by D.M. Hanna
When Dot arrived, she found Penny sunbathing on the patio with her
eyes closed against the midday sun. "Wake up, sleepy head," she clucked like an old hen. "Didja' forget about our lunch date?"
"Not at all," Penny replied, blinking in the strong light and
glimpsing her friend. "I was just enjoyin' the quiet time, ya' know? Hubby n' kids gone for the day, and I have the place all to myself."
"So let's get a move on," encouraged Dot.
"Ok, ok!" Penelope said standing and stretching. "Are ya in a hurry
"Ya' know," Dot began, "if ya lived out in the 'burbs like me, we
could do this everyday . . . ."
"DON'T START!" she sighed, rolling her eyes. "Why's it every time
ya come ta visit, you start singing the *superiority* of the suburbs? Geez, Dot! It's gettin' kinda' old."
"And it's gettin' kinda late, girl friend," Dot informed her,
looking at the enormous clock atop the adjacent bank building, "you gonna preen before we go?"
"Naw; thought I'd go as is. If it bothers anybody, to HELL with em!"
"Said like a true city dweller," retorted Dot. "So what'll it be today?
Pierre's on fifth? The cafe by the library? What?"
Penny thought for a moment, carefully considering the options
available, then replied, "Let's do the park – a couple o' dogs in the park sounds good."
"Dogs in the park?" Dot muttered, cocking her head side-to-side as
she considered it. "I dunno – I kinda thought we'd do French today."
"Oui," chortled Penny, shrugging her shoulders. "We ate there LAST
time ya flew into town, remember? Besides, it's a bea-U-tiful day, and much too nice to be cooped-up inside. Dogs in the park; I'm buyin' n' we're flyin' – deal? Couple of young chicks cruising the park."
"Suits," conceded Dot; in her very best high-society accent, she
added, "shall we call ahead to make reservations?"
Displaying her most snooty look, Penny replied, "Oh NO, I never
have reservations about eating in the park!"
Both of them laughed. Dot quickly checked her look in the reflection
of the patio door, and they took off for the park a few blocks away. Along the way they talked about husbands, the kids, and did some window shopping while cackling about the fashions.
"I wouldn't be caught DEAD in that!" Dot remarked, pointing out a
shift exhibiting the print of a lion. "Designer Original – P-leeese!"
"Oooo! But look at this!" replied Penny, nodding her head at a
full length feather-boa in the next window. "That is to *DIE* for!"
"You're losin' it, girl -- come on! Let's go eat."
When they finally landed at the park, some minutes later, there weren't
many people around, either. Earlier in the day the temperature had been somewhat cool, but not now. Without an audience, they began to hop along childishly, as if playing hopscotch on the hot sidewalk. With the sun just a bit past noon, only an occasional breeze stirred the torrid air.
As luck would have it, they had their lunch in the shade of a convenient
elm tree with no competition. In between bites, they continued chattering.
"So the other night, me n' the kids were down at the fast food joint,
ya' know where I mean?"
Not stopping to clear her mouth, Penny replied, "You eat too much a
that crap . . . ya are what ya eat . . . ya' know."
"You old hen!" Dot cried out laughingly. "You should talk, Miss
Dogs-in-the-park! So anyhow, this broad with thunder thighs comes up and says, `Is this seat taken?' with sickining sweetness, ya' know. To which I reply, move along, sister – I ain't your type. My husband is joinin' us, an' he ain't fond a being crowded! – *that's* what I said."
"So did she?"
Dot cackled, "Well o' course she did! But geez! The nerve of da'
old bird, ya' know?"
"Sure," Penny remarked, taking another bite, "but was he? Your husband
– was he?"
"What?" questioned Dot. "Eating with us? Hell no! That filthy so-n-so
flew the coop and been gone for a couple a' weeks! Ain't so much as called!"
Penny paused from eating to ask, almost whispering, "Think he has a
bird outta town? That happened to Madge, ya' know. Started out with him goin' out with da guys, huntin' trips – next thing ya' know, he's outta da' picture and she's lookin' for a new fella."
"Well, if he *does*," she said peevishly, "*she* can have him! Da'
worthless ol' buzzard!"
"Ah, now ya don't mean it, do you?" Penelope said, wanting to
console her friend. "I remember when ya met the lug, it was magic! `Love at first sight', ya told me!"
"Yeah, yeah," Dot retorted, "some magic! A guy takes ya out for
a dinner at a fancy place under the stars an' ya lose perspective."
"And your virginity," mused Penny, thinking about their shared youth.
"Yeah," muttered Dot in reply, "well, she can keep *him*; I get the
"And if he comes back?"
"To hell with him! He can hang in a tree for all I care! The kids
are ready to go out on their own – an' I ain't dead yet, so I think Ms. Dorothy owes it to herself to have some fun."
"Yeah, well, we ain't spring chickens any more," Penny mused.
"So when are ya movin' to the burbs?"
"Stop!" she cried, showing mock surprise, "I have *no* intention of
leavin' town, ya *know* that! Geez, Louise! Listen – my momma n' daddy lived here all their lives, n' so did their folks before 'em. I love where I live. On any given day, just minutes away I can go to the zoo, visit museums, or go to a disco – I can go where I want, and do what I want, *when* I want.
"But Penny," clucked her friend, "the suburbs are beautiful! You
really should venture out, dear. Less congestion, wonderful schools – and the people! Penny, the people in the 'burbs have such better taste than these city folk."
"My mind is made up," she said. "The city is my home -- and, frankly,
I'm surprised at you. You grew up here! Have ya forgotten about the ol' neighborhood? Besides, what do ya got to go back to? Ya said yourself that the ol' buzzard has flown the coop an da' kids'r grown, right? So why don't *you* move back *here*?"
"Want the rest of this bun?" Dot asked, as she had been merely picking
at her meal. "I ain't gonna eat no more."
"I'm sorry," sighed Penny, "I didn't mean to spoil da' meal."
"Naw, it's not that," Dot resigned, "I just been cuttin' down,
ya' know? I keep thinkin' about that fat old turkey the other night – a girl's gotta watch her figure, ya' know?"
"For who?" queried Penny, winking at her friend.
"I got my eye on da' pool man," Dot replied, with a wink and a nod.
At that they both laughed, then mutually agreed to leave the park.
Winding their way along the streets of the city, they made more small talk about recent happenings and whatnot. Traffic on the main streets was a parking lot, and they were glad to be in good physical shape and able to get around town on their own.
Eventually, they made their way to the zoo where they made snide
remarks about the eating and sexual habits of the inmates. The rest of the day was spent milling around, looking at the animals, and engaging in more small talk.
"Geez, would ya look at the time!" exclaimed Penny, looking at
the setting sun. "The kids'll be home soon an' wondering if I'm lyin' dead on a street somewhere. Why don't ya come back to the penthouse an' spend the night?"
"Thanks for the offer, but I really must be gettin' back home, in case
you-know-who comes back. Honestly, I don't know why I care, but I do."
"Ya love him," Penny said tenderly. "He may be an' ol' buzzard,
but he's *your* ol' buzzard."
"Yeah, I guess," resigned Dot, quickly adding, "but if he don't come
back, there's always the pool man!"
"Sure!" squawked Penny with an affirmative nod, "even I'd like to
get a piece of THAT – sight unseen!"
"He is a lovely hunk," mused Dot whimsically, "an' fresh too! Ain't
been two-three days since he dropped by."
"Mmmm," hummed Penny, "I'm gettin' hungry again; think I'll take
the long way home an' pick-up some Chinese."
"Not for me," Dot said, matter-of-factly. "An hour after I eat it,
I'm hungry again. Besides, it gives me gas somethin' fierce. Listen, it's been fun, but I gotta' get back."
"So, ya gonna come back inta town next week? Maybe we can do French
"Why don't 'cha fly out my way next? We'll do the mall an' check
out the smorgasbord – 'kay?"
Penny shrugged her shoulders, saying, "Suits -- but YOU'RE buyin'
"Sure," Dot said with a laugh. "Maybe we'll get lucky an' find some
young stud an' take turns!"
"Why Miss Dot, I'm surprised at you! Married ladies shouldn't
entertain such thoughts!" she laughed in reply.
"CITY CHICKEN!" Dot cawed back at Penelope as she flew off.
"Get there *before noon*, or it'll be slim pickin's at the mall!"
Penelope stood there above the street, perched atop a utility pole
and watched as her oldest and dearest friend sailed away into the sunset. Some long moments after the crimson light last glinted off Dot's sleek wings, Penny took to the air herself; flying north by northwest.
On her flight home, she considered next week's visit, deciding to
herself, she'd have to see which way the wind blew.
# # #
Copyright 1994 Don M. Hanna
Don, residing in NW PA and originally from Ohio, has decided to focus on writing for his soul income. He enjoys writing both SF as well as main- stream short stories. He has a novel in progress, and when taking a break, works on his shorts. You will see more of his work in RUNE'S RAG.