Chapter Five


     The waitress brought more coffee ~ took away all of Ruthie's dirty dishes.

     And with her raggedy but clean T-shirt cut high above her navel and worn thread-bare, even ripped here and thar, and with her excited little go-go-girl boobies beneath the flimsy cotton proclaiming liberty and justice for all, the Road Princess of America did declare, "That light reminded me of when I was a little girl surrounded by my goats and in my Sunday dress, having my picture taken and feeling so proud!"

     "Please," said Slim.  "Don't talk about it.  It's impossible to talk about.  You're not making any sense."

     But Ruthie's eyes were stained-glass windows in a cathedral, telling stories like stained-glass windows often do, and in Ruthie's eyes of bittersweet blue, the glassy rainbows that had formed there grew and grew, and the soul of Slim Chance was shot full of holes by this rainbow dew, as Ruthie's voice became that of a genuine little girl, maybe four years old, and she said ~

     "The light outside the bunk-house, it was gooey and good and sweet as Mommy and Daddy hugging and kissing and licorice, red licorice, my favorite kind; like my dolly come alive and my teddy-bear say 'thank-you'; like my big white rooster and little Shetland pony and all my cats never die, and clearer than a clear blue sky!"

     Slim Chance became a real pale rider in his cafe chair and his mouth fell somewhat open as the stained-glass windows of Ruthie's eyes became living supplements to the great biblical tale.  Something strange was happening here.  Things that shouldn't were beginning to rhyme.  Ruthie crinkled up her face and began to look real old and wise, as she gazed kind of sadly at just one more of a thousand and one guys.  And the Road Princess of America, with a sudden grin (it would have been toothless if it could have) and with an ancient kind of crackle, said ~

     "That light was mercy ~ mercy like dentures that chew and pills that work, and still cooking past eighty for the same old man.  That was God's light shining through the window.  Looking at it was the very same thing as touching in the night my old man's hand and having grand-kids growing-up all over the land!"

     This kind of talk pretty much scared the hell out of Slim Chance.  He became a whiter shade of pale and was ready to bolt.  But, just like when he would walk through the doors of a bank intending to rob it and did, he sat still in his chair and courageously said, "It was probably just the sun, Ruthie."

     "No!" said she.  Her dewy stained-glass windows blinked once or twice and grew dark.  In fact, Slim could have sworn her skin turned kind of dark too, and her hair black and curly, and her Caucasian lips bloomed big.  But the lean feller knew this couldn't be.  Such occurances were impossible for sure.  Yet Ruthie Root Beer said in a backwoods, Black-lady kind of voice that was not her own ~

     "Rain on 'de roof 'dat don't leak no mo'!  Sound so purrty, 'dat pittah-pattah, the wind a blowin'!  Ma' man goin', ma' man goin', goin' to 'de bahhhhhhh no mo'!  He done fix 'de leak in 'de roof now!!!  Hallelujah, he done fine-o-ly see!  He done fine-o-ly see 'de Heavenly Fahduh's light, chil' ~ 'de light 'dat delight us all, chil' ~ 'de hub of love 'dat light ~ 'dat right ~ 'de hub of 'de great rollin' wheel of love ~ 'de light 'dat man n' woman can-not do wit-out if they gonna get along wit' each udduh ~ like 'de Heavenly Fahduh above eez 'de third pawtty in 'de romance, chil' ~ n' 'dat rain eez sho' a beeeeeee-you-too-full pittah-pattah!  Ma' o ma', ma' man goin' to 'de bahhhhhhh no mo'! ! ! "

     Something strange was happening here alright.  Ruthie's skin hadn't really turned black, but for one moment it seemed her mind and voice had!  Just like a moment ago she had been talking like an old lady, and a moment before that, like a little girl ~ all in her futile attempt to describe thee almighty light of God.  And in this last black-talk episode especially, it was as if ~ as if other personalities were being selected by ~ by God! ~ to help Ruthie explain ~ that Light!

     But now she was babbling incoherently ~ speaking pure jibberish!  What, in God's name, was happening to this ~ this road muffin?

     As I, oops, I mean, as Slim sat there facing yet a fourth transformation, and a completely unfathomable one at that, of the beautiful young woman across the table from him, he with a shiver recalled the first time he had kissed the tummy of the road princess by the Verde River.  That bolt!

     Then Slim very slowly wormed down into an extreme slouch in his seat as he witnessed ~ everybody in the cafe witnessed ~ I mean everybody must have been pretty much aware ~ somebody had begun to float in the air ~ Ruthie Root Beer, as high as six feet above her chair!

     "She's speaking tongues," said matter-of-factly one of the cafe patrons, obviously an expert on religious phenomena.

     "And she's levitating at the same time," said this patron's partner.  These two breakfasteers were Jehovah Witnesses.  They were dressed in suits and ties ~ Jehovah Witnesses on the prowl for souls.  One of them had several "Awake" magazines sticking out of his coat pocket.

     The Waitress, meanwhile, stood still as a statue in the middle of the place, staring at the coffee pot in her hand, wondering what, besides caffeine, was in the coffee she had been serving.

     The back door slammed.

     In hobnobbed at a fast clip a little old bow-legged Indian, soiled like a tramp, and with long grimy hair.  He was in a very big hurry ~ like he was pursued by a posse.  But when he heard Ruthie's jibberish above and looked up and saw her floating in a kind of tipped-forward genuflection above Slim Chance's head, the Indian came to an abrupt halt.  He listened intently to what the levitating road princess was saying.  Soon, great tears of emotion swelled up into the eyes of the old grimy Indian ~ and overflowed down his withered cheeks.  Smiling broadly, he turned and said to everybody else in the cafe, "She speak good Apache."

     Meanwhile, Slim fathomed wondrous gleanings out of the depths of Ruthie's bare little belly-button hoovering so high above his head, his head which was almost level with the table now, for he was feeling somewhat sheepish, sheepish and awestruck.  Ruthie's belly-button had all kinds of things to say to him.  Her belly-button lingo, after all, was exceptional.  At the moment, it was bullets ~ piercing silver bullets of radiating truth!

     As Ruthie spoke her tongues, or, as it so happened, Apache, which was meaningless to poor stupid Slim, her hands rested, more meaningfully to him, upon her slim hips ~ in such a way that she seemed to be presenting to the outlaw her miraculous womb as a gift ~ and nothing less than a gift from thee Almighty!

     Yes, thee miraculous womb of this woman was a-blossom with messages.  Note the beauty exhibited here, her navel seemed to say as her hands lightly encompassed the little plump globe of her tummy.  Her hitch-hiking thumb, incidently, was tucked away between her low-valley flesh and her low-riding jeans ~ which caused the swimsuit line that divided the smooth tan and the creamy white, way below her navel, to be partially visible.  The beauty of this yummy tummy has been created especially for your acknowledgement, her navel seemed to say to Slim, and for the blessing of your parnership in the creation of a little monster or two crawling around on the rug, my man.

     And as she spoke tongues and levitated, her tummy-button in its own kind of way said to Slim, just to Slim, this belly is life, it is glory, it is me and you and whatever we do.  Boo!

     And to Mr. Slim Chance, alias Eternity, suddenly, it was this beautiful belly of the Road Princess of America that was the ultimate, most undeniable, most perfectly truthful illustration, aye, example of Our Father's heavenly light since the beginning of time!

     "See me, touch me, feel me," whispered forth millions upon millions of little lost souls in quest of an earthly home ~ which could begin with birth for a lucky few ~ in this wondrous womb!

     Ruthie slightly, slowly, rocked backward, still feverishly addressing Slim in the Apache language, which he couldn't understand at all, and which Ruthie couldn't understand either, for that matter.  As Ruthie rocked backward in the air above Slim, her bent knees were not real close together.  Thus, the indented bump of her vivacious Venusian vulva, snuggly packaged but just barely in her famous low-riding jeans, became somewhat prominent from Slim's perspective below.  It was at this moment that it became startlingly clear to the outlaw that he was, for sure, complete and without mercy ~ whipped!

     Then the waitress, who was standing next to the smelly dirty old Indian, she said, "What I can't understand is ~ how she can float in the air like that, after eating all that food."

     The Indian reached up.  He paternally, gently, took Ruthie's ankle in his hand, pulled her down out of Father Sky and seated her once again upon Mother Earth ~ or back in her chair.  Ruthie stopped speaking tongues.  The old Indian who understood every word that the road princess had said while up there, himself said to everybody in the cafe, "She new medicine woman of great nation."

     A metallic click.

     Blaines, the county sheriff, had just cocked his long-barrelled shotgun.  The big gun, a 10 gage, butt to his shoulder, was aimed at the Indian.  Blaines was leaning on the counter in the back of the cafe and his aim was sure.  He had apparently snuck back in through the back door and was the posse from which the Indian had been running.

     "If you just think about moving,Yellow Bird, you're dead," gritted Blaines.

     The waitress ducked.  When her head came back up, she was behind the counter.

     The Indian winked at Ruthie as if they'd been friends forever, and ran for the front door.  "Oh God, no!" prayed Ruthie.  And Blaines pulled the trigger.

     Buckshot blasted out the barrel ~ burrrrrrroomed through the room ~ passed-by mute faces like they weren't there.  Meanwhile, the buckshot scattered like buckshot does and left behind a wake of acrid blue smoke.  The Indian had the door half opened, had turned his head and saw with wide-open eyes the little BBs coming ~ a couple thousand of them, upon the face of each one his epitaph engraved, around his epitaph the story of his life in little Indian drawings ~ yes, he saw this upon the face of each steel ball.  The speeding cloud of steely-balled death splattered all around the feller, punctured the wall, the door, shattered glass, skidded into the floor.

     Then it was over.

     Silence was thick and so was the smoke.  The smoke drifted ~ and disappeared.  And all the cafe patrons, all seven of them, saw that all the little holes from the shotgun blast had formed a perfect circle around the old-bum Indian.

     With his hand tight upon the knob, there he stood like a statue ~ a statue framed within a halo of buckshot scar.  Not one BB had hit him.  So he grinned happily at Blaines and bolted ~ out the door and up the street.

     Blaines cursed venomously, threw the shotgun on the floor, and ran out the front door (slightly trimmed now) after him.

     The waitress retrieved the shotgun and stuck it behind the counter.

     Ruthie looked over at the waitress and raised her cup.  "May I have more coffee, please?"

     "And the check?" pleaded Slim.  He was still almost all the way under the table.

     The waitress complied.  The rest of her customers "oo"ed and "ahh"ed over the strange and miraculous happenings that had just taken place.

     "So, where were we?" said Ruthie to Slim.  The road princess was unaffected.  She was pretty much acclimatized to any bizarre incongruities that the Author Of All Things, the Great Spirit, the Core Of Reality ~ dished out now.

     Slim sat up.

     Ms. Root Beer noted that the cluster of cold sores near the corner of Mr. Chances mouth had inexplicably vanished without a trace.  This was another little miracle.  Ruthie shrugged.  She smiled.

     "What?" said Slim.

     "What?" mimicked Ruthie.  She pulled him over the table for a kiss.  Mummmmmwah!

     Slim fell back in his chair.  His head was like sand.  His hands were like rubber ~ almost knocked over the empty coffee cup infront of him.  "Ruthie," he sighed.

     "Yes, Eternity."

     "Slim.  My name is Slim."

     Ruthie nodded just a little with acknowledgement of this insignificant information.  She sipped the hot brew from her own cup.

     Slim's feeling of retardation grew worse.  His jaw became slack.  He couldn't shut this mouth.  He wiped his chin ~ expected to find drool there ~ and did.  "Ru-Ru-Ru-Ruthie," he stuttered.

     Ruthie smiled ~ encouragement.  Her face could melt bulldozers into cooking pots.  She was so beautiful!

     Slim pulled the rebel cap on his head forward, then knocked it backward, and stuttered, "I don't want to ro-ro-ro-rob banks anymore."

     Ruthie continued to smile ~ more encouragement.  A new and splendid aura around her could not be denied ~ like that buckshot halo around the front door of the cafe.  She was more than beautiful!

     With his eyes a-drip with a profound honesty, and with a herculean effort, not to mention with a tremble in his voice, Slim said, "Where ever you go, Road Princess, I wish to serve."


     Slim nodded.

     It had been a long haul for Ruthie through this tale.  Heaven prophesized upon her tummy.  Ball-less Curly's shotgun letting loose at her head.  Her falling out the speeding van.  Visions on too long a trek under too hot a sun.  One big rattlesnake.  El Vaquero's love bullet from the sky.  The ride of her life upon the tip of the tongue of Slim Chance, alias Eternity.  Her crashing through the pearly gates.  The great bunk-house in the sky and El Vaquero again.  Always now, El Vaquero.  And God's light.

     Now Slim wanted to serve someone.  Under the table, Ruthie's clitoris tingled like a little bell tied to the door of a donut shop.  Well, he is more than welcome to serve me ~ she thought.

     "Excuse me," said Ruthie.  "I've got to make a phone call."  She got up and headed for the back of the cafe, where there happened to be a pay phone.  Then she came back.  "You got a dime?"

     Slim gave her a dime.

     She retraced her steps and slipped in the coin.  And, she thought, how about these little miracles!  Disappearing cold sores on Slim's chin.  Foiled buckshot in the midst of a small-town drama she knew nothing about.  And she had levitated and spoken tongues, for God's sake!

     For God's sake.

     Yes, Ruthie knew exactly for Whom she was dancing now.

     For the first time in years, Ruthie found herself calling her no-good drunken father ~ long distance ~ collect.  She didn't know why she was calling him.  Oh yes, now she remembered.  She had almost, but not quite, forgotten what had been said by her dead older brother in her last dream that had him in it ~ "Say 'good-bye' to Pa!"

     Someone picked up the receiver on the other end of the line and accepted the call.

     "Hello.  Aunt Moss?  What are you doing over there?" said Ruthie...




     After making her phone call, Ruthie sat back down in front of Slim, who was beginning to fidget.  "Eternity," moistly said Ruthie.  "My pa is dying.  I've got to go home."


(Copyright 1990, 2010)




Checkmate by Aunt Faye



Bonnie, Clyde's Partner