All Stories, General Fiction, Humour

Escaping the Good Old Days by Mark Russo

Betty sat on a 2B pencil as if on a bench, her high heels hooked against a dip nib pen that lay at the base of an inkwell. Elbows on her knees and chin cupped in her palms she stared at a black smudge smeared across an eight-and-a-half by eleven sheet of white paper tacked to a drafting board. She followed its diagonal downward path onto the desktop until it ended at her feet.

She guessed Michael’d been doodling again. He’d become bored. No doubt about it. She was proof of it.

Several hours ago, the minute he passed out, she’d slid off the paper. Thus, the smear and foot prints.

That’s his foghorn snore. Probably working off the scotch, she thought. Betty was pissed off. After all, what’s there to do alone in a dump like this?

A voice interrupted her thoughts.

“Oh, happy days! If it isn’t little miss Boop-Oop-a-Doop. Good to see you again, honey.”

Betty opened her porthole-like eyes and fluttered her eyelashes. Leaning against the inkwell rim, was a blond-haired barefooted woman in a red polka-dotted blouse, reminiscent of those hills and valleys of Dogpatch, USA. A short black skirt stretched taut across her belly and around her thighs. Appalachia flowed from her like syrup from a honeysuckle flower.

“And I was just thinkin’ I’d be stuck with nothing to do ’til the lech got up and filed me away in the drawer.”

“Daisy Mae! Oh, thank Gawd!”  Betty said in Brooklynese, licked her finger and traced the black sickle-like curls that framed her face.

 Daisy wiggled her broad hips, squeezed her shoulders into her neck and looked around.

“Where’s your dog, child?”

“Bimbo? Michelangelo just doodles women, no pets.”

“Yeah, just like my Lil’ Abner. It’s all about them, isn’t it?” Daisy said as she tightened the tails of her blouse into a knot, narrowing the pathway into the valley.

Betty thought, Don’t complain, doll. At least, you’ve had a man. Me, I’ve been a virgin for too long. Time to become a new-age woman like Gloria Steinem or Maya Angelou. And you who talk about the Creator’s intent, I say, I’ve got a free will don’t I?

“Daisy, you and Abner still together?”

“You kiddin’? Like you said, the Arteest only does women. Hell, the time he spends adjusting my cleavage . . . Whew! Know what I mean, hon?”

“The guy’s incorrigible.”

“Must be a way to ditch him. “

Daisy looked absently at the inkwell.

“But, maybe a little attention, abusive or not, is better than nothing. Might have been different had Lil’ Abner responded more. But, then, one day it was too late. I looked in the mirror . . . most of my good years were gone. That’s when they dropped the strip.”

“Well, I’ll tell you, it gives me the creeps when Mike hangs on my butt with the nib of his pen,” Betty said. “I just dread the thought of him waking up.”

She’d heard now-a-days women didn’t have to put up with that kind of crap. But how’d they get away with it? she’d like to know. Back in the day, a woman who didn’t play the game was suicidal, no baloney.

But then there was Koko the Clown. Now, there was a good guy. She smiled just to think of him struttin’ across stage in his black PJs with those cute white chrysanthemum buttons down the front.

As they reminisced, Daisy and Betty heard a cough from behind the drafting board. A tall woman, stooped shoulders, hair in a bun and a marble-tipped nose popped out. She stood with hands on hips and stared directly at Betty. They were old friends, Betty and this woman in oversized lace up boots. Betty screamed and ran to hug the woman.

“Well, look what the cat dragged in. Miss Olive Oyl! Still a virgin, girl?”

“Oh, dear! Might as well be. After we had Sweet Pea, the old man never took out that corn-cob pipe again. You know, I feel embarrassed to say it, but Bluto would have been a better catch than Popeye. Daisy knows what I mean.”

She’d read the Lil’ Abner strips and knew Daisy knew.

“Yes, I do, sugar. But I’ve been thinkin’ . . . ” She ran her hands across her belly, tugged at her skirt and looked first at Betty, then Olive. She thought she’d like to be fit out in a flapper’s outfit like Olive’s and maybe a hair-do like Betty’s.

Michael let out a grunt and adjusted himself on the couch.

“It’s time we do something, recreate ourselves,” she said and turned to Betty.

“What d’ya think, honey?” She’d heard the stories about Max’s treatment of Betty: air shot up her skirt, lace panties displayed to the world. And that one second nipple slip   . . . Holy Yokum! Daisy never would have put up with that shit. She’d would have sicced her brothers on him. Unfortunately, the Yokum brothers were no more, she thought, just Arteest Mike, the cunt-hound.

“Well, something’s got to happen and quick. You can’t imagine what it’s like: a body of a whore and soul of a virgin . . .  am I just getting old or what?” Betty said.

“Oh, hon, you don’t look a day over twenty-five,” Olive and Daisy chimed.

“Let’s face it, Mike’s losing his touch. Maybe it’s the booze. I don’t know. But, he’ll never be able to put us back in the spotlight,” Betty said.

Olive had an idea. They’d fake a suicide. They’d push the drawing sheets into the dog’s water bowl below, empty the inkwell into it, then jump in themselves. He’d never find them.

The ladies stomped the desktop in unison.

“Let’s do it!”

In the morning, when Michael rolled off the couch, he faced a bowl of black ink, pulp and little black puddles that led off in all directions across the white linoleum floor.  

Mark Russo

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4 thoughts on “Escaping the Good Old Days by Mark Russo”

  1. Glad to see Betty, Daisy Mae and Olive realize they have the vote. That they don’t have to take it from the Man anymore. There are careers in anime available to the ladies, but they may still be contractually obligated to the Syndicate. Very amusing post. I like ones that make people Barney Google.



  2. I played one of Daisy Mae’s Scragg brothers in a local production of LIttle Abner when I was hanging out with the lead Gary Adams (RIP) Little Abner. Another friend and I butchered “If I Had My Druthers”. Cartoonist Al Kapp of Little Abner turned out to be an unsavory character according to some reports.

    Nothing from Oona (sp?) one of my faves from Alley Oop? Maybe because she was comic not cartune.

    Example of old vs. new days: Innocent comic “Archie” vs. TV Riverdale.

    ME Channel Toon In With features Popeye, Betty Boop, Bugs, Daffy and so on. Prolly not available outside the US.

    Liked by 1 person

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