Past Imperfect

Past Imperfect – #139


Taffy fully admitted that she didn’t know a lot of things, but she was suddenly certain of this: Her man was cheating on her, once again.

She snatched up the photo and stomped toward the back of the house, throwing open a door and confronting her lover. “We need to talk!”

Cedric, presumed lover, looked up from his position on the toilet, the strained expression on his face becoming even more so. “Sure, we can do that. But could we do it in a few minutes? I’m in the middle of something here, and it has taken me a very long time to move things into the launch position. I’d rather not waste the opportunity, so to speak.”

Taffy sighed with vehement exasperation, a dramatic flourish that might work well on the Broadway stage but proved rather annoying in the confined set-design of a bathroom that smelled like straining. “No, it cannot wait, because it’s obvious that you couldn’t, either. How long have you been boinking this tramp?”

Taffy hoisted the photo high, like Norma Rae waving that union sign in the movie where sweaty people weren’t getting paid decent wages but still managed to fall in love by the closing credits. Sadly, her demonstrative reenactment was partly sullied by her thrusting, causing the photo to invade the domain of the ceiling fan, with the top of the photo being whap, whap, whapped by the spinning blades. (Apparently Cedric, or somebody, spent a lot of time in the Straining Room, enough so that a ceiling fan had become a necessity. Some things are better left unanswered.)

Cedric sat there for a moment, processing, his threadbare underwear creating a bridge between his hairy shins. “I’m not banging Myrna Loy. Now, can you grab that extra roll of toilet paper under the vanity? I’ve done some serious damage to the current one.”

Taffy’s eyes widened. “So, her name is Myrna? That’s a stupid name. But it’ll make it easier to find her ass when I’m done with you.”

Cedric, wisely, chose not to do a stupid-name comparison with someone named Taffy. Bigger fish to fry. “I can assure you that Myrna and I have not bumped uglies. It’s simply impossible for that to happen.”

Taffy’s eyes narrowed. “I think you’re lying. Look at the expression on her face!” She lowered the photo and shoved it closer to Cedric’s mildly-sweaty visage. (The ceiling fan was rather appreciative of this move, as whapping that photo was proving rather strenuous, especially in the heat-soaked humidity of July in New Orleans, wherein the available power supply was a bit thin.)

Cedric only briefly glanced at the shoved photo, as he knew it well. “She looks rather dissatisfied. I understand that feeling right now.”

Taffy was triumphant. “Exactly! I have the same expression on my face when you grunt and roll off of me every night. So I know you’re doing her.”

Cedric was not particularly impressed with this revelation. (Then again, nothing had been all that impressive once the door flew open just as he was prepared to release the Kraken.) “If I’m not ringing your Venus bell, then why are we still together?”

Taffy’s eyes hardened. “Because I believe in doing what I can to make a long-term relationship work. Apparently, I have different morals than you do, which is no surprise, considering the fact that you refuse to replace your droopy underwear. Your cheating chestnuts shouldn’t be knocking your knees.”

Cedric was mystified, for a number of reasons, but he focused on one. “Long-term? We met each other two weeks ago in an oyster bar at three in the morning. This isn’t a Jane Austen novel. We were drunk and horny and we needed to scratch our respective itches. We are still feeling each other out, so I don’t understand why you’re already so invested in what hasn’t developed yet.”

Taffy was not to be stymied in her accusations. “And I don’t understand why you are already invested in somebody that isn’t me.”

Cedric shook his head, but only minimally so, as he was a smidge compromised, what with his ass exposed and whatnot, and who knew if Clearly-Crazy Taffy might have a shank on her somewhere. “Look, do you even know what I do for a living?”

This gave Taffy pause. “Oh. No, I never thought to ask. You paid our tab at the oyster bar, and that was good enough for me. I’m not one for details.”

Cedric smiled ruefully, but not too offensively, because the hidden-shank question had not been resolved and he was still spread-legged over a commode. “Well, here’s a detail. I write reviews of old movies for the Bonnywood Manor website.”

Taffy, suspiciously: “I don’t really understand what that means.”

Cedric: “And right now, I’m doing a retrospective on the ‘Thin Man’ series of films.”

Taffy, starting to get a bit annoyed: “Stop saying things to confuse me.”

Cedric: “Fine. I’ll cut to the chase. Myrna Loy has been dead for 28 years. There’s no way we could have possibly compared drunken oysters.”

Taffy, eyes vibrating with an undiagnosed condition due to the poor state of the American healthcare system: “So you’ve been banging a dead woman? No wonder she looks pissed off in the photo.”

Cedric, finally reaching the breaking point, despite the shank-existence possibility: “You know what? I’m done. Leave this room right now.”

Taffy, not budging yet: “But we need to save our relationship!”

Cedric: “We don’t have a relationship. Go get whatever belongs to you in the other rooms and get out of here. Exit stage left.”

Taffy contemplated, as the ceiling fan whirled, whapless, then she grimaced and threw the photo on the floor. “Fine! Someday you’ll understand what you’ve just lost. And then you’ll be begging me to come back!” She stomped away, not bothering to close the bathroom door, further proving that her Southern manners were a bit lacking.

Cedric watched her go, then he snatched up Myrna from the floor, studying the image. Sighing, he whipped out the cellphone he had tucked into his underwear bridge before everything hit the ceiling fan. He punched in a series of digits.

William Powell: “I told you not to call me on this number unless it was really important.”

Cedric: “We have a situation.”

William: “You always have a situation. And you always try to make it mine as well, which is getting rather tiresome.”

Cedric: “No, this one really involves you. Taffy knows about Myrna. Not enough, but some.”

William: “Taffy? You mean the candy? Or is this an actual person?”

Cedric: “Person. The woman I’ve been dating for roughly three seconds who is pulling a full-on Vivien Leigh right now. She’s in the other room, presumably packing up her neurotic belongings but possibly plotting my death.”

William: “Woman? I thought you liked a different plumbing configuration.”

Cedric: “Well, normally I do. Let’s just say I misunderstood some gender clues and then I was too polite to stop the snowball before it started rolling down the hill. But none of that matters. What’s important is that Myrna needs to go dark until Taffy is in a secure facility.”

William: “You’re such a sordid man. Fine, I’ll initiate the protocol while you try to pull the taffy.”

They disconnected.

William punched in a different set of numbers.

Myrna Loy: “Hello?”

William: “Darling, it’s me.”

Myrna: “Aw, hell! I have to go dark again, don’t I?”

William: “How on earth did you…”

Myrna: “We made 274 movies together. I can tell what you had for dinner last night just by the tone of your voice. I’ll go pack a bag and get my special passport out of the safe.”

William: “Thanks, dear. Life is far less tedious when one doesn’t have to explain things to others. And you know the next step in the procedure, yes?”

Myrna: “Of course. Target name and location?”

William: “Taffy. And she’s at Cedric’s right now.”

Myrna: “Noted. Text me later.”

They disconnected.

Myrna punched yet another array of figures.

Asta the Dog: “Woof?”

Myrna: “Darling, are you up for another run?”

Asta the Dog: “Woof! Woof!”

Myrna: “Terrific! Okay, here’s the lowdown…”

Ten minutes later, at Cedric’s House of Snowballs (in more ways than one) the doorbell rang.

Taffy paused in her hurling of panties into her suitcase and hurling of invectives at Cedric. She looked toward the now-closed bathroom door. “Aren’t you going to get that?”

Cedric, grunting: “Still kinda busy. Would you mind? Despite the end of our relationship and all.”

Taffy sighed. She was never going home with anyone she met at an oyster bar, ever again. Well, at least not this week. She marched to the front door and threw it open. “What?”

Asta the Dog: “Woof?”

Taffy: “No, I’m apparently no longer the lady of the house. Wait, is there any money involved in that question?”

Asta the Dog: “Woofity woof.”

Taffy: “Oh, really? You’re the casting director for the ‘Gone with the Wind’ second sequel and you need a new Vivien Leigh?”

Asta the Dog: “Woofer woofer.”

Taffy: “An audition, right now? You know, I think I can make that work. As it so happens, I’m already packed. One sec, I’ll be right back.” She turned and raced into the den to finish prepping her trousseau.

Asta the Dog whispered into the microphone hidden beneath his festive collar. “Woof woof woof. Woof.”

Extraction team-leader ensconced in the nearby, nondescript panel van that nobody notices until it’s too late: “Got it. Subject will be on porch within minutes. All agents, prepare for maneuvers. And let’s try to have less screaming than the last time. It’s so annoying.”

Within the domicile, Taffy, finally satisfied that her panties were all arranged in the proper alphabetical order, slammed her suitcase shut and hollered at the still-closed bathroom door. “I’m done with you and I’m moving on with my life. You missed a big chance, buster.”

The door, and anyone behind it, did not have anything of substance to contribute, so they didn’t.

Taffy sighed. Men were such silent pigs. Suitcase in hand, she marched to the front door and threw it open. “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. Asta.”

Back behind that other door, the closed bathroom one, Cedric listened to the ensuing sounds.

The clacking of drama-queen heels as Taffy descended from the stoop.

The clatter of many people running about, intent on a mission.

The cacophony of tires squealing as a critical vehicle raced off into the late afternoon, lurid and surprised cargo within.

Cedric, finally, smiled. It just might be a good day after all…


Previously published on “Crusty Pie”, massively changed and extended from the original. (The first post was a mere three sentences, none of which appear in this revision.)

Some trivia bits to consider:

Parts of this lark will not make sense unless you’ve seen the “Thin Man” movies. Mea culpa.

Asta the Dog’s real-life name was “Skippy”. Woof.

The character name “Cedric” is a reference to Cedric Gibbons, who designed the sets for the “Thin Man” movies.

There are additional references to “Sunset Boulevard” and “A Streetcar Named Desire”, if you have a keen eye.

Cheers.


24 replies »

  1. For some inexplicable reason, Brian, I am reminded of the words of a famous reviewer after the opening of Stephen Sondheim’s weirdly disturbing musical, ASSASSINS: “Stephen Sondheim is one sick puppy.” Congratulations on joining his rarefied company.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. While I’d LOVE to take a leisurely roll through that fragrant (in more ways than one) garden you’ve sown so carefully for us all (I have seen several of the Thin Man movies ((better stuff than anything made (((mostly))) since 2000), I’m not AS famililar with the other two, although I’ve seen them both at least twice. And I rely on the kindess of strangers in such situations, and you’re a kind non-stranger… Uh O_o I am ready for my close-up now. Lassie (a couple of them) were girl dogs, although the scripts tended to bestow a male personality (?) on the dog. Asta ROCKED. But then I have a thing for terriers….and chihuahuas and well, any dog. No offense to Cleo, whom I’m sure is just lovely. For a cat. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • First, I’d advise avoiding the fragrant garden. (Entire nations have fallen in lesser circumstances; just say no.) Second, it’s fine if you’re not familiar with all the movies I poke with a stick. No worries about the movie references, as I’m fully aware that I focus on bits of trivia that may not ring, even with folks that have seen the movies in question 417 times. (I’m a bit obsessive with that angle.) Third, the Lassie thing always threw me. Because I was a research-inclined, odd little youngster, I knew that most of the Lassies were female, so I didn’t appreciate the maleness-enhancing of the scripts. (Perhaps this was the start of my budding feminism?) Finally, Cleo is always offended, by everything, so the best course of action is to simply ignore her… 😉

      Like

  3. Sheesh, there’s more twists and turns and u-bends in this convoluted plot line than you’d see in a plumbers nightmare. Cedric should also know that the days after a night at a cut-rate oyster bar are bound- sorry, wrong word choice- to lead to more than fifteen minutes of strain. PS; What the hell ricochets unrestrained around that brain of yours? (Said in a dizzily impressed rather than critical manner. Or Manor.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’ve hit the nail on the head, kind sir, as pertains to my ricocheting. My brain never rests, constantly percolating. One tiny bit of something sends me whirling toward another tiny bit, with the connection between the two tenuous, at best. I just hang of for the ride, and I make sure that I have Microsoft Word open as I do so… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I say write with more feels… let that great evocateur have his way, and we get “release the Kraken”? 🤔
    Color me perplexed! Entertained, I must admit, but perplexed nonetheless.

    Taffy pulling is always a messy business. Ummm… so I’ve heard😂😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I fully understand your perplexity. 97% of the time, I start a story with a particular goal in mind, but then the possible alternate routes start pinging in my personal Google Maps (“turn left at the next plot point… wait, maybe turn right… should we throw in something about daffodils?”) and before I can grasp what has happened, I’m in a new world where maps are meaningless. Such is life with my constantly-vibrating brain. A bit scary, but always fun. At least to me… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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