Sunday, March 16, 2014

Ol' Barb Stab-You-Quick's Search for Love

Dewy White Flower, by [Maris] - Louisa, KY 1997

"What about Knee-Brace Kenny," Laura Delite suggested.  "He seems positively smitten with you, Barb."

Ol' Barb Stab-You-Quick scoffed.  "I don't even want to dignify that with a response.  You're lucky I don't--"

"Stab me?" Laura said.  "I mean, stab me again?"

"You know me so well.  Look - Kenny's very sweet, but he's just a boy.  I need a man.  A real man.  Plus, knee braces give me the willies something awful."

"Well, how about Magnetized James?  He's a man's man.  All the lady hoboes think he's a dream."

"Oh Laura, be serious," Barb groaned.  

"I am being serious," she insisted.  "You two made a swell couple.  Everyone said so."

"Oh, I know," Barb admitted, "but we had no future together.  The man is magnetized, you know.  Anything I had that was metal - my fork, my cans, my knives - they all stuck to him.  Once, I was about to stab this yard cop, and James got too close to me and ZAP!  There went my trusty stabbin' knife.  Cut him pretty bad.  Again."  She shook her head.  "No.  No future."

"Yes, I remember that story.  I felt bad.  If he weren't magnetic, it might have worked out."

"And don't even say Ironbelly Norton," Barb cautioned.

Laura Delite laughed.  "Oh, I wasn't going to bring him up, honey.  'Yes, Norton - you can eat gravel and newspapers and dead frogs, and not even throw up or anything.  We're all very impressed.  Isn't there anything else you can talk about?'"

"He was such a braggart," Barb nodded, looking down at the Louisville and Nashville trackbed as she walked.

"Say, how about Huge Crybaby McWeepy?" Laura proposed.  "He took a shine to you the minute he saw you."

Ol' Barb laughed loudly.

"What?  So he cried.  Most fellas cry when they get stabbed by a gorgeous blue-eyed dame from the road - or by anyone, for that matter."

"It's not just that he cried," Barb countered.  "But he's an ugly crier."

"An ugly crier?  Oh come now - who's not just a little bit ugly when they cry?"

"He looks like a circus clown when he cries.  So, no ma'am.  I think I'll pass on Mr. McWeepy."

"You're impossible," Laura said.  "You can't be so choosy, out here.  How about Stool-Sample Frank?  He's nice.  Tall, handsome, great smile, seems strong and kind."

"He's always trying to sell me a stool.  I'm a hobo.  What am I going to do with a stool, for goodness' sake?  And if I could afford a stool, would I be out here walking from town to town looking for work picking crops and cleaning stables?  No.  You're welcome to him."

Laura thought for a moment.  "No, you're right.  I forgot how hard he tried to sell those stools.  You'd be better off marrying No-Banjo Burnes."

"Ha!  The only man I ever failed to stab, and dare I say, he scared me, just a little.  I had nightmares of being beaten in my sleep with that rusty old banjo."

"If only you hadn't--"

"Don't."  Ol' Barb Stab-You-Quick stopped in her tracks.  More accurately, she stopped in the L&N's tracks.  Either way, she stopped.  "Don't say his name."

His name was Shane Stoopback, and Barb had loved him, once.  He didn't love her back, and it made her as irrational as a schoolgirl with her first crush.  He ran from her, he hid from her, he begged her to leave him alone.  One night, she saw him sitting by his fire, singing a soft, pretty song to some woman she didn't know.  In a blind, jealous rage, she stabbed him to death.  The other woman ran off and hadn't been seen since.

"Have you ever considered trying not stabbing people?  It might help..."

"Never mind, Laura.  Some gals just ain't meant to find love.  I'm coming around to it.  I'm learning that it's not in the cards, for me.  I'll never find love, and that's just how it's going to be.  Thank God I have you, though."  She took her best friend's hand, and they continued west toward Memphis, into a hazy orange setting sun.

You silly woman, Laura thought.  Love has already found you.  You just don't see it, yet.  But so help me, you will.

Once again, I wrote in response to a wonderful prompt, "He's an ugly crier," excerpted from fellow STUDIO 30-PLUS blogger LM Leffew's elegant post THE KING IS DEAD.  Check it out.  She's really good!



  1. That was "delite-ful!" I hope they realize their love.

    I love rambling down the rails with your hobos.

    1. Thanks, Katy! I love writing these characters. Still debating whether to give 'em their own blog...

  2. Hmm... I sense a follow-up story to this one!

    1. Maybe a prequel, but I think I want to leave the future of this one up to the reader. Never say never, though! ;)