up all my meals and it's on account of you taking off,"
Mrs. Gooday buzzed under her breath, jamming the cane
rocker beneath the doorknob and buttoning the baby-blue
curtains. She eased her rear between two fat lumps in
the sea-green love seat and draped a crocheted lap blanket
over her thighs. She had yet to remove her night-clothes:
pantyhose with the feet cut out and a tan bra. For the
entire morning her mind was on nothing but the burn at
the back of her throat and down her esophagus.
Mrs. Gooday poked her finger down her
throat and jabbed until breakfast came up. Tired of running
to the toilet, an empty tissue box worked just fine. "If
Verla'd left that electric toothbrush I could keep my
teeth from getting stained," she said, wiping her
lips on the blanket. "She never used it."
Mrs. Gooday heard a ruckus on the sidewalk
and peeked through the curtain where she saw young girls
riding her fence as though it were a horse. "Blast
off little incompletes! Blast off!" she hollered,
flattening her mouth against the warm glass. Her throat
really stung, and sucking oil from a strand of corn silk
gave no relief.
Her fingers poked around the bottom
of the faux mother-of-pearl knitting chest always by her
side, for the high-quality scissors Verla discarded the
morning she ran away. A gift from mother to daughter,
wrapped in good orange cellophane and sealed with a kiss.
Angered by Verla's thoughtlessness,
Mrs. Gooday twisted a lock of hair between her fingers
and snipped cleanly, allowing the whiteness to fall on
her lap blanket. Cutting a lock a day was her new habit.
"If that damned Verla had a phone
I'd call her up right now and tell her all about what
she's left behind. I'd say: I hope you're proud, because
I'll probably be in a plywood box the next time you see
me. I've got all the signs of stomach cancer! Soon as
your daddy puts a bing cherry parfait down me it comes
back up. And another thing, two weeks ago, scrubbing all
those pretty clothes you left, my wet soles stuck to the
linoleum and I just about knocked my block off. Verla.
You don't know the first thing about panning for gold
and you won't ever get it right. And daddy says if you
come home with an Eskimo he'll have your hide."
Goodays live in a town where block parties are frequently
thrown and baton twirlers and parade banners make larger
gatherings grand. The Goodays live inside a long aluminum
mobile home, a violet omnibus parked in a sunny lot at
the corner of Lime and Lemon. Mr. Gooday is the town's
helluva soda jerk: mothers and children drop by
his shop to buy ice cream cakes in the shape of hyenas
and ice cream scoops perched on a mound of raw sugar dough
(a treat that brings them in from as far away as Scutt
Cornstalks grow behind the mobile home
near a ski-masked scarecrow who bays a tape-recorded message,
"Skedaddle! Skew! Skedaddle!"
A pulpboard table, formerly used for
canning corn relish, sits aslant in the mud. The Goodays
seldom pick their moldy corn. It shrinks, hardens, and
falls to powder.
A month ago, their daughter Verla Gooday
(or "BJ") hitchhiked to Yellowknife, Northwest
Territories. It didn't please them that she left home
to strike it rich. BJ pans for gold.
one thirty, the Town Queer trotted down Lime and stopped
before the Gooday's picket fence.
"Oh, what a gorgeous mobile home,"
he whispered. "It's the most perfect house for my
movie." He walked the pebbled pathway through the
tiny, puddle-soaked yard strewn with candy wrappers, broken
bottles, and chopped-up garden hoses. "So odd and
otherworldly, a tide pool."
While he maneuvered the yard, Mrs. Gooday
used a finger to stir pepper into her buttermilk. Hearing
a knock at the door, she leapt up in fear. "Yes?
Yes?" she quivered, "who is it?"
The Town Queer stood at the front door
retying a blue silk ribbon around his collar. He licked
his fingertips and flattened his eyebrows.
"You're not from the Shriner's
are you?" Mrs. Gooday asked.
"No, ma'am, my name is Vaughn Rodell
and I'm here on behalf of the Town Betterment Society.
You see, they've commissioned me to film a motion picture
that will make people want to live here. Will you please
invite me in?"
"Have you brought any sort of how-do-you-do
letter?" Mrs. Gooday asked, proudly cautioned.
"Oh yes," the Town Queer began,
"Mayor Albright has sent along a most splendid letter."
He fished for the document.
While he did this, Mrs. Gooday removed
a large crocheted bedspread from the back of the love
seat and covered her body in the fashion of an Indian
"Let me get this blasted door open
all the way...hold on." Releasing the cane rocker
from its wedged position beneath the doorknob, Mrs. Gooday
was able to see the man clearly. "Yeah, I've seen
you before," she said. "You taught my Verla
piano a long time ago."
"Why yes, I do remember instructing
a pupil named Verla, Verla Bizet, I think it was? Are
you Mrs. Bizet?"
"Certainly not! I'm Mrs. Gooday!
Wife to the soda jerk."
"Oh, and what a heckuva soda jerk
"Yes, yes," Mrs. Gooday replied.
"But let us talk of the film,"
"You mean, let me see the letter
from the mayor," Mrs. Gooday corrected.
The man daubed the moisture under his
nostrils and handed her a folded note from his breast
pocket. She looked over the mayor's scrawl, then set the
heavy paper beneath a desk lighter on the coffee table.
Reluctantly, she motioned for the Town Queer to sit. He
chose the wooden chair with the colorful embroidery (a
lonely cherub swinging from clouds), another gift to Verla.
Mrs. Gooday turned off the radio and sat opposite him
on the love seat.
"May I borrow your loo for a moment?"
Mrs. Gooday made an unpleasant face.
"I'm sorry, but it's warm out and
I've been walking quite a bit."
Fifteen minutes later he returned with
a giggly sigh. Mrs. Gooday, silent during the entire quarter
hour, looked displeased. "What seems to be amusing
you so much?" she asked.
"Well, I'm not quite sure but it
has something to do with this chair I'm on. I was sitting
in there and started to dose-off, then popped up laughing
when I started to dream about the mule that swings from
She looked at him with a blank expression
on her face.
"You're familiar with the tune,
Mrs. Gooday wiped buttermilk from her
chin with the butt of her hand. "I know it but think
it's a real joke."
"I see. Perhaps you enjoy another
fine musical genre."
"What I enjoy, sir, is getting
to the bottom of things. Now please don't think me forward
by steering the talk to that of the film."
Vaughn's eyes lit up. "Why I wouldn't
find you forward at all! What would you like to know?"
"Well," Mrs. Gooday said,
not entirely sure where to begin, "for starters,
I want to know what celebrities are going to be traipsing
around my bedroom. I have many priceless figurines that
cannot be disturbed."
"There's no need to worry about
celebrities, Mrs. Gooday, there will be no movie stars.
The film's actors will be from the Bible camp down by
the fields. You know, local folk." He liked how this
sounded. "Just a lot of nice folks giving a boost
to civic pride."
Mrs. Gooday nodded solemnly. "Why
that sounds right by my oats."
"In my opinion, your mobile home
perfectly illustrates the success of our little town.
Its violet outer skin generates the warmth we want to
convey to outsiders. I think it will evoke free-spiritedness
but also security. You see, Mrs. Gooday, we are fortunate
enough to live in a place with a joie de vivre.
We want all those folks who don't know the pleasures of
our town to give us a second look. Mayor Albright wants
hourly screenings at the rest stop and shopping park."
He paused, holding a black silk handkerchief to his nose.
A heady odor of white vinegar and mothballs lingered in
"I see town in terms of Bible tales,"
he continued. "One of the fellows will be Job and
this will be his house. In my Job story, we'll see a young
man so devoted to his Lord he's rewarded with a violet
mobile home situated on comely grounds, and a virile young
son for all eternity."
"But that doesn't sound like the
Job tale I know."
"Well mostly I'm using the faith
and passion of Job, his metaphors."
Mrs. Gooday tapped her chin, thinking.
"How could that have any possible relation to this
town or my home? God and Satan abused poor Job, really
knocked him around. I'm against child abuse and people
"Don't get me wrong, Mrs. Gooday,
I take the Bible for truth. But I think most people aren't
going to be watching in a by-the-book sort of way. We're
just trying to show that our town is a place where miracles
"So, don't you think it sounds
"I suppose it's all right."
"If I may be frank, Mrs. Gooday,
we're hoping some of the more well-to-do relocate here.
That means more money for the community. This will benefit
everyone, including you."
Quietly, Mrs. Gooday climbed out of
the love seat and walked to the kitchen portion of the
room, the area a few feet away where carpeting turned
to linoleum. After pressing her finger against the back
of her throat she upped buttermilk into the sink. She
wiped her mouth on a tissue, hiccuped several times, upped
again. She rearranged the bedspread around her body and
shuffled back to her visitor.
Vaughn covered his mouth. "My goodness,
dear, are you okay? Have you got that wretched Chinese
"No, just a case of old age,"
she said, looking sadly at the stale pink carpet. "I'm
"It's quite all right for you to
tell me if something's wrong. I'm a very good listener
and try to help when I can."
"Well, I certainly can't confide
in my husband; he pretends I don't exist."
"I know. But you see, Verla, who
you said you remember, left home about a month ago for
the Arctic. She's panning for gold. One day she
just comes in here when I'm giving her dad his deep heating
and tells us she's leaving at the dawn's early light.
'I'm leaving at the dawn's early light for Northwest Territories
and I'm never coming back,' she tells us. Then there's
the whole 'BJ' ordeal. A week before she leaves, she comes
prancing in here, you know, a real Peter Pan fly-through,
and curses us because we call her Verla instead of her
new name, 'BJ.' Well I just about lost my marbles."
Mrs. Gooday paused for a moment, pleased to find the nice
man attentively listening.
"She's becoming temperamental and
strange, like her father." Mrs. Gooday's voice tapered
off to a whisper. She looked down at the raised blue veins
on her hands.
There was an uneasy silence. "Well,
Mr....I'm sorry, dear, but I've forgotten your name."
"Vaughn. Mr. Vaughn Rodell,"
he prompted merrily.
"Well, Mr. Rodell, I don't mean
to burden you with such personal stories. We were discussing
the motion picture, were we not?"
"Yes we were. I was saying that
there would be no movie stars. That the actors would come
from the Bible camp...."
"Ah yes, yes. From the Bible."
"Mrs. Gooday, I'm a man who can
be trusted, despite what you might think about this ribbon
tied around my neck. I'm a neighbor. I live just four
blocks to the west, on Albright. I do hope you consent
to this picture. It won't disrupt your household in any
way. And as for disturbing your priceless figurines, well,
I'm happy to say that my crew will only be needing to
shoot the exterior of your home, that is to say, the outside."
"Well isn't that strange."
"Though I do want to place a bale
or two of hay on the roof since we'll be in the Holy Land,
in a manner of speaking."
"I'd have to ask my husband about
that," Mrs. Gooday replied. "I so seldom go
"Of course, of course."
They smiled uncomfortably, wondering
if the meeting had come to an end. After a minute passed,
Mrs. Gooday pointed toward the kitchen area. "Can
you smell the pickling brine? In this heat, Mr. Gooday
will only eat corned beef."
Vaughn sniffed daintily, like a house
mouse, and retorted, "As the saying goes, 'There
was a time, to keep a man in line, a lady slaved over
her pot of brine.'"
The strangers laughed simultaneously
like two old friends until a gust threw smut-ridden corncobs
against the mobile home's aluminum shell, and the merriment
Mrs. Gooday breathed deeply, cracked
her knuckles, forgot her nerves. What a joy it was to
have found a friend.
Her fingers searched below the love
seat's cushion for a lock of hair. There were many. She
twisted one between her forefinger and thumb. "Are
you a reader of poetry, Mr. Rodell?"
"Heavens, I'm a writer of poetry!"
Mrs. Gooday raised her brow in interest.
"I've never made the acquaintance of a poet before.
Does this poetry take up a great deal of your time? Are
they poems of love and loss that you compose?"
"Yes, I prefer universal themes."
Vaughn had never revealed his hobby to anyone. "As
a child I wrote odes and limericks clandestinely, fearing
mother's Pentecostal wrath."
"Mothers can be very overprotective.
Like cobras and sharks, they attack when provoked. But
one must always remember that it comes from the spirit,
the loving spirit of motherhood." A pang, a hot little
bubble, shot up Mrs. Gooday's spinal cord, making her
think, just for a moment, that worms were living off her
fluid, eating up all that stuff she needed to stay alive,
parasites, like mistletoe. She straightened her back and
wiggled side to side. "Why not have a sip of blackberry
brandy? It might puff up your courage, get you to recite
Vaughn pressed his hands together in
prayer form. "Mrs. Gooday, you're kind, but I'm not
a drinker. I would, however, be honored to recite one
of my poems for you."
"Great. Have you got any poems
"Why yes, one of my dearest poems.
I call it, 'Ode to Children, Great and Small.' Shall I
Vaughn raised his chin and cleared his
throat before reciting:
"Children, young children,
And skinning knees,
Wrestling and calling it fun.
And when the day is done,
And all their cowboy guns
Are under their beds
And Odysseus sails in their heads,
I weep for their beauty
Like a forgotten cootie
Flicked from a muscled limb,
Then loath their future
As odious, old men."
"That was really very sweet,"
Mrs. Gooday applauded. "Such truthful rhymes. And
I couldn't agree with you more, young ones are so lovely
until they grow up." Her eyes slowly ascended to
a photograph of Verla that was hanging just over Vaughn's
right shoulder. "Look behind you, Mr. Rodell, and
you'll see my Verla at sixteen. She looks heavyset but
it's all muscle."
He stood to get a better look. "Ah
yes, of course, Verla Gooday. When I was acquainted with
Verla she didn't have this short hairdo. I believe she
had long hair past her waist and she chewed on it like
a teething infant." He examined closer. "I love
her plaid hunting shirt, but, if you please pardon my
curiosity, it seems unusual for a teenage girl of this
town to wear anything other than a lacy sundress."
"Verla always had something of
an actress in her. You know, she liked dressing in costumes
and that sort of thing. In fact, look, she's holding a
tomahawk. This was when she was going around as an Indian.
But I told her she'd never pass for a squaw looking as
manly as she did, what with those bifocals and that cigarette
behind her ear. Her red flashbulb eyes sure do give a
"I must say, she's convincing,
but as what I'm not quite sure. Her expression...goodness,
it speaks of terror, confusion, and strangely, bliss.
It's a rare talent that can capture the bulging emotions
of a character and express them to an audience with purity."
Mrs. Gooday dabbed her eyes with a tissue
as the two of them took their seats. "It's kind of
you to use the word purity, Mr. Rodell, thank you.
You see, she was a pure dear up till her later teen years
when she was cursed with pimples and a manly gait. We
marched her into charm school to no avail. It was unanimous
that Verla was peculiar, what with the motorbike engines
all over her bedroom floor and the arrests for illegal
gaming. I've been unsteady ever since."
"Mrs. Gooday," Vaughn said,
stroking his arthritic left pinkie, "my condolences
go out to you. How sad you must be. To give a child all
the advantages only to be abandoned. I stayed with mother
until her departure...it was my duty." Pausing in
remembrance, he eyed a lone praline on the coffee table
in a wooden dish shaped like a canoe. Feeling cozy, he
plucked the confection with his fingers and nibbled it
with his horsy teeth. Mrs. Gooday didn't seem to notice.
"Motherhood is a spirit, a godly spirit," he
said with his mouth full, "as Job laments in 3:11:
'Why did I not perish at birth, come forth from the womb
Without inducement, Mrs. Gooday upped
a mouthful of liquid into her hand. "For crying out
loud! You must find my manners despicable." She reached
for a tissue. "With loss come many ill-favored side
Vaughn pinched his nostrils shut and
crossed his legs while Mrs. Gooday cleaned herself at
the sink. Vaughn's mind wandered back to a childhood afternoon
playing dress-up in the attic. Flouncing about inside
a hope chest filled with lavender sachets, shriveled orange
pomanders, and mother's peachy-white trousseau, he closed
the lid and slept for hours in a bath of tulle and taffeta.
He awoke wearing white lace gloves up to his armpits.
Dreamily he marched downstairs reeking of powdery flowers
and exotic cloves. His mother, hosting the Ladies Club
of the Healing Stream Deliverance Church, shrieked as
if she'd been stabbed in the gut. For a few moments the
ladies thought Mrs. Rodell was speaking in tongues, until
they saw Vaughn on the stair. Mrs. Rodell dug her nails
into the frightened boy's ear, yanked him to an enclosed
front porch, and shoved his face into a mound of dog feces.
"You're gonna stink like a boy! You're gonna stink
like a real boy, not one of nature's mistakes!" she
hollered as yellow foam and cake crumbs oozed from her
mouth. To prove his masculinity, Vaughn abstained from
toilet paper for the next three weeks, kept sardines in
his pockets, and smeared dog food in his bed. It was then
he began to write poetry.
Gooday, you must sit down at once...you're not well!"
"Young man, my health is tip-top,
it's my heart that's taken ill," Mrs. Gooday said
plaintively, returning to her sunken spot on the love
seat. "I suppose only a poet like yourself can understand
the true despair of loneliness. When Verla was a girl,
I made her favorite orange pudding every morning for breakfast.
Every night I strolled over to Town Park and picked two
oranges from the tree. I'd stroll home, enjoying the cricket
symphony these parts are known for, and grate the peel."
She sniffled. "It's those simple pleasures that give
life meaning." Vaughn handed her another tissue.
"Back then we grew corn out back. Mr. Gooday knew
all about hybrids and pollination. He'd bring me baskets
of that glorious golden vegetable and I'd stand in the
warm sun scraping the kernels off the cob. I must've filled
one million jars with my corn relish....And now,"
she sighed, "it's all been eaten and the corn's gone
to rot. But at least I have my memories, I suppose."
"I remember Verla pacing about
my tiny solarium, pausing every few moments to pound the
piano keys with her elbows...what a storehouse of energy.
She was a sweet girl, undoubtedly, but I had some difficulty
getting her to sit still." He paused. "I remember
one time she had a brown lizard under her bonnet. She'd
kept it in a freezer, I believe, but it was still alive.
She tore off its tail and swiped my face with it. I was
quite upset at the time. I felt that Verla was...somewhat
disturbed. Gracious, the memory makes me quiver."
"Verla sure has trouble making
"That was the last time I saw her.
Hmm, was this the genesis of her rebellion?"
Pinkness returned to Mrs. Gooday's cheeks,
her spine straightened, her speech slowed. "Verla
was an artist and you know how they can be. We need them
all right, but as some might say, they march to the beat
of an unknown drummer. Verla was, like you said,
full of energy. One summer she hauled about a million
tons of cob in her wagon out to the piggy farms, always
saving a few to do her crafts on. I still have some if
you'd care to see."
"I'd love to. I'm very interested
in the artistic progress of former students."
Mrs. Gooday stood with the help of Vaughn's
hand. "Follow me," she said, guiding him toward
a set of rooms in the tail of her home. The aluminum ceiling
brushed Vaughn's balding pate and their footsteps caused
the mobile home to wobble. An unusual oil painting caught
Vaughn's attention. A still life of a banana split set
in the wooden canoe he'd just seen on the coffee table,
three squares of Neapolitan ice cream in a fancy silver
dish, and a tall glass filled with bubbly purple liquid.
Two splayed, osseous left hands emerged from the right
side of the painting. The fingers didn't point to the
treats, nor did they appear to be reaching for them. The
countertop was blue and green flecked Formica, the background
intricate black lace.
Vaughn studied the painting intently,
deciphering Walter Gooday on one of the thumbs,
while Mrs. Gooday waited patiently to open her daughter's
bedroom door. "My husband's a Sunday painter, Mr.
Rodell. He painted a lovely picture for our first anniversary,
a red barn surrounded by weeping willows before a dramatic
sunset. Since Verla's birth it seems he can only depict
dairy desserts and an occasional glass of soda,"
Mrs. Gooday said with a frown, her eyes focused on the
matted pink shag.
Vaughn lightly tapped Mrs. Gooday's
shoulder and smiled. "Ice cream is very rich and
lends itself well to oils. That grape soda could just
as well be liquid amethyst."
"Ice cream is very rich indeed,
Mr. Rodell, very rich indeed. Though I can't see this
banana as anything other than a banana."
"I have a citrine brooch of Mother's
that's comparable. Maybe you'd enjoy seeing it one day?"
Mrs. Gooday giggled, "Yes, I do
hope we'll have lunch together one afternoon. After the
movie's filmed, perhaps." Then she opened the door
to Verla's bedroom.
The room was as small as a sedan automobile.
A window looked out to a scarecrow and cornstalks swaying
in the wind. On the walls, intricate maps of motorcycle
engines drawn with red and black ink. On the bed, balanced
at the top of several boxes, a rusty, sawdust-lined cage
held what looked like rotten carrots and cabbage, but
Mrs. Gooday motioned toward the cage.
"Plug your nose if you feel the need. When Verla
ran off she left her rat in there without food or water
and it was two weeks before we found it. Mr. Gooday handled
it. I told him, 'I don't want to know, I don't
want to know.'"
They approached a metal workbench in
the corner where as many as one hundred dried corncobs
were neatly arranged into a pyramid. Vaughn cocked his
head, perplexed. Posted on the wall above the cobs, a
newspaper photograph of a woman in her underclothes advertised
a sale at the Town Department Store.
For several minutes they stared silently
at the corncobs. The cobs had been carved into limbless
men, with tiny plastic helmets affixed to one end and
green boots to the other. Like real soldiers just back
from war, horror was visible in their realistic faces.
Mrs. Gooday finally picked up one of
the army men, knocking an unused corncob pipe to the floor.
Vaughn noticed deep gougings in their backs that spelled
out US ARMY. "This is what Verla does. Each one she's
made looks just like these two. She's been up to this
for years. Gave some away to farmer's wives, some to the
neighbor boys, and sometimes, in a fit of anger, she'd
load hundreds in a burlap sack and bury them in the yard."
She paused, cleared her throat. "Do you like them?
Do you think they exhibit artistic talent?"
Mrs. Gooday placed the doll on Vaughn's
palm. He turned it around and upside down, caressed the
boots and face, fingered the letters like Braille, sniffed.
"I'm a great admirer of military art, Mrs. Gooday,
and these are exemplary examples. I'm sure the Town Betterment
Society's museum would be interested in an acquisition.
You know, this soil is famous for its battles." He
returned the doll to the pyramid.
"Yes, Verla and Mr. Gooday spoke
of them often, though I tend to find battles a real joke,
rather morbid," Mrs. Gooday said, rearranging the
bedspread around her body.
"I do so agree. Yes, a real parade
if you ask me."
An eagle landed outside on the ski-masked
face of the scarecrow. "Skedaddle! Skew, Skedaddle!"
the scarecrow cried, "Skedaddle! Skew! Skedaddle!"
"My word! What in Heaven's name
was that?" Vaughn asked, visibly alarmed. He covered
his mouth, his eyes and head began to twitch.
"Why that's just our scarecrow.
There's nothing to be frightened of. Verla rigged that
thing up years ago. She's also quite a gadgeteer. Allow
me to show you my bedroom, my figurines, that is. They'll
soothe your nerves. Won't you?" Mrs. Gooday said
calmly, taking his right hand and leading him to her bedroom.
The Gooday's bedroom was smaller than
Verla's. The walls were dusty rose and the carpeting was
the same stale pink as in the front room. Two twin beds,
both covered with identical crocheted spreads in black,
olive and puce, took up most of the space. Between the
beds a child-sized table shedded dull gold ormolu.
"Here we go," Mrs. Gooday
said, directing Vaughn to the table. "These are my
figurines. From what I gather, they're priceless. Look
at this one." She handed him a dainty infant clutching
a bouquet of violets.
"Exquisite. Eggshell china is a
passion of mine, so very delicate and diaphanous. I feel
"Art has that power, you know."
Vaughn sat on the bed closest the window.
A disposal truck was parked in the street outside. "I
hope you don't mind if I catch my breath on this bed?"
Mrs. Gooday smiled and sat next to him.
She leaned over to blow the dust off her collection of
glass and porcelain babies and toddlers.
After three or four minutes, Vaughn
removed a tiny black book from his trouser pocket. "This
has been a most delightful afternoon, Mrs. Gooday."
She tipped her head back and grinned.
"Would you care to hear the first
poem I ever composed? I wrote this as a boy one night
in bed after mother hosted a grand party. I call it, 'Beddy
"Your poems are moving, Mr. Rodell.
They're the perfect remedy for my grief."
Vaughn blew his nose on his handkerchief,
opened to page one in his book, and read:
"Before I was a baby,
I lived in the clouds.
Now I am a little man,
Camping under shrouds.
I've got a mommy,
Who loves me so,
I've got a mommy,
Who'll never let me go.
Before I was a baby,
With Jesus I did dwell.
Now I've got a mommy,
Who'll save me from Hell."
Again Mrs. Gooday looked as if she might
cry. Vaughn fumbled through his pockets for a clean handkerchief
to offer. "Oh Mr. Rodell, that's my favorite. You
do understand, don't you? You understand."
"I believe I do. And I'm so glad
you've lent me your sensitive ear," he said, standing.
"But now I must go. I'll be back at ten in the morning,
the day after tomorrow, to begin filming. It's been lovely.
Vaughn saw himself to the door; Mrs.
Gooday remained on the bed. As soon as he was gone, she
sprang to the window. If Vaughn had looked back over his
shoulder he would have seen Mrs. Gooday in her pantyhose
and bra. Once he turned the corner she darted to Verla's
bedroom where she collected corncob soldiers in her arms
and began to arrange them among the figurines on her gold