by Ron Langston
Part 73: And Bingo Was His Name, Oh!
"One lump, or two?" she asked me with a smile. "Four please," I
answered, fighting a losing battle against the urge to ask for more.
"No, six, if that's all right with you, ma'am." My dentist will have
his work cut out for him. I sipped my Argentine/Nigerian/Outer
Mongolian java blend in virtual reverie, engulfed in the pleasures of
the palate and aromatic rapture. I was on the verge of forgetting the
dangerous game I was playing with my hostess when she unveiled the tray
of Moravian cookies. This was going to be tougher than I thought.
Lilly isn't your typical grandmother. Oh, sure, there's silver in her
hair, she makes brownies on Sunday, and she always sends along a twenty
in her grandson's birthday cards. But what her family and best friends
can't tell you, because even they don't know, is that Lilly has never
lost at Bingo. Never. Ever. It's a closely held secret bought and
paid for with the souls of more than a few good men who will spend hard
time in Purgatory for their sacrifices. My services had been enlisted
by His Holiness, Pope John Paul II himself. He sent me here to uncover
her secrets and perhaps formulate a defense against future unearned
Getting here was no small chore. The boys in the papal treasury
couldn't say who it was that had broken the church's Bingo budget, only
that they knew she operated alone. She never plays more than a single
round with the same crowd. She bides her time, only pretending to play
until the big prize of the night comes up. She takes her winnings and
leaves without fanfare. Her home is a treasure trove of progressively
valuable door-prizes -- an afghan here, a steamer trunk there, a door.
The leads graciously provided by God's accountants and a nosy paper boy
were all I needed to track her down.
"I know why you're here, young man," she said sternly. I froze. Only
God and the pope knew my true purpose here. "You want something. I can
see it in your eyes." I mumbled something unintelligible, even to me.
"It can be yours ... for a price." "I ... I don't know what you mean,"
I stuttered. I never stutter. "You want the secret," she continued as
she unclipped the brooch holding her shawl in place. I swallowed hard,
closed my eyes, and nodded reluctantly, confirming her suspicion. She
had me dead to rights. There was no way now that I could escape the
retribution my crafty opponent was preparing to deliver. "You shall
have it, if you can remind these old bones how it feels to be a woman
Next Week -- Part 74: What Does A Guy Have to Do to Get Service Around Here?
(Transcribed by Charles Gulledge)