Don't Hex with Texas
“By the way, Beth said Steve Grant came by the store to see you,” she said. And there she went again.
“Yeah, he saw me in Dairy Queen and wanted to know what I was doing back in town.”
“He’s still single, you know. I can’t believe some smart young lady hasn’t snatched him up yet.”
“Yes, I know.” Then we were inside the house. I dumped my groceries on the kitchen table and hightailed it back to Mom’s car for another load while Granny started in on Mom. It was one of those cases where discretion really was the better part of valor.
When I got back inside with the next load, Mom was saying, “And would you believe Lester gave it to him for free? Beth thought it had something to do with Gene’s daddy owning half the town.”
As I went back outside, I hoped the subject had changed by the time I got back with the next load of groceries, since I’d finished emptying the car and I wouldn’t have any more excuses for sneaking away. “That’s the last of it,” I said, dropping the bags on the table.
“Katie, I was just telling Mama about what I saw outside the grocery store. I swear, there were people dancing in the parking lot, right there on the courthouse square. It reminded me of that deli you took me to in New York, the one where the waiters all did the dance routine.”
I got a sick feeling in my stomach. That hadn’t been the kind of restaurant staffed by hopeful Broadway actors. The impromptu dance routine had come about because of Phelan Idris, the rogue wizard Owen was fighting, casting a spell on everyone in the deli to make them dance for his own amusement. “Are you sure it wasn’t the drill team doing some danceathon fund-raiser?” I asked.
Magic was supposed to be absolutely impossible here, wasn’t it? This town certainly wasn’t the kind of place where people started dancing in the streets for no reason.
“No, it was most definitely not the drill team. Everyone who came out of the store got into it. It was absolutely ridiculous.”
“Ah, spring fever,” Granny said, pouring herself a cup of coffee. “Back in the day, in the old country, we’d welcome spring by dancing to the spirits of the earth and air.” Her Texas drawl mutated into something out of a Lucky Charms commercial.
“Mother, you’ve never been in the old country,” Mom pointed out. “You were born in Texas, and you’ve never left the state. How on earth would you know what they did back in Ireland?”
“Just because some of you have forgotten the old ways doesn’t mean all of us have,” Granny muttered.
“The only old ways you know are how to get on my last nerve,” Mom said under her breath.
“I’ll go give Molly a call,” I said, figuring that my great-grandchildren distraction plan would be a really good idea about now. I didn’t relish the idea of breaking up yet another fight between my mother and grandmother. Mom was younger, bigger, and stronger, but Granny was armed and usually meaner.
Before long, the house was swarming with my niece and nephews, Frank’s kids. They clamored over Granny in the living room, showing her everything they’d done in school. Mom, Molly, and I took advantage of the relative quiet to get dinner ready. Mom was still going on about the weirdness in the grocery store parking lot.
“Can you believe such a thing?” she asked Molly.
“Did you see anyone else around?” I asked. “Maybe they were filming something, like a commercial for the store.”
“That could be it.”
“Funny,” Molly said, “I was just there on my way over here, and nobody said anything. You’d think that would be the talk of the town.”
“And that’s not all,” Mom said. “I could have sworn one of the antique lampposts on the courthouse square disappeared right in front of my eyes, and then came back.”
Molly laughed. “You probably just blinked. Things do tend to go away for a second when you close your eyes.”
“I know what I saw,” Mom snapped, causing Molly to flinch and then cast a worried look in my direction. I shrugged in response, not sure what to do. While I knew that it was entirely possible that Mom was going nuts, I also knew that there was such a thing as magic and that the things Mom described could actually happen.
I might have been out of the center of the action, but it looked like I was back to investigating. If I saw something weird around town, then I’d know something magical was going on. If I didn’t, we’d either have to get Mom to a doctor or find her a hobby. Neither possibility appealed to me.