Cousin Luna’s husband Earl finally kicked the bucket. Fine time for that. August.
Ms. Larda has to fly all they way to Dry Tongue, Oklahoma, to help Luna make arrangements.
Everybody knows August is the worst month to leave New Orleans, if you’re not already gone. Because you got to take all your valuables in case another hurricane slams through.
“I wish Earl had waited until after hurricane season,” Ms. Larda says.
“But at least he ain’t going to do it again. Even Earl only dies once.”
I got to explain. Earl was 93 and mean as a snake. He smoked three packs a day and ate bacon double-cheeseburgers. Between meals. We knew the nicotine and grease would kill him.
Finally, it did. He hobbled across the street to buy him some Marlboros and stepped in front of an oil truck.
Like usual, Ms. Larda asks me to go with her. She says I’m a good traveling companion. I know why. Maybe I ain’t beautiful and my bosoms are false, but I can fit in a airplane seat with space left over. Ms. Larda fills that space. She is the hefty type, so with me in the next seat she can ooze over a little and be comfortable.
Well, my kids are out of town at the moment, and my gentleman friend, Lust, wouldn’t evacuate even if Godzilla was coming, and they’re the only valuables I got. So I say yes.
What I don’t realize is that Ms. Larda is bringing her most valuable thing: Chopsley, her long-haired Chihuahua, in his little pink-spangled carrier. He ain’t yapping, for once. He is snoring, like a tiny buzz saw. Ms. Larda said the vet prescribed half a mini-sleeping pill, and it knocked him right out.
When we get to security, Ms. Larda sets Chopsley and his carrier on the table to go through the X-ray machine. Just as the carrier gets up to the X-ray, Chopsley lets out a howl. The TSA lady shrieks and throws up her arms, then there is a lot of commotion and more TSA people running out of the woodwork. Ms. Larda snatches up the carrier, but an agent orders her to release it, so she sets it down, and the agent creeps up to it real slow, peers in and says, “It appears to be a dog.” Then he orders Ms. Larda to haul “the animal” out and hold him at arm’s length, and the TSA lady who started it all wands him down like maybe he’s carrying something suspicious in all that fur. Finally, we’re allowed to run for our first plane to Oklahoma, where we don’t want to go anyway.
We wedge into an aisle and a middle seat, and Ms. Larda shoves the carrier under the seat in front of her. Then the passenger for the window seat arrives. She has a pink carrier, too. We get out to let her in and her pink carrier says “Meow.” Our pink carrier barks. Her pink carrier hisses. We all start coughing and clearing our throats to cover up the noise so we won’t get thrown off the plane. Ms. Larda whips a bacon strip out her purse and shoves it in our carrier, the other lady shoves a kitty treat in hers and things settle down.
We get off in Houston with 30 minutes to change planes. Chopsley is restless. He has to pee. Ms. Larda takes him to the ladies’, lets him use a disposable doggie peepee pad (Yes, there is such a thing.) and then shoves the other half of the sleeping pill down his throat. He don’t like that. He shoots out of the restroom and zips past our boarding gate, winding in and out of people’s legs as we’re lining up to board. He disappears with Ms. Larda chasing him. Everybody boards but us. The agent calls “Larda Gunch.” And again, “Larda Gunch.”
Then Ms. Larda emerges from the crowd, wearing Chopsley draped around her neck like a fur piece. “Pill kicked in,” she says, and struts onto the plane. Afterward, she says she should have thought of it before. Just wear the dog. We could have gotten through security real easy.
The rest of the trip is a piece of cake. After we finally get Earl tucked into an urn on the mantelpiece, we go home to New Orleans. And it’s still there.