MAKING TRAVELING PLANS

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic


An elderly woman and an offbeat young man adopt each other.

Submitted: May 19, 2018

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Submitted: May 19, 2018

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MAKING TRAVELING PLANS

 

Charles V. Walker, Jr.

 

Gertrude Wilson was driving very slowly up a section of Creston, Virginia's bypass. The drivers of several cars behind her loudly and repeatedly honked their horns, before finally driving by her.

"Go 'head den," she yelled. "Ya wanna drive like crazy peoples? Go 'head den."

She was moving at approximately fifteen miles per hour less than the legal speed limit.

"Dere's dat Parker man wif dat beat up, raggedy, ole chair onna backka his bicycle," she said to herself. Gertrude always marveled at how he had modified the back of his bicycle to accomodate a small, livingroom chair. "Gotta han' it ta him, he knew what he was doin' when he attached it."

Seventy-three-year old Gertrude was returning to Creston from a fifteen-mile trip to Crayton's Country Hams in Culpeper, where she'd picked up some sliced ham for an upcoming function at her church. Cars were continuing to pull up behind her and honk their horns. The drivers quickly realized it was useless to get angry with and futile to try to speed up the old lady hunched over the steering wheel of the blue, Chevrolet Car.

"B.J. an’ Mar'gret think dey know everythin'," she said. "Tellin' me not ta drive no mo’. Ta call dem when Ah want ta go somewhere. Ah was drivin' 'fore dey was even thoughta 'bout."

Benjamin Joseph "B.J." Wilson, Jr. and Margaret Wilson Carter were Gertrude's son and daughter.

She finally made it home and was pulling into her dirt and gravel driveway, when she saw a Sheriff's Department cruiser pull in behind her. The five feet three-inch tall, Gertrude got out of her car and walked slowly back towards the cruiser.

"Ro Ro, whatchu doin' out hair?" she asked the Deputy when he emerged from the vehicle. "Ain't nuffin wrong wif Frannie izit?"

In addition to being one of only two black deputies on the Creston's Sheriff's Department, Roland Curtis was also Gertrude's nephew; his mother, Francine, was her sister. 

"Hi, Aunt Trudie," he responded. "No, mam, ain't nuffin' wrong."

"Everythang okay wif 'neeva an' Ron?" Aneeva was Roland's wife and Ron, his son.

"Dey fine."

"Good. Good. Den you jus' came ta visit yo' wondaful aunt, huh?"

He laughed. "Yes, mam. An' Ah saw you out dere on de bypass an' Ah got a bit worried. Thought you were 'bout ta cause an accident."

"It's dem damn fools drivin' like crazy peoples gittin' ready ta cause an axdent." 

"Yes, mam," Roland said. "But, still Ah . . ."

"Plus ya got dat Parker man out dere ridin' dat damn bicycle up and down de highway wif dat chair on de back uvvit," Gertrude said. "Wonda he ain't got kilt or got somebody else kilt."

"Ah know. Me an' a few other deputies already spoke ta him 'bout dat."

"Good. Crazy fool."

"Anyway, Aunt Trudie, Ah was thankin' dat you might wanna git somebody ta help you out a little bit when it comes ta drivin'."

"You been talkin' wif B.J. an' Mar'gret, ain'tcha?"

"Yes, mam," Roland said, smiling. "Dey kinda mentioned sumfin ta me about it," he responded in a gentle, respectful tone. "Ya know havin' them, me, an' other family run your errands fo' you, wouldn't be a problem."

"Dat's nonsense," she replied, as she walked around to her car's passenger side, opened the door and began removing the large tray of wrapped, sliced ham.

"Lemme git dat fo' you, Aunt Trudie."

She moved out of the way, as Roland bent to pick up the tray.

"Aunt Trudie, wouldja jus' think about what we're sayin'?" Roland said, as he and his aunt began walking towards the house. She steadied herself by placing her hand on one of his partially outstretched tray carrying arms.

"We'll see. We'll see," she replied. "Now, c'mon in, Ro Ro, an' Ah'll make ya a sam'wich befo' ya go backta work." 

A few days later, on a Saturday afternoon, Gertrude was sitting on her front porch talking with B.J. and Margaret.

"But, mama, what harm could it be fo' you ta call me, B.J., Frank or Mary when ya need to go somewhere?" asked Margaret. Frank and Mary were Margaret's and B.J.'s respective spouses.  "Your eyesight an' reflexes ain't as good as dey useta be."

"Dat's right," interjected B.J. "Maybe you cain call Winston or Chesta now and den." Winston Brown and Chester Jones were local taxicab drivers. "Ah'll pay fo' it."

Gertrude listened quietly, as her children spoke. She knew they were genuinely concerned about her well-being.

"Ah guess y'all got a good point," she said. "But, you know ain't nobody's reflexes or eyesight what it was. Even people half ma age."

"We jus' sayin' fo' yo' safety an' de safety of uvver people, you might wanna consider not drivin' yo'self anymo'," said B.J. "'Sides, dat car's been actin' up lately. Ya need ta have Jack take a look at it. Ah'll take it out dere." Jack Wilson was an automobile mechanic at a local gasoline station.

Gertrude thought about the dog she'd hit and killed a few months ago when she accidentally stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake. Luckily, no one saw her, so she just kept going. She looked out at her car parked in the yard, and replied, "Ah'll thank about it."

"Okay, mama," said Margaret. "An' you'll see. It's all gonna work out fo' de best. Gertrude was silent, as she continued staring at her car.

Later that evening, Gertrude was sitting on her front porch waiting for Sister Anna Marshall, a member of her church, to pick her up to go play Bingo. She was wearing a blue and yellow blouse, her favorite polyester knit pants, and a thick windbreaker. She had spritzed herself with some of the perfume B.J. had given her for her birthday. She was also wearing her lucky necklace, which she'd purchased on a church-sponsored bus trip to Atlantic City last year. The only problem was that Sister Anna was late.

"Ah wonda if dat big, black, heffa fo'got she was s'posed ta come git me," Gertrude thought to herself. "Bingo starts inna hour, an' we gotta go all de way ta New Baltimore." New Baltimore was a small town located approximately twenty miles from Creston.

"Ah'ma givvat wench anuvver ten minutes."

Two minutes later, Gertrude stood, walked into the house, took the car keys off of the armoir, came out of the house, grabbed her purse from where she'd been sitting, then holding the porch banister for support, walked sideways slowly down the four steps and headed for her car. As it was now starting to get dark, and she had terrible nightvision, Gertrude felt some trepidation. "Ah sho will be glad whennat daylight savin’ thang starts up," she thought.

She tried to reassure herself. "Ah'll be okay. Ah'll jus' go slow an' drive along dat road where dere's plenty o' houses and lights."

Gertrude got into the car and after a few tries, the engine finally started. "B.J.'s right. Ah'ma have ta git Jack ta look at de engine, even if Ah ain't gon be drivin' no mo’."

Gertrude began to formulate a plan in her head. "If Ah cain make it down dere, Ah'll catcha ride comin' back an' let Stevie pick up de car tomorra." Stevie was one of her Great Nephews. He could be trusted not to divulge the circumstances under which he had to retrieve her car.

Gertrude put the car in reverse and slowly backed out of the yard. After manuvering past the mailbox and the dropboxes for The Washington Post and The Lennix County Times, she turned the steering wheel and began her journey to New Baltimore.

"See dat wasn't so bad," Gertrude said to herself. "If Ah cain still do de crossword puzzle in de paper, Ah cain durn sho' still do ma own drivin'." She got a brief image of a bleeding, dying, dog lying in a ditch with its tongue protruding from its mouth. She momentarily closed her eyes and the image disappeared.

The sun was barely visible above the horizon now, with streaks of sunlight peeking through the trees at intervals.

The car moved along at a slow, but steady pace. "Durn sho' hope Ah don't see nunna dem kids or Ro Ro out hair," Gertrude thought.

The sun had completely vanished now, as Gertrude continued on her journey. "It's gon be okay," she assured herself.

Just as Gertrude reached the intersection of Blackwell Road and Walker Drive, she saw a glint of metal move pass the car. She pressed the brake pedal, but it was too late. She heard a thud and came to an immediate and sudden stop, which caused her torso to lurch forward against her seatbelt; she turned off the car's engine.

"Whoa!" exclaimed a voice from the darkness.

Gertrude didn't recognize the voice, so she locked all of the doors and stayed in the car. She saw a figure approaching; it was that Parker man.

"You okay, Miss Trudie?" he asked, as he drew near to the driver's side window.

Gertrude didn't know what to say or do. She, like many other Creston residents, only knew the person standing outside her car as "That Parker Man" - - someone who rode around with a chair on the back of his bicycle.

"That Parker Man" just stood there looking at her through the windshield. This was the first time Gertrude had seen him up close. He was a short, squat, dark-skinned, black man of approximately thirty years in age. He was wearing a long, black coat, a white dress shirt, jeans, a blue and white baseball cap that had the words, Warrenton Car Wash, written on it, and red Converse sneakers.

"Mam, Ah ain't gon hurtchu, Ah jus' wanna make sho' you okay," said the man. "My name's Theodore, but folks call me, Tick."

Gertrude continued looking out at him.

"My people are de Parkers an' de Gaineses from down in Remington," he said. "You might remember ma muvver, Norma, an' huh sista, ma aunt, Charlotte. Dey was Gaineses."

Norma and Charlotte Gaines. The names sounded somewhat familiar to Gertrude.

"An' ma farver, George Parker, worked wif yo' husband, Ben, at de horse stables."

Gertrude did remember her late husband, Ben, bringing home a man named, George Parker, for dinner a few times. After dinner, they'd sit on the front porch, drinking moonshine, talking and laughing. She rolled down her door's window a few inches.

"You George's boy?" she asked, looking at Tick. There was a resemblance to George in Tick's build, and around his eyes and mouth.

"Yes, mam," he replied. "Ah got two sistas, Pauline an' Jenny, an' a bruvva, George, Jr."

Gertrude felt herself relax. "Well, Ah done lived dis long, so whateva God got planned fo' me, so be it," she thought to herself, as she opened her car door.

"It's kinda cool fo' you to be gittin' out de car, Miss Trudie."

"Don't worry 'bout dat," she replied, as she continued to climb out of her car; Tick reached over to help her. After getting out, Gertrude, with Tick holding her by the arm with both hands, began hobbling towards the front of the car. "Ole arfur got me tanight," she said, referring to the arthritis in her legs. "Don't git old, boy."

Tick laughed.

"Are you okay?" she asked Tick.

"Yes, mam, Ah'm fine," he replied.

"So you George an' Norma's boy, huh? How dey doin'?"

"Well, daddy passed 'bout nine years ago, an' mama passed 'bout two years ago."

"Sorry ta hear dat. From what Ah cain rememba, dey was good people."

 "Yes. Thank you," Tick replied. "Miss Trudie, if ya don't mine me askin', wair ya goin' dis time uh night?"

"Headed ta Bingo in New Baltimore," she replied.

"By yo'self?" Tick asked increduously.

"Ma fren from church was s'posed ta pick me up, but nevva came. An' time was wastin', so Ah jus' got on de road."

Tick laughed. "Okay, Ah see. You gotta flashlight, Miss Trudie?"

"It's in de glove compartment," she replied.

Tick went to the car to retrieve it. When he returned, he turned it on and pointed it at the car's front end. There was a small dent in the car's bumper; it was barely noticeable.

"How's yo' bicycle?" asked Gertrude.

He walked over to where the bicycle lay in a small ditch. He aimed the flashlight’s beam at it. "Looks like ya just tapped me," Tick said. "Thank ya got da rim an' back tire. Good thang you wasn't goin' fast. Ah jus' haveta bend the rim back over de back tire. But ma chair stayed on."

Tick rubbed his hands together, then put them to his mouth and blew air into them. Gertrude looked him quizzically. "Lemme ask you sumfin, Tick. Why you all de time ridin' 'round wif dat chair on ya bicycle?"

Tick looked at her and smiled. "Well, fo' one thang, it guarantees Ah'll always have a place ta sit no matter wair Ah go."

"Ain't dat de trufe," Gertrude said and laughed.

"An' anuvver thang," Tick said. "It was my muvver's fav'rite chair. An' when she died, Ah kept it. Nobody could understand why, even when Ah tried ta 'splain it ta dem. Dey jus' thought Ah was touched in de haid." He laughed.

Gertrude laughed, too. She thought about her late husband's moth-eaten sweater stlll in her dresser drawer. Every now and then, even during warm summer days, she'd put it on and sit on the porch.

Tick continued. "Then one day, Ah decided ta put it on ma bike, so it'd be like Ah always had huh wif me ev'rywhere Ah went."

Gertrude stared at Tick for a moment. She smiled and touched his hand. "Ah'm sho she is."

Tick put his hand on top of hers and said, "Thank you, Miss Trudie. You still got time ta git ta Bingo?"

"Ah 'ont know," replied Gertrude. "What time ya got?"

He looked at his watch. "It's 'bout seven thirdy."

"Oh, hell. Dey startin' up in half uh hour."

"You still got time. It ain't dat much furver down de road."

Tick took her by the arm and walked her towards the driver's side door. After he helped her get into the car, Gertrude turned the key, but the car didn't start. She kept trying. The car still wouldn't start. "Well, Ah'll be damned!"

Tick said, "Ya want me ta try it, Miss Trudie?"

Gertrude opened the door and with Tick's assistance got out of the car. He got in, turned the key several times, but nothing happened. "Aww, man!"

"Well," Gertrude said, "Ah guess dat's it fo' Bingo."

Tick got out of the car. "Sorry, Miss Trudie. Ah know how ma aunts useta look fo'ward ta dem games."

Then, Tick got a strange look on his face and smiled. "Ah have an idea, if ya willin' ta try it."

He explained to Gertrude what he wanted to do. At first, she thought he'd lost his mind. "Maybe he is a bit touched in de haid.”

As Tick talked further, however, Gertrude began to think what he was proposing could be done.

Ten minutes later, Gertrude was perched in the chair on the back of Tick's bicycle and headed towards New Baltimore. He had given her his coat - - he'd worn a vest underneath it - - strapped her securely into the chair and around himself with his belt and some rope they'd found in the trunk of her car. She arrived five minutes before Bingo started.

"Hair ya are, Miss Trudie," he said, when they arrived. He undid the rope and his belt, and twisted his body to help her climb out of the chair. "Good luck innair."

"Thank you, Tick. Ah 'ppreciate what you did. You a good chauffeur." They both laughed.

"Ah wantchu ta come ta Sunday dinna tomorra," Gertrude said, as she took off his coat and handed it to him. "Be 'bout three uh clock." She told him where her house was located.

"You don't haveta do dat," he said. "Ah . . ."

"Hush up, boy. Ah'll see ya tomorra."

Yes, mam," Tick said, as he put on his coat, got back on the bicycle and rode away.

The next day, to Gertrude's surprise, Tick came dinner. In addition to telling him that she'd caught a ride home with Josie Edwards, she explained how she had gotten her Great Nephew to take the blame for getting the car stalled on Blackwell Road.

After dinner, she gave him a tour of her garden behind the house. "See Ah got a few tomatas hair an' some squash comin' up ova dere." As they walked around, Tick stooped to examine her plants and pull up a few weeds.

When she saw him looking at the small scarecrow wearing a woman's bright, multi-colored, flowered hat, and a long, matching scarf, Gertrude laughed and said, "My son, B.J., put dat up. But it ain't scared nuffin 'cept maybe a few of dem chil’ren down de road an' me now an' den when Ah fo'git he's out hair. B.J. used wonna ma old, church hats and scarfs. Ah tell ya, dat sonna mines ain't got good sense." Tick laughed.

When they sat on the porch to talk, she let him sit in the same place where his father used to sit. She asked him where he was going when she'd see him on the bypass.

"Ah earn a few dollas washin' cars at de car wash on de bypass in Warrenton. An' sometimes Ah jus' like ridin' ma bike." He laughed.

They went into the house to eat peach cobbler desert and watch the Sunday evening news. There were a couple of news stories about newly-elected President Jimmy Carter's first few months in office. "Ah like ‘at peanut man. Voted fo' ‘im," Gertrude said. 

When it was time for Tick to leave, and they walked out onto the porch Gertrude said, "Got kinda cool out hair, you might need sumfin else unda dat coat. Ah know dat vest, as nice as it is, ain't gon be enough."

"My sista an' huh husband gave me dis vest fo' Christmas one year," Tick said as he rubbed his hands down it. "Thank it's silk or sumfin."

She went upstairs and rummaged through the closet until she found a jacket that once belonged to her late husband.

Coming back downstairs, she said, "Put dis on unda yo' coat," as she gave him the jacket. Like an obedient child, Tick did as he was told.

"You're a nice man, Tick. An' you welcome back anytime." He gave her a hug, got on his bicycle, waved and rode away.

Tick visited Gertrude several times over the following weeks. It was usually either before or after his shift at the car wash, depending on his work schedule for the week. She fed him and he did minor errands and chores for her.

B.J. and Margaret met him when they came to visit one Sunday. In introducing Tick to them, Gertrude explained told them about Tick's father. B.J., the older of the two siblings, vaguely remembered George.

"He usedta show us magic tricks, Mar'gret. Pullin' out quartas from behine our ears an' outta our noses. My fav'rite was when he'd break a pencil wif a folded dolla bill. It took me a long time ta figure out dat his finga was inside de fold."

They all laughed.

One day, Gertrude told Tick about her children not wanting her to drive anymore due to her advanced age and bad eyesight.

He smiled and put his hand over his mouth, as he tried not to laugh.

 "An' why are you laughin' 'bout dat, boy?"

"Ah don't mean no disrespect, Miss Trudie," he said. "But Ah seen you out dere on de bypass a few times, an' it was kinda like you was leadin' a parade."

He and Gertrude burst out laughing. "Boy, you some kinda foolish," she said.

"Ah'm sho yo' kids mean well. If it was ma muvver, Ah'd prob'ly be de same way."

"You right, boy. You right."

As Tick was preparing to leave one evening, the chair fell off of the back of the bicycle.

"Whoa!" he said. "Thank Ah gotta broke shoelace back dere."

He went to examine it, as Gertrude stood on the porch watching him.

"Yep, Ah got three broke ones."

"Lemme see what Ah got in de house," Gertrude said, as she retreated into the house. She came back out a few minutes later. "Couldn't fine no shoelaces, but Ah fount some string inna drawer."

Tick walked over and took the string from Gertrude's outstretched hand. "Thank you."

"Too bad Ah ain't save nunna dat rope from de night you rode on de back of ma bike." He laughed.

Gertrude laughed. "Dat cert'nly was an advencha dat night."

Tick tied the string around the chair's arms and legs, then wrapped it around the metal extension just above bicycle's rear tire. He got on the bicycle and attempted to ride it, but the chair shifted and fell to the ground.

"Ya know what, Miss Trudie," said Tick. "Maybe Ah'll jus' leave de chair hair til Ah come back later or tomorra. Den Ah cain jus' brang some rope or sumfin wif me."

"Okay, whatevva ya wanna do is alright wif me. Whatevva you thank is best."

"Yes, mam. Cause Ah'd hate ta be ridin' down road and dis darn thang falls off."

"You right 'bout dat. Jus' put it up on de porch in case it rains or sumfin."

Tick grabbed the chair by its two arms, lifted in over his head and walked it onto the porch.

A few days later, as Gertrude was sitting on her porch when B.J.'s car pulled into the driveway. With him were Margaret, and June, Gertrude's youngest sister. They got out of the car.

"Hey, Trudie," said June, as she walked up on the porch and sat. "Dey tell me you got a new boyfren."  She laughed. B.J. and Margaret blushed, as Gertrude stared at them; the two children quickly went into the house.

Gertrude chuckled. "Tick's a nice young man," she replied. "You might remember his people. His muvver was a Gaines an' his farver was a Parker. Dey were from down in Rixeyville."

"Right, right," said June looking skyward. "Dere was a Charlotte Gaines in ma class at Jefferson."

"How's Stevie makin' out wif de car?" asked Gertrude. She had given her car to Stevie, who agreed to have it inspected, before putting it on the road. “Ah thought he was gonna hug ma eyeballs out when Ah tole him he could have it."

June laughed. "He did whatchu told 'im. His muvver said to thank you an' dey gonna come out an' see you nex' weekend."

"Talk ta Frannie lately?" asked Gertrude.

"De uvva day. An' Ah saw Ro Ro an' his wife at de shoppin' centa yesterday."

B.J. and Margaret emerged from the house eating food from paper plates. "You want sumfin, Aunt June?" B.J. asked.

"Naw, Ah'm okay, baby. Thank you."

"Whatchall ain't got no food at home?" Gertrude asked, turning to look at them an' smiling.

"Now, Mama . . .," said Margaret.

"Don't 'Now, Mama' me," replied Gertrude. "Everytime y'all come out hair, y'all head straight fo' de kitchen."

B.J. and Margaret laughed.

She continued. "Y'all made me give up drivin', but y'all would have a fit if Ah gave up cookin'."

The four of them laughed.

"B.J., Ah tole you dem Morton girls wasn't good cooks," Gertrude said and laughed. "An' Mar'gret, you'd betta start cookin' some meals fo' Frank, befo' he starts lookin' fo' dinna somewheres else."

Gertrude and June looked at Margaret and laughed. B.J. and Margaret gave their mother and aunt exaggerated exasperated looks, and then retreated into the house.

June reached over to touch the chair in which Gertrude was sitting. "Didja boyfren give you dis beat up, ole chair?"

"Naw," replied Gertrude laughing. "He couldn't get it ta stay his bike, so Ah tole him ta leave it hair til he came back." She then told June the story about Tick and his mother's chair.

June rolled her eyes and said, "Hmmmph. Quiet as it's kept, he mighta wanted ju ta havat chair."

"Don't be foolish, June. He loved his muvver an' dis chair reminds him of huh."

"Okay. If you say so."

B.J. and Margaret came back onto the porch. "You ready ta git on home, Aunt June?" B.J. asked.

"Yes, guess so. You an' Mar'gret ready?"

After saying their goodbyes to Gertrude, June, Margaret and B.J. got in the car and drove away.

Gertrude remained on the porch. "June don't know what she’s talkin' ‘bout," she said herself. "Dat boy's comin' back fo' his mama's chair."

For several days, there was no sign of Tick. Gertrude called to ask Roland if he had seen him on the bypass; he hadn't. Days turned into weeks, and Gertrude grew increasingly concerned. She called Roland again.

"Ro Ro, Ah hate ta bahva you again," said Gertrude. "But, Ah'm really gittin' concerned about Tick."

"No problem, Aunt Trudie. You ain't bahverin' me at all. Whatchu need?"

"Is dere anyway you could check an' see if his people have heard from him? He said he was kin ta de Parkers an' de Gaineses in Remington."

"Shouldn't be a problem. Anythang else?"

"Said he had a bruvva, George, an' two sistas, Pauline an' Jenny."

"Alright, Aunt Trudie. Ah'll git back ta ya inna day or so."

"Thank you, Ro Ro. An' like Ah said, Ah hate ta keep bahvering you."

"No," he said. "Ah'm curious as to what happened ta 'im, too. Talk ta ya soon, Aunt Trudie."

Roland hung up the telephone.

A few days later, Roland drove out to Getrude's house. She stepped out onto the porch.

"Hey, Aunt Trudie. How you feeling?

"Ah'm doin' okay, Ro Ro. Any news about my fren?" she asked, as she sat down.

Roland stepped up on the porch and sat next to his aunt.

"It's strange, Aunt Trudie."

"Whatchu mean?"

"Ah talked ta his bruvva an' one of his sistas in Remington, an' dey said dey ain't seen or heard from Tick since dere muvver's funeral. Same thang when I spoke ta his uvver sista in Manassas."

"Dat's kinda sad."

"But, dey did say he took a chair before he lef'."

Gertrude rubbed the arms of Tick's chair. "Maybe he's stayin' wif dat aunt he tole me about."

"Ah thought about dat, but dey say she passed almos' a year ago."

"Well, bless my soul," said Gertrude. "Ah'm not sho what ta thank about Tick."

Roland rose from his seat. "De onliest thang Ah cain think is dat he had some kinda fallin' out wif his family an' dey didn't wanna talk about it."

"Maybe. You could be right."

"Well, Aunt Trudie, lemme git on back on de road. If Ah see 'im, Ah'll tell 'im ta stop by or sumfin."

"Okay, Ro Ro, thanks fo' everythang. You, 'neeva an' Ron should come out fo' dinner soon."

"Ah'll tell Aneeva ta call you."

Roland walked over to the sheriff's department cruiser, got in, honked his horn, waved and drove away.

The next morning, as Gertrude descended the stairs in her house, she couldn't help but feeling more than a little disappointed and sad that Tick had disappeared in the manner that he had. She had come to think of him as a third child. After all, with both of his parents deceased, he was in reality an orphan, so she felt like she'd adopted him to a certain extent. "Maybe he'll turn up," she thought. "His muvver's chair's still hair."

She walked out onto the porch, picked up her gardening equipment and walked sideways down the porch steps. When she reached the back of the house, and was preparing to enter her garden, she noticed that there was something strange.  The old scarecrow had been replaced by a new one. Additionally, as opposed to wearing its original outfit, it was now wearing black pants, a silk vest and a blue and white baseball cap that bore the words, Warrenton Car Wash.The new scarecrow was bigger in the torso and far scarier looking than the one B.J. had installed. Moreover, its legs had been positioned in such a way that made it appear to be riding a bicycle. Gertrude stared at it for a few moments, put her hands on hips, looked around and smiled.

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