The Last of the Roughnecks

“Mrs. Swiggins, he’s back!”

And so he was.

Mrs. Swiggins set aside her apron, covered as it was in specks of dough and smudges of fine white flour. She left her kneaded bread to rise slowly like the master’s head from his opulent bed.

“Don’t you worry now poppycock, I’ll deal with Mr. Snow.”

And so she would.

He was cockily leaning against a straight, though battered, pole. His face held no sign of anything but perfect innocence, white and clean. His suit was immaculate, if a little out-of-fashion. There was, however, the slight shimmer of a smirk on his thin lips. Though it was hard to catch in the glare of his irreproachability. He was as serene as a snowflake in a snowstorm, virginally complacent, but everyone, including the stray Toms, knew he was anything but, and there were maidens and libertines and even a few conservatives far and wide who could melt the pretenses.

Mrs. Swiggins adjusted her blouse, straightened her voluminous skirt, and hefted the rolling pin in her pudgy fingers.

Mr. Snow imperceptibly stiffened and his white face took on a slushy complexion.

There was something vulgar about his indifference, thought Mrs. Swiggins as she slapped across the street in her big display of sufferance.

Mr. Snow dropped a snow-white glove, which was uncharacteristic of him and could either be interpreted as a lewd suggestion or serendipity.

Mrs. Swiggins momentarily stopped when an unexpected song filled the well-kneaded bits of her powdery gray matter. “I walk in a bar and immediately I sense danger.”

An icy assumption rested on the tips of Mr. Snow’s fingers and a rime of annoyance froze fast to his bright eyes.

“So, Mr. Snow, you’re back?” said Mrs. Swiggins in a voice that held anything but tenderness in its democratic tone.

There was no apparent recognition in Mr. Snow’s blasé stare.

And then Mrs. Swiggins did something that was forever to change her reputation as the dutiful mistress of hot cakes.

She swung her rolling pin with the precision of a professional swinger right between Mr. Snow’s lily white thighs.

He crumpled like a melting snowman. His howls broke dams and lengthened the shadows in those narrow places where no bodily parts should be inserted.

And she left him to writhe in agony like a soiled mound of snow under the impassive eye of the sun’s single ball of fire.

“There, there now, poppycock,” comforted Mrs. Swiggins, her rolling pin dripping dark splats around her feet. “‘Twas but a seasonal love, a fleeting affair that is better ended in the street and not in your tender heart.”

And so it was.


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