Star-Struck

Elsie May Hannigan? Sure I knew her. We grew up together right here in Shiloh. Used ta play in each other's backyards when we was kids. Me? I'm Bobbie Jo Kramer. Pa wanted a son, so he gave me a boy's name. Seven times him and Ma took a shot at it...nothing but gals! We all got boys' names. 'Scuse me...make that Bobbie Jo STUBBS. I got hitched 'bout two months back and ain't used ta the change yet.

What? Oh...Elsie May. Well, seems like from the day she were born she were star-struck, but I guess back then, it were really her Ma's dream. Miss Jody...Elsie May's Ma...was always trying ta get Elsie May's picture on baby stuff when she were little. Ya know, Pampers diaper boxes and Gerber food labels?

I remember she actually made a couple of them there tee-vee commercials when she were 'bout five years old. Least that's what Miss Jody told everyone. Fact is, we never really knew fer sure 'cos nobody round these parts had no television set at that time. I got a real nice one now though...color, cable-ready and the whole sheebang! Course, we ain't actually got no cable company, but when we do, I sure is ready.

Elsie May always was cute as a button. She had this mess of hair...said it were "bright auburn," but it reminded me of raw carrots...and these green eyes, like a cat. She always landed the lead in school plays. I recollect one year it were "Romeo and Juliet." Usually nobody bothered to sign up to audition if Elsie May wanted the part, but that time, Sada Biggins added her name. She was sweet on Chester Pritchard. He was gonna be "Romeo." He was only doing it fer extra credit...bring his English grade upta a "D."

See, he was the best quarterback Shiloh High ever had and his Pa said he couldn't be in no more games less'n he brought up his grade. Goes without saying they gave him the part fer extra credit so's he could keep on playing. One them "all brawn and no brains" types. Kinda like Bern...that's my husband. He was on the football team too...tight end. Still is, if ya knows what I mean!

Huh? Oh, yeah.... They said Chester could pick his own "Juliet." Sada was frisky 'bout it 'cos Chester had been givin' her the eye since the beginning of the semester. But once ole Elsie May gotta hold of him in that balcony scene...a-kissin' on him and all...she 'bout turned that big old boy to jell-o. Rumor was she put on a repeat performance under the bleachers to clinch the deal. Poor Sada didn't stand much of a chance after that!

It were about then that Elsie May started carrying on 'bout going ta Hollywood after graduation. Like I said, star-struck. She were bound and determined ta make a name fer herself in moving pictures...thought she looked like Rita Hayworth. Ya heard of her? Bern drools every time he sees one of her movies! I'll give Elsie May this much, she weren't no...if y'all pardon the expression...dead ringer, but there sure was a resemblance.

Miss Jody now, she'd show me postcards Elsie May sent from time ta time. How she'd been cast in a big production and all..."blockbuster" she called it. But I never saw her in nuthin' I ever went to. I heard tell they were them, ya know...skin flick things. To be honest though, we don't get too many new movies round here, so I could be what you'd call mistaken.

Anyway, Elsie May blew into town a couple o' weeks ago. I ran into her at the dollar store. She looked real fancy. Shiny black boots and one o' them jackets covered with...what d'ya call 'em? Sequins? I think she'd had a boob job too. I was beginning to wonder if Bern's bugged-out eyes would ever settle back inta their sockets again!

What? The last time I saw her? I presume ya mean before...? I figure that woulda been 'bout three evenings past. I were out tryin' to find Duke. He'd broke his chain again. Damn fool hound would gnaw his own foot off fer a night of ruttin'! Elsie May...course, she didn't go by that no more. Called herself Ginger Dee Vine, or some such nonsense. She were in her Ma's backyard and we gabbed fer a spell.

She commenced ta tellin' me how the civic council was organizing a parade fer her. Home town girl makes good. Marching bands...cheerleaders...floats...police escort...the whole kit 'n' kaboodle. Bit ridiculous if anyone had asked me, which they didn't. This star shoots across the sky and I says, "Well, lookee there, Elsie May...that's a lucky sign!" But I didn't care much fer her attitude when she answered. "My name's Ginger now, Bobbie Jo," she said, real snooty-like. "And I don't need no lucky sign, I make my own luck." Didn't turn out to be so lucky though, did she? That's what ya get fer turning ya nose up at fate!

How'd it happen? I swear ta God it were the freakiest darn thing I ever did see. Come to find out that shooting star was a meteorite. Nobody ever did tell us it were headed straight fer Shiloh. Landed over in the old quarry and busted to pieces right as Elsie May was a-riding down Main Street perched like a queen on top o' that tall float. She was just a-waving and a-smiling when that big ole chunka stone an' metal just came a-sailing outta nowhere. I ain't never seen a body look that surprised! 'Scuse me fer chucklin'...no disrespect intended, but talk about star-struck!

So, you reporter fellas gonna stick around fer the burial? She's laid out at Benbow's Funeral Home...open casket. They did a good job right enough. She looks real purty. Course, only the back of her head got caved-in, so her face weren't damaged none and Miss Jody said she'd be real happy ta 'blige if'n y'all wanted ta take some pictures...

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