Music Box Dreamer

Bertie Jones pulled at his thinning black hair and stomped back and forth across the Foster’s large parlour. Every foot step left deep size twelve prints in the thick shag of the blue carpet, He stopped stopped his anxious pacing for a moment and fixed his angry glare on the matron of the house. He shouted, “How could you let Annie sneak away like that?”   Abigail gave him one of her mind your manner looks and took another sip of lukewarm tea before answering him. When she did her voice contained enough ice to chill a tall martin pitcher. She clenched her teeth, “I didn’t let that ungrateful girl do anything. She ran away on her own.”   Bertie was about to say, “Well you should have kept your eyes on her,” but he bit the words off before they could leave his open mouth. He heaved a sigh and for the tenth time stopped at the big bay window. He gazed down the long wide, white driveway to the street. No matter how hard he willed her too Annie didn’t appear.   The door opened on well oiled hinges. Alexander made his way across the room and settled down on the blue chesterfield beside his plump wife. He asked, “I take it Annie home yet,” before lifting the top off of the large oak humidor. He fumbled around the Cubans for a minute and a last he found one to his liking. He held the big stooge under his nose with his pudgy right hand and breathed deep of the well cured tobacco with a faint hint of dark rum.   At long last he bit off the end and stuck the cigar in his mouth. He waited until puffs of white smoke started filling the room before speaking again. “I wouldn’t start getting all in a fluster just yet. Likely she just skipped out of that dance with one of her friends and went to that new jazz club she was talking about. Probably closed the place and instead of coming home stayed over for a gab fest. Any minute she’ll come waltzing through our front door nursing the grand daddy of all hangovers.”   Foster stopped talking and turned towards the door when he heard footsteps, “Like as not that’s her now. Instead of Annie it was Bertha.   The teenager was doing her best to rub the sleep out of her eyes. She gave Bertie a sour look, “What’s gotten Berties girdle in a twist.”   Abigail roared, “Bertha Foster, stop talking like a rag pickers daughter. You know very well that we don’t allow that sort of language in this house. Now apologize to Robert for your bad manners and remember to call him Mr. Jones.”   Bertha wailed, “But he said I could call him Bertie.”   “I don’t care what Robert said, in my house you’ll speak with respect to your elders.” She added under her breath, “Whether they deserve it or not.”


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