Editor’s Note: I’m thinking of turning these short stories with my cast of Southern characters into a novel. What do you think? Leave me a comment below!
Cherie was always nosy, even as a child. As she grew older, her mother chided Cherie for her meddlesome ways while hoping her daughter would outgrow the curiosity that landed her the nickname, “Snoopy.”
For a time, Snoopy’s mother, Martha, thought her daughter would never come to embrace the small town life that she and generations before her had come to love. But, the neighborly fashion of Dixon’s Mill didn’t seem to suit Snoopy until she hit those anxious teenage years and finally blossomed into a fine Southern lady.
It seemed to happen overnight. Gone was the prying, rebellious child! And, gone was that awful nickname! Finally, Martha’s daughter, Cherie, was the bright, sweet young lady she’d always hoped she would be at 16.
Or so her mother thought.
Martha watched as Cherie flitted about in the bathroom mirror with her auburn-tinted curls. She was getting ready to go out with a few friends. Martha was a single mother since Cherie’s father left, and she shivered with a chill every time she thought about that. She’d cried her river of tears. Life in a small town, though she loved it most of the time, could be brutal. Everyone knew everyone…and everyone’s business.
Cherie was youngest athlete to ever captain the varsity cheerleading squad, and she was a shoe-in for homecoming queen in the fall. She was a beautiful child with red hair, emerald green eyes and freckles on her cheeks, which she hated and always tried to hide with makeup.
She was also the most in-demand babysitter in town. Every kid in town loved Cherie! When she started her babysitting business, Cherie promised her mother it would only be on weekends, and it wouldn’t interfere with her schoolwork or cheerleading activities. She kept a tight schedule.
Martha smiled at her daughter as she tossed her empty lip gloss into the waste basket under the sink, slapped the light switch on the wall on her way out, and bounced down the hallway toward the door.
“Bye, Mom! We won’t be out too late, I promise!” She yelled just before slamming the front door. Yep, Martha thought to herself as she turned the page of her new favorite book. Still a teenager.
Cherie met her friends at one of the town’s diners – The Greasy Spoon. The old diner’s name always made her smile because it was probably the most descriptive name for a restaurant she would ever know. Most days she would swear that grease was the main ingredient in every dish, including the ice cream. Who needs a milk cow when you have leftover lard?
Her friends were already seated in the corner booth when Cherie walked in the front door. That was the thing about Cherie. She could breeze into a room and make you think she had a secret all at the same time.
And that would be because she usually did.
“Hey, y’all! What’s cookin’?” she asked as she slid into the booth next to her best friend Rachel.
“Okay, you called this little meeting,” Rachel said. “What’s up?”
“Yeah,” said Bobbi from across the table. “What’d we do this time?”
“Oh, y’all are just as sharp as quills in a pen drawer, aren’t you? Let’s order. Y’all gonna want somethin’ to nosh on when I tell ya what I found at the Dexters’ house last Saturday while I was babysittin’.” Cherie wiggled her eyebrows at her girlfriends making them giggle until the waitress came over. The Dexters were elite in Dixon’s Mill. Matt Dexter was principal of the high school, and Susan Dexter was the town mayor.
Cheeseburgers and fries all around with Cokes and pie for dessert, peach of course. But the main course would be the tale of the mysterious find from the excavation performed during the most recent babysitting gig.
“Oh my! Snoopy’s at it again!” Bobbi squealed.
“Shut up!” Rachel snipped. “Go on, girl. What’d you find? Spill!”
“Well,” Snoopy loved setting up her tales of adventure. She enjoyed taking her time revealing the goodies, but this time she thought she’d burst before she could get it all out on the table. “Mrs. Dexter asked me to sit for them last Saturday ‘cuz it was their 15 year anniversary. She said Mr. Dexter was gonna take her up to Sweetwater to Briarwood Restaurant – you know that fancy place everyone says is real nice with the white tablecloths and fizzy water? So, I got to the house around lunch to watch that brat, Tommy. Stinky Tommy is more like it.”
Cherie had to stop and laugh when she remembered little Tommy hugging her goodnight, and he still smelled of the back yard even after a long bath.
“Anyway, I played hard with the kid, wore him out. He went down about an hour later, and I went to work. The Dexters, they got some pretty nice things for country folk. Crystal, china, nice tech in the living room.” Then Cherie reached into her pocket and pulled out a photo and put it face down on the table. “But, I never would have pegged them for that.”
The photo sat on the table between the girls begging for someone to flip it over like the last card on the blackjack table. When she couldn’t stand the suspense any longer, Bobbi finally flipped the photo and quickly put her hands over it.
“Oh my!” They all yelled.
“I could have gone all night without seeing that!” Rachel giggled. “But now it’s burned into my brain!”
“Don’t you love it? Imagine saying Good Morning! to Mr. Dexter on Monday after seeing that!” Cherie laughed.
The picture was of the Dexters – in costume – with Matt Dexter dressed as Martha Stewart and Susan Dexter dressed as Donald Trump. And, both were wearing dominatrix gear.
“Snoop! You’ve outdone yourself!” Rachel snickered, offering a high-five to the other to girls. “So, how you gonna make this one pay off?”
“Oh, I’ll think of something…” Snoop said and wiggled her auburn eyebrows.