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Holmes Family Newsletter Vol 6 No 7

Vol. 1 - 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10Vol. 2 - 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12; 13; 14; 15Vol. 3 - 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8Vol. 4 - 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8Vol. 5 - 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8Vol. 6 - 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7Vol. 7 - 1Vol. 8 - 1


The only newsletter we do!

Vol. 6, No. 7, December 29, 1994

Belinda Has Puppies!

Another one of Lucy's dogs has gone and had a litter of pups. This time the mother is Belinda, a Rottweiler, and she gave birth to a litter of ten, nine of which were boys. This is Lucy's Nightshadow Kennels' seventh, or "G" litter.

Pursuant to contractual agreement, we are obligated to come up with names for the little mutts. Also pursuant to the agreement, Lucy will not use any of our suggestions.

Here they are, anyway: Greasy Grimy Kid's Stuff, Gas Pump Jockey, Go Figure, Growling Gremlin on Acid, Grassy Knoll, Greaseballs Afire, Gratuitous Sex, Gidget Goes Canine, Gary, and Going Postal.

"Going postal" is a term coined by a friend of the editor [I thought at the time], and refers to disgruntled employees going berserk and showing up for work with a machine gun.

Bill Goes Dancing

Showing blatant signs of insanity, but not quite to point of "postal," Bill has taken up country line dancing. Yes, that's right. Bill, ultra-cool dude (or so he thinks), has completely lost it and is now doing the Boot Scootin' Boogie and Texas Two Step, and a few other dances neither he nor anyone else can figure out.

He wears cowboy boots, jeans and a stupid western shirt now whenever he goes to places like Denim & Diamonds or the Wild Horse Saloon in his adopted home town of Nashville. He's embarrassing the entire newsletter staff, more than usual. Next thing you know, he'll be wearing a cowboy hat.

"I'm still looking for just the right hat," he explained. "A proper line dancing outfit is not something to be taken lightly."

Michael Moves

Trying desperately to make up for lost time and catch up with his uncle Bill in the ongoing family "habitat-hopping contest," Michael has moved again. [Just 37 more moves, and he'll catch up with Bill.] This latest move has brought Michael and his girlfriend, Evelyn, to the big city of Modesto, CA.

"It's an older house downtown," says Michael, "with tall ceilings and cute furniture. Evelyn's an art major, so she's in charge of the interior decorating."

Modesto, as you may know, is the boyhood home of film-maker George (Star Wars) Lucas and served as a backdrop of the early Lucas film, American Graffiti.

Commenting on the Lucas connection, Michael said, "Hey, if George Lucas started here, why can't I?" Michael and Evelyn's new address and phone number are: Modesto, CA 95354, (209) ???????.

Horse Stuck in Ditch!

One of Jeannie's boarding horses, a mare named Zanna, got stuck in a ditch for 44 hours recently and lived to tell about it! Well, not actually tell about it, but she did survive.

It seems Jeannie's daughter, Tiffany, and her friend Joan were out riding when Joan's horse, Zanna, was spooked by a cow coming out of the bushes. We all know how scary cows coming out of the bushes can be!

Anyway, Zanna spooked and lost her rider. She then freaked and tried to run home. The problem was that Zanna had never been that far from home before and was surprised when she came upon an especially wide ditch. She tried to jump it, but failed. And then, for the next 44 hours, she wallowed in the mire until one of Jeannie friends, with the aid of his 4x4 truck, pulled her out.

Stay tuned to the t.v. show, "Emergency 911," for a complete video account of the entire ordeal!

Birthdays, etc.


New subscriber (whether they like it or not)

Special Mention

John's mother, Tina Brouns, had a stroke on December 16. She seems to be doing okay, but we certainly wish her our best. Take care, Mrs. Brouns!

Predictions for 1995

Well, Christmas has come and gone. And we hope you had a good one. We hope Santa was good to you. Christmas is great for big dinners and family & friends gatherings, isn't it? But now it's time to look forward to the New Year! And in that spirit, we're making our predictions for 1995 here:

  • California will sink into the ocean ... again.
  • Western Civilization as we know it will collapse ... again.
  • Bill and Hillary Clinton will be impeached and imprisoned. Unfortunately, some equally sleazy politician and/or couple will take their place ... again.
  • will become a published author and make a million dollars ... again.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

by Lionel Holmes

After 6,620 lead-footed miles on the road, Eleanor and I returned Friday, October 21 from our 2½ week cross-country trip from Sacramento to Washington D.C. and back; fighting sandstorms, snakes and tarantulas across the Arizona desert; scumbag lobbyists and legislators in the nation's capital; blizzards and savage Indians across the Great Plains; and quicksand and coin-eating slot machines in Nevada.

None of which is true, of course, except the 6,620 miles and 2½ weeks. In fact, the only excitement on the whole trip was losing Don in a Mexican restaurant in Nashville. And there was a near-miss with a truck-and-trailer on US60 in Kentucky.

Because of snowstorms over the Sierras and Rockies on departure day, Oct. 4, we headed south on I-5 south to Barstow and east via Flagstaff, AZ; most of the time driving on US40 through New Mexico, the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma, Arkansas to Tennessee. Gorgeous scenic travel on the freeways through the latter three states, and great weather all the way.

Got lost in Nashville. Nobody had heard of Ferndale Avenue, Don and Diane's street, much less Don, Diane or Bill. Pulled off into a rough-looking neighborhood to phone Don for directions, and managed to find their house nestled among million-dollar mansions in a fancy area of the city.

Bill joined us there, and while Diane visited the doctor, Don and Bill toured us through Nashville, which surprised us by its beauty. Truly an attractive city. You think Sacramento is a city of trees? You should see Nashville. In the plush areas the homes are set back from the street by an acre of lawn, and no fences anywhere to mark the property lines.

About losing Don in the Mexican restaurant: It was in downtown Nashville, the sidewalks teeming with a Saturday night crowd making the rounds of the bars and bistros. The crowds, not us. We had parked a couple of blocks away, and after dinner Bill and I went to get the car to pick up the others in front of the restaurant. When the car arrived, Eleanor and Diane were at the corner, but no Don. Bill went looking for Don, then I went looking for Bill and Don. It seems Diane thought Don went with Bill and me; Don thought Diane had gone to the corner for ice cream. Bill looked in the restaurant restroom, where Diane thought maybe Don had been mugged. I found Don and Bill in front of the restaurant waiting for the car to come from around the block, only the car had come around a different block.

Anyway, it was a nice two-day visit in Nashville. We toured Diane's chiropractic setup in their house, including the basement where Don installed the x-ray machine; heard Don's latest song, which will be part of a demo tape he's preparing; met Diane's three cats, including the one that goes into hiding when visitors appear [Bart]; and visited Bill's apartment, which was near our motel.

On we went to Washington via the beautiful Great Smoky Mountain and Blue Ridge Mountain Parkways in eastern Tennessee. In quaint Pigeon Forge, we stopped to take a picture of the Rainbow Jamboree Theater of Ava Barber and Dick Dale, who were regulars on the Lawrence Welk Show. Pigeon Forge was as fascinating as its name, and wish we could have seen more of it than possible on a drive-through. All of the business establishments had elaborate Halloween pumpkin-and-scarecrow displays.

In the Washington D.C. area, we stayed in Arlington. We met Charlie Ericksen at his Hispanic Link office, and because it's impossible to find parking space in Washington, had him keep our car after he dropped us off at the Smithsonian to do the tourist bit. Somewhat disappointing compared with our two previous visits; guess we're getting jaded in our old age. Charlie was to pick us up at the Smithsonian at 6:15PM, not knowing that the place closed at 4:30. We waited outside, but began to get a bit nervous with no Charlie at 6:15, and darkness slowly approaching. He showed up finally at 6:30 with wife Tana, and we went to dinner somewhere in Washington, driving around and around trying to find some place that had parking. We finally made it. After taking them home, we got momentarily lost trying to find our way to Arlington in the dark.

Next day I had an appointment to see a lady at the Library of Congress who was interested in obtaining a complete collection of my O Progresso newsletter. We had been invited to be her guest at a reception for the Prime Minister of Portugal, but that would have meant another night's motel bill, so we begged off. [You see one Prime Minister, you've seen 'em all.] Would like to have toured the Library with her, but she was busy with other dignitaries from Portugal.

So off we went toward California, via the beautiful Bluegrass and Western Kentucky Parkways. Somewhere on US60 past Paducah is where we had the near-miss with the truck-and-trailer rig. In seeking to avoid a disabled van at the side of the road, big-rig swerved over into our lane. From Eleanor's perspective in the passenger seat, it seemed like he came within 2 inches of us. But actually it was 2½ inches.

Our next destination was Branson, Missouri, where all the has-been country-western stars have huge theaters, attracting countless busloads of tourists even older than we are. We reached Branson on a Saturday, booked our room, then made a phone reservation for the Lawrence Welk Theater. The show was to start at 8:00PM, and although we left the motel at 6:30 we barely made it in time, traffic being bumper-to-bumper and stop-and-go for all of the only five miles traveled. Saw some of the old Lawrence Welk regulars like the Lennon Sisters, Tom Netherton, Ken Delo, dancers Bobby Burgess and Elaine Baldwin, and tap dancer Arthur Duncan (still nimble in his sixties).

Many of the shows were closed on Sunday, but we did manage to take in Mel Tillis, which was okay. Trouble with all of the shows is that the close-up seats are reserved for the tour groups, and the individuals like us have to sit back where you can barely see the stage. Same with the restaurants. They reserve the window seats for the tour groups.

Leaving Branson, we stopped in Springfield to give the car a tune-up, and found we needed more than that. When we left the Montgomery Ward auto service shop we had new front wheel brakes and new water and fuel pumps. The car work required an overnight stay in Springfield, at the Hampton Inn, best motel on our trip. That's when the good weather ended. We walked back to Wards in the rain to pick up the car, and for the rest of the way across Missouri it rained, sometimes so hard we could barely see the road. By the time we reached Oklahoma it cleared up, but we had lost our scenery, something the Oklahoma panhandle is short of.

We had picked up the scenery again: spectacular snow-covered mountains in southern Colorado, and unusual eroded shapes of red-rock mesas in Utah. Nothing scenic about Nevada, so at a 70-mph clip we sped on Friday, Oct. 21, via Ely and Fallon to South Tahoe, where we stopped for lunch and lubricated the slot machines with nickels and quarters for an hour or so before heading on to Sacramento and home, of which there is no place like. We picked up our accumulated mail at the post office, had dinner, then slept the night away.

Overall, an enjoyable 17-day trip, averaging 500 miles a day. And costing an average of $117 a day, including food, lodging, gasoline, shows and incidentals. But we won't do that again soon.

A Day at the Races


The first Saturday in May. What does this date mean to you? Probably nothing, except that Spring has finally arrived, unless you live in California where it's been Spring already for two months.

But ask any horse racing buff, and he or she will tell you, without hesitation, the first Saturday in May is the day of the Kentucky Derby! Well, this story isn't about the Kentucky Derby or the first Saturday in May. So settle down. This is about the Breeder's Cup and the first Saturday in November.

It was on this day that I ventured north from Nashville to Louisville, Kentucky, and Churchill Downs; about an hour and half drive. I had never been to Churchill Downs before, so I followed the map, always a good idea, anyway, and I found the place with no problem.

I'm sorry. Did I say "the place"? I meant to say The Place. You know, the site of the Kentucky Derby since 1875? Twin spires? The first race of the Triple Crown? The Mecca of Horse Racing?

All right. Enough of the melodrama. Fact is, it was just plain cool to be there.

I prowled the neighborhood, looking for a parking lot, but there didn't seem to be one. So, I ended up paying $10 to park on some guy's front lawn. The price was high, but it seemed to be the going rate. At least it was just a few yards from the track entrance.

When I got to the gate, they wanted $15. Fifteen dollars just to get in! I said to the gatekeeper, "I just want to get into the infield, not the Clubhouse or anything!" He shrugged and said it was $15 no matter what entrance I took. So I forked over the $15.

As I started downward into the tunnel that takes you under the track and into the infield, a female voice from behind said, "A little steep isn't it?"

I turned and looked at her as if she was an idiot. It was a slight downgrade, not steep at all. "Huh?" I said.

"Fifteen bucks just to get in," she said. "It's a little steep." And she smiled.

She looked to be somewhere in her mid to late twenties. Thick, long light-brown hair. A little overweight, though it was hard tell with the raincoat and baggy pants she wore. She was fairly pretty, and she seemed to be alone.

"Oh, yeah," I agreed. "Let's just hope we can win it back at the windows."

"Got any hot tips?" she asked.

"Not really," I shook my head. "You?"

"'Fraid not," she pouted.

If I had any hot tips, I wouldn't have shared them with her, anyway. What good is a hot tip if you go around telling everyone about it? Her boyfriend then came trotting up from behind and, with a quick glower in my direction, whisked her away from me.

"Good luck," she said over her shoulder as her boyfriend tugged at her to hurry up.

I stopped at the first booth in the infield and bought a program. It cost $2.50, and I suddenly realized I was already down $27.50 and I hadn't yet placed a bet! Oh well, that's the price of entertainment. That's what I told myself, anyway.

In case you don't know, the Breeder's Cup consists of seven races. It's basically the end-of-the-year championship day of thoroughbred horse racing, and it attracts the best horses from all over the world. They offer gobs of money, and that tends to entice the best horses racing has to offer.

Each race has a minimum "purse" of $1 million. The Breeder's Cup Turf race offers $2 million, and the Classic offers $3 million. The winner doesn't get all that. They "only" get 60%, with the rest divvied up amongst the next four finishers.

Anyway, on the first race, the Sprint, I put a few bucks down on some horse whose name doesn't really matter. Ten minutes later, I was tearing up my losing ticket. I skipped the next race, the Juvenile Fillies race, since I'd never heard of any of the horses entered.

The third race was The Mile, and since I had skipped the previous race, I put a little extra on this one. By the end of the race, I was tearing up a couple more losing tickets. It was not a good beginning. And it's important to get off to a good start in gambling, otherwise you quickly degenerate into desperation. And, as any degenerate, desperate bettor can tell you, desperation is not a good thing.

Following The Mile, came the Distaff, a race strictly for fillies and mares. Again, I lost. [This is getting repetitive, isn't it?] After the Distaff was the Juvenile (for 2-year-old colts and geldings). The crowd's betting favorite, the only horse I'd ever heard of, but whose name escapes me now, had odds of 3-5 or something. I figured he'd win, but at 3-5 odds it wasn't worth it. So I bet on some other horse based on his name and the jockey. I lost again.

By this time, I had lost $60 of my personally-allotted $100 for the day, not counting the above-mentioned initial expenses, and I was getting annoyed. I was paying $4 per beer, Miller Lite, which I generally can't stand, and $4 for a crappy little cheeseburger that even McDonald's would be ashamed of. It was time to get down to business.

It was then that I ran into that girl from the tunnel. She was standing about twenty yards from one of the betting windows, watching the replay of the previous race on the big-screen t.v.

"Got any hot tips?" I asked as I approached her.

"Oh, hi," she said as if surprised to see me, though I knew she wasn't. I had seen her glancing in my direction, and that's why I felt comfortable in approaching her. "Well, my boyfriend says Lure is a sure thing," she offered.

"Lure, huh?" I said. "Yeah, he's won it the past two years." I didn't think much of Lure's chances this year, but I figured I would let her boyfriend blow his money on him.

Her boyfriend showed up a few seconds later. And, again, he glowered at me before pulling the girl along after him. I hadn't noticed it the first time I saw him, but this time I saw the words "DAIWA" stenciled into the front of his black baseball cap. Daiwa is a major manufacturer of fishing reels, which explained why he was so "hot" on Lure.

The girl smiled at me over her shoulder, but said nothing as her boyfriend dragged her off. Like a caveman, it seemed to me. I shrugged my shoulders. Some women like cavemen.

Flattered and inspired by this girl's flirtations, I decided to do something bold. No, it didn't involve her. What I decided was to just blow the rest of my bankroll on the next race, the Breeder's Cup Turf, and then simply watch the following and final race as a pure, non-betting fan of the Sport of Kings, i.e., a destitute bum hanging out at the track. Women do tend to inspire me to do stupid things.

There were several quality horses in this race; the above-mentioned Lure amongst them. But they were all quality horses. These were the best horses in the world on grass. The betting favorite, a horse named Missionary Ridge, was giving odds of even money. I didn't like his name or his odds, but he seemed like a pretty sure bet, and I was sick of losing. So, I figured, why not bet on him? At least I'll get my money back and have the satisfaction of betting on at least one winner for the day. I put $20 to win on him.

With the remaining $20 of my "bankroll" I played a couple of hunches. That girl's boyfriend was betting on Lure at least in part because he liked fishing. Well, I like hockey. And also entered in this race was a horse named Tikkanen, presumably named after the hockey star, Esse Tikkanen. He appeared to be a good horse, on paper anyway. His last race was a win in a major grass stakes race. And he was giving 16-1 odds. Never again would I get such good odds on such a good horse, so I put $10 on his nose. The other $10, I put on some foreign horse who had won the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, France's biggest race, earlier in the year.

Well, guess what? My hunch bet, Tikkanen, won and I collected $160! With one bet, I had just paid for all prior expenses and lost bets, and then some. I was jazzed, but I was careful not to show it. There are people who hang out at racetracks looking for big winners to mug in the bathroom or parking lot. A hundred and sixty bucks is not exactly "big money," but they (these imaginary muggers) didn't know I had only bet $10. For all they knew, I'd bet $1,000 and would be collecting $16,000. You can never be too careful when they are watching. I sort of hoped I would run into that girl again, just so I could gloat and make her boyfriend look stupid. But I didn't see her.

For the seventh and final race, the Breeder's Cup Classic, I decided to follow the same thinking I had followed on the previous race. I put $20 to win on my "intellectually-calculated best bet." And then, on another hunch, I put $5 to win on a horse called Concern. I don't know what it was about this horse Concern that told me to bet on him. His name just sort of stuck out in my mind for some reason.

And yes, you guessed it. Concern won and paid $40! I was a happy camper all of a sudden. Again, I looked around for that girl, but she was nowhere to be seen. She was probably huddled with her boyfriend somewhere commiserating over their losses.

As I drove home to Nashville, I stopped for gas at a Chevron station somewhere in Kentucky. In Kentucky they have Lotto and Power Ball. Feeling lucky, I spent $5 on a "quick-pick" Power Ball ticket. The jackpot at the time was $10 million. Small by Lotto standards, but still, I could always use $10 million.

And, guess what? I didn't win. Oh well. At least I was still $150 ahead of the game, all told. Plus, I had fun, and had spent a day at Churchill Downs, the Mecca of horse racing.

I wonder whatever happened to that girl.

Murder? Or Just An Honest Mistake?


The following story is rated PG. You figure it out.

Madison Ripley Smith was sitting at his desk with his feet propped up when she walked in. Long legs, hourglass shape, luxurious jet-black hair, and matching jet-black eyes.

"What's with the black eyes," Smith asked.

"Oh! Is my mascara running again?" And she dabbed at the black splotches.

Then the phone rang. After the third ring, Smith shouted, "Where's that damned receptionist?!"

"There was no receptionist when I walked in," the long-legged woman said.

"That would explain why you just walked in unannounced, then."

"Yes, that would explain it."

Meanwhile, the phone was still ringing.

"Aren't you going to answer it?" the black-eyed woman asked.

"No," Smith said bitterly. "That's why I hired a receptionist. I guess now I'll have to fire her. Too bad, too. I was starting to like, uh, what's-her-name. Wanna be my new receptionist?"

"No," she said. "I want to be your new client."


"Yes, client. You know, I give you money, tell you what I need, and you go out and do it?" she spoke slowly and deliberately. "A client."

"I know what a client is, lady. What's your husband's name?"

"What does that matter?"

"Let's just say I like to know who I'm getting mixed up with."

"My name is Amalia Maria Rodriguez Sanchez Delgado, wife of Juan Carlos Julia Delgado," she answered proudly. "And I have a problem."

"I guess so," Smith replied. "With a name like that, it must take forever to sign your name."

She ignored the comment. "I have a case that needs to be solved."

"A case?"

"Yes, a case. You know ..."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Smith snapped.

"Well?" she asked. "Do you want the case, or not?"

"Sure, I want the case."

Of course I want the case, he thought. I need the money. Besides, I wouldn't mind seeing this woman's face on a regular basis. Women and money have been pretty scarce lately.

"What are you thinking?" Mrs. Delgado asked, not liking the looks flashing across Smith's face.

"What kind of case is it?" he growled, playing the part of the tough-as-nails private dick.

"My husband's been murdered."

"Murdered?!" Smith was worried now. He tried to stay away from murder cases. "Why don't you go to the police?"

"I did," she said. "They think it was suicide, but I don't believe them. It was murder."

"What makes you say that?"

"He was shot through the heart with a bow and arrow."

"That is suspicious," he agreed.

"And I won't be satisfied," she continued, "until you find the woman who killed my husband."

"Woman? How do you know it was a woman?"

Amalia Maria Rodriguez Sanchez Delgado looked Madison Ripley Smith in the eye and nodded sagely. "A woman knows these things. So, will you take the case?"

"Yeah, I'll take it," he tried to sound reluctant. "My rate is $200 a day, plus expenses."

Mrs. Delgado tossed a stack of bills onto his desk. Smith counted it.

"Thirteen dollars?" he asked.

"Oh, sorry," she said, "wrong stack."

She plopped down another stack of bills. Again, Smith counted it. This stack was nothing but 50's and 100's.

"Nine hundred," he said, again trying to sound casual, even though he could not recall the last time he held that much money in his hand. "This'll do ... for now."

With a triumphant pout, if that's possible, Mrs. Delgado nodded and sashayed her way out the door. Smith's eyes escorted her out.

Later that day, as Smith was looking for clues at the bottom of his desk drawer, he got a call. He was forced to answer it himself since his receptionist still hadn't shown up. It was a wrong number. The caller mumbled "Rosebud" into the phone before Smith slammed it down in disgust. He wished his receptionist would come back. He didn't have time to be talking to every whacko who called.

His thoughts then wandered to Mrs. Delgado. What kind of a man had Mr. Delgado been? And why did Mrs. Delgado kill him?

"Why did you say that?" he asked himself aloud. There was no one else in the room, and he could think more clearly aloud.

"She's the grieving widow, remember?" he answered himself.

"Is she?"

"Of course she is. After all, she's the one who hired you to find his murderer."

"Is she?"

"Oh, shut up."

It was then that he realized he was Cracking up. Not only was he talking to himself, he was having complete conversations.

Several hours later, the phone rang again. It was Mrs. Delgado. She wanted to know how the murder investigation was coming along.

"I'm laying the ground work now," Smith said as he rolled a semi-hard gob of rubber cement along the top of his desk until it formed into neat little ball. "Don't expect too much for another few days," he warned. "These things take time."

When Mrs. Delgado hung up, Smith picked up the sticky rubber-cement ball and threw it against the wall. It stuck.

"Who am I fooling?" he asked himself. "I don't have the slightest idea how to handle a case like this."

The only reason he had taken it was because Mrs. Delgado was so damned beautiful. He was such a sap. He would have sucked his thumb and walked like a monkey if she told him to. He knew that. She knew that. And he hated himself for it.

"God, you're stupid!" he scolded himself. "Never fall in love with a client! You only get what you deserve!"

Forcing his face into an expression of hard-bitten nonchalance, a look he'd picked up from Robert Mitchum movies and practiced for hours in front of the mirror, Smith grabbed his jacket and left the office.

Walking down the street, he kept the hard-bitten nonchalant look on his face. Robert Mitchum would have been proud. His father would have been proud, too; assuming he had a father. Well, of course, he had a father. Everybody had a father. It was just that Smith had yet to find any proof that he did. He knew he wouldn't rest until he found that proof. But that was another case. Right now, he had this Delgado thing to figure out.

He strolled down the street, Mrs. Delgado ever-present on his mind. An image of her on a brass bed with her wrists tied to the headboard was the most compelling image. But that would have to wait. Right now he had to find her husband's murderer.

As he walked down the street, he realized it might be better to use the sidewalk. On the sidewalk, he tripped over a small dog, sending it yelping off into the distance. It brought a smile to his face. That dog looked a lot like the one he used to trip over as a kid.

But he steeled himself against such sentimental thoughts and concentrated on Mrs. Delgado. A couple of blocks down the street he realized he would probably reach her house more quickly if he drove. So, he turned around and headed back to his car.

Turning the key, the engine roared to life before settling to a smooth purr. After all these years, it still ran like a dream. "Good old American know-how," he said as he patted the steering wheel.

He pulled out into the street in the wrong direction. Without checking for traffic, he made a U-turn. The unsuspecting driver of the car behind him swerved and crashed into a telephone pole. The phone lines snapped and the pole collapsed into the street, barely missing Smith's car. Smith was oblivious.

When he arrived at the gated Delgado Estate, Smith was surprised to find Mrs. Delgado at the front gate waiting for him. Wearing only a nightgown, she stood clutching the iron bars from inside the property. She reminded him of a scene from one of his favorite movies, "Biker Chicks Behind Bars," except that Mrs. Delgado didn't have as many tattoos.

"Hello Señor Smith," she replied provocatively. Everything she did was provocative.

"Hello, Mrs. Delgado," Smith replied. "What are you doing out here in your underwear?"

"It's a nightgown. And I'm waiting for you, Señor Smith."

"Well, how did you know I'd be showing up?"

She smiled just a hint of a smile. "A woman knows these things, Señor Smith." And she did that knowing nod again. "May I call you Madison, or perhaps, Ripley?"

"Call me anything you want, Mrs. Delgado."

"Please, call me 'honey," she purred.

"... uh, yeah, okay ... honey ... my friends call me M.R."

"Ooh, initials! I like that in a man. It makes you sound very important, eh, M.R.?"

"Sure, I guess so, Mrs... uh, honey. Are you sure you want me to call you 'honey'?"

"Yes, please. My husband used to call me that."

"I'm sure he did," he said, thinking to himself, I wonder if I get to do anything else your husband did.

"Honey" Delgado opened the gate with the push of a button and slid into the car seat beside Smith. It was a short ride up to the house. As they approached the top of the circular driveway and the valet awaiting their arrival, Mrs. Delgado stuffed her hand into Smith's pants pocket.

On reflex, Smith's foot slammed down on the accelerator. The valet scattered out of the way, and Smith and Honey circled the driveway at top speed until finally coming to a screeching stop at the now-closed front gate.

Panic-stricken and breathing heavily, Smith panted, "I really wish you wouldn't do that, Mrs. Delgado... Not while I'm driving, anyway."

Mrs. Delgado let out a throaty laugh. "I like you, Señor M.R."

"I like you, too, Mrs. Delgado. But you could have caused an accident."

"Oh? Do you have a problem with that?" And she squeezed him to let him know what she meant.

"Huh?" Smith looked at her stupidly. "Oh, no, no. Nothing like that."

It took Smith a moment to regain his composure. Once he did, with Mrs. Delgado's hand still in his pocket, he put his arm around her and moved to kiss her.

She slapped him away. "I'm not that kind of woman, Señor M.R." And she pulled her hand out of his pocket.

[To be continued (just as soon as I can figure out where to go next with this story)]

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