Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Real Story of Cincinnati Chili, Part 9

I'm sure you've all bitten your fingernails to nubs by now in anticipation of this new installment.  Wait no more, my fingernail-less friends.  If you want to catch up on the previous installment, click Part 8.   PS...this is my other favorite part of the story...

Chapter 4:  Reedsler Steps In

Her heart had wings.  She all but flew out the door of the shop and to the curb. There are certain moments in your life when you are so happy you can only express yourself through a hop or a dance.  Thus it was that Hannistina's nimble feet began twirling her in circles as eloquently as Fred Astaire had twirled Ginger Rogers in the lovely old movies which were as regular a habit for her as Weight Watchers enrollments.  Her exuberance got the better of her, and she continued spinning across the street, singing a somewhat out of tune version of "My Favorite Thing.

On and on she went, spinning and singing, raising her hands up to the marshmallowy clouds. 

"Warm paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my favorite....".  

A piercing scream ripped through the bakery-scented air.  Tires squealed to a halt just inches from the largest poodle on Hannistina's pajama top.  There they stood staring at each other, Hannistina and that strangely familiar car, then he stepped out. 
"Uh-huh," (he spit out his gum right there in the middle of the street) "This kind of thing is exactly why Dad sent me out here."  

Hannistina had faintly heard the voice over the loud tango of her overwhelmed heart, and recognized him instantly.  It was Reedsler, her baby brother.  He was the family "babysitter".  Anytime a family member started acting erratic, he was sent to spy on them and report back to Dad.  Hannistina groaned.  How could she have let things get this far out of control? 

He stepped over to her. "So, uh, do I get a hug or should I just pretend  
I'm on "Dancing with the Stars" along with you?"  He reiterated his point with his high pitched giggle, ending with a small snort.  It was the first of many. 

"You can either join in or get lost!"  Hannistina playfully put her hands on her hips and tossed her head back.  "You have a reputation of being a killjoy, and I don't want any of that around here." 

"Why would I want to join your little circus?"  Reedsler shook his head, and teased back,  "You never fail to draw a crowd."  

Hannistina looked at the crowd gathering across the street at the Bonmuffin Bakery.  She was in too good a mood to care.  She started to ask Reedsler in, but remembering the disaster inside, she refrained.  Instead she taunted him, "I suppose that you brought that raging appetite with you Reedy.",  knowing that the pet name would send him into a mild rage. 

Instead of getting angry like he used to, he laughed and shot back "I never leave home without it!"  

Realizing that she would not get the upper hand the old fashioned way, she 
decided to appeal to that raging appetite of his.  "Well I have about as much in the house to cook as I have to wear, so unless you want to eat fluffy poodle 
pajamas for dinner, will you run to the grocery and get us some supplies?" 

"You ran out of food?" he exclaimed loudly, "This situation is much worse than Dad thought.  I will be back in a jiffy." 

"Don't hurry!", she called after him as he sped down the street.  She knew 
that she had gotten rid of him for an hour or two.  He would not shop at the 
little mom and pop shop down the block.  He would drive the twenty minutes to 
the nearest Wal-Mart.  Reedsler did not get the charm of her small town.  She 
looked across the street at the gawking bystanders and waved.  She knew she 
appeared ludicrous, but at the moment she was still glowing from the weight 
that Dudley had lifted from her shoulders.  She gathered herself, knowing that she only had an hour or two to create a miracle inside her little home.  Throwing one more wave to the crowd across the street, she tossed her hair and hurried inside with renewed enthusiasm. 
"It is amazing what and hour and a half can do when you set your mind to it," 
Hannistina thought as she surveyed her hastily cleaned home.  "He won't think 
to look in the closets, anyway." 

Hannistina smiled to herself.  She was amazed how happy and content she now 
was, thanks to her Dudley.  I mean, her friend Dudley.  Her cheeks reddened.  Could it be that she has really learned to care for Dudley?  She thought of his 
short stocky frame and balding head...they had always stood in the way of her 
wanting to get to know him more, but now she only thought of the smile of forgiveness beneath his badly bruised forehead.  She had certainly learned to respect and appreciate him; who knows what the future would bring.  Her lips turned up into a satisfied look, while she folded her hands near her chin, lost in thoughts of him...

The door burst open and Reedsler entered, laden down with Walmart bags, his miniature poodle yipping at his heels. It was Reedsler, the poodle lover, who had given her the pajamas last Christmas.

"Hey, Mona Lisa, wipe that stupid daydream out of your head and give me a hand here," he demanded without a hint of chivalry.  Hannistina sighed.  Compared 
to Reedsler, Dudley certainly was a gentleman.  

"Don't you think you need to learn some manners?", Hannistina replied as she 
moved to help him. 

"Manners don't get you anywhere in this world sweetie,"  he taunted, "what you 
need is a direct approach to get you what you want." 

"Well, since the direct approach is what you suggest, then I will let you know 
directly that I am not cooking tonight." 

"What, you send me all the way for groceries without the intention of cooking 
them for me!  This is cruel and unusual punishment.",  he whined.

"We are going out tonight, my treat."  She knew that he was not above being 
bought.  "I am going to take you to my favorite bakery, and then we'll check out 
the shop next door.  I am thinking about opening my new store there." 

"Oh, you have a potential space for your little bon-bon shop now, do you?" Reedsler's continuing taunts were beginning to annoy Hannastina.  

Hannastina answered, "Okay Reedsler, if you are really here to help me, can we 
draw a truce?  I really could use your input.  You have a great eye for a deal 
and despite your ability to annoy your older siblings, you are really good at 
helping Dad with even his most difficult clients.  You can help me here, if 
you'll give it a shot." 

"Are you really going to try to open a shop?  You know Dad really wants you 
back in the family business.  When you said that you were going to take a break 
from accounting, he was sure that you would be back in a month or two.  It's 
been a year.  You moved out here to the middle of nowhere and we've been waiting 
for you to play the part of the prodigal son when your cash runs out, but now 
your talking about opening your own shop.  Come on sis, Dad . . . well we all 
want you to come back and join the family."  For Reedsler this speech was 
monumental, not one jest or poke was present.  

Hannistina knew she must choose her words carefully, so as not to ruin this 
moment.  "For one, I was a good accountant, so I saved and invested well.  I 
never had to spend much because I still lived with Mom and Dad.  Secondly, I 
really love cooking.  I learned that when I was working in the firm.  I would 
stress all day in the office and come home frazzled and frayed.  When I got 
home, I was so tired that I couldn't think, but Mom was sick, so somebody had to 
cook dinner.  That was hard on all of us, so I did my best to pitch in.  All 
those years that Mom did everything for everybody, and it was my turn to pay her 
back a little.  I learned that I loved the kitchen.  By the time I had dinner on 
the table, I was relaxed.  The stress dissipated with the steam of each cooking 
dish.  Now I know that I can use my love of cooking and my ability with numbers 
and make this work.  I am not leaving the family, I just need to make my own way 
in this world.  You know, I didn't leave for another continent, I am only an 
hour away from Mom and Dad's house.  Now that Mom is better, you all really 
could visit more often." 

Reedsler had listened to her careful explanation.  He had watched and let her 
passionate words reach her soul.  "I didn't know that you were unhappy in the 
firm.  I just thought you were burnt out from working all day and then going 
home to take care of the house and Mom and Dad." 

"Mom's cancer took a toll on all of us, and I was burnt out, but no more than 
Dad.  I just found out that I need to do my own thing.  I need to find my way.  
When Mom got her clean bill of health, I knew that I needed to take some time 
and sort things out in my head.  Hey, the groceries are all away!  It's funny 
how fast two people can put things away, even when they are talking.  Let's go 
to the bakery.  I'll tell you more about my plans over dinner!" 
Stay tuned, the next installment is called "The Other Woman".  That should give Hannistina something to eat chocolate about.

1 comment:

  1. Little Reedy. I forgot about him. Oh, the fun we had. :)