"What a nagging drip you've been, Mister Curry. All Katie ever wanted from you was a little sweetness, but you filled her ears with spinach. 'Do this, do that, do that, do this.' No wonder she left home as soon as she could drive."
The widower couldn't help scolding himself as he sat in the old wicker chair rocking Beelzebub, the little black bug that had ruled his life. And ruined it, draining all the precious milk of human kindness that should have gone to his only daughter instead of to Mrs. Job, who didn't need it. He slammed the beast against his chest. How could he be so blind?
"Ping-ping-ping, ping-a-ping!" A series of raindrop notes fell into his ear. How odd. He didn't recall that ringtone.
He flipped the bug open. No ID.
"Ding-a-ling-a-ling ling ling!"
"Hi, this is Rich. May I ask who's calling?"
Again no answer.
What on earth was going on? Oh. Right. Picking up on it this time, Rich heard the voice loud and clear.
"You all there, Rich?"
"Last time I checked."
"Okay, listen up. I have to know. Is she coming or not?"
"Well, er... I did extend an invite, but there's this weird static on the party line, you see, and it's putting a crimp on our chitchat. I've sent in a number of repair requests already."
"Fixing it is your job, Rich."
"Her life is in your hands. Understand?"
The signal faded in a heartbeat.
Rich sighed. The way his boss kept grilling him, you'd think the gala was a matter of life and death!
Oh brother. Not him AGAIN.
"What's taking you so long?"
"With all due respect, Sir, I'd rather let Sam Quickwit do it. He's not the bumble mouth that I am."
"We'll have no more talk of nitwits. Now get on it."
"But - ..."
"Don't stall. Make the call." Click.
Rich saw he had no choice. Grimly he cupped the reaper in his hand, returned it to its pedestal, and fell to his knees.
Oh sister. Not HIM again!
Katie plunged her knuckles deep into the dough to drown out the pesky nag hugging the wall. Thank God that enemy was pinned down where she could keep an eye on it, unlike those wild cells whose busy bees hovered over them 24/7. What rich cups of liquid gold they scooped straight from their honeycombs into the cells of hungry customers, while lonely children drank the bitter dregs!
After seven rings she'd had enough. Off came the gloves. Katie grabbed the phone and nearly yanked it off the wall.
"What do you want?!" she snapped, trying not to sound as angry as she felt.
"I want to say I'm sorry," squeaked the silly high-pitched voice, catching her completely off guard.
With a gasp she asked, "Who is this?"
"Just your friendly neighborhood drip. Inviting you to join him in a cup of wine up at the mansion. Hee hee hee."
His catchy humor made her laugh in spite of herself. She pulled her cheeks down, trying to be glum, glad he couldn't see what she was doing.
"All right, Dad. What's the nag THIS time?"
"Nag? No nag."
"Not a nag. A white horse. Ridden by the King of kings. Who's fixing a yummy feast up at the castle. Lots of milk, honey, manna. No sauerkraut or Brussels sprouts. Will you come?"
She donned her gravest worker bee voice, almost wishing for an onion to stop her giggles. "What is this, a joke?"
"'What is it?,' you ask. Bread light and fluffy. God's word, never stuffy. Take His joke, easy yoke. Lots of fun. Please say you'll come."
Katie couldn't believe her ears. The lifelong teetotaler sounded almost drunk!
With a trembling hand she hung up the phone, muttering, "He's clearly not himself. All that talk about wine, milk, manna, some king of kings - almost sounds like one of those Bible stories he tried to shove down my throat as a kid. Speaking of Bibles, he gave me one a few years back. Maybe I'll dig it up. Might give me a clue to that crazy speech of his."
Meanwhile back at the bee farm, Richard Curry threw his cell phone in the trash, saying, "I knew it wouldn't work. She wants nothing to do with me. She'll never come around."
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