BLUE HAWAII – Daphne Bellflower
BLUE HAWAII – Daphne Bellflower
Tootie walked between the rows of display cases, making sure everything was in order. “That’s it Gail,” she said to her friend waiting at the front door.
“Do we need to stop at the store for anything?” Tootie asked. “Does Kay need nuts or candies?”
“I already asked,” Gail replied. “She has everything she needs for tonight’s game. Except she’s short two hands. That’s us.” She glanced out the storefront windows. “Tootie, it’s getting dark. Let’s go. Your antiques can take care of themselves for the night.”
Gail smiled at Tootie as she turned out the lights and locked her shop door. Tootie had always been a tad poky, and hadn’t changed for 50 years. But best friends can overlook little annoyances, and Tootie was the best bridge player in North Bend. “I’m ready, Gail,” Tootie said. “Let’s show these ladies how to play bridge.”
Bo Peep shook her blonde china curls and blinked her big blue eyes. She stretched, adjusted her bodice and petticoats. “Here Ess,” she called, “here Pee.” Her matching Westie and Scottie dogs scampered up to greet her, their paws making clicking sounds on the glass shelf. Like Bo Peep, they stood as still as they could manage all day and loved it when the lights went out and they were free to play.
Bo Peep looked at the display case across the aisle. “Hello Sparky,” she said to the clown cookie jar on the top shelf. “How was your day?” She smiled, her china cheeks turning pink.
Sparky, as usual, had a big smile on his face. “Well, I’m doing just fine Bo Peep,” he said. “I had a little scare today. A couple of kids wanted to buy me, but their mom doesn’t like clowns. Imagine that.” He laughed, making the big black buttons on his clown suit jiggle and his china neck ruff shake.
Bo Peep had fallen in love with Sparky the minute Tootie brought her to the store. Sparky immediately welcomed Bo Peep to the aisle, and asked her questions about her background. “I can’t believe you are over 90 years old,” he exclaimed when Bo Peep showed him her china stamp. “Why there isn’t a chip or nick on you.” Bo Peep loved his sense of humor and his kindness to everything, even the most snotty antiques. Sparky had been so nice and welcoming and the others followed suit. Bob Peep was happy living in the store.
The one thing keeping Bo Peep from complete happiness was Sparky’s girlfriend Joan, the sleekest, smoothest figurine in the store. Tall and slim, with raven hair and slightly parted red lips, Joan presided over the jewelry case with her long arms reaching out, waiting for necklaces and bracelets to be draped on them. Bo Peep liked Joan well enough, but she could never compete with her for Sparky’s affections. Joan was too beautiful and sophisticated, and Sparky was just too nice of a cookie jar.
There weren’t too many available men in the cases in Bo Peep’s aisle, with the exception of the newcomer shaped like a bottle. Tootie brought him in last week, and he hadn’t gone out of the way to be friendly to Bo Peep yet. His square base said JIM BEAM, but that wasn’t the first thing Bo Peep noticed. He carried a guitar and was clothed in a splendid white jumpsuit with a huge belt buckle, the initial “E” spelled out in rhinestones. He was handsome, with his shiny black pompadour and perpetual sneer on his face.
After lights out, Sparky welcomed the newcomer. “Hello friend,” he said. “Glad to have you here in our little store.”
The decanter looked around. “Thankyouverymuch,” he said. “Elvis is in the building.”
His looked at the others. His hooded eyes settled on Joan. “Howdy ma’am,” he said. “I’d like to get to know you a little better.” Joan batted her long lashes and smiled. “Slow down, stranger,” she purred.
Tonight Bo Peep let Ess and Pee run over to play with the Donny the Donkey and Sammy the Squirrel. “Be careful when you play,” she warned them. “Last time Donny broke his ear and Sammy cracked his walnut. Tootie doesn’t like using the Glue on us.” She smiled as they scampered away.
“Hey, Bo Peep. I have something to tell you.” Bo Peep looked around. Shirley Temple motioned her over, her perfect blond curls and white teeth glistening. Shirley Temple was one of Tootie’s treasures, her condition pristine, her price tag marked “Ask Owner.” Shirley Temple was a sweet girl, and one of Bo Peep’s best friends. She had an easy giggle and knew a lot of catchy songs.
“You know that new guy, the Elvis?” Shirley Temple asked. Bo Peep nodded. “Well, I think he’s sweet on Joan. I heard them talking today. Elvis said he’d buy Joan every piece of jewelry in the case.” Shirley paused and laughed, making her dimples show. “I think Joan is impressed. He’s pretty famous. I heard Elvis ask Joan to be his girlfriend.”
“You don’t think Sparky suspects, do you?” Bo Peep whispered, keeping her eyes on the smiling clown. “It would break his heart, if he had one. Does he have one?” she asked.
Shirley Temple shook her head. “I don’t think so,” she giggled. “There’s just a big empty space in there for cookies.” Both Bo Peep and Shirley Templed started laughing. Joan turned her head and stared at them, one painted eyebrow arched.
Joan glided over, her elegant green evening gown trailing behind. “What are you two girls whispering about?” she asked in her husky voice. “Some silly little bit of gossip? I heard the parrots and the stuffed monkeys are repeating stories again.”
“Joan, do you like Elvis now?” Bo Peep abruptly asked. “Sparky’s a great guy. He loves you. He said you’ve been together for over 20 years. Do you want to throw that away for some handsome stranger with long sideburns?”
“What business of that is yours?” purred Joan. “Sparky’s a grown cookie jar. And that’s a long time to be together. What if someone knocks me off my shelf tomorrow. I hit the floor, and it’s all over for me. I deserve to be happy. Sparky’s a great guy, but Elvis…” Joan paused and smiled. “Elvis is something else entirely. Sparky’s made for kids to stuff their hands into, but Elvis is made for grown ups. I’m going to tell Sparky about Elvis right now” Joan glided away towards Sparky, who was busy making all the Hummel children laugh at his antics.
“Poor Sparky,” whispered Shirley Temple. “He never could give Joan any of that jewelry.”
Bo Peep watched Joan whisper in Sparky’s ear, and then turn around and glide back toward Elvis. Sparky was still smiling. That was the one bad thing about having a painted-on smile. Sparky couldn’t cry even though his insides were breaking. He sighed, and his neck ruff drooped. He looked around and saw Bo Peep looking at him, a worried look on her dainty face.
“It’s fine Bo Peep,” Sparky said. “It was bound to happen sooner or later. Joan was always too fancy for me.”
“She’s awfully pretty and sophisticated,” said Bo Peep. “I can see why you love her.”
Sparky looked at her, his smile wide. “Bo Peep, you’re just as pretty as Joan,” he said. “And you’re really sweet too. Maybe this isn’t such a bad thing after all. It gives us the chance to get to know each other better.”
Bo Peep’s cheeks turned a little pinker and she looked down at her shiny black shoes. She was so happy that she didn’t know what to do. She moved a little closer to Sparky. Shirley Temple smiled.
Tootie unlocked the antique store door, her arms full of the items bought at an estate sale in Snoqualmie last weekend. “Gail,” she called, “will you help me bring in the rest of the stuff?”
“I’m coming, I’m coming,” Gail said. She was carrying a huge oil painting of a tropical paradise in a gold frame. “Where should I put it?”
“On that,” Tootie said, pointing at the ornately carved fireplace mantel.
Gail set the picture down, and stepped back to look at it. “Looks a little bare,” Gail said. “Maybe you should set up some figurines in front.”
Tootie looked at the painting, with its blue water, golden sand, and swaying palm tress. “I’ve got it,” she said. “Where’s that Jim Beam decanter I bought last week. It will be just the thing.”
Gail grabbed Elvis and set him down in front of the painting. “Perfect,” she said, “except for one thing. Elvis needs a girlfriend.” She looked around and spotted the jewelry holder. “She’s just perfect for him, Tootie,” as she set Joan next to Elvis. “Don’t they look great together?”
Tootie looked at the china couple and smiled. “They look good, Gail. As good as your card playing last night. Those girls had better brush up on their bidding.” They both laughed.
“I have to dust before I open,” Tootie said. “I don’t know how everything gets so darn dusty every night.” She looked at the clown cookie jar. “Gail, did you move the my shepherdess next to the cookie jar? I could have sworn she was in the case across the aisle.” She stared, a puzzled look on her face.
“Oh well, they look cute together,” Tootie said. “I think I’m going to leave them just like this.”