Home > Blue Christmas (Weezie and Bebe Mysteries #3)(10)

Blue Christmas (Weezie and Bebe Mysteries #3)(10)
Mary Kay Andrews

“No more so than usual. Just the usual avant-garde types who wander the streets at night,” he said. “Ruthie!” He clapped his hands again, rapidly. “Come right here, right this minute, miss.”

“Odd that my decorations were trashed, and yet yours weren’t touched,” I commented.

“Maybe it was the birds. Damned pigeons!” Cookie suggested.

“Pigeons that carry off oranges and apples? I doubt it.”

The dog trotted farther down the sidewalk, and I did the same.

“Pricks,” I muttered to myself. It was way too much of a coincidence that my decorations had been pilfered, while Babalu remained untouched.

But I had no proof that Cookie and Manny were the culprits, and no time to look for any other suspects.

Instead I went home, got Jethro, and went to work at Maisie’s Daisy.

First thing, I stripped off the grapevines and what was left of the popcorn strings. I took down the pineapple plaque too. Now that I had a clean slate, I could think again. But it was nearly ten o’clock. Where was I going to come up with natural, vernacular Christmas decorations—prizewinning decorations, this late in the game?”

I sat down in one of the plaid armchairs in the window and closed my eyes. A minute later, I jumped up and loaded the CD player with Christmas albums. I put on all the good stuff: the Phil Spector compilation, Elvis, another compilation I’d gotten at Old Navy, and a couple of CDs from a Rhino Records promotion I’d ordered off the Internet. I hit shuffle and sat down and waited for inspiration.

As luck would have it, the first song was the Ronettes version of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.”

For some reason, I thought instantly of Daniel’s mom, Paula Gambrell. Had Daniel ever, I wondered, crept downstairs like the kid in the song, and thought he’d seen his mother kissing Santa Claus? Did he have any good memories at all of his parents? I’d probably never know. Family just wasn’t something Daniel liked to discuss.

When the next song started, I laughed out loud. Eartha Kitt singing “Santa Baby.” In it, the sultry gold digger implores a Sugar Daddy Santa Baby to bring an impressive list of luxury gifts; a fur coat, a ‘54 convertible—light blue—a duplex, checks, decorations for her tree, bought at Tif-fa-ny—and especially, a ring, meaning bling.

Before I knew it, I was up and vamping around the shop, swishing an imaginary feather boa and humming along with Eartha.

But it wasn’t until Elvis came on that I had my brainstorm.

Blue Christmas!

Screw the fruits and nuts. Screw vernacular. Screw tasteful. Screw the judges and the rules! I was gonna have a blue Christmas this year. And I’d by God have fun doing it.

Chapter 7

Blue, blue, blue, I chanted as I drove around town in a last-minute shopping spree. And maybe some silver. Yes, definitely silver. I hit Target and in the seasonal aisle loaded up on plain silver and metallic-blue glass tree ornaments. I bought boxes and boxes of silver garland, aluminum tinsel, and ten strands of old-fashioned-looking big bulb lights, all in blue, of course, to supplement the white twinkle lights I already had at home. Thank God the big box stores had discovered retro!

At Hancock Fabrics, my mind was reeling with songs with blue in the title. I heard Bobby Vinton singing “Blue Velvet,” Diane Renay singing “Navy Blue,” Willie Nelson crooning “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” even Elvis doing “Blue Hawaii.”

My hands trailed across the racks of fabrics. I’d need a big effect for just a few bucks. Regretfully, I turned away from a bolt of midnight blue velveteen—at $14.99 a yard, it was way too pricey. Blue satin was out of the question, and blue denim, still too high at $7.99 a yard, was too modern for the look I was going for.

But at the back of the store, in the bridal department, I hit pay dirt. Tulle! At eighty-eight cents a yard the price was right. But the colors—white, green, and red, were all wrong.

Still, I thought, eighty-eight cents a yard! I grabbed four bolts of the white tulle, all they had, and headed for the cash register, grabbing a bottle of blue Rit dye on the way.

At home I loaded the washing machine with what seemed like miles of netting, and spun the regulator dial to the gentle cycle. As the tub filled with water, I carefully added half a cap of blue dye, then a capful, then throwing caution to the wind, I went for two capfuls.

Blue foam filled the tub. I let the wash cycle run for only five minutes before manually switching to the machine’s rinse and then spin cycle.

As soon as the machine slowed, I jerked open the lid of the washer. Blue! I had a gorgeous wet glop of bright blue tulle, which I unceremoniously dumped into the dryer, also set for the gentle cycle.

But I had no time to waste sitting by the dryer.

Back at Maisie’s Daisy, I stripped the shop’s window of everything but the aluminum Christmas trees, trimmed with my hoard of Shiny-Brite ornaments and the tiny white twinkle lights. I draped the big blue bulbs in swags across the front of the window.

Then I lugged the shop’s one display bed, a vintage white iron twin bed, and set it up in the window, draped with a white chenille bedspread with bright blue and green peacocks. I added a pile of pillows stuffed into old pillowcases trimmed in crocheted lace, and stepped back to study the effect. Not bad.

In the stockroom, I rummaged around until I found the big old “portable” record player I’d picked up at an estate sale, along with the funny round black record caddy I’d found at another sale, still full of some long-ago teenager’s collection of 45s. I had my own stash of albums, 78s, that I’d collected just for the album covers. I set the record player up on the floor at the foot of the bed and fanned the 45s and the albums around the record player.

I studied my vignette. It was cute, yes. But it wasn’t telling me anything. I needed story. I needed drama. I needed teen angst.

Back to the stockroom. I found a pile of old magazines that I had kept because I liked the graphics and the illustrations. There was a sixties issue of Look magazine with Jackie Kennedy on the cover. Too modern. Several old copies of The Saturday Evening Post with Norman Rockwell illustrations. Too corny. Half a dozen copies of Archie comics. Yes! I’d always identified with Betty, hated Veronica. I passed over some TV Guides and some great Field & Streams from the forties, till I came to the bottom of the stack, where my quest was rewarded with three like-new copies of Silver Screen magazine from 1958. The lurid headlines about Marilyn Monroe, Lana Turner, and Tab Hunter would be just the thing for my teen tableau.

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