and he had “a few connections” was being modest. Uncle Ernie and Jimmy Blue just about are Paradise County. Anyone here who knows anything either has heard it from Uncle Ernie and Jimmy Blue or told it to them.
“An ole boy in Marshall gave me a call,” Jimmy explained. “Said Lindy’s waitressing at the diner there. So we’re gonna go pay her a visit. I figure we’ll eat, and then—”
He broke off. I waited.
Ever see a man really gulp? Jimmy Blue gulped. Then: “Larry B, I’ve had nothing but the miseries since that girl disappeared. I need to get her back to Paradise. To get her back to….”
He trailed off, but I knew the word he’d left out.
“Jimmy Blue, you’ve got feelings for this woman.”
“Well, ‘course I do. If I didn’t, Uncle Ernie’d be setting where you are right now. But the last time I let Uncle Ernie in on what I was thinking about a girl he started with the rhyming and the teasing and ruined everything.”
“Rhyming and teasing? Recently?”
“Back in 7th Grade. But I remember it like it was yesterday.” Jimmy Blue gulped again. “I’ve never been married. Never found anybody I wanted to be around like I want to be around Lindy.”
A third gulp. “I’m not getting any younger,” Jimmy Blue said. “Started collecting Social Security last month. It’s time to make my move. But I don’t know what to say.”
“What did you usually say, when she was working in town?”
“‘Bean burrito.’ And ‘Please.'”
“You could be honest and tell her you’ve missed her.”
“That’s too honest,” Jimmy Blue said. “Help me, Larry B. You’re a man of the world….”
“Well, I’ve got a brother-in-law the ladies love. When I asked him how he did it he told me, ‘Women love you if they think you’re opening up to them. So I always say something—right away—that seems personal and only for them but isn’t really personal at all.”
Jimmy Blue nodded and drove silently all the way across the Buffalo National River to what turned out to be the Glory Be Diner. As we got out of the truck, he turned to me with a nervous smile. “Got it,” he said.
We went into the diner and there was Lindy with her big smile. She rushed over excitedly and gave each of us a big hug. “Larry B! Jimmy Blue! It’s great to see y’all. Make yourself to home!”
I sat down at the table Lindy showed us to. Jimmy Blue stayed on his feet. He looked uncertain, then steeled himself. I could see that big invisible Need Bird squawking in his ear.
“Lindy, can I talk to you?”
“Why sure,” she said. “What is it?”
He leaned closer to her. Spoke in a quiet, sincere voice.
“I’m scared to death of botulism,” Jimmy Blue said.
Lindy stared. She turned on her heel and fled.
Jimmy Blue slumped into his chair.
“Guess I should’a stuck with ‘Bean burrito,'” he said.