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Walk About, Chapter Eight


Darlene Franklin-Campbell's new novel, Walk About, is being posted online chapter-by-chapter, for people to read for free. Previous Chapter: Walk About, Chapter Seven, or start at the beginning: Walk About: Chapter One.

Chapter Eight

By Darlene Franklin-Campbell

Rosie walked through the department store, keeping her hands laid over her obviously pregnant stomach and grimacing in pain every few minutes. "Excuse me," she said, accidentally bumping into someone.

Out of the corner of her eye she saw Clyde, wearing cut-offs, a ball cap, a sweat shirt and a college backpack walk past her. Clyde, who looked a decade younger than she actually was, had entered as unnoticed as any college student would have.

"Time to go to work," Rosie whispered to herself, her heart pounding so hard that she looked to see if it was noticeable through her dress. Her sisters had said, "Act, but be yourself." How did a person act and still be herself? If she were being herself then it wouldn't be an act, would it? Oh, well, she had never had a baby but she had been with her friend, Shayla, when her baby was born, so she would pretend to be Shayla.


She waited until she was near the center of the store then squeezed the water bottles that were hidden up her dress. Water splashed onto the floor at her feet, splattering an elderly couple that was standing nearby.

"Oh, my water's broke!" She said loudly. "My water's broke. I think the baby's coming. Help me, somebody help me. Oh, oh!"

Upon seeing a pregnant woman standing bent over in a pool of water, several of the men nearby, made a quick exit from the isle.

Ace, wearing a pair of faded jeans, cow-girl boots, a plaid shirt and leather belt with a very noticeable horse shoe on it, pushed her way through the crowd, humiliated to be wearing such a hideous get-up. Pinky had stolen it off innocent person's clothes line and insisted that she wear it because it made her look like "a country vet." Ace detested the country look and she had often made fun of those girls who dressed like "Ag boys" back in high school. Why wear something so ordinary and un-unique when the world was filled with bright Bohemian styles? She had rather wear a royal purple blouse and dangling earrings any day of the week. In her mind she prayed that there were no "real" doctors were anywhere around.

Pinky was loose somewhere in the store, wearing "mommy" jeans and carrying a gigantic purse that would catch all the things they "needed."

"I'm a vet," Ace called out. "I deliver calves all the time. Everybody stand back. Get me some clean towels and some gloves...and, move people! This woman's giving birth." She pulled a pair of rubber gloves out of her back pocket and put them on.

Ace looked at Rosie. "Just stay calm, ma'am. " Then she bent low and whispered, "Have a contraction every so often." So, Rosie screamed out and grabbed her stomach. People scattered. Some ran to get away from her.

"That's it. Get back, people," she said. "We need to check and see how much she has dilated." The store manager rushed to the scene now, asking what he could do to help.

That's when the lights went out. The power was out. Clyde had an unusual talent for causing electrical malfunctions. Ace only hoped that nothing exploded this time as she also had an unusual talent for being in the vicinity when things went kaboom.

Immediately, kids started wailing from various places in the store. A man not too far from the sisters was cursing. A woman with an accent that reminded Ace of Michigan said, "Well, for Pete's sake, it's terribly dark in here now."

"I got this," Ace said to the man who was assisting her. "You just get the lights back on so I can see how to deliver this baby."

"All right," the manager said. Ace could tell he was standing now because it seemed to her that his voice lifted away from her as he spoke. "Everyone stay calm. The backup generators should kick on any second now and then we can evacuate the store. Does anyone have a flashlight?"

Ace and Rosie knew that the backup generator wouldn't be coming on any time soon. The backup generators had been Clyde's first order of business.

"Come on," she whispered to Rosie.

Rosie scrambled to her feet, clinging to Ace's arm. She took the rubber gloves from her purse, which contained only one other thing a pair of flip-flops, and put them on as Ace had done. She handed the flip-flops to her sister. The two of them felt their way along through the crowd and slid into an aisle. People were yelling for flashlights and flicking their lighters.

"Turn the lights on," some man shouted from a few isles over.

The sisters moved along the back wall of the building, just like Pinky had told them to do. As they went, Ace discarded her disguise a piece at a time. The boots came off first and went into a trash can, then the pants. She was wearing shorts underneath. She donned the flip-flops. She wore a lavender tank top under the checked shirt. She pulled the bands out of her ponytail, letting her hair fall loosely about her shoulders. A country vet had gone in the front door of the store and a scantily clad summer babe would walk out the back door.

Rosie also wore shorts and a tank top under her maternity dress. She slipped the dress right off her shoulders and let it fall, along with the pillow "stomach" her sisters had fashioned for her and the empty water bottles. They came to the widest part of the store that opened up into the area for the bathrooms, returns department and an area where trucks unloaded at the backdoor. Someone had already opened the door and people were filing out, so the sisters just fell into suit and filed out along with them.

Clyde, the make-believe college girl, was already in the truck when Rosie and Ace climbed in. They picked Pinky up a block from the store where she was nonchalantly sitting on a roadside bench, holding her giant purse and watching traffic.

"Did you leave any fingerprints on anything?" she asked as she climbed into the truck.

"We put those nasty rubber gloves on before we touched our clothes and again when we took them off," Rosie said.

"Good," she said. "Good. Mission accomplished."

"What all did you get?" Ace asked.

"Every thing we need for our next stop," Pinky said.

"I think you're enjoying this a little too much," Ace said.

"I enjoy teaching archaeology," Pinky said. "But since we're fugitives now, we might as well do it right."


Darlene Franklin-Campbell, an Adair County native, holds an M.A. from Lindsey Wilson College but has also done post-graduate work in storytelling and literacy at Western Kentucky University and is an alumnus of Campbellsville University. She is a member of the Elizabeth Maddox Roberts Society, the Adair County Arts Council, The Adair County Genealogical Society, The Green County Genealogical Society, Phi Theta Kappa, and the Mysterium Society (an IQ society for linguists). She has attended the Appalachian Writers Workshop, WisCOn, and Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. She currently teaches Art at the Adair County Primary Center. You may visit her webpage at https://www.dardet.com or her writer's blog at https://whisperingwind.blog to check out more of her work.


This story was posted on 2022-01-12 12:38:50
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