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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Embarrassed (07/19/07)

TITLE: The Long Journey to the Throne
By Marilee Alvey


Kathy Lou Brown was deep in thought. Today held eternal ramifications. Her Pa, Junior Brown, an unsaved professional gambler, was about to leave this world. Kathy and her mama had talked the preacher into making a house call to attempt the salvation of her pa’s soul. Pastor McSwain knew her pa, so, although her mama was a Southern Baptist, she practically had to institute the practice of indulgences to get the pastor to enter their abode.

“Mama, y’all goin’ to the mall today?”

“Yes, Phillip. I’m pickin’ up your MawMaw so Pastor McSwain can talk to PawPaw.”

“Can I come with y’all then? I need to get me some new blue jeans.”

“I s’pose.”



“Will Pastor McSwain be bringin’ holy water and a cross?”

“Phillip, now hush. This ain’t no exorcism.”

Kathy honked the horn of her brand new Buick Roadmaster and waited for her mama to come out. Soon her mama appeared, coming out the door at a fast hobble, as if she was fleeing the scene of a crime, her big cloth handbag clutched tightly to her chest.

“Everything’s ready. PawPaw is restin’, unawares. I just tole him to answer the door if anyone came. I tell ya, Kathy, my stomach’s just churnin’ over this whole ordeal.”

“I know, mama. I been prayin’ so long I’ve expected God Himself to tell me to hush.”

Arriving inside the mall, Kathy separated from her mama and Phillip, since Phillip had managed to parlay his MawMaw into purchasing his jeans.

Kathy was leisurely eyeing a corn fritter page in a Country Cookin’ Recipe Book at Hastings’ Dollar Store when Phillip showed up, wide eyed with horror.

“What is it, Phillip?”

“It’s MawMaw,” was all he could say.

“What about Maw Maw?”

“It’s awful. It’s just awful,” he said, at want for words to express it.

“Is it a heart attack?”

“Marvin’s Spatula City,” he squeaked, then bolted.

Kathy ran there like they were giving away admissions to Graceland. There was her mama, head held high, in front of Marvin’s Spatula City with the evidence of a very upset stomach draining out the legs of her immaculately pressed white pants.

“Mama, bless your heart! Come on: let’s go into Marvin’s and get cleaned up!”

“Ain’t goin’ in Marvin’s restrooms,” she said with arms folded. “I’m only goin’
in Nordstrom’s.”

“Mama, this is no time to be puttin’ on airs. Nordstrom’s all the way on the other side of the mall.”

“You better mind me, child! Marvin’s ain’t fittin’. Restrooms in Nordstrom’s is better. Don’t you be doubtin’ me!”

“Okay, Mama, take my arm.”

Her mother limped gingerly along the promenade, passing shoppers who changed from mildly interested to downright nauseated. Kathy tried not to notice the leaking liquid that oozed out with every step. She’d managed to deal well with it….. until she caught a glimpse of their reflection in a store window. Laughter commenced, halted only by her mother’s evil eye. They stumbled along, mother and daughter, forging a trail no one cared to follow, the mall musak providing their dirge. Somehow, “Greased Lightening” didn’t seem to fit.

“If I had a reputation, it’s gone now,” he mother said mournfully, making Kathy’s laughter return.

Phillip reappeared momentarily. “Mama, I’m walkin’ home.”

“But it’s ten miles!”

“It’s worth it.”

Mother and daughter continued their march of mortification, finally arriving at Nordstrom’s. Kathy’s heart sunk: there were no paper towels there, only hand dryers. In desperation, she dabbed at her mother with toilet paper. It shredded, leaving random tufts on her pants. Sadly, it now appeared as if her mother had a brown hedgehog biting her bottom.

At the car, Kathy suddenly had a new problem.

“Mama, y’all can’t sit down on the seat. You gotta stay on your hands and knees.”

Her mama acquiesed, mumbling phrases about the times and something about Hell and a handbasket.

Kathy opened all four windows for ventilation, inviting the October chill in, as well.

Arriving home, they spied the pastor’s car. Kathy wondered how she could clean off her mama without interrupting the important work taking place in the living room.

Taking her mama out to the backyard, Kathy turned the garden hose on her. It was so icy her mother let out a whoop. Neighbors began to gather, murmuring things like, “No respect for the elderly…” and, “Tole you. That’s ‘xactly how she is…”

New white pants, $35. Taxi for Phillip, $3.28. The salvation of Junior Brown, priceless.

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This article has been read 775 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Dee Yoder 07/26/07
Oh my goodness, I couldn't help laughing! I followed a poor soul once through a mall who was dropping, uh, ...things, shall we say! Poor Mama. And I think I'd walk home, too!
Elizabeth Baize07/26/07
Ohhh, I think you quite covered the embarrassing topic with this one!! At places it was almost painful to read, :-) but that last sentence was "priceless."
Lynda Schultz 07/26/07
Now where have I heard something similar to that last line before? Very entertaining. You almost have two great stories here — the incident in the mall and the salvation of Junior Brown. And I love the title.
Melanie Kerr 07/27/07
You had my sympathy every step of the way. I loved the “accent” you gave the characters.
Joanne Sher 07/27/07
I can't imagine there is an article that fits the topic better than this one. Great detail and dialog.
Kristen Hester07/28/07
Oh my, Oh my! I have had some pretty embarrassing situations, but this beats them all. My cheeks (face cheeks,thank you very much) hurt from reading this and smiling and grimacing and laughing. Your accents were perfect. The last line has about as much punch as a last line can have. Bravo.
Sharlyn Guthrie07/30/07
Ewwwww. How awful! That daughter deserved a crown for her long walk to the "throne"! No doubt she'll get it in heaven. You handled this messy story extremely well.
Myrna Noyes08/02/07
Marilee, I laughed so hard, my kids probably think I'm crazy! :D This is one of my favorites this week,for sure! What a PERFECT story for this topic, and what masterful writing! You make me smile!!!!! :)