Queer Tango Episode 22: A Rainy Day

Hi there,

I hope that you are ready to enjoy a new episode of Queer Tango and that you are enjoying getting to know all the characters in the cast. Ferb sends soggy paws because he and Em got slightly wet on their walk which inspired the theme of this week’s episode. I usually have to ad-lib the reading (because seeing isn’t a strong point at the moment) but there’s some extra interesting addition such as me trying not to hiccough (it was in theme with the episode at least,) Ferb yelling to come inside and then huffing and slumping around in the background. So, it’s probably as fun to pick out those blooper parts as it is to listen to me reading.   

I hope that it makes you smile and laugh!

Big Smiles,

Jody

Episode 22: A Rainy Day

Episode 22: A Rainy Day Narrated by Jody Klaire

Mary-Lou was kinda upbeat most of the time. She supported her husband Barney when he’d uprooted the family to put down ties in Bumblethorpe even when it meant their kids would have to cross the pond to come home. The town was a quaint place full of sweet people who might have spoken the same language but she didn’t get most of what they said. Take for instance dealing with customers in Squishy… Brits always got kinda confused when she mentioned different floors. Now, when customers headed on in to Squishy, she liked to mingle. She’d grown up with roots in hospitality and she believed people should feel welcome.

‘Where’s the lighting section?’ a customer would say, usually with a confused look on their face.

‘First floor, at the back,’ she’d tell them and point to the shining pretty display.

Then, the customer would head up in the elevator and then come back.

‘There’s no lights on the first floor,’ they’d say to her with more confusion on their face.

‘There sure is, honey,’ she’d say with her warmest smile and then take them to the display personally.

‘This isn’t the first floor,’ they’d mutter like her brain had fallen out during dance class.

‘It sure is, honey,’ she’d say with a patient smile… you had to be patient with Bumblethorpe people, they could be kinda simple sometimes.

‘No, this is the ground floor,’ they’d say back in that ‘duh’ tone that her daughter used when she’d said something uncool. ‘The first floor is upstairs.’

‘If that’s what you feel, honey, you go right ahead and think it is,’ she’d say with her warmest smile and head to the office to call Hedges for translations.

So, like she said, she was upbeat a whole lot of the time but she’d wandered around Squishy most of the morning having confusing conversations; Barney was busy bonding with his brothers over nachos and beer—or whatever guys in Britain did—her son was playing basketball with his buddies back home in Florida at her mom’s place and her daughter was surfing with her girlfriends… and it was raining a whole lot… and she didn’t have class to go to or any meetings to run. She’d done two yoga sessions, gone for a run, cleaned her house and she was so bored, she’d taken to watching which drip on her window was dribbling faster. She wasn’t feeling upbeat at all… in fact… she felt kinda lonely.

‘Mary-Lou?’ Hedges chimed from the doorway like she was a taste of Florida sunshine with a funny accent. ‘I had some left over mash, so I thought I’d check if you wanted any.’

Mary-Lou turned and hugged her. ‘You’re always so thoughtful.’

Hedges patted her on the back. ‘Um… thanks… you look a bit… glum.’

Mary-Lou held her gaze.

‘Glum… um… down… not happy?’ Hedges said like she got the blank look. ‘Did Trevor decide he wanted to go into soft furnishings?’

‘Nope,’ Mary-Lou said then sighed. ‘I’m kinda bored.’

Hedges put the bowl of mashed potatoes down on her kitchen counter. ‘You haven’t really had much spare time since you arrived.’ She tapped her lip, hair wild with excitement… or just wild anyhow but it did seem to perk up when she did. ‘How about a Bumblethorpe tour?’

Mary-Lou grinned. She was sure that there wasn’t a lot to see in Bumblethorpe but it was better than getting acquainted with her remote control. ‘Sure.’

Hedges stared at her. ‘Wow, you really are bored. Um… okay… well… we could take a drive to have an ice cream on Bumblethorpe hill. There’s a lovely beauty spot there and Janis’ cousin has an ice cream van.’

Mary-Lou pointed out at the rain. ‘Kinda cold for ice cream.’

‘We eat ice cream whatever the weather… it’s tradition,’ Hedges said in her sweet tone. ‘And, as you are half-British by marriage, you need to eat ice cream in the rain too.’ She grabbed Mary-Lou by the hand and dragged her out to her huge truck with ‘Poetic Petals’ on the side. ‘We’ll start there,’ she said clambering up because she didn’t even reach the window ledge on the door. ‘Janis’ cousin does a lovely chocolate sprinkles special.’

‘This your way of saying you’re into Snickers too?’ Mary-Lou asked as Hedges roared the truck down the country lane, took a right, then a left, then hit the hill with her foot flat on the gas pedal.

‘I don’t have much of a sweet tooth,’ Hedges said like she wasn’t real sure about that. ‘But ice cream is different.’

Mary-Lou nodded. ‘My daughter eats the whole tub. It’s a relief takes after me not Barney ‘cause he puts calories on his hips like crazy.’

‘He does?’ Hedges asked as she sped them past some quaint little cottage painted in bright blue. ‘He always looks so trim.’

‘’Cause he’s got me telling him to work out,’ Mary-Lou said then squinted through the rain dribbling down the window. ‘Is that a fort or something?’

Hedges squinted out in the same direction. ‘No, it’s Mrs Marsh’s sheep shed.’

‘Then why’s it got turrets?’ To Mary-Lou it looked like a fort.

‘Because Trevor wanted to go into knitting a few years ago and Mrs Marsh installed a whole security system so he kept his hands off her wool,’ Hedges said like that was a normal way for people to act. ‘She has water pistols mounted and pointed at the gate.’

‘Guess Ceri ain’t the only girl he ruffled up, huh?’ Mary-Lou guessed Trevor was Bumblethorpe’s version of a bad boy. Back home, they drove pimped up cars with radios thumping as they cruised down the baking hot streets. Here, they illegally stole wool to knit with. ‘Is that where Paulette got her idea for the knitting show?’

‘Might be,’ Hedges said as she screamed them around a bend and Mary-Lou’s ears popped. ‘Ooh, there’s a queue.’

Hedges sounded delighted about that as they slid to a stop next to a battered van with stickers peeling off it’s window. Then, Hedges jumped out into the rain without a care and bounced over to the two customers intensely scouring the ice cream stickers. Mary-Lou dug out a ‘Perfect Prune’ branded jacket from behind the seat and headed out into the crashing rain.

‘She hasn’t got any raspberry,’ Lanie said taking off her helmet with a forlorn expression. ‘She’s only got the sugar-free version.’

Mary-Lou tried to navigate the puddles as she walked over. ‘Sugar-free is good for you.’

Lanie jumped—she kinda did that a lot around her—and hid her helmet behind her back for some reason. ‘Hi, Mary-Lou. I wasn’t expecting to see you.’ She exchanged a nervous look with Miriam’s butt in skin-tight lycra as she leaned in through the window. ‘I always go for sugar-free.’

Miriam peered over her shoulder. ‘She’s got raspberry chocolate?’

Lanie’s eyes lit up. ‘I should really watch my calories.’

‘But you love raspberry chocolate,’ Miriam said with confusion. ‘Why are you blushing?’ She peered around further then spotted Mary-Lou and ‘ahh’d’ with a smile. ‘She works off the calories.’

Hedges nodded to Miriam, Lanie and then to Mary-Lou. ‘I have to be in first gear to make it up in the car, let alone on a bike.’ She nodded again. ‘It’s well worth a raspberry chocolate.’

Mary-Lou smiled. ‘Then why don’t we all have one?’ She shrugged as Lanie stared at her. ‘I’m on a mini-vacation.’

‘Raspberry chocolates, it is,’ Miriam handed them over one by one and Mary-Lou was used to British portions being a whole lot smaller than American ones but she guessed it didn’t include ice cream.

Hedges dragged her over to the stone wall shelter where Lanie and Miriam seemed to have stashed their bikes. ‘It’s a lovely view from here…’ She squinted out the misty rain. ‘Well, when you can see.’

Lanie nodded, perched very politely next to Miriam. ‘It is, you can see all the way to Hatsdale.’

Miriam smirked at Lanie’s prim and proper perching. ‘Yes, and no one can see you for miles.’

Lanie blushed and nibbled politely on her ice cream.

‘There’s a police museum in Sockworth, over that way,’ Hedges said pointing to more misty rain. ‘It shows how the force evolved from being local farmers keeping an eye on each other’s fields to when the Pink Plimsole kept them on their toes during a five year crime spree.’ She chomped on her ice cream. ‘But they make it sound like she was a mean criminal when she was actually taking on the mean Mr Thomas who was trying to buy up everyone’s fields.’

‘Ain’t the Pink Plimsole Paulette or her mom or something?’ Mary-Lou asked wondering why Miriam was shaking her head at Lanie who was nibbling away.

‘No one knows who the Pink Plimsole was,’ Hedges said like she’d been sleeping through class. ‘But she beat Mr Thomas anyway and saved everyone losing their land so he could build a holiday camp.’

‘Sounds like a jerk,’ Mary-Lou tried her ice cream then licked her lips and had some more. It tasted like she’d need to cycle up the hill several times to work off the fat content… she loved it.

‘He was,’ Miriam said then leaned in and pecked Lanie on the lips. ‘Will you relax, you’re not in work. It’s okay to be affectionate.’

Lanie continued to nibble at her ice cream with a bigger blush on her face.

‘Like she said, honey, you’re hanging out with your girl and some girlfriends eating a whole load of junk,’ Mary-Lou said with a chuckle as she finished off her ice cream and the wafer. ‘We get you’re into her.’

Lanie met her eyes then relaxed and chomped her ice cream in a few bites and slid her arm over Miriam’s shoulder with a contented sigh. ‘Mr Thomas was Trevor’s grandad,’ she said. ‘On his father’s side.’

‘Figures,’ Mary-Lou said and licked her fingers. ‘Why don’t you guys use tubs?’

‘Ooh,’ Hedges said and turned to her with excited hair again. ‘They used to be in glass that you could return which they didn’t wash and gave to someone else but then they got in trouble… the ice cream people… I think… so they put them in wafers instead.’

‘I didn’t know that,’ Miriam said munching away—she’d had a flake in hers. ‘I know they are well worth a filling though… just don’t tell my patients.’

‘They didn’t wash them?’ Lanie screwed up her face. ‘Yuck.’

Hedges nodded. ‘I was sure the Pink Plimsole might have come up with a recipe for wafers that makes them so yummy.’

‘Now I know that must be Paulette’s mom,’ Mary-Lou said with a smile then shivered. ‘How don’t you get cold when you eat ice cream in the rain?’

‘I wear a jumper,’ Hedges said although she was in shorts and t-shirt. ‘Or have a cup of tea.’

Miriam pulled Lanie to her feet. ‘I make Lanie cycle all the way home and run a bath.’ She winked at Hedges. ‘And, I might let her keep her helmet on.’

Mary-Lou whistled and, yes, Lanie blushed and fussed over her bicycle. She was such a sweet kid.

‘I think we should go to the police museum,’ Hedges said hurrying through the rain to the truck as Lanie and Miriam headed off on their bikes real quick. ‘I think you’d enjoy the Pink Plimsole’s exploits.’

Mary-Lou got in and turned on the heaters. ‘Sure, will they have tea?’

Hedges nodded. ‘And scones.’

‘Huh, that’s different too,’ Mary-Lou said and huddled around the vent for warmth. ‘Cops like donuts where I come from.’

Hedges snorted and sped them down the road. ‘They like those too, the scones are for us.’

***

At the museum, which was actually more of a cute café with information boards, old uniforms and some exhibits. Mary-Lou strolled around reading about how Inspector Cloo had been assigned to find and apprehend the Pink Plimsole who had stolen Mr Thomas’ documents from inside his car, reworked his building proposals so that he was only asking for a loft conversion not to build a holiday camp. Inspector Cloo had scoured the area, interviewing and following evidence… but getting nowhere.

‘That lady looks familiar,’ Mary-Lou said and pointed to the story of how Inspector Cloo rescued a young woman during his pursuit of the Pink Plimsole through the backstreets of Bumblethorpe only to fall in love with her.

‘That’s because it’s Agnes,’ Hedges said with a smile. ‘You can see where Paulette gets her looks from, can’t you?’

Mary-Lou leaned in. ‘But the guy was meant to arrest her.’ She glanced around at the quiet café. ‘He married his suspect.’

‘He didn’t know it was me,’ Agnes said from behind them.

Mary-Lou turned and laughed as Agnes headed behind the counter and tapped her kettle.

‘You sure?’ Mary-Lou asked as Hedges led her to a table nearby. ‘He must have gotten close.’

Agnes chuckled and peered over her steamed up glasses. ‘He did, in the backstreets, but he never twigged.’

Mary-Lou looked at Hedges.

‘He never realised,’ she translated and her hair stood up as if delighted when she spotted Agnes’ scones. ‘I’ve never tried a bobby hat scone before.’

Agnes tapped the tray of them. ‘I add extra jam to them because I always called the police cars jam sandwiches.’

Mary-Lou cocked her head. ‘They look like jelly scones.’

Hedges held up her hand as Agnes dipped her brow. ‘Americanism for jam. They call jam jelly and jelly jell-oh… or something along those lines.’

‘You call it jam?’ Mary-Lou screwed up her face. ‘I guess that’s why the customer wasn’t impressed when I said we sold homemade jelly to spread on his toast.’

Agnes pursed her lips. ‘It’s to watery for that, you’d have soggy toast.’ She handed over the teas and some scones. ‘It wouldn’t do to have soggy toast.’

Hedges shook her head.

Mary-Lou took her scones and sat down. She didn’t like to say that she never really ate toast. She preferred a breakfast muffin and a tall latte. She chomped on the scone then groaned with delight and chomped some more.

‘I love your bobby-hats,’ she mumbled to Agnes as Hedges finished off her scones even faster than she had the ice cream. ‘I can see why Brit cops love them so much.’

Agnes smiled a knowing smile. ‘Keep them fed and they tend to overlook a fair amount.’ She winked then headed back to her kettle.

Mary-Lou met Hedges’ eyes. ‘I wonder if he did know.’

‘With eight daughters running around, I doubt he knew where he was,’ Hedges said with a smirk. ‘And all wielding plimsoles.’

***

Mary-Lou was kinda getting that vacation for the people of Bumblethorpe meant a whole lot of calories because after eating more scones, they headed back to Bumblethorpe to the Bumblethorpe Bee, Tammy’s pub for food where they’d watched Tracy, George, Stan and Ricky taking on the Hatsdale darts team. Mary-Lou had learned that Tracy was awesome at throwing projectiles; Stan was still sleep deprived and snored away on the bar; George could only play half the match because he needed to head to Diane’s and do the hoovering, and that Ricky cheated… a lot. Hedges had treated them both to a huge meal of traditional British food with weird names that had something to do with squeaking but Mary-Lou had tried a few chasers with Tracy by that point so didn’t really remember a whole lot.

Then they’d headed into Diane’s salon because Hedges’ remembered that she needed to deliver poetry and flowers but as she’d had a few chasers too, they’d needed walk… well stagger.

‘Your smile is bigger than a large house,’ Hedges said, flowers in hand, swaying on her feet as she smiled at Diane. ‘Your love is more cherished than my favourite meal.’ She hiccoughed then wobbled. ‘You are to me like cheese to a mouse.’ She shrugged then held out the flowers. ‘So these are to show you how happy I feel.’

Diane raised her eyebrows. ‘That’s… different.’

Hedges nodded. ‘George might have said something different but I lost the sheet when we left the pub.’

Diane took the flowers anyway and smiled. ‘I’ve never been compared to cheese before but I fancy a fry up now.’

‘I can’t dance continuously,’ Gaynor muttered as she walked into the shop with a squealing Liza. ‘My feet hurt.’

Mary-Lou took Liza off Gaynor and twirled her around. ‘If Paulette had her baby, I’d say they switched you.’ She twirled again and Liza giggled, baby hat with a wig stitched onto it—thanks to Agnes.

‘Can I say that anyway?’ Gaynor asked with a sleepy smile then beamed as Liza giggled again. ‘I’ve trimmed up quickly but I haven’t been able to feel my big toes for weeks.’

Mary-Lou chuckled. ‘Well, if you ever need a babysitter, you just let me know.’

‘When are you available?’ Gaynor said with desperation in her eyes.

Mary-Lou swayed back and forth as Liza snoozed in her arms. ‘Whenever you feel you need me, honey. I didn’t get an au pair for mine so I’m happy to pitch in.’

Gaynor hugged her. ‘Thank you… I… I’ll tell Stan… we’ll call.’ She took Liza and wandered out as Diane peered over her glasses at the door.

‘She forgot why she came in?’ Hedges asked smiling at her own hair in the mirror.

‘No, she brings Liza in because she loves hearing people talk,’ Diane said and turned back to her customer, flowers still in hand. ‘Baby brain has taken hold.’

‘Did you really manage all by yourself with your kids?’ Hedges said, gazing up at her and swaying. ‘Really?’

‘I didn’t say that,’ Mary-Lou said holding Hedges’ shoulders to steady her. ‘My mom was around a whole lot. Mom’s are handy when you are a new mom.’

‘Unless they’re Gaynor’s mother,’ Diane said with a shake of her head. ‘She’d most likely tell you to feed the baby brandy or baby painkillers.’

‘My mother always nagged at me,’ Hedges said, pursing her lips. ‘She’d raised two children just fine so knew more than me.’ She hiccoughed. ‘I did learn how to embarrass my children from her though.’

Mary-Lou nodded and dragged Hedges out onto the street. ‘That’s a tradition that’s international.’ She blinked up at the rain. ‘You know, back home, the rain is warm.’ She shivered.

‘Ooh, Mary-Lou,’ Glynnis called as she hurried from her car and planted herself in front of them. ‘I don’t suppose you’re free?’

Mary-Lou exchanged a hiccough with Hedges. ‘As long as it doesn’t involve operating heavy machinery, we’re good.’

Hedges nodded. ‘We’re sloshed.’

Glynnis raised her eyebrows. ‘It’s only three o’clock.’ She thumbed at her car. ‘Ceri and Janis are in wedding rehearsal… very hush, hush. Trevor is trying to tail their location… I’m the maid of honour, you see.’

Mary-Lou and Hedges nodded and swayed.

‘My husband is providing a decoy… borrowed one of Andy’s wigs… but I’m meant to help Paulette out with a spot of rehearsal over in Hatsdale… important to her.’ She glanced around as a car crawled by. ‘Have to dash… could you drop by… stand in for me?’

Hedges grinned. ‘We’d love to.’

Mary-Lou shrugged. ‘I guess.’

Glynnis pecked them both on the cheek and hurried to her car then sped off. Her husband sped by the other way in a blonde wig and lipstick… then Trevor, in a council van sped after him.

‘I’ll call Liza,’ Hedges said and pulled her phone from her pocket.

‘She’s way too young to take calls,’ Mary-Lou mumbled back.

‘Liza senior,’ Hedges said with a snort then winked at her. ‘She might be like Liza junior and settle for a dance and a cuddle.’

‘We’re not those kinda friends, honey,’ Mary-Lou said with a giggle. She was kinda getting why George blamed chasers a lot in class. They were a whole lot stronger than when Barney poured them. ‘Guess we’re heading to perform.’

Hedges chatted into her phone then smiled up at her. ‘It’s like a holiday camp… you’d be good on stage.’

Mary-Lou folded her arms. ‘As long as you ain’t gonna make me wear the ears, I’m good.’

‘What ears?’ Hedges asked.

The ears,’ Mary-Lou said with a chuckle. ‘From the big vacation camp in Florida.’ She winked the hiccoughed again. That didn’t need a whole lot of translation either.

***

So Glynnis hadn’t been straight with them and when they’d showed up to Hatsdale theatre there were people waiting to watch a show and Andy was on the side door with a serious expression on his face.

‘Ooh, lovely, Saucy sent you two… perfect.’ He grabbed them both by the hand and dragged them backstage. ‘I need you to read out the highlighted bits, here.’ He shoved a script at Hedges. ‘You’re offstage so you just need to narrate.’

Hedges took the script and stared at it.

‘You need to fill in as Paulette’s mother,’ Andy said, shoving Mary-Lou into makeup. ‘It’ll be hard to age you but you’re a babe so the audience will definitely see the resemblance.’

Mary-Lou took the script shoved into her hands by someone scurrying by. ‘I ain’t gonna live up to the Pink Plimsole, honey.’

Andy chuckled. ‘In this play, you’re opposed to Paulette who is trying to prove the innocence of a man in court. You’re a drunk who used to be a high-powered businesswoman and you’re bitter.’

Mary-Lou stared up at him as someone started to stick foundation on her. ‘I think the audience might get mad that I have a script in my hand.’

Andy smiled. ‘You’re busy reading or looking through a magazine… you barely look at her… you can work with it.’ He dragged her out of makeup and backstage where Hedges was perched at a desk with a microphone in front of her.

‘I’m drunk enough to think this is a good idea,’ Hedges whispered then giggled then stared at her script. ‘Ish.’

‘I’m sooo not drunk enough,’ Mary-Lou mumbled as Paulette headed to the side of the stage looking every inch a professional.

‘I appreciate your help,’ she said looking up from her script. ‘A friend of mine put all his money into the play but they got caught in traffic… half the company can’t get here… said I’d step in.’ She blew out a breath. ‘Haven’t needed to speed learn lines for a while.’

Andy beamed at Paulette. ‘You’ll make them fall in love with you the same way I fell in love with you.’

Paulette met his eyes then smirked. ‘I can’t threaten them with plimsoles.’

Mary-Lou sucked in a breath. ‘I could do with being the Pink Plimsole right now.’

Music started up and Andy shoved her onto the stage. ‘Go, Hedges… read.’

Mary-Lou stared at her script then at the lights blocking the audience as Hedges read out her narration as she recited poetry. Then Paulette strode out in full character and started telling her about the case and Mary-Lou focused on all the calories and chasers and steadied herself… Paulette’s mom was the Pink Plimsole. She could do this if she was the Pink Plimsole… sure… she could do that.

***

Paulette was so good in her role that it was easy to slip into character for Mary-Lou. She didn’t need to be too convincing as a drunk; Hedges recited away managing to cover her hiccoughs and Andy, who was posing as the accused man Paulette was representing, threw himself into it enough that Mary-Lou loved yelling at Paulette and didn’t care that the original cast had walked in halfway through and sat watching on with the director. Acting was kinda fun.

Then, as Paulette declared to the audience that Andy had been cleared of all charges they clapped and cheered in a full standing ovation that made Hedges and Mary-Lou clap along too. She’d never seen Paulette act but she was even better at that than dancing.

‘Fabulous!’ the director said and hugged Paulette over and over as he bought drink after drink back in the Bumblethorpe Bee. ‘The chemistry between you was fantastic.’

‘It was Andy, Mary-Lou and Hedges who made it.’ Paulette, in spite of how good she’d been, didn’t say much. Instead she eased into the background as much as she could as if uncomfortable. ‘They were wonderful.’

The director nodded. ‘They were. I’m stunned… what talent.’ He grinned at Tammy who grinned back at him. ‘I would like chasers all round.’

Tammy nodded to Tracy who started lining up glasses. ‘I like that idea.’

Hedges stumbled over to Mary-Lou as the cast cheered Paulette and smiled. ‘Do you feel less glum?’ she asked in her sweet way. ‘I know there’s not much excitement in Bumblethorpe but—’

Mary-Lou hugged her, squished her then planted a kiss on her cheek.

‘I…’ Hedges blushed and rubbed the back of her neck. ‘Don’t do a George on me or Mr Hedges will expect details.’

‘We’re not those kinda friends, honey,’ Mary-Lou said with a snort then hugged her again. ‘I feel way better.’

‘You do?’ Hedges gave in and hugged her back, hair sticking up as she did so. ‘Are you sure?’

‘I’m sure, honey,’ Mary-Lou said and handed her a chaser. ‘You, my friend, are the perfect remedy for a rainy day.’

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