Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

Valuables

Lindsey Walker


If this were a circus, Mamie would’ve marked that rube with chalk.  As Mamie sized up the girl using her one good eye, she folded her own arms; her dry skin rasped with a sound like snakeskin sliding over corn husks.  The skinny redhead across the room had just knocked her own tripod over and was scrambling to put the thing back together. She blushed incarnadine as she steadied the tripod’s unfolded legs.  The girl placed a big black camera on top, fumbling to remove the lens cap and adjusting the focus. 

Look at her chewing her nails!  Mamie thought. She’s nervous; that’s why she keeps screwing around with those lenses.  Mamie wondered how much a camera like that would yield down at Hoss’ Pawn.  She could use a couple bucks to throw down on some bingo boards and maybe one of them Elvis collectible plates from the TV.  And a Slap Chop chopper.  Mamie figured she could buy all those things for the price of that camera.

Sunlight streamed in through the west-facing windows of this crepe-paper-bedecked room that the Pentecostal church was lending to the Confederate Ladies’ League.  The light reflected off the girl’s hairs, making them appear to writhe like tongues of flame.

“Pssst! Hey Trisha!”  Mamie signaled the hostess of this shindig.  “Who’s that big broad over there with those ugly shoes?  The one with the camera.”

Trisha rolled her eyes.  “That’s Sadie, Luann’s cousin in from Gatlinburg.  Said she’d shoot the soiree for cheap.”

“I might ask her ‘bout that camera she got there.  Been thinking about picking one up for myself.”

“I don’t recommend it.  She got a voice like a seagull getting a suppository.”  Mamie left Trisha attending to the final details of the Post Battle Reenactment Potluck sponsored by the Confederate Ladies’ League, Opossum Hill Chapter.  She cracked her bulging knuckles and shoved through the throngs of Johnny Rebs and Belle Boyds, scented with loosened dirt and chicken salad sandwiches.

“Nice camera there! Mind if I take a look?” Mamie said, blue veins popping between age spots on the backs of her hands as she reached for what she could now see was a Nikon D7000. Very expensive, indeed!  Sadie’s jade eyes betrayed surprise, but she quickly swung the camera, still balanced on its tripod, out of Mamie’s grasp.

Sadie apologized.  “I’m sorry.  Maybe later; I promised I’d get some shots of the troops while they’re still in uniform.”  Trisha was right about the voice, like a banshee even when speaking quietly.  Mamie rooted one finger into her own ear, trying to calm down the vellus hairs standing on end.  She never took her eyes off the Nikon. 

“Here,” Mamie said, “I just wanna see it for a sec.”

“No,” Sadie said, clutching the camera with both hands, looking like a kid about to get her lunch money stolen.

“Hey, ma’am, Sadie,” a man with taped-on sideburns called. “Where you want us?”  He stood with his sweaty combat unit, replica bayonets slung over their out-of-shape shoulders. Mamie watched as Sadie kept one hand on her camera, and with the other, she the waved the grey-clad soldiers toward a well-lit white wall.

“Little more, little more. Stop!”  Sadie said.  “Now forward. Too far! Back up a little.”  Mamie watched Sadie’s grip relax as her focus shifted to the men.  Mamie eyed the redhead, tall but timid, young but unsure of herself. She was sure she could take her in a fight; however, she didn’t think she could make off with the camera, not without causing a scene.

Mamie’s eyes dropped to those dumb brown heels. What’s a girl this tall need high-heels for anyway? Then she noticed behind the shoes a zipper case, where Sadie kept her extra lenses.  Yes.  Mamie scanned the room, but no one was paying her any attention.  She stooped to pick up the lenses and tucked them under her left arm.  Sadie bent forward, studying her subjects, taking her time to make sure every uniform was in the frame.

On her way out, Mamie rammed Sadie with her right shoulder, ruining the shot. Her upper lip curled, a dog snarl.  “I didn’t wanna look at your damn camera, anyway.”

_____

From Chattanooga, Lindsey Walker writes prose and poetry with a southern accent.  She won the award for nonfiction from the League for Innovation, the Marcia Barton Award for fiction, and the Loft Poetry Contest.  Her work appears in Red River Review and Luna Station Quarterly.  Find more at lindseywalker.wordpress.com


 

© Lindsey Walker

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012