Little Rosa, Lotsa Trouble -- Part 2

I sat in a smoky nightclub-type place like they show in the old-timey movies. There weren’t no color and everything sounded like I was listenin’ to it out of an old radio.

Just then, somebody come up behind me and gimme a big ol back slap.

“Why, it’s my old pal Red! How you doin’, podnah?”

It was none other than Mr. Jerry Reed, The Guitar Man, The Alabama Wildman, The Snowman.

“Wow! Jerry Reed!” was about all I could get out, bein’ that I was shocked to be in the presence of my idol. “Uh, what are you doin’ here?”

“What are any of us doin’ here, my friend? It’s a question the philosophers and poets alike have been contemplating for the ages. But that’s not really why I’m here. First, before we get any further into this, you should realize that the old feller ain’t Chinese – he’s Eye-Talian.

“No wonder he looks at me like I’m nuts!” I blurted out. Seems like I had no inner monologue in this here dream, and I was making myself look like an idiot with Jerry Reed right in the room. Doggone it!

“Anyway, I know you’ve been stewing over what the old man told you, lettin’ it run round and round inside your head until it made you crazy with guilt,” said Jerry.

Jerry was right. I was rolling them old man’s words around in my head, like one of them metal contraptions they keep the weenies on at the truck stop, knowin’ that something I had done long, long ago, had hurt the old feller so bad he was half-crazy. I could still hear his words in my head…

#####

One morning, thirty years ago today, my beloved Little Rosa woke me up gently. ”Giuseppe, Giuseppe… wake up dear,” she said in the sweetest voice imaginable. Morning sunlight streamed through the window, but she was so beautiful it seemed like the light came directly from her. She smiled and held out a tray with a big breakfast and coffee pot on it.

“Breakfast in bed, for me? Why, Little Rosa? Have I forgotten some kind of special day, or something?” I said.

She said, “No, my Giuseppe. Just because you are the finest and most loving husband a woman could ever want.”

“Excellent pancakes” I said. They really were a-superb.

“Giuseppe”, she said, seeming to gather herself from within. “I am going out this morning to visit with Old Mama Yaga to barter for peace amongst our tribes. We Gypsies need to stick together, after all. This blood-feud has gone on long enough.”

I sat-a up-a so straight I nearly toppled the tray. “No, Little Rosa, Old Mama Yaga is not-a to be trusted! She has the weirding-power over beasts and man, over life and death! The Evil Eye! You know what she did to poor Augusto Tello when he tried to make the peace - covered his flesh-a with a-weeping sores most-a terrible, and he died shortly thereafter in a puddle of his own pus and filth! She has created armies of the walking dead who lust for the brains of their enemies! Do not do this, as your husband I beg of you, my Little Rosa.”

“Giuseppe, I know full well the fate of Augusto Tello; he was my Uncle, after all. Now that he is gone, the duty of making the peace falls to me. I am the last of the Tellos, and while I love you enough to serve you breakfast in bed, and though my power pales in comparison to Old Mama Yaga, you can not order me to abandon my duty to tribe and family!” Her eyes flashed, and I saw the steel in her soul that made her sweetness even more precious. I knew there was nothing I could do to stop her.

The steely look faded, she kissed me on the forehead and said, “My darling, I will be back before luncheon and we will celebrate the newly re-forged Gypsy tribe bonds. This will be a day long retold in story! I so swear to you!” With that, she stood up and turned for the door.

“I love you, Giuseppe, with all my heart.” She walked down the path away from the house, and into the woods.

I wassa a heartbroken that my Little Rosa, just a minor conjurer among-a the gypsies, thought she could broker a deal with the she-demon Mama Yaga.

As soon-a as she was out of sight, I leapt-a out-a bed and threw on my clothes. I was a gonna follow her to make-a sure she would be safe.

I can-a scarcely remember running through the forest, trees a-whipping by and a-leaping over dead logs. I raced frantically down the path that lead straight to Old Mama Yaga's cabin.

I came upon it just in time to see Little Rosa exchange a few words with Old Mama Yaga and enter through the front door. My heart raced! I crept toward the cabin and hid myself just outside the window, which was open.

It seemed to go on for hours, with twists and turns, sweet talk and terrible shouting, but at last they appeared to reach an accord. I could scarcely believe it! Little Rosa was not only an amazing cook and a stunning beauty, but a master diplomat as well! Unbelievable!

Then, Old Mama Yaga said, “Dearie, to celebrate our newly re-forged Gypsy tribe bonds, as you so put it, allow me to make a special concoction befitting the occasion! Just let me get my cauldron out…”

Little Rosa seemed to stiffen, but went along with Old Mama Yaga's suggestion. “That sounds wonderful, and our talk did leave me a bit parched.” Old Mama Yaga muttered something back to her and busied herself with her task.

“Good, good. Let’s see… three quarts ox blood,” she said, pouring something foul into the cauldron. “Two pints rattlesnake venom… a tablespoon ground killer bee stingers, a teaspoon of new-moon dew, and a pinch of…” She paused, searching frantically around the room. “Where the hell is my mummy powder? This won’t work, I mean, taste good, without the goddamn mummy powder!”

Just then, I heard the unmistakable-a squeal of tractor-trailer brakes as a huge semi came to a halt in front of Old Mama Yaga's cabin. “How the hell…?” I asked myself, not imagining that such a large vehicle could get this far into the woods, let alone park in front of the cabin. As the truck idled, a young boy with red hair and goofy grin hopped out of the truck cab and a-trotted to the door of the cabin. It appeared he had some sort of package, and he knocked on the cabin door. I hid myself more a-deeply in the bushes.

Old Mama Yaga opened the door. “Yes, what do you want? I’m a-busy!”

The boy said a-something to Old Mama Yaga that I could-a not-a make out, and held out to her a clip board and a pen. She scrawled her signature and the little boy tossed a small box to Old Mama Yaga, who caught it with a deftness that belied her ancient appearance.

“Well I’ll be damned,” she said, closing the door. “Here we go, my pretty! The last ingredient to my little concoction.” She pried the box open and dropped a pinch of the gray dust into the cauldron. The cauldron immediately began to a-froth. The old witch dipped a ladle into the steaming mixture, slurped some into a silver goblet, and handed it to my Little Rosa.

“Aren’t you going to have some too, Mama Yaga?” asked Rosa.

“No, no, I’m notta thirsty right now. I’ll have some later.”

Little Rosa smelled it and got-a foul look upon her a-face. “This smells really bad. Are you sure this is fit to drink?”

“Of course, dearie! Don’t-a believe your-a nose – it tastes like sweet apples! And honey! And, uh, strawberries!”

“But you don’t-a like strawberries!” I almost said out loud, which would have exposed me in-a my hiding place.

But Little Rosa, to the credit of her a-tribe, and to the new peace accord, did not-a want to offend Old Mama Yaga by a-criticizing her concoction.

“Well, here goes! To peace!” said Rosa. She took a long, slow drink. Old Mama Yaga looked on greedily, working her hands and smacking her lips.

I could tell Little Rosa was a strugglin’ to keep the drink down. She kind of had a faint smile on her lips, like she was tryin’ to keep her manners about her. She almost did, until…

“Woah!” Shouted my dear Little Rosa. “This doesn’t taste like sweet apples, or honey, or even strawberries, which I hate, by the way! It tastes like dog crap wrapped in rancid bacon, like peanut butter and rotten fish, like moldy socks covered in curry! Yuck! Wow, suddenly, I’m not feeling so well…”

I leapt out-a the bushes and rushed through the front door, just in time to catch my beloved Little Rosa as she fell a-dead in my arms. I felt-a my world tear apart. I looked up at Old Mama Yaga and screamed a blood-oath at her the likes of which have never been uttered before or since. To even whisper it to you now, Red, would kill you. But Old Mama Yaga just a cackled “My fate has been sealed long before this day, you fool! Your pathetic curse will have no affect on me!”

As much as I wanted to a-plunge my gypsy knife deep into the foul heart of Old Mama Yaga at that moment, I had-a no recourse, as I had left it at-a home in my haste. With no weapon, I had-a no chance against the wily she-demon.

“Come, take your wretched little fortune-teller out of my sight!”

Mustering all the dignity I could, I carried Little Rosa out of the cabin back toward our humble home. I passed the huge truck and the little red-headed boy and what looked like his papa were-a unloading large boxes from the truck. The little boy said, “How’s it goin’, Mister!” He didn’t wait for an answer, nor did I have one for him.

I carried Little Rosa home and buried her. As the years have passed, the grandest, most beautiful rose bush this world has ever seen has covered her mausoleum. I refuse to pick those roses, as my Little Rosa was plucked too soon from life. I sell a-flowers now to remind myself that no a-bloom compares to the beauty of my Little Rosa.

That, my friend, is the story of Little Rosa. So may you remember it for as long as you live.

#####

“Yup, that sure was a powerful story, Red,” said Jerry. “Seems like we ought to be able to come up with a plan to help the old dude get revenge on that gyspy witch!”

“Great idea, Jerry!” I said. Surely, the man who played Bama McCall so brilliantly in ‘Gator’ could not lead me astray.

“Alright, Podnah! Let’s get this thing moving, cause I’m late for a hot-tub party over at Dom Deluise’s house, and Ms. Suzanne Pleschette is going to be there, and I don’t wanna miss that, if you know what I mean… "

Suddenly, I snapped awake and the old Italian feller stood above me, lookin’ a bit perturbed-like. My cheek stung worse than a hound dog’s nose after a run-in with a porcupine.

I tried to rub the pain off my face. “Gee whiz, Mister, you didn’t need to go off and slap me upside the head like that!” I was getting a mite sore at being woken up in the middle of dreamin’. ‘Specially a dream with Jerry Reed in it!

“I’m sorry Red, but it’s-a time-a to go. I need-a sell-a the flowers, and you need-a, well, to a-do whatever it-a is that-a you a-do,” said the old man, in a not unkind-type way.

“Yeah, you’re right Mister. There is something I need to a-do, I mean, do. Thanks for lettin’ me bed down at your place. I’ll see you later.”

Yeah, I needed to make things right with this flower-selling gyspy feller, since I owed him a debt. I owed him since that little boy in the truck was me, and there was an old lady in the woods I had a mind to pay a visit to, right now.


Little Rosa, Lotsa Trouble -- Part 3

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