The winner of the last CYOAW giveaway is Rebecca. But since she lives across the pond, I drew a second name to receive OPERATION YES, Mandy's.
Here is this week's CYOAW:
“Shh.” I held my finger to my lips and whispered, “Don’t you go anywhere.”
That's fish for he understood.
“Vilonia, honey, I know you’re in there." A familiar voice drifted inside.
I peeked through the side curtains and snapped them shut. There was only one person in all of Howard County who wore floral prints the size of dinner plates.
That was Miss Bettina, owner of Tom Sawyer's Catfish. I disliked her more than cauliflower.
"Vilonia, this is important business. Right up there with that royal wedding. Is your Mama home?"
I groaned. Everything was important to Miss Bettina, especially when it was none of her business. I don't know why I opened that door.
She buzzed in faster than a fly to jelly-clad toast.
"Where's that Mama of yours? Ms. Tooley's finally kicked the can." Miss Bettina clapped her sausage-like fingers together with glee. Everything about Miss Bettina was big. Her hair, her hips, even her eyeballs. Only Miss Bettina would be thrilled when a member of our town's passed on. She bowled by me in screaming hibiscus print, and honest to goodness, I tried to protest. But Miss Bettina was large.
And in charge.
"Mama's resting. She doesn't need to be bothered."
"Nonsense, Vilonia. This is Ms. Tooley we're talking about. It'll be the biggest obit of the year!" She leaned closer to me and cackled. I smelled onions and garlic and hushpuppies. At nine thirty in the morning. "Do you think there'll be one of those fancy estate sales?" Her flabby cheeks wobbled with excitement. "I'd love to get my hands on her iron skillets. Why, they're positively ancient."
Now, Mama pretty much liked everyone in Howard County, and even though her job was to consult next of kin when writing our dearly departed's obituaries, I knew for a fact she already had a draft put back for Belinda Beatrice Bettina.
It wasn't scathing. But it wasn't overly kind.
Just like Miss Bettina.
"Vilonia! This here fish has the fungus."
"What?" My heart stopped cold. I didn't know fish could catch fungi. But if anyone knew fish, it was Hushpuppy Breath. I ran to the fishbowl. Sure enough, Max had rolled onto his side, his top fin white-coated and flailing. He wasn't floating, but he wasn't swimming. He stared straight ahead.
That's fish for "Help!"
"Miss Bettina, you'll have to come back another time." I pressed my palms against her wide backside and shoved her to the door. I might have dead bolted it behind her.
I zipped back and grabbed Max, fishbowl and all. With a backward glance to make sure Mama's door was still closed, I ran out the side door. There was no time to leave a note. This was a matter of life or death.
I set Max in my bike's handlebar basket and sped off. Rounding the corner, I hit a rock. Water sloshed out of the fishbowl, but I pressed on. Nothing would happen to Mr. Plummer’s classroom fish. No siree. Not on my watch.
"Hang on, Max. We're almost there."
Dear Readers, you decide where Vilonia is taking Max. Let me know in the comments for a chance to win SCUMBLE.
Read the rules here.