LulaMae Harris was 67 years old and her mother had been dead for more than 20 years, but she still followed her momma’s advice.
That Easter afternoon she was getting ready to go to church and meet two of her friends, Myrtle and Sally, to count and record the contributions from the morning collection.
She smiled at herself in the mirror as she adjusted her light blue picture hat over her auburn-and-gray pageboy. The hat went well with her navy blue suit. She felt Momma would have approved. She always had said that a lady should never be without a hat.
LulaMae gave the right side of the hat a tiny tug downward, just to add a bit of a jaunty twist to her outfit. Pleased with the result, she headed out the door.
A little while later when she opened the door to the church hall, a surprise greeted her. It wasn’t a happy one. A Willie Nelson lookalike (maybe twenty years younger than Willie but with a ponytail and a grunge look) pointed a gun at her and said, “Get over there and sit down, old lady.” He pointed to an empty chair at a card table at which a pale Myrtle and a shaking Sally were stuffing cash from the collection into a large shopping bag, as directed by the thief.
A shocked LulaMae couldn’t move for a minute. Her feet felt rooted to the floor.
But the gunman was having none of it. He barked out his orders. “Take a load off your feet and your head too. Dump the hat. It’s crooked, y’know. It’s making me dizzy.”
As she walked slowly toward the empty chair, LulaMae forced herself to remain calm by thinking about what annoyed her most about this idiot. There was the fact that he was robbing the church and terrorizing her and her friends. Maybe even more outrageous, though, was that he had called her an old lady and disparaged that nice jaunty twist to her hat.
He’d get his, of that she was sure. She calmly took a seat and stared at Mr. Fashion Police.
His response was to scream at her: “I SAID take off that crooked hat. It’s driving me nuts.”
At that moment LulaMae remembered one of Momma’s favorite sayings: The Nike slogan, “Just DO It.”
So she did.
She removed her hat, as well as the trusty Derringer hidden in the lining.
Before the thief knew what was happening, LulaMae had blasted the gun out of his hand. Armed with her Derringer, she ordered him to lie on the floor, advising, “Don’t move a muscle unless you want bullets in your kneecaps or in something a little higher up on your anatomy.”
A relieved Myrtle giggled. Sally, too, had made an instant recovery and was calling the cops on her cellphone.
LulaMae gave her friends a thumbs-up. Looking down at the perp, she saw that now HE was the one shaking. Perfect!
Four hours and several police interrogations later, an exhausted LulaMae headed for the church parking lot. She was licensed to carry a firearm–no problem there–but still there had been lots of questions, statements, and reports. She was relieved to have them over with, at least for now.
She was thinking that the cops seemed quite intrigued by the rim and pocket she had sewn into her hat to hold the gun. Hmm. Maybe she should patent that configuration.
By the time she reached her car she was feeling quite mellow and found herself humming one of her favorite tunes: Irving Berlin’s “Easter Parade.” She looked up at the sky and in her mind told Momma: “Those words, In Your Easter Bonnet. Hey, I think they were written just for me.”
She paused for a moment, then continued: “And, Momma, thanks for teaching me that a lady should never leave home without a hat…or a Derringer.”
Gail Farrelly (Twitter: @gailfarrelly) writes mystery novels and short stories. She publishes satire at The Spoof ( http://is.gd/ZjsZuy). Her short stories are sold at Untreed Reads (http://is.gd/9uwEfO), on the Amazon Kindle, at iBooks, and at many other ebook vendors worldwide. She shares a website, www.farrellysistersonline.com, with her sister, Rita Farrelly, author of the local best seller, NOT IN BRONXVILLE: A SUBURBAN MYSTERY NOVEL. Gail is working on another mystery novel and also a book of spoofs.
Originally published in Kings River Life Magazine – April 14, 2014.