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Riding Shotgun  
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by Ron Langston  

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 winnings.

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 again."

Next Week -- Part 74: What Does A Guy Have to Do to Get Service Around Here?

(Transcribed by Charles Gulledge)

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