All That Funky
Little George nudged Anton with his elbow to alert him to Sarge’s appearance in the hallway leading to the building’s utility room. “Well, well, well, if it ain’t Mr. Tardy Hardy himself.” Little George teased Sarge as he came to a halt in the doorway and stood looking around the room.
“How are you, Little George? Anton, sorry to hold up the wiring show today.” Sarge entered the room and went to where he’d found the jerry-rigged wiring mess on a previous visit.
Anton smirked as he replaced the water hose for the washing machine. “No problem, Sarge. No lack here for crew work. You get that chill out of your bones from playing in the Ling’s basement lake yesterday?”
Sarge pulled out the section of plywood serving as a temporary covering for the wiring, set it aside and turned to Anton and Little George. “My feet are a damn sight happier than they were yesterday. Lily gave me something she calls ‘bear grease’ to put on them. She said it’ll help keep the damp cold from setting in. I don’t know what it really is, but it’s definitely agreeing with my feet. Oh hey, I brought some cookies.” Sarge took a brown paper lunch bag out of his coat pocket and handed it to Little George.
“Lily has bear grease?” Little George opened the bag and took out a coconut cookie and offered the bag to Anton who did not hesitate to help himself.
Sarge shrugged. “That’s what she called this stuff. You want some for your feet, Little George?”
Little George took a bite of his cookie and shook his head. “Not right now. Thanks Sarge. Good cookies. If I didn’t know better I’d say they came direct from Mrs. Ling.”
“In a way they did, seeing as Lily and I made them from Mrs. Ling’s recipe. Go ahead, eat those. We can make all we want now.” Sarge grinned and went to another part of the electricity repair project down the hall leaving Anton and Little George standing with the bag of cookies between them.
Little George moved to look down the hallway as Sarge went up the stairs to the room on the floor above them. He looked at Anton. “How did he get that recipe from Mrs. Ling?”
“How you think? He fixed that water mess in her basement. How else?” said Anton.
Little George shook his head. “We all fixed some mess in that basement at some point in the last year. Mrs. Ling didn’t turn over no coconut cookies to any of us. You don’t think he . . ..” Little George shrugged suggestively instead of speaking.
Anton stared at Little George unnerved by the fact that he was even going so far as to suggest what he was. “No. You lost your mind or what, Little George? How you even get that idea in your head-gear?”
Little George held up a cookie. “This recipe intel is not something a woman gives up for nothing, Anton.”
“Sarge working a blown fuse-box plus a flood by himself is not nothing. And you know it. Loretta been giving you some strange ideas again, Little George?”
Little George carefully set the bag of cookies out of harm’s way on top of the washing machine and resumed his caulking task. “Anton, you have no idea what it’s like living with Loretta. It’s a package deal with her sisters. They are always together at one of their places or another. You know, you’ve seen them all at my place.”
“Uh ha. What’s that got to do with your weird Mrs. Ling and Sarge cookie action idea?”
Little George laughed. “Anton, you do understand that if Sarge took it into his head to start giving the time of day to women besides Lily, there’d be a whole lot more crazy shit going on with the women and men folk in the neighborhood, don’t you? You got to know that, DeWitt, considering all the work you been doing during this snow-in trying to keep people leveled out.”
“Sarge got no such agenda, Little George.” Anton considered the truth of Little George’s notion and silently thanked Sarge for not being inclined to play the lady field as he easily could.
“Not saying he does, Anton. Big Man ain’t the problem. It’s the women who are the problem. You got it nice and quiet all settled with Esther who is about as sane a woman as they come. She don’t go in for the sort of talk I hear coming from Loretta and her sisters. Last night something set them off but good. It got so I couldn’t stand to hear no more. I went over to Stinky Pete’s for a couple hours to get relief.”
“I read that. You got a point, Little George. You went to Pete’s for relief? Anton don’t think he wants to hear what sent you there.”
“You don’t. I don’t want to repeat any of it. I don’t want Lily getting wind of any of it either. She gets enough grief for her learning curves already. She doesn’t need any more from my women folk. I don’t know exactly what it is about Sarge that gets them all worked up, but they do get worked up. We all know he don’t do nothing to get them going. They get going all on their own. Maybe it’s one of those fairmoan things. I don’t know for sure. But I do know being around that sort of woman talk about men gets under your skin. You know what I mean. That’s where that Ling and cookie and action idea come from. I know that’s a dumbass thing to think. Sarge ain’t ever been anything but genuine nice and polite to women folk, and us too for that matter. It’s just . . well, I got two ears full of Loretta and sisters company man-talk that put a bunch of us working our jaws about a Playboy centerfold to shame. If you don’t believe it, come on over for a chat sometime when Loretta holding court at our place.” Little George looked over the handsome man working with him. “Now that I mention it, that sounds like a damn good idea. Yes it does. You being right there in the flesh get their minds off Sarge and on you instead.”
“What? Like you goin’ to enjoy that somehow?” Anton stopped working and stared at the big man beside him. “That about as bad as what started this conversation track.”
“Look at you.” Little George grinned. “All puffed up and in-dig-nant about being a diversionary tactic. DeWitt, I’ve been giving you some shit for fun. Chill out.”
“You been messing with me this whole time?”
“Only since the part about you coming over while Loretta having the after supper chat-fest. We both know no way Esther allow that game plan see any action.” He laughed loudly at the bewildered disbelief on Anton’s face. “What’s wrong? You don’t care for that little payback prank?” Whistling happily, Little George ignored the other man and focused on his task. Without looking at Anton he said, “This suggestion box is willing to entertain other candidates worthy of ar-dent feminine attention.”
“Are you crazy? Everyone knows how funky things are with you and Loretta. No man want that action with her sisters. No way.”
Little George kept his eyes on his work. “Funky it may be. But all that funky has an upside. You don’t think I put up with all that nonsense for nothing, do you, Anton? Hmm?” He took a cookie from the bag, put the whole thing in his mouth and made a face.