I’m Pink Lady Apple Yeggs, and my friend Deviled Yeggs suggested that I record each project that I set up in the hopes of reforming the people who continue to work for Lily the Pink Enterprises. If for no other reason, it would show how God is at work.
The last report ended with Sandy Beech setting up a double date with Jochebed and George Evident. There was only one problem… The one problem that Sandy was taking care of the next morning was to take Jochebed and Nina shopping. It was Nina’s long weekend, along with Anna Hill and the others on Echo shift, and Sandy did not want to make a mistake by liking how Jochebed looked in one dress when someone of a similar skin tone might like a different dress. But Nina stacked the deck. She suggested a dress shoppe that specialized in western African attire. Sandy agreed to get two dresses and send photos to the mayor for him to decide. It really came down to who might be at the restaurant when the four of them were dining. They wanted no political incidents.
They were riding in one of the Lily the Pink SUVs. Jochebed was riding in the passenger’s seat and Nina sat behind Sandy, who was driving. Nina’s mobility had improved to walking with a walker, but they had a wheelchair in the back – just in case she got tired.
As they were driving to the far side of Tracy, where the African dress shoppe was located, Jochebed complained, “I see no reason that I should meet the mayor. It has been many years since my husband was killed. Until I met Georges, I have no thought of another man. Instead of meeting the mayor, Georges and I could find some quiet corner and make love.”
Nina laughed. Sandy nearly lost control of the SUV. Sandy replied, “We realize that you have never had the dating experience, and we wanted you to experience that. It may be flawed but having sex before you know each other gets a lot of relationships off on the wrong foot. At Lily the Pink, most of the women were sex workers of one kind or another. Pink Lady wanted each of them to understand their own self-worth and how that self-worth fit into a healthy relationship before the physical aspects got involved. You are an exception, being a guest, but we thought this might be an option, for one night. I know that I was scared stiff my first date with Boaz. You have many eyes looking at you, but at the same time, we will be placed into a situation where we will be on our best behavior. We can talk without anything getting physical. Then you and I will be dropped off in front of the mansion. We will kiss our gentlemen, and then you and George can plan your next date together.”
Jochebed shook her head, “I think all this unnecessary. I had sex with my husband the first day we officially met, as husband and wife. You say dating is flawed. Why try something that does not work? I met my husband. We had sex. We happy in marriage until he killed.”
Sandy said, “The reason why dating does not always work right is that we often pretend to be something that we are not. We tell lies to one another. You cook a nice meal when you really hate cooking. We always do what the other wants to do, wondering if we will ever get to do what we like. All to show how we like the other person, but they are doing the same to us.”
Then, Sandy pulled into a hardware store parking lot and found a spot as far away from the entrance as possible. Sandy turned to Jochebed, “So, now that we have introduced the subject of telling lies. Jochebed, what is your deal?!”
Jochebed’s lips quivered, “What do you mean, I not understand?”
Sandy shook her head, “Funny, you were just talking in full sentences and as soon as I challenged you, you do not understand.”
Nina reached over and patted Jochebed on the shoulder, “There, there. Calm down. Sandy just wants to know the truth about your past. You say that you do not know when you were born or where, not even the country. You say you only know a western African dialect, but you spoke to George yesterday in French without missing a beat and you can go for a while in English when you want to. We think you know a lot more than what you are saying. You can trust us. We are sisters at Lily the Pink, one big family, and we have to trust each other to stand firm together. Gather your thoughts and tell us what you have not told anyone in a long time.”
Jochebed stared out the windshield and then she started crying. When she gathered her thoughts, she told the following story:
“My father, who I have not seen in many years, probably knows where I was born. My father was a tradesman. He travelled between the cities, the grasslands, and the jungles. He traded with each so that they could get the things they needed. He had a team of people who carried trade goods down trails that would not support trucks as you have here. My mother travelled with him, and I was born along the trail. He was probably in a country that he could not trust. If I claimed to be from that country, he would have to pay or I could be taken away. So, I was always born in the next country over, each country was my birth, but never when in that country.
“As for the day, I am not a year and a half older than Tyler Hill. I am three days younger than he. My father had been cheated in a trade. He was short on currency or anything to trade when my mother became deathly ill. He went to a local witch doctor in the village that we happened to be in. The witch doctor said that he would take me as a bride, but I was too young. There were no set rules, but it was not socially acceptable if the child was less than thirteen. My father added about eighteen months to my birthday. Otherwise, my mother would have died. I gladly accepted the arranged marriage and I have lied about my age ever since so that my father would not be seen as a bad parent in the eyes of the village.
“Soon after I gave birth to a son, I took interest in my husband’s potion making. I could watch him and then duplicate the potion on my own. When I showed him that I could do it, he admonished me. He said it was not safe. If others knew that I could make the potions, I might be stolen away from him and taken to somewhere else. My husband and I loved each other. We kept my secret that I could do things most women in the jungle could not do.
Sandy and Nina were shaking their heads. Most women lie about their age in the other direction, making themselves appear younger. And as for being smart and having skills, no woman in the USA would keep that a secret if they knew that they could be paid well somewhere else.
Jochebed continued, “After the third child was born, I was not quite fifteen years old. Missionaries, who spoke French, came to our village to set up a church and a school. My husband and I discussed the idea of a good education, and I started going to the missionary woman’s school. She gave me a French Bible. She taught me basic reading skills. With only the Bible, I would read and ask her questions. My husband would come to school when he could. Our children were too young to read, but they started speaking French as well as the dialect of the village. I loved the missionary couple. When the woman gave birth, something was wrong with her breasts. She could not produce milk. I volunteered to be the wet nurse, as you call it. My husband and I both became Christians. He thought he would have to give up being a witch doctor, but the potions were effective, and he changed his ceremonies to simple prayers. The missionary woman also trained me in being a midwife. We were at the mission school every day. It doubled as the doctor’s office for my husband.
“Then there was the day when the raiding party came. I had the missionary child in one arm and our fourth child, my first girl, in my other arm. They sought the missionaries. They were the first to be shot. My husband stood in protest, and he was also shot. The leaders of the raiding party then sent their men to kill anyone who had not run into the jungle. I turned to run and gather the children, but they shot me and killed all my children and the missionaries’ child. I had a bullet that grazed my arm and created a lot of blood, but I always kept my Bible in a fold of my clothing, near my heart. There were two bullets lodged in the Bible. My Bible saved my life. With so much blood and me unconscious, they thought I was dead. When I awoke, I saw everyone was dead. I turned to my Bible and knew that it was ruined. I reached for the Bible of my missionary teacher. As she died, she had turned to John, chapter 3. With her blood, those pages are stuck together, but I have read from her Bible ever since. I still keep my Bible next to my heart. I never knew when another bullet might come.
“I walked to the next village where Abraham and Ruth had started a church. They welcomed me. They taught from an English Bible, and I started to learn my third language, but I remembered my husband’s words. If they find out I know too much, I could be taken away. I secretly made potions and made an excuse for having them. I helped people to heal. I was a midwife and wetnurse, including my last child, Esther.”
“Please, I want no trouble. I want to survive. I want to meet a nice man and get married. I think Georges might be that nice man. I am young enough to have many more children. Please tell no one.”
Sandy groaned, “We have already recorded your story for Pink Lady. At least she has to know, but as for your story, we can only weep with you and pray for you. You have no reason for secrecy at Lily the Pink. You could tell your story and there would be no dry eyes in the house. When you feel brave enough to do so, you could be a vespers speaker. Your story is powerful.”
Jochebed shook her head, “I am not ready. But who is this Pink Lady that she must know everything?”
Nina suggested, “She is our boss. She is a good boss that loves everyone who works here. Sandy already said that we all have a past that is not a good one. We all want what you may be experiencing tonight, a normal relationship with a nice man, a man who respects us as a person without the thought of anything physical. Then, when the time is right, the physical part becomes a welcome addition. None of us could start with the physical part, not after what we’ve been through.”
Jochebed agreed. They bought her a beautiful dress at the African shoppe, similar to those she wore in her village. They also went to a shoppe and purchased an evening gown for a formal affair. Mayor Boaz Yeggs chose the African dress and made special arrangements at an appropriate restaurant in a corner table, overlooking the city.
Nina worked with her makeup for most of the afternoon. Jochebed had never worn makeup, but once she got the idea of changing her looks, just a little, she had a difficult time in choosing what to do. Really, the colorful dress made the decision for them.
Everything went well that night. She had already learned the use of cutlery while living with Abraham and Ruth. The conversation drifted toward Jochebed’s background. She was timid, but she said much of what she had told Sandy and Nina that morning. There was much laughter. George and Jochebed did not speak a lot of French, and they restricted it to small talk so that the mayor would know what they were saying. Of course, Boaz could have figured a lot out on his own, having learned Latin at an early age at the monastery.
There was only one little problem that emerged. A photographer came by and took a photo of those at the table. The next morning, the media outlets were all asking who the mysterious woman was. The media knew Boaz and Sandy, using her given name, Cassandra, for formal functions, and it did not take long to figure out that the mystery woman’s escort was a detective with Organized Crime, but there was a buzz among the media outlets for several days. That is … until their slow news cycle was over, and they had something more interesting to report. But while it lasted, the mayor had great fun playing on the imagination of the ”very truthful” media reporters, and without confirming or denying any of their fictional ideas, he let the media create the story. The more he denied that they were on the correct track, the more they reported the wrong story. They never knew they were being played.
The next evening, without the fancy African dress or the formal evening gown, George and Jochebed went on a long walk along the river. They dined at a picnic table next to George’s favorite food truck. And they talked and got to know each other better. George then took her for a policeman’s tour of Tracy. The tour included where all his friends on the police force lived. They even caught Naomi (Glyce to her friends) and Deviled Yeggs walking down the street. Jochebed and George, or is it Georges, got out of the car and walked with them from the Yeggs’ home to the Niblick’s mansion and back, a short walk so that the Yeggs could relieve the day’s stress.
And Anna Hill enjoyed the two nights with Esther. She had to use bottle feeding, using milk that Jochebed had left for her, but with Jochebed always being available, Anna barely knew the daughter she had adopted. Anna and Esther finally had a chance to bond a little. Anna wondered. If Jochebed had now found a love interest, would she be staying in Tracy?
Sadly, children who are preteens can give birth.
Lily the Pink is one of my favorite silly songs. It is adaptable for adding new verses, as long as the “cure” is far from what was wanted or expected. Although The Scaffold, a group that wrote the song, has a very British version, I prefer the Irish Rovers version, with a few of the same verses.
The writers of the song are the members of The Scaffold: John Gorman (comedian), Mike McGear (a pseudonym, really Paul McCartney’s brother), and Roger McGough (poet). The Scaffold had back singers and musicians to fill out the “band” that included a young Elton John, Jack Bruce, and Graham Nash. The song is based on a poem written about snake oil sold in the USA under the label of Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound, with a picture of a sweet young girl on the label. The poem states that the snake oil is sold by this face that only wants to love others.
The chorus of the song is:
We’ll drink a drink, a drink
To Lily the Pink, the Pink, the Pink
The savior of the human race
For she invented medicinal compound
Most efficacious in every case
Of course, Jesus is the Savior of the human race, and He cured people rather than selling them snake oil that promised cures that did not work.