A/N: Lyrics for "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin'" written by Ned Washington. Original lyrics for "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" written by Paul Vance & Lee Pockriss.

Chapter 24 – Lacy's Second Letter To Riley

Monday, July 7, 1969 – 7:30pm.

With Gunsmoke over and time to kill before Johnny Cash comes on, Lacy takes a quick shower, throws on the Rolling Stones tee as a nightshirt, and – with Ma and Peg still at the cafe – fixes herself a couple of grilled ham-and-cheese sandwiches.

Then, careful to keep her damp hair off the paper, she plops back down in front of the TV to write Riley another letter.

Dear Riley,

July 7, 1969

Hello again. I hope you're doing okay, and after all that drama in my first letter I hope you haven't gave up on me yet.

Or like it says in Grandpa's favorite cowboy movie song, 'Do not forsake me, oh my darlin'.'

Or stomp on my blue suede shoes neither, if I ever have any, which we both know ain't likely, so never mind.

"Stop babbling, Lacy Ann, and tell Riley about what you wore layin' out under the sprinkler all afternoon."

"Okay, fine. I need to get this stupid song outta my head anyway, so I might as well share it with him, too."

Our heroine stops talking to herself and starts to sing:

"One two three four, tell your boyfriend what you wore/It was an itsy-bitsy, teenie-weenie, soakin' wet, brand-new bikini, that I wore for the first time today."

Except it was white, not yellow with polka dots on it (they'd hafta shoot me first), and unlike that scaredy-cat girl in the real song, I ain't afraid to wear the skimpy thing.

Right now the bikini is tumblin' around in the dryer, an' tomorrow I'm gonna tie-dye it, an' then someday I'll get to model it for you.

God, I can't wait.

Anyway, Pvt. Tucker, sir, here's what you been missing these past couple days:

Poor Mavis Lane saw me layin' there on our front lawn and thought I was dead. Her sister Mabel, who knows me too well, said I was too ornery to go peaceful like that, then mentioned the Rapunzel story I wrote back in 5th grade, which ended with a Russian nuke taking out the evil witch.

A little after that, two older boys from school drove by and honked their horn at me. One was like 'Be still my heart,' an' his buddy was like 'Be still my dick,' and they sped off laughing.

I helped out at the cafe yesterday, we always get a good crowd after church lets out...It was boring as hell after the lunch rush, 'til some trucker passin' through put his hand up Ma's skirt an' she dumped a pitcher of sweet tea in his lap.

Ma has all the fun, I swear.

This guy Speedy, who's been a regular since before Noah built the ark, told her she shoulda let the poor guy work on his technige a bit longer, an' Ma blushed red as a beet.

"There was nothing wrong with the man's technique," she told me when we were back in the kitchen and no one could hear.

"Why'd you douse his crotch, then?"

"Because a gentleman always asks a lady before playing her piano."

Man, I love that line. And I reckon maybe it explains why I never made you ask when you played mine that time on the pier.

But the worst thing that happened, and I hate tellin' you this part, is that Josie's brother Brandon got crippled in 'Nam. Then we found out what a douche he was before he left, an' now all I wanna do is slap his face.

I'm such a cruel little thing, ain't I?

Don't answer that.

So there you have it, the life and times of Lacy Ann Wilson. I love sharing it with you, an' I hope you like hearing my BS. Please write soon so I can hear some of yours.



PS – Grandpa's supposed to drop my truck off Saturday, even though I'm technically not allowed to drive it 'til I get my license.

PS II – Have you heard of Linda Ronstadt, the new girl singer who was on Johnny Cash last month? She sounds really good.

PS III – Speaking of Johnny Cash, his show's coming on soon, then 'The Outcasts' after the news, so I'll end this letter for now...Take care, okay? Be good an' be safe.

PS IV – And be happy.

Later that evening Peggy knocks on Lacy's bedroom door.

"Lace, you okay in there?"

"I'm fine, Peg," Lacy replies, sounding a bit breathless.

"Why's the door locked?"

"I been practicin' my technique."

Aware that what Lacy calls 'Unofficial Band Camp' starts in just over a month, Peg assumes her sister is referring to her piccolo and doesn't question her further.

"Oh, okay. But when you're done, how 'bout hanging out in my room tonight? I'm bored."

"An' I'm thirsty. Got any Schnapps?"

"Probably not 'til Friday when Ma pays us. But there's a few Lone Stars in the fridge."

"Not anymore, there ain't." Lacy pauses, apparently thinking it over, then asks, "Do I at least get to pick out the songs?"


"I'll be right there."