Good afternoon. It is I Gigi the parti poodle her to bring you chapter four of my story Corn Maze. Today…
Hello. My name is Tucker, and I am a Maltese. I am here to discuss things not to do if you visit the Pacific Northwest this summer…
Nobody cares about that, Tucker!
Number one: do not go hiking off the trails in the mountains. You could get lost and end up with exposure. Number two: if you go hiking in the mountains you could run into a bear and get mauled. Number three: do not go swimming in the lakes before August. They are cold and you could get hypothermia. Number four: if you swim in the waters in late summer when there are signs up about staying out of the water you could expose yourself to toxic blue-green algae. Number five: if you go to the eastern side of the states in late July and August you could get caught in a forest fire. Number six: beware of high winds. High winds can knock over trees and they will crush your car or you. They can also cause mudslides after heavy rains. Have a nice summer!
Thank you for that joyful news, you insipid Maltese. Now, here is Chapter Four of Corn Maze. Nasoloditisya!
Gigi the parti poodle
Valerie sat in the Tulip Valley Café, a long-established old-fashioned diner in downtown. A cup of coffee with a rising thin curl of steam sat near her as she read her textbook. She usually went there in the morning after attending Big Valley College where she was taking classes, a fact which Farley did not know. Valerie had completed a bachelor’s degree but decided she wanted to return to school. This was of course in direct conflict with her upcoming wedding.
While she was studying that morning, Harley walked in. He was wearing his old shearling denim jacket and looked like he’d put in some work that morning. He took off his work gloves and shoved them in the back pocket of his jeans. “Hello, Pat.”
“Why, hello, Harley!”
“How’s your son, Pat?”
“Oh, he’s doing just fine,” Pat said. “Glad to be done with school for the year. He’s been playing baseball.”
“Good for him. I never went out for athletics much.”
“I never thought you’d move back to this town, Harley.”
“Well…I knew my parents would eventually want me to.”
“Ah,” Pat said knowingly. “Let me go check on your order.”
“Alright,” he said.
At that precise moment Valerie looked up from her book and saw Harley standing there. She stared at him longer than she should have before she looked back down at her book.
“Here you are,” Pat said returning with a paper bag. She set it down on the counter along with a coffee in a to-go cup.
“Thanks, Pat. I’ll be seeing you soon.”
“See you tomorrow, Harley.”
Pat grabbed a couple menus and slipped around the counter to seat some patrons as Harley turned to leave. That’s when he saw Valerie sitting in the booth reading her textbook and sipping coffee. An awkwardness overcame him.
Both fixated on each other with Valerie gripping her book and Harley gripping his to-go bag in front of his belt buckle. They stayed that way until the waitress strolled up to Valerie’s table with a coffee pot. “You look like you could use a touch up,” the waitress said.
“What?” Valerie asked snapping out of her stupor.
“Coffee, more, would you like some?”
“Please,” Valerie said.
Valerie looked back towards Harley. But Harley was gone.
Farley sat on his porch swing in the late afternoon surveying the vast layout of his field where his corn crop would grow. A light breeze blew across the dirt. He thought about the pattern he’d like to create. He would have his friend Bud take him for a ride in the Piper after the corn started to grow to see if the labyrinth he envisioned would work. This year’s corn maze would be something like he’d never created before. A true work of art.
He grabbed his sketchbook and began to draw. This was almost the best part: the planning. The early phase. The best part was finding out how many people got lost. That was the real joy: proof the plan worked. Sure, it was all fun and games when folks went in, but it was even more fun when they got lost and needed help to get out. That’s when you knew you’d crafted it right.
Valerie came driving up in her crystal white Subaru Impreza. She’d finished work and dropped her books off at home before heading to Farley’s. She parked the car, shut off the engine and sat for a moment with her windows down.
“Don’t stay out there too long,” Farley said. “You and I are having a dinner party.”
Valerie whipped her head around to look at him. “What did you say?”
“I paid a visit to the Hutton’s a couple of nights ago.”
“Mr. and Mrs. Hutton moved out. Harley moved back in.”
Valerie’s eyes widened. “You invited him over?”
“Actually, I invited Harley and Harley’s girlfriend over.”
Valerie felt a cold shiver move across her skin. “His…girlfriend?”
“Mallory. Cute little thing…well, maybe not so little.”
“Why did you invite them to supper, Farley?”
“Well, I’m thinking of it as a welcome back to the neighborhood dinner. They moved in less than a week ago. Thought we should roll out the red carpet, try and be cordial.”
“You’re insufferable, Farley,” she said disembarking the car.
“Why’d you start taking classes at the college?”
Valerie pressed her lips together. “Who said I was taking classes?”
“You can’t get a masters at that school.”
“No, you can’t.”
Farley raised his eyes with a glacial glare. “Just what are you planning to do there, Valerie? You going to pack up your bags and run back to a university?”
“I could drive up to the University in the mornings and drive back here in the afternoons.”
“And how do you expect to keep a job and do that what with you commuting to your classes and all your studies?”
“I’ll make it work.”
Farley laughed and slapped his knee. “You’re a real comedian, Val, A genuine belly of laughs!”
“You don’t think I can do it?”
“I know you can’t do it.”
“You have yourself a good laugh there, Farley. You yuck it up. I am going to complete my masters whether you want me to or not.”
“Well, aren’t you the tiger.”
“Oh, shut up, Farley,” she snapped and marched up the steps. “You could have told me sooner you were having them over for dinner.” Then she threw open the screen door and went inside.
Farley took a pull off his Rainer, grinned menacingly and went back to sketching his corn maze.
You can check out my books Chicane and the five installments in my Musicology book series Musicology: Volume One, Baby!, Musicology: Volume Two, Kid!, Musicology: Volume Three, Twist!, Musicology: Volume Four, Sweetie! and Musicology: The Epiquad on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback editions. You can also check out Musicology’s web site at www.musicologyrocks.com and vote for who you think will win Musicology!!!
STREAM OF THE WEEK: HIGH ANXIETY (1977) & MEL BROOKS: UNWRAPPED (2019)-HBO Max
It is important to laugh, and it is healthy to laugh…unless you have broken ribs or some such thing. And therefore, this week’s pick and accompanying documentary are all about laughter.
High Anxiety is Mel Brooks’s send up to Hitchcock films and many of the scenes are downright hysterical. I am especially fond of one involving newspaper. The story revolves around Dr. Richard H. Thorndyke (Mel Brooks) who suffers from an acute fear of heights and takes a job at the Psychoneurotic Institute for the Very, VERY Nervous. After his bizarre odyssey at the airport, he arrives at the psychiatric hospital to find things amiss. He is replacing the previous Dr. Ashley who died under mysterious circumstances and his driver Brophy (Ron Carey) suspects foul play.
Among his new colleagues are nervous Dr. Philip Wentworth (Dick Van Patten), daffy Dr. Charles Montague (Harvey Korman), and militant Nurse Charlotte Diesel (Cloris Leachman) all of whom seem to be hiding secrets. After seeing light shining from the violent ward, he meets new patient millionaire Arthur Brisbane who acts like a cocker spaniel. But Brisbane may not be who he seems which he finds out from Brisbane’s daughter Victoria Brisbane (Madeline Kahn) who believes her father is being held hostage.
Mel Brooks: Unwrapped is a short documentary by Alan Yentob from the BBC. It’s a funny and touching look at the different times through the years Yentob interviewed Brooks where we get to see Brooks over the course of his remarkable career. Carl Reiner comes along for some of the ride which is an extra treat. Brooks’s humor elevates the documentary even more. It’s a great addition to watching his classic film.