Sarah Comes, Sally Goes

Uncle let the screen door bang on the back porch when he stepped out into the yard. I knowed that meant he was vexed.

"Belle, some woman called what left a message that she was comin' through town tomorrow and would stop in fer a visit wif' ya', " he yelled toward the garden.

The tomatoes is scraggly now. It's too hot and we've had Noah's rain. But I still have a few orangey globes to harvest. Next week I'll pick the green ones too and we'll have us a mess of catfish and fried green tomatoes.

I'm bent over peerin' into the seed bed at the feathery arms of my Black Prince seedlings. By mid September these Russian black tomatoes is gonna' win me some "oohs" an "ahs" from the bookish ladies. We's doin' a retrospective of books we liked over the last ten years. One of them books was Dreams of My Russian Summer.
(We give ourselfs airs. Think we's high falutin' cuhl-tured wimmen when we read foreign writers.)

"Did'ja heah me Belle?"

"Doan worry Aloysius," I called back toward the porch, "Sarah ain't so bad, fer a Boston woman."

All through dinnertime Uncle were a study in moody blues. "What I ain 't gittin' is why youse always haulin' in some Yankee gal? When do Sally git here?"

"Sarah," I said. "She's a professional woman and doan like nick-names."


"SAY-RUH!" I said again.

"The Yankee gal?"

"Boston, Aloysius, she is comin' from Bausstohn."

The next day, in the late afternoon, Uncle stood at the window watchin' to see who's comin' to upend his evenin.'

"I reckon it's here," he sighed.


"Well, Belle, heah comes a cordovan briefcase wif' brass locks big enough to hold a boat down. It's draggin' bun on a stick behind it. I reckon they's havin' a famine in Bausstohn. Run out of beans up theah."

I done give Sarah a hug, made the introductions and exclaimed over the happy surprise of her sojourn in Crackerville. Uncle took the briefcase from her and said,

"M'am, ya' arrived at Southern Comfort time. Lemme git'cha somethin' ter make ya' feel welcome."

Sarah blinked at Uncle, her chin jutted out a fraction of an inch. She had drawn her hair back in a wad wif' a thin black ribbon holdin' it tight. Her suit were the Harvard standard, grey, spare and dull. She were frownin' and I seen her blue eyes was clouded up.

Uh -oh.

"Sarah," she snapped.

"M'am?" said Uncle.

"MY. NAME. IS. SARAH. "Not m'am. It's important that you to remember that. And, let's pass on the Nascar special, shall we? I prefer Chilean Cabernets...Alto Don Melchor would be lovely," she smiled brightly and cocked her haid to the left.

Uncle's Godiva eyes did not stray from Sarah's but a slow grin stretched out long across his face.

Oh, no! I thought.

"Wail, Saiy-ruh, this could be a little bit of a challenge, but lemme see what I can rustle up fer ya'," Uncle backed out of the room.

I got her settled in the parlor and we caught up on what brung her down thisaway. Then I offered to show her the tomatoes, but her was too hot to venture out again. "It is positively a swamp down here," Sarah groaned.

Seemed to me that Uncle were mighty tardy comin' in wif whatever libation was to be offered. Ya'll, that worriet me some, I will say.

When he did reappear he had nuthin' but a silver dish of toasted pecans. Wif' a Hollywood smile he set them down in front of Sarah, gazed at her with pity, then handed a second dish of nuts over to me, an' slipped out again.

"I reckon he's made ya' a little somethin' to tide ya over. I knows ya's got a late supper wif' your clients, but ya need a bit o' sustenance ."

Now ya'll, I was gettin' that icky sick lump in my belly.

Sarah tossed a few of the grooved nuts in her mouth. "Mmm!"

Another handful disappeared. "These are marvelous. What is in the pee-cans?" she asked.

I grimmaced, "Them puh-cahns is sauteed in butter an' brown sugar an' dusted wif cayenne pepper. Tasty devils is addictive, ain't they?"

"Yes, but they're hot...I need a..."

"Drink,"Uncle finished her sentence as he stepped into the parlor. He cupped one o' Grampa McClanahan's finest cut crystal tumblers.

"Saiy-ruh, will ya' accept mah apologies?" Uncle's feigned humble demeanor is a dangerous sign.

" Truth is, Saiy-ruh, the closest I can come to a Chilean grape is this heah drink that a Chilean grape grower enjoyed when he was up heah wif' us last month. "

Was Aloysius talkin' even slower than regular?
I squinted at him, but he din't catch my eye.

"Course," Uncle continued, "he warn't no vintner, jes' a ole Chilean farmer what now exports table grapes to us'uns. Comes twic't a year to see me, an always asks fer this heah drink."

Uncle held the drink close to his chest, like he was protectin' it in case she were to slap it away.

Sarah shook her haid, "Water, please!" she croaked.

"Why shure, Saiy-ruh. Gracious whar' is my manners? Lemme git'cha some. Be right back."

He set the tumbler down on the table next to Sarah and headed out into the kitchen again.

Sarah swallowed hard, cleared her throat and cast a glance at the drink. I chattered on about the planned book club retrospective --tryin' to impress her that we warn't that backwoodsy. Finally she grabbed the tumbler and took a desperate gulp. Seemed to me her eyes was meltin' in they sockets.

Sarah breathed deeply and sipped at the tumbler. I ticked off a list of books. She sipped again.

Uncle came round the corner wif a tray of bottles and pitcher of water. He set the tray down in front of me an' said, "Ain't got no Don Melkur down in the cellar, Saiy-ruh, but this heah is Zephyr Hills' finest spring water. An some Prosecco fer mah Belle."

I snapped, "Ain't got no cellar either Aloysius." I shot a look at Sara, but she were sippin' at Grampa's tumbler.

"Aw now, Belle, Darlin.' Doan go spoilin' mah fun. I was jes' teasin' our Miss Saiy-ruh."

Sarah glanced over at Uncle and the tray, "What is this drink, Aloysius?"

Was her tone, ah, toned down, I wondered?

"Yeah," I said, "what is that drink? "

Aloysius was definitely avoidin' mah eye.

"Oh it ain't nuthin' but a ole' timey favorite of mah Daddy's Daddy," said Uncle as he put a slim glass of water beside Sarah, jes brushin' past her shoulder. She done crossed her legs now and seemed less tense. She looked up at Uncle quizzically.

"It's actually has a complex flavor, reminiscent of spices, but a citrus foreground..." Sarah let her words slip away into another sip.

"It has Peychaud's in it... "

Sarah looked up again as Uncle waved the the dish of pecans her way. I seen him slide his other hand behind her chair and set a fresh tumbler down on the table, then remove the almost empty first issue.

"Ya' know," he drawled on, "it was concocted as a secret recipe.
It's true," Uncle whispered,
"a miracle tonic brewed in a N'awlins pharmacy fer what all ails a body."

Was he leanin' over her a bit close?

"Oh!" Sarah giggled, "you mean it is a strictly medicinal refreshment?"

Her hand cradled the new tumbler in her lap, she dipped a finger in its amber contents, swirled the syrupy liquid, licked her forefinger and smiled back at Uncle, "What sort of ailments did it cure?"

I shifted in mah chair, but Uncle would not look mah way. I knowed thar' warn't much I could do but sit back an' watch the show.

"Ah, well, Sweet Saiy-ruh," Uncle resumed his narration," the funny thang is that them ole folks used to sprinkle a little Peychaud's on the back of they necks to keep the Apepi's off of 'em."

"Eppies?" slurred Sarah, her eyes shinny now, all cloudiness banished.

"Tiny flat snakes, hardly bigger than a string of yarn, thas' used in voodoo. We have them around heah ya' know--ah, the snake, not voodoo.

"Snakes?" Sarah took another swig, her cheeks had grown rosy. "Snakes as thin as yarn, Aloysius?"

He smiled down at her, his hand restin' on the back of her chair.

"I'll show ya' Saiy-ruh " he offered.

Uncle Aloysius gently pulled at the black ribbon holdin' Sarah's hair in a bun. Her tawny curls pooled around the nape of her neck. Uncle leaned over her, held out the velvet ribbon, and said softly, "Sally, them snakes is no bigger than this ribbon what keeps yore lovely tresses imprisoned."

Urp! PUL-leeeze! Did he say that??

I clap mah hand over my snickerin' laugh. I cain't stop mah eyes from rollin' and finally Uncle looks mah way and the glint in his own eyes ain't fit fer decent folks to read about.

Sarah takes the ribbon and twirls it around her finger. "Well, yes, well...for business I wear..." her voice is muffled and gentle.

"Sally, may I fix you another drink?"

She turns her blue eyes on Uncle, "Oh, Wishus, I could talk to you awwwlll night, but I asked the company car to pick me up at seven." She stood, glanced at her watch, her chest rising with a deep breath. She wobbled as she exhaled and said, "I'm topsy aren't I?"

"Say-ruh, darlin' youse a wee tipsy," I say,

"Call me Sally so I'll know I can come back again."

"Goodnight Sally, and do come again," I said as Uncle helped her down the walk to the waitin' car.

We had an omelette wif' fresh tomatoes and herbs fer dinner.

"It was a Sazerac, wasn't it?" I as't Uncle.


"Thought so," I said.

"But, what's a Nascar special?" I wanted to know.

"Southern Comfort mixed wif' Mountain Dew," Uncle's voice was low.

"Aloysius, ya' knows yore Daddy would not approve of what ya done," I smirk at him.

"Mebbe not, " he said, "But Grandaddy is laughin' up thar' along the Milky Way."


R.Powers said...

Now, THAT was excellent!

Walker said...

Love it.
I would have given her some moonshine colored with red die number 2 and told her it was from Lima then waited for the heat to rise LOL

darkfoam said...

that aloysius of yours sure has a wicked sense of humor .. lol .
and now i could stand to have me one of those drinks .. a sazarac .. i had to look it up ..

moi said...

That story right there proves my long held belief that NO ONE can beat a Southerner for that just right mix of iron fist in velvet glove.

Now, when can I come visit? I need to see me some of those Russian black tomatoes and, heck, Uncle can call me anything he wants if a Sazerac is involved :o)

Aunty Belle said...

...Hey Florida Cracker-Man!
thanky fer the stamp of approval. I'se noticed over the months that posts where Uncle Aloysius takes the leadin' role always gits high marks.

Here's two if yore curious:

....Walker! Hey you. Somehow,I can see you doing just that. LOL!!

........Foamy-Lady, hey hey. Did ya' follow the link on Sazerac? I'se never tried one--when I grow up, mebbe. (Need to keep mah wits, livin' wif' Uncle.)

..........President MOI! I can concur, Doan ever think ya' can outwit a Southern fella who is on his game. C'mon down heah whenever youse ready. we'll have Black Prince tomatoes and Sazeracs, the rest of the menu we'll ad lib as the spirit moves us!

Anonymous said...

First time I've laughed in a week!
Good to know I still can. Great writin Belle.

Anonymous said...

Belle, you are what our Mimi would call a stitch!

..................... said...

yes, i followed that link on sarazac .. :)

ThursdayNext said...

Love it! Of course I have a soft spot for Yankee women. ;) Now I am craving pee-caans.

Anonymous said...

My brain is tired and I'm not sure I get what he did to her.


sparringK9 said...

fried fishes and black princes? you just described my most excellent evening.

i so enjoyed this southern tale i started to wonder...who would play uncle in the movie...who would play belle?

for uncle i see a cross between rip torn and timothy dalton. rip torn from the yearling to be specific. for belle? faye bonnie parker dunaway mixed with something older and wholesome...but who?

loved it.

Aunty Belle said...

... Hey Anon--I knows you!! SC gal!!
glad ya could git as laugh from it.

....Foamy!, Lemme know how it does fer ya...A Foamy Sazerac, hee hee.

..Thursday, Darlin' youse a perfect Yankee Belle, honey. C'mon down heah and I'll give ya some puh-cahns, but not quite as heat seekin missilic as them that Uncle gave to Say-ruh. (notice he give Aunty a separate dish?)

Troll, I'se howlin' heah..darlin', lol lol...I reckon youse either too sleepy or still somewhat innocent and that is adorable! (Somebody hep troll out wif what happened in this story?)

K-9. Bonnie Faye? Uh, not too sure 'bout that...I keep seein' her wif Clyde, and Aunty doan keep no company wif outlaws, other than the in-laws.

But then, if ya mean Faye as she were in the original Thomas Crown Affair, wif all them gorgeous clothes and hats...well now, I can go wif that, yeah, I can.

Jenny said...

Boo! I got here too late and this was a good one.

Karen said...

What a great tale Aunty. I'm not sure what Uncle did either but it certainly sounded like a mischief.

Gnomeself Be True said...

Great job with that story.
I can't find Peychaud's out here in the Godless West. I get by with Angostura.
How I would love to pass an evening with the both of you and a sazerac or two.
L, as you might guess, doesn't drink.

Aunty Belle said...

Anon Boxer--heh..yep, Uncle wound up makes a good story ever' time.

Gypsy (and Troll-Man). Here's what Uncle done: When Ms. Sarah declined to be addressed by the honorific of "Mam" and tried to belittle him wif' her demand fer an unusual wine, Uncle seen she was tryin' to reject his hospitality as beneath her.

So he aimed to show her she could be happy bein' called "Sally", a nickname that indicates "we all friends here."

So he gave her somethin' real hot to nibble, the was delayed in bringing the water--all calculated -- so she would drink his famous Sazerac, a drink known to soften the most entrenched rude woman.

Notice that when she left, she was happy to be "Sally" not "Sarah."

Iamnot, hey you!! Whar's ya been?? Happy to see ya on the Porch.

Imanot, ya' ought c'mon on home--hey, it might even soften up L to be down heah. ( full disclosure: Aunty doan drink much--a bit of white wine or Prosecco, a Brandy Alexander once or twice a year...but I doan mind folks having a "spirited" time, as long as they still mind they manners)

Anonymous said...

Okay, now I get it. Don't know what Sazerak is but I get it.