Eugenia Mae had no fashion sense.
It wasn’t so much her choice of clothes, as it was the fact that they hardly ever looked good on her. Maybe she was too short-waisted. Maybe her legs were too short below the knees. Who knows? In any case, she always looked just a little on the frumpy side, no matter how carefully she dressed. It was a fact she had learned to live with.
But today her handicap was particularly unfortunate, as she was standing in front of Judge Walburton, and wanted to look her best. She had chosen to wear her red plaid jumper with a buttercup yellow blouse. The yellow ribbon in her hair, that to her eye pulled the whole ensemble together, actually accentuated the paleness of her middle aged skin in the unflattering florescent lighting of the courtroom. The Black-eyed Susan she had added to the ribbon at the last minute before leaving the house, was the only redeeming touch to her appearance. The sunny yellow/orange petals were a note of hopefulness in the otherwise dire circumstances.
The judge looked at her over his spectacles and winced. Good God, this was going to be a long day, he thought to himself. He cleared his throat and slammed down his gavel.
“Eugenia Mae Chumley, you are charged with causing Twyla Hawthorn bodily injury and severe mental distress. How do you plead?”
“Not guilty?” Eugenia squeaked, twisting her pale green hankie, (the one with the embroidered violets on it) into a tortured knot.
“Very well. Twyla, why don’t you tell us what happened?” the judge intoned as he leaned back in his chair resting a hand on the side of his head, which was already beginning to ache.
Twyla stood in her fragile elegance, dressed in a tasteful taupe suit with a cream silk blouse. A little black hat with a bunch of what looked like hawthorn berries was perched on the side of her head, accentuating the whiteness of the bandage covering the right side of her forehead.
“Well, your Honor, I had gone into Little’s Diner to have a bit of a snack after my hair appointment last Thursday and there on the counter, under that big glass dome Gilbert has, were some of Eugenia Mae’s homemade cinnamon rolls. Well, I thought, here was a treat. So I ordered one with a cup of tea.
While Gilbert was making my tea, I started in on that roll. Judge, I took one bite, and it was so unbelievably delicious, so feathery light, and buttery and sweet and fragrant with just the right amount of cinnamon, it melted in my mouth. The room faded, I saw a tunnel of light, and I thought I saw someone who looked surprisingly like…. pausing, she lowered her eyes blushing prettily….. Tom Cruise…. and then, I fainted dead away! I fell off my stool and cracked my head on the floor. I had to be taken to Doctor Woodbine for two stitches. I have the bill right here.”
She handed the bill to the clerk who passed it to the judge.
He read it, making a mental note never to get himself into a position to require stitches. $175.00. He was going to have to have a word with Dr. Woodbine about price gouging.
“And the mental distress?” he asked Twyla.
“Well, your Honor! Can you imagine? What am I going to do now? Every time I see a cinnamon roll, I am going to be reminded of this harrowing incident.
And just think, I may never be able to eat Eugenia Mae’s cinnamon rolls again as long as I live! I might have to eat those cheap imitation ones you buy in the grocery in the throw away aluminum trays. Can YOU conceive of such a fate?” she asked, striking a tragic pose, which showed her perfectly proportioned figure to advantage.
Judge Walburton raised an eyebrow. Twyla, not being a regular in his courtroom, was unprepared for what followed. The Eyebrow, could only mean one thing. Twyla was toast.
“So let me get this straight. You want Eugenia Mae Chumley to pay you five thousand dollars, plus medical expenses, because you may not be able to eat the delicious cinnamon rolls that she bakes for Gilbert Little’s Diner? Listen Twyla, it is common knowledge in Bogwillow that those cinnamon rolls are special. They are the best anyone has ever tasted. Shoot, every kindergarten child in town knows this. A person has to take precautions when eating one. You aren’t the first person to swoon after a bite of one of those rolls, and you should have known better than to sit at the counter while doing it. Everybody knows that you must sit in a booth in case you keel over. Hell, Twyla, I passed out once myself. I didn’t make a fuss over it either.”
“Besides that, we are in Eugenia Mae’s debt. All of us. Here we are living in our little out of the way town, with the person responsible for creating world class cinnamon rolls. Some people might even go so far as to say. . . mind altering cinnamon rolls. I shudder to think what our lives would be like without them. What’s more, I think you better apologize to her right now!”
He glared at the trembling Twyla, his bushy eyebrows drawn together, making an angry looking gray caterpillar perched above his flinty stare.
Twyla opened her mouth, but nothing came out. She reached down with her gloved hand and got a sip of water from the glass on the table.
“I, I, I’m so sorry Eugenia Mae, I don’t know what I was thinking. My mother always told me to sit in a booth when I ate one of your rolls, just in case, well . . . you know. I’ll be more careful in the future. I promise.”
“Good.” the Judge boomed. “Now go home Twyla and put some ice on your head.” He paused, glancing at her, and cleared his throat, “Nice outfit, by the way.” The gavel cracked sharply. “Case dismissed!”
“You are free to go Eugenia Mae. Are you all right?” the Judge inquired in a gentle voice.
Eugenia nodded, with a nervous glance at his eyebrows, her handkerchief wound so tight now, it was probably ruined forever. The Black-eyed Susan had choked to death in the bow of her ribbon, and was drooping forlornly. All she wanted was to get out of here and go home… you see, she had dough rising on the sideboard in the kitchen that needed tending to.