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Chapter 4 Ruby and Viv Find Their Big Girl Panties
Ruby and Viv were klatching in Ruby’s kitchen because Viv’s was always “in a state.” Viv’s husband, Phil, was responsible for the disarray of Viv’s home. Viv referred to him as her “late” husband because he was always underestimating the timeline on his handy-man projects. He was frequently running out to the hardware store and losing track of time – making them “late” to events or prohibiting them from entertaining in their home. They were well-matched as Viv was a free-wheeling flower child and over time she learned how best to manage Phil’s many well-meant projects. She would wait until Phil went on his annual fishing trip with his brothers and then hire somebody to finish all the semi-completed odd-jobs. It was one of the unspoken contracts in their marriage.
Viv had brought a couple of warm bear claws and a pull-apart danish ring to enjoy with their coffee. Both women were early birds. Ruby was a creature of habit and liked to walk every morning no matter the weather. She was still glowing from her walk and had just unplugged the percolator when Viv rapped on the kitchen window as she headed to the back door.
By the time Ruby opened the door Viv was already stepping out of her shoes and stepping into the sunny kitchen.
“Good morning, Viv. And what artery-clogging treats did you bring today, my friend?” Ruby asked.
Viv was stuffing a stubby, frosted bear claw finger into her mouth, “Bear claws and a pull-apart from Glossy’s Bakery,” she mumbled. “Jesus, don’t you feed this damn cat?”
Ruby’s cat, Pinsky, loved to antagonize Viv, because he knew instinctively that Viv was not an animal person. This was his cue to entwine himself between her legs. He’d leave Viv alone as soon as she cursed him.
“Damn cat.” That said, Pinsky sauntered over to his corner to complete his post-breakfast grooming.
Our heroines settled themselves at the kitchen table with steaming mugs of coffee and carbohydrate-laden treats. As is the case with most longtime friends, they were silent during their initial sips. No need to fill the air with chatter until the delicious sugar and caffeine made its way into their brains.
Viv broke the silence, “So, you hear anything?”
It had been over three weeks since they left the first Benjamin in The Valley of the Dolls. They didn’t know what to expect and had planned to be stealthy so Ruby knew there was a chance nobody would even find the cash in their remaining lifetime. Also, how many people really checked out Jacqueline Susann in these “ought” years?
“Viv, we knew there was a chance nobody would find the money. That’s not why we’re doing this.”
“I know, Doll, it’s just that it would be fun to hear people speculate. We’d be like The Scarlet Pimpernel – “zhey seek ‘em here, zhey seek ‘em there, zhey seek ‘em everywhere…” Viv’s French accent was tinged with a nasal cross of Bayonne and Jersey City.
Ruby chuckled at her friend’s bit of doggerel. She didn’t think people would loudly cop to finding random C-notes in library books, and they had only planted one so far. Ruby poured herself another cup of coffee and grabbed a banana – leaving Viv the tattered remains of the danish ring. Viv had no guilt over tapping up the crumbs with her index finger.
“So, what’s our next book?” Viv asked between crumb taps.
“Well, I don’t think we should pick a newly released book, but maybe we shouldn’t go back as far as the bestsellers of the 60’s,” Ruby offered.
They made a prospective book list the first time they met, but it got lost in the chaos of Viv and Phil’s place which slowed down the pace of their offering. No matter, they had nothing but time to research and debate their next placement. Ruby booted up her ancient laptop.
“Maybe we should consider non-fiction? Biography?”
“How about home improvement? Optimists like Phil are always lurking around there,” Viv suggested as she strolled back to the table from her latest trip to the bathroom.
“I don’t know. I still think fiction is the best bet for someone looking for an escape. Plus, doesn’t everybody just watch YouTube videos for home improvement projects now?” Ruby ruminated out loud as she mined the web for book titles.
Viv and Ruby debated all morning until they were “hangry” – hungry to the point of extreme irritability.
“Look, Ruby, let’s just pull up our big girl panties and go get some lunch. We’re debating a dead horse at this point.”
“Viv, you are brilliant. Look at this – there is a book called Big Girl Panties out there. It’s relatively new, been out for over a year now. This author, Stephanie Evanovich, has a new book out now – so we have the increased odds of somebody looking for her first book, too.” Ruby’s voice was rising with excitement. Intuition was telling her this was the right pick.
“Ruby, you saucy minx! It’s only fitting we stick the big face of a dirty old Ben Franklin into some girly panties. Now maybe we’ll start seeing some action. Let’s go get a tuna club at Max’s. I’m starving already.”