Leo Hines

The Little Black Dress

After Jacob’s surprise visit, the storm subsided, replaced by a warm, sunny blue sky. In fact, it was quite humid, but Patsy Lynne decided to linger on her patio, with Evie, her golden Labrador Retriever, at her knees, while she sipped her lukewarm coffee. The dog inched even closer and leaned affectionately beside her. As a reward, Patsy reached down and rubbed the big Labrador’s luxurious, long fury neck, and the animal showed its appreciation, by licking her hand.

“Evie, your mistress has a problem,” she sighed, “and, unfortunately, you can’t assist me. I need a fancy, little black dress for tonight, and my closet is bare of such finery. Maybe tonight Jacob will propose.”

She took another sip of her brew and reclined in her patio chair, forcing herself to relax. Her docile pet remained by her side as a comforting force. In the distance, she could hear children playing and laughing merrily. Also she could distinguish older youth yelling, as they threw their Frisbees high into the sky. Gradually, she was lulled to slumber by their joyful play. At some point, she had dozed off, oblivious to her pressing need for a party frock for the dinner party.

The very next thing that she remembered, somebody was knocking, loudly and persistently, on her front door. At first, she fought the impulse to open her eyes and investigate, but the pounding persisted, until it became unbearable, getting even louder. Reluctantly, she opened her eyes. She had not been dreaming: somebody was at her door and shouting her name, “Patsy! Patsy!”

Gingerly, she stood and hurried to the front door. The caller was her next-door neighbor: Lisa Marie McFruity, a buxom, auburn-haired woman. “Patsy, are you okay? Your phone has been ringing and your dog has been barking,” she exclaimed, suspiciously. “Are you really feeling fine?”

“I am fine, Lisa Marie,” she shouted. “I have been asleep, so I didn’t hear the phone…and before that I was worrying about a dress for my dinner party date with Jacob’s parents. You know, I only have jeans and slacks and tops. I don’t have the first dress, Lisa Marie.”

Now the other woman smiled. “Is that your biggest worry? I can assist you in that department…Just come to my workplace, at the Boutique.”

Patsy shook her head vehemently. “Lisa Marie, I can’t afford those expensive outfits and dresses. Remember my pay scale at the movie theatre is very skimpy, but thanks for the offer. Jacob gave me some cash, but it probably isn’t nearly enough.”

“Hey, stop talking and listen to me,” her friend relented. “I will get you a dress on my account, and you do not have to pay anything. I can purchase those clothes really cheap, with my employee’s discount. Maybe we’ll find something on the clearance racks. So does that solve your dilemma?”

“Yes—it certainly does,” she replied overwhelmed. “Lisa Marie, I don’t know how to thank you…I mean, I will never be able to repay your kind deed.”

“Don’t try,” the bosomy woman smiled. “Now tell me all about your date with Jacob. He has never really taken you on a real date… Surely, you don’t count the times he came over with a pizza; you both watched a movie and he spent the night, huh?”

“Actually, this is not a legitimate date either,” Patsy sighed. “He needed a date for tonight’s dinner. He couldn’t find anybody else on such short notice, so he pleaded with me to substitute, typical Jacob.”

“Maybe— and maybe not,”” Lisa Marie disagreed. “Jacob certainly is not a very romantic guy, but maybe he likes you, just a little, which is a good start, Patsy. Still, I can’t see him taking just any Jane Doe to see his parents. I think you should go, since I am supplying you— with an elegant, little black dress, a string of cultured pearls, shoes and anything else you need.”

“All right, Lisa Marie, I will go, but what if I get to these rich people’s mansion tonight— and make a complete fool of myself? It would devastate Jacob,” she reflected. “Maybe I should call him, and politely decline his invitation?”

“Patsy, stop being afraid and just get all dolled –up,” her friend relented. “Go and have a great time. Patsy, you will do fine, just be polite and tell the truth. His parents will realize that you aren’t a society girl. Look, you have nothing to lose, Patsy. You aren’t expecting a marriage proposal, and Jacob did invite you to their Ritzy mansion.”

“Maybe you’re right, Lisa Marie, but I am kind of hoping—maybe he will propose” she whined. “Still, I don’t know anything about the Biggs, except they are wealthy, and I don’t belong in their social circle.”

“Hey, Patsy, they are only flesh and blood folks, like you and me. When I worked at the theatre, Bruno told me lots about Jacob and his parents. Jacob grew up a spoiled rich kid, who was always getting in trouble and expelled from fancy boarding schools. His parents usually bailed him out of trouble, and his mother adores him, but his father, J.B. Biggs, considers him a loser.”

Now Patsy was intrigued. “Wow, you know all the dirt on Jacob…so tell me more.”

“Jacob’s God-Mother, Ms. Patricia Wiggins, also has a soft spot for him, and she usually takes his mother’s side in family disagreements. Jacob usually can sweet-talk those ladies into helping finance his enterprises when his father refuses. Most of Jacob’s business ventures have failed, except the movie theatre. Maybe his luck is changing.”

“But Jacob seems such a nice man, Lisa Marie.”

“Maybe he is, but he has bad business luck,” She shrugged. “Well, we better be leaving for my work place. I need to be on time, and you need to get your Cinderella make-over, before your dinner date with Jacob and his parents…Don’t worry, Patsy, I will take care of everything: hair, make-up, dress, shoes and even your string of pearls…so let’s hurry and get this show going!”

Patsy made certain that Evie, her Labrador Retriever, had full bowls of food and water. She kissed the big dog and the women left for the Boutique. En route, Patsy was so overjoyed by her sudden good fortune, as Lisa Marie speeded on to the main thorough fair.

“Lisa Marie, thanks for everything, but why are you doing this for me? Did Jacob bribe you to assist me?”

“Stop asking foolish questions, Patsy,” her friend quipped. “I am doing this for you…you must have faith in yourself, Patsy. You are a beautiful young woman, so don’t sell yourself short. Believe in yourself, Patsy.”

Author’s Statement on Beauty

Beauty can be an elusive commodity and not apparent on first sighting. Often we could benefit from a set of standards or even clues for detecting the alluring charms of Beauty in a work of art, a musical piece or loyal partner. For example ethnicities or cultures might have different ideas about what constitutes attractiveness in people or music. For some an attractive person must have blonde hair, blue eyes, and a sultry voice but others might be spellbound by her intellect, compassion and independence. Musically, I can glean beauty all over the place, whether in a sacred hymn or spiritual or a Broadway show tune, a pop tune or a lullaby or Hip-Hop in small doses.

Therefore Beauty can be found in the most unsuspecting places. Patsy, in my story, thinks of Beauty as one’s possessions or attributes, such as possessing a stylish wardrobe or being socially affluent, which she is not. Fortunately, her friend, Lisa Marie, has to remind her that lasting beauty radiates from within… a beguiling smile, companionship, an awesome sense of humor, or simply Agape love.

Leo Hines began attending Albany State College in 1966, where he was totally hooked on being a writer. In 1974, he moved to Gainesville, Florida, where he worked in retail sales and public education, but  found outlets for his writing as a freelance writer for several local publication, most notably the Gainesville Sun newspaper.   During the 80’s and 90’s, his literary ventures included poetry readings and self-publication of books of his poetry. During 2012-2013, he had several short stories and poetry published in Suzette’s Gazette, an independent newspaper published from 2012-2013, in Newberry, Florida.  His short story, “Wonderful Possibilities,” was published in the January/February issue of Christian Woman magazine in 2015.

Presently, he is retired but working on a novel, Shining Knights, and spending time with his family.