The Perils of Louella:

Chapter 165: Louella Hears Some Gossip

by Alice Cherbonnier

LOUELLA stirred her whiskey sour, trying to make it last. I can't believe Candy got me to come here, she thought, watching as her bartending older sister flirted with customers. Look at that! Those guys don't seem to mind she's pushing 40, getting fat, and her roots show!
Louella looked around to see if any men were looking her over, but none were. She shrugged, took a tiny sip and waited.
"Hey, good lookin'!"
Louella ignored the come-on.
"I'm talkin' to you, sweetheart!" said a very soused cowboy wannabe. "Wha's your name, little sugar?" He sidled up to her.
Candy winked at Louella, who looked daggers back. I'm too old for this stuff! she thought. "Why don't you go home to your wife, big boy?" she said without looking at him.
"Well, now, lookee here, a real smart mouth!"
Louella could feel his hot liquor breath on her neck. "Just go away, okay?"
"I'm getting gawdurned tired of being told to go away. `Jus' go away!' That's what my wife tole me. Now she's gone and got a court order keepin' me outta the house. Can't even see my kids."
It was a public place, and Louella felt like being mean. "So what'd you do to her? Smack her around a little, you brave man?"
"I did what a lotta men do! My wife's gone and gotten a little too wise, know what I mean?" He signaled to Candy for another beer and she plopped a cold one in front of him and took his five dollar bill. Louella noticed Candy didn't come back with any change.
"Look, guys like you who think it's okay to him a woman are scum," said Louella, finally giving him a glance. He wouldn't have been bad looking sober and in a nice suit. Probably drives a BMW, she thought, appraising his watch.
"Well, I'm in damned good company! Lots of big shots beat up their wives, ya see."
"Who besides O.J.?"
"Well, I can't say the name out loud, but I could name you somebody really big if I wanted to."
"So why don't you then? If the jerk beats his wife and there's a restraining order out on him, it's public information. Why not tell?"
"You mean it's an ex parte order, lady." He exaggerated the Latin. "I oughtta know. I got one."
"So who's this guy?"
"Just can't say. Shouldn't'na brought it up. Nobody's business. He had his reasons to pop her."
"Well, I think the public ought to know when a big shot hero is really a jerk."
"Why's that? Make you feel big when somebody important looks small?" He downed the last of his beer and swiped his mouth with his sleeve.
"No, that's not what I mean. I mean heroes ought to be heroes."
"Tell it to the press, lady! Let them report the story! They know it better'n me!"
"So why aren't they telling it?"
"You figure it out. When a lotta money's riding on somebody being a winner, they don't wanna see anything negative come out about him. Spoils things, ya know?" He turned to wander off. "See ya around, maybe."
Not if I can help it, thought Louella, watching him stagger.


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This story was published on October 1, 1997.