Chapter 23 – Not Dead, Just Wet

Monday, July 7, 1969 – 10am.

Mabel and Mavis Lane, Rebel Creek's resident spinsters, are out for their daily walk when Mavis stops dead in her tracks.

"Lord almighty, Mabel, lookit that girl just lyin' there on Evvie Wilson's front lawn, still as a statue. You reckon she's dead?"

"She ain't dead, just wet from that sprinkler. An' if I know Lacy, she'll leave this world the same way she came into it, bloody and screaming. And draggin' a few others with her."

"That's Lacy? The one who turned her mama into a hippie? But I heard she chopped off all her hair over some no-account boy."

Mabel shakes her head. "Nuh-uh. That was Peggy. Back in 5th grade, it was Lacy who wrote a story pretending to be Rapunzel."

"Wasn't pretendin'," Lacy calls out from under the curtain of blonde hair plastered across most of her face, and the two elderly ladies almost faint dead away.

Mabel recovers first. "Well, hey there, Lacy Ann. Didn't know you were awake." She grins. "Tell Mavis here how that story of yours ended."

Lacy sits up, holding on to her untied white bikini top to keep from showing any more of herself than Mabel and Mavis would care to see.

"Well, in my version the prince rescues Rapunzel before the stupid witch cuts off her braid, they leave her trapped in the tower, and they ride off on the prince's horse to live happily ever after."

"Tell about the witch. That was the best part," Mabel implores her, and Lacy wonders at the bloodthirsty gleam in the old woman's eyes.

"I was getting to that part, but first I had Rapunzel unloose her hair from that long-ass braid, 'cause of how easy it almost coulda been for Dame Gothel to snip it off." She pauses as the sprinkler oscillates over her again, then finishes her tale. "So anyway, as Rapunzel and her prince reach his kingdom, there's a super-loud explosion behind them, followed by a mushroom cloud, an' they find out later that a Russian missile got launched by accident and took out the tower with the witch still inside. The End."

Mabel claps, but Mavis looks slightly horrified.

"Very creative," she says, not meaning it in a good way, then scowls at her sister. "We should get on with our walk, Mabel. We don't want to miss Search for Tomorrow, now do we?"

"No, I reckon not," Mabel agrees, giving Lacy a sly wink. "Miss Wilson, please say hi to your mother for me, and tell her she'd best bring her A-game this coming Saturday."

"I sure will. And Miss Mavis, it was good to see you again."

"Thank you, child," the woman says, sincerely enough. "I feel the same, and I'm glad it wasn't you who cut off all that beautiful hair."

"You an' me both," Lacy says fervently, flashing a crooked grin. "Maybe I'll dedicate my next Rapunzel story to you."

"You do that," Mavis replies, her own grin just as lopsided. "Just don't expect me to read it."

Then they are on their way again, leaving Lacy alone. She tosses her bikini top aside and lays out on her stomach with her hair fanned out on the wet grass, letting the cold water and hot sun do with her what they will.