Ethel Madison never planned on being an old maid. Circumstances just didn’t agree to grant her wish for a mate. Her pipe dreams of a knight in shining armor seemed as futile as Madame Bovine’s cloudy crystal ball predictions. Nonetheless, she had led a widely gregarious life, traveling all over the country on group train and bus trips with her standard group of female friends.
As she approached her ‘golden years,’ Ethel began taking a more active approach in searching for a husband, enrolling in some night classes at the community college. When that didn’t work, she joined a Bible study singles’ group at a local church. This also failed, the attending men either 'young-uns' or older gentlemen in their dotage.
Time went by as Ethel continued to socialize with the “girls,” having weekly jaunts to their favorite haunts and restaurants. Although they now had advanced to the age of limiting their discussions to the dependable memories of past experiences and adventures, they also became animated when sharing physical limitations and ailments. Grace now sported a cane (made from exotic oriental wood), Denise had to take digestive tablets (held in a jewel-ornamented pill-box) before each meal, Bea had to use a large magnifying glass (gold-gilded with an elegant handle) to read the menus, and now Ethel, herself, had succumbed to carrying a cup in her pocketbook for her ill-fitting dentures. It was a lowering necessity for eating (and sleeping), but she accepted it as her cross to bear. Refusing to use a fancy dentures holder, and frugal to a fault, she used a plain old plastic cup she found at the Good Will store for five cents.
On her eighty-fifth birthday, Ethel decided to make a last ditch desperate attempt to land a husband, with a fortitude and dogged determination that would have put The Little Engine That Could to shame. To begin her plan, Ethel would need a pistol. This item turned out to be the greatest hurdle, Ethel not having much knowledge in the firearms department. Plus, her arthritis made pulling the trigger a rather formidable process. But she persevered, graduating from Target Practice Class with honors. She meticulously matted and framed the diploma and nailed it to the wall over her bed.
Next, she cashed in all her savings certificates and withdrew her bank funds, planting the cash in her large jewelry box under the upper tray of sparkling, costly gemstones she had acquired over the years.
Lastly, she contacted a local newspaper reporter to publish an article in the town’s Gazette:
“LOCAL GRANNY DOESN’T TRUST BANKS AND WITHDRAWS FUNDS”
Miss Ethel Madison, of 3684 Cherry Hill Lane, insists that her money is safer in her own home . . .”
Then, Ethel began a night-time ritual of turning a lamp to shine on the wall diploma in her bedroom, placing the wide-open jewelry box on her nightstand and burying her newly acquired pistol under her pillow. On the opposite side of her bed was another stand which held a tube of Ben-Gay for her nightly arthritis rub, a stand for her wig (another Good Will find that covered her own thinning hair), and her trusty dentures cup.
Two nights later, Ethel was awakened by the sound of rifling jewelry next to her head. Apparently, a victim had climbed into her carefully spun web. Very carefully and quietly, she managed to feel for the cold steel of the revolver, grasping its handle with one hand and flipping the light switch with the other. Before her crouched a scoundrel, his hands dripping in jewels and an open pillowcase at his side stuffed with Ethel’s cache of money, bills spilling onto the floor at his feet.
“The saints be praised! I’ve finally caught me a man!” snagging the man by the scruff of his neck.
“Young man, if you don’t marry me, I’ll blow off the top of your head!”
The reluctant suitor had been warily creeping to the other side of the spinster’s bed next to the open window, but now, like a trapped mouse, he was unable to move another inch. Eyes watering from the vapor rub aroma, he sneezed and looked up at the wig, gulping convulsively. The final straw was the grimy set of teeth staring at him from the filmy cup in front of his face. Like a hypnotist’s swinging watch, his eyes slowly swung from the cup to the spinster’s face and then back to the cup.
“Madam, for goodness sakes—SHOOT!”
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