Jerry hoped he didn’t have cookie breath a few minutes later when he walked back into the hardware/dress store. This time Mrs. Henryetta and Mrs. Daisy both were behind their counter. Mrs. Daisy was as substantial as Mrs. Henryetta was thin. Her gray hair was tied back in a bun, and she had on a blouse with ruffles. When they were together she looked like the dominant sister, and it was Daisy who said, “Jerry, have you made any progress on our case?”
“I believe I have, ma’am.” He stopped on the plank that separated the hardware store from the dress store. He didn’t go full in because both sisters together reminded him of a gate with a “No Trespassing” sign. He said, “I’ve had a chat with Miss Pickens. She’s seen those buzzards, too. In fact, a couple of them set on a gimpy squirrel she’d been trying to nurse back to health. They gobbled him right up.”
“Oh, dear,” said Henryetta
Daisy said, “Nature is red in tooth and claw,” in a tone echoing the wisdom of the ages.
“Yes, it is,” Jerry agreed. “And Miss Pickens knows that. She’s been mighty worried about Barnacle. She says she caught one of those buzzards eying him from a tree.”
Daisy turned to her sister. “I think you’d better let Barnacle do his business on a leash and keep him in.”
Henryetta’s eyes seemed to water. She took a handkerchief out of her sleeve and dabbed each cheek. Then she said, “Did she say anything else?”
Jerry rubbed a finger under his nose. “Why, no ma’am. We just talked about the weather turning after that.”
“I see.” Henryetta’s eyebrows condensed in a V. Her head bobbled.
Daisy said, “Well, we appreciate you looking into this for us, Jerry. We know you’re a busy man, with the campaign and all. How’s that going?”
“Pretty well, thank you. But I sure would appreciate your votes. Every one of those counts. I could drop by some of my campaign literature if you’d like to read it. And I’ve got these little rulers this time around. They come in real handy.”
“Well, some of those would be nice. But don’t go to any trouble. You’ve done enough for us as it is. And we’re not going to vote for your opponent.”
“I sure appreciate that,” Jerry said. “Let me know if there is anything else I can do.” He looked at his watch and waved his hat toward the entrance. “I’m just going to go down the street and buy Evelyn a television set. I’m hoping Ray can deliver it to the house in time to watch Ed Sullivan this weekend.” He smiled real big.
After he left, Daisy came out from behind the counter and stood at the store’s door until he got to the corner of the street and crossed over. Then she turned back into the dress store part of the establishment. She said to Henryetta, “That didn’t work.”
“We don’t know if it did or not,” Henryetta said as she worried her necklace with fingers not much fatter than straws. “We’ll only know if we don’t see the towel again.”
“We’ll probably have to wait until next spring.” Daisy looked out the window. “The weather seems to be turning.”
“Nature can occasionally be helpful,” Henryetta said.