“Grace…do you think Essie has been acting a little surly lately?”
“Goodness, Pearl, why are you bent on using big words that I don’t understand?”
“Grace, ‘surly’ isn’t a big word. It only has five letters in it. I was referring to her mood as of late. She’s been snippy and she hasn’t played poker with us since I don’t know when.”
“Well now, Pearl…don’t you remember? Ellie caught you cheating, and it’s not the first time. Do you remember the time you got thrown out of the church’s bingo fund-raiser and…”
Pearl, (interrupting )…Yes, yes I remember. I had my heart set on that beautiful ashtray. I took two thingamajigs off of that kid’s card when he wasn’t looking. I should have switched our cards. I will always regret that I didn’t switch our cards.
“Pearl!” Grace was distraught. “The child’s name is Ellie, not Essie, and that boy was her friend. I don’t believe Ellie has many friends.”
“Well he won anyway didn’t he?” Pearl was not backing down.” I’ll never forget that surly look on his face.”
By now Grace was wringing her hands in a wadded up dish towel. I know this because I was standing in the doorway of Grace’s kitchen. Without even looking, I knew she had that nervous grin on her face.
Both of these ladies live in the rooms above Sanderson’s store. Each of them has a little apartment. I help them with chores almost every day after school. They give me a meager sum of money in exchange for my services.
It sounds to me like they don’t think I do a very good job. Rats! I need cash to maintain the lifestyle I’ve grown accustomed to ever since I got this job. I had better toe the line. I don’t care if I can swing a Bing and a coke every day after school, I have to resist…it’s not worth it.
I knocked on the door before I walked in and hung my coat on a hook.
“Why do you want an ashtray, Pearl?” I asked. “You just blow air out from a pretend cigarette.” Pearl did not answer my question, but Grace did.
“It’s for Bradley Crandall. He smokes air cigarettes too, but he always asks for an ashtray for his pretend ashes.” Grace was dead serious.
About that time Pearl the dog came running into the room. She had waited as long as she could to go for her walk.
I don’t even have to put a leash on her anymore. She stays right beside me unless she sees kids or another dog. She runs off then. Besides, Pearl the human doesn’t want her dog to run around like a floozie and get fleas.
I would love to have my own dog but my mom is an unreasonable person. She said to pretend that Pearl the dog is mine. I try to, but it isn’t the same.
I want to be an entrepreneur. I heard Mr. Crandall say there’s a lot of money in it. Maybe he’ll be at Pearl’s when I get back. I really want to put a plan into action. I’m already eleven.