The continuing tale
(Read Chapter One here)
In the Valley there lived some really bad Bullies, boys mostly, but not entirely. Among the nasty herd that roamed the hills & dales was one such bully of the female kind: Tough-As-Nails-Tillie, known hither & yon for never giving in and giving out. Well, almost never.
Tant (tough as nails Tillie), had more or less reached the age of wedded respectability, with few problems when it came to bullying. I say few because her victims never lived to report her tantrums. They simply disappeared.
It likely began, or so Valley myth says, when baby Tant was deprived of sucking on her favorite treat, known back then as the “Slotz Supreme,” a sort of fruit shaped like a bowling pin. At the advice of kindly Doctor Slice (“For God’s sake, stop her from sucking on Slotz Supremes! The shape of her mouth will be ruined.”), her parents yanked the Slotz from Tant’s teeny puckered mouth. As far as Tant was concerned, that’s the exact moment when her bullying problem began. Others say otherwise. They blame it on her numerous zits, flat chest and flatter feet. Not to mention her ma’s cowboy boots.
Anyway, it wasn’t long before the Valley citizens began noticing that increasing numbers of their children had “gone missing,” which is to say that on any given Sabbath, someone would fail to show up for Sunday School. Or show up to eat, even if it was a steaming supper of pork chops and buttered grits, with a side of Slotz slaw. And if they’d been very very good children, perhaps for a treat they’d be tossed a dime and get to skip down to Honeymans Drugs for a nice frozen Slotz On A Stick. Those things were to die for.
As the years passed, it could never exactly be proven that Tant was involved in anything other than normal bullying: ripping the nose hairs from the Prom Queen as she lay snoring next to Legs Backfield, the town quarterback, dropping Mayor Smartz’s Clapadoodlepoodle down the town well in the square, tripping the Valley School principal, Orville “You Get An F” Wasz, or erasing the contents of her mom’s daily diary and then swallowing the little golden key that kept it almost locked. Well, you get the drift.
She was a bully, but not with a capital B.
Visions of the almost-fruit danced through her head night and day, day and night. It was the only one. It seemed unconstitutional that in addition to zits, a flat chest and flatter feet, she was forbidden to suck Slotzs. Everyone but her sucked and that’s no lie. Then again, her mouth was a perfectly perfect shape of a rosy bud of sweetness, unlike all the other town mouths permanently puckered. It was clear that hers were the only parents to follow the sage advice of Doctor Slice. Why, the good Slice himself was pa to twenty who sucked day and night, night and day. It was later reported by his private nurse that Slice also sucked night and day, day and night.
In essence her mouth, the perfectly rosy Tant mouth, became her ticket to suck (again and again) on the heretofore forbidden frozen Slotz On A Stick. Woe to those unsuspecting citizens who skipped home from Honeymans Drugstore, Slotz in hand, mouth puckered just so to catch every drop. Fewer and fewer made it home, though it was several years before the missing were reported. Back then, families were big, and what was one missing kid more or less? No big deal and piles of dimes were saved to fatten the offering plate at church.
As purple twilight time descended on the Valley, as the leafy shadows of elms strung themselves from curb to curb, as the church bell tolled in the distant belfry, Tant knew for whom the bell tolled. And it wasn’t her.
Victim (s): My Slotz? Naaah, surely you don’t want my Slotz. It will ruin your perfect mouth, never mind that your feet are flatter than your chest. And yo mama wears cowboy boots. You have zits.
Tant: Eat those words. Give!
Victim (s): How about I trade my saddle oxfords for your Nikes? Okay? Surely it’s a deal!
Tant: You’ve puckered your last pucker. And don’t call me Shirley. Puck you.
(Note: The record in City Hall is unclear, but this seemed to be more or less the modus operandi. Decades passed before a man fishing for carp in the Middle Nodaway hooked a metal box, the contents of which were hundreds of smooth white sticks stamped “Puck You.”)
The rest is history. The Valley shelters tales that may not be exactly true, and whether or not Tant was ever fingered for copping Slotz along with fifty or more innocent citizens, is not a matter of record. She died with elegantly arched arches on each of her pristine feet, and most curiously, her formerly flat century-old chest was copious and impressive.
It was her puckered mouth that stopped folks in their tracks when they paid their last respects, but on the other hand, she no longer had a zit problem.
“Well, what goes round comes round,” quipped the mayor, who was still mourning the unsolved demise of his Clapadoodlepoodle. The Prom Queen eventually expired with fewer nose hairs, but generally speaking, life in the Valley wasn’t half bad, even though kiwi popsicles had long been the treat to die for.
It happened that way in the long ago in the Valley where nothing much ever happens.