Chapter 38 Dime A Dozen
“I should be feeling smug right now, but I just feel miserable instead.” thought Jimmy as he walked home from the worship service.
Miss Whormseldeussen certainly had been mean to him for no apparent reason, and it should have been some satisfaction that she had certainly botched the job this morning! It hurt to know that he could have done better, but wasn't allowed to. He checked his watch. Sunday dinner was always on the table by one o'clock.
He was a bit early getting home, as the Presbyterian service started thirty minutes later than the Baptists', and his mother and father wouldn't yet be home. He didn't want to be late. It had been hard enough to convince his father that he really was not going to the Baptist Church to play the organ that morning. It took a telephone call from Mr. Mac to convince Mr. Day that Jimmy would be there on official business, simply to show the substitute the changes in the organ.
He took a short cut through the Edmunsen's yard, through the back fence gate into his own back yard, where he climbed up into the old tree house. This was something he had not done since he was thirteen years old. Now, almost five years later, it seemed so much smaller than it used to be, and not so high. He had a feeling that he could not identify. Later, after a little more life experience, he would come to identify the feeling as nostalgia.
He suddenly felt his childhood had somehow slipped away. He thought about school starting a week from tomorrow. His senior year was about to begin. All his school chums were already talking about going to college and what they would be majoring in. He never took part in the those conversations. It was hard for him to get excited about college when he knew that his father would allow him to take business courses only. His passion for music just could not be satisfied that way.
He remembered the last heated conversation with his father about his 'unauthorized' musical activities. All he'd done was to play the piano at the Christian Youth League's Fourth of July celebration at the Presbyterian Parish Hall. There was this cute girl, Kitty Meaks, from the Baptist Training Union, who was there with Caroline Fortner. Kitty had asked him to play her favorite song for her, which he did. Things went from there with everybody asking him to play their favorites. Before he knew it Kitty was going to the fireworks with Will Noskins and all the punch and cake was gone!
All would have been fine if Kitty's aunt and his neighbor, who had been there as a chaperone, wasn't such a tell-all. The very next Monday she saw Mr. Day at the bank and filled his ears full of how he had such a talented son who had played the piano at the party until the cows came home.
When his dad got home that evening Jimmy caught it good! “Haven't I made it clear that no son of mine is going to be a musician? You will not play a musical instrument in public again! Do you understand?”
His thoughts stopped abruptly when he heard the familiar sound of his dad's Ford pull around to the side of the house and stop. He was about to get up to climb out of the tree house when he heard another unwelcome sound. He stayed put and eavesdropped.
“Yoo hoo! Anybody home? Hello? Martha, are y'all home from church yet?”
It was that Mrs. Meaks and she knew very well that someone was home. Her house was just four doors away on the corner of Forby and King, and the Days had just driven by.
Jimmy's mother said wearily “Hello, Violet. What brings you from up the street?”
Mrs. Meaks might be a neighbor, but that didn't mean that she had to be liked.
“Oh, I saw your Jimmy at our church today and I just wondered; Why was he there? Do you think he was looking for my niece Kitty? He didn't sit with her. He left a little bit early, too.”
“Oh! Yes, uh, he was supposed to be there to help Miss Whormseldeussen get familiar with the new work on the organ.” Mrs. Day replied.
Mrs. Meaks never wasted time getting to the point. “Oh my! I guess you've heard, by now, about the rig-a-mah-rol in our church today?” probed Mrs. Meaks.
“Rig-a-mah-rol? You mean something happened this morning? Did it have something to do with Jimmy?” asked Mrs. Day with alarm in her voice.
“Oh, my word! Yes! Mm, didn't Jimmy help that nice Mr. MacLeod work on our organ these past few months?”
“Why, yes he did. He's been working for Mr. MacLeod, and doing quite well, too. My how you do ask questions Violet! Now, tell me. What has happened?”
“Well the organ certainly sounded awful this morning. Simply awful, and Miss Whormseldeussen lays the blame at Jimmy's feet alone! She said it was all his fault!”
Jimmy thought, “Mrs. Meaks' tongue surely must be flapping like a flag. . .”
Mr. Day had returned from the car barn by this time.
He said, “Miss Whormseldeussen. Why, that's a name I haven't heard in a very long time. Ole Worms-a-dozen we used to call her in high school. She's still alive, eh?”
“Robert!” Mrs. Day said reprovingly.
Ignoring this, Mrs. Meaks plowed fallow ground; “Why, she says Jimmy distracted her and was quite impudent as well. The only thing that sounded decent this morning was the choir special! At least, that is, until the end. It was 'In The Garden' and it was ruined at the end by the organ. Miss Whormseldeussen said she simply reached to turn off the stops. When she did this giant crashing sound scared everyone half to death! It fair sounded like Gunga Din's crack-o'doom.”
Jimmy just knew he was going to get it as soon as his dad saw him. Best go ahead and face the music, he thought ironically. He began to climb down slowly, expecting the worst.
Mr. Day asked Mrs. Meaks; “You say that Ole Worms-a-dozen, er, I mean, Miss Whormseldeussen blames Jimmy for all her mistakes?” His voice rose on the last two words.
“Of course, she does!” stated an appalled Mrs. Meaks.
Laughing, Mr. Day crowed and clicked his heels; “Ah-ha! That's m'boy!”
Jimmy nearly fell out of the tree.