See the Kitten Stuck in a Tree…

Queenie leans over the lavatory sink of the ladies room, stares woozy 

at the vanity

and applies lipstick. She puckers and smacks

after several rounds, blots and squints

to inspect her teeth,

rubs a squeaky fingertip over the two

in front and removes a maraschino-cherry red stain.

Queenie forces a smile,

that manifests more into a groan

grumbles aloud,

. . .Won’t be the color to save my life. . .

and briefly concentrates on

her reflection only

to sigh long and hard.

With sudden and great disappointment she throws the tube

ricochetting against the sides

and thunking to the bottom

of a garbage can,

its cylinder chrome further distorting her image as she scowls

at the swinging

metal plate slowing


to a neat


The ladies room door swings wide


“S’cuse me dear, you wouldn’t happen to have an assburn, would you?” Rosemary inquires,

inching up

next to Queenie,

setting her purse between the double sink basins, where Queenie calls it ‘cleavage’ and believes in an unspoken ladies room boundary

that should

never be


Queenie darts her green eyes over

to judge

the perfectly acceptable empty space

on the other side

of Rosemary’s faucet where Queenie knows Rosemary’s turf actually begins,

according to ladies room code.

“I’m battling a splitting headache.” Rosemary clarifies 

and she looks at Queenie painfully-pleasant but expectant.

Ass burn?!” Queenie hollers, “Hell no, Granny. My ass is feeling just fine!”

Stunned, Rosemary

wonders over social etiquette

like she’d dropped her notecards in her own mind and begins searching

for them,

to place them

in order or

at the very least


an affirmation among them, such as

keep your chin up‘ 

or ‘hang in there‘ 

fleeting recalls of her elementary school health room and posters of kittens

while she smiles dumb.

Stricken and unnerved, Rosemary bothers to pronounce, “Ass-Prin” 

as if she’s being more helpful

appearing less expectant

and rather more hopeful.

“What a great idea, Granny!” Queenie hollers

becoming suddenly animated,

“A Hester Prynne handbag!” 

Rosemary involuntarily winces.

Queenie chortles, “Bigger than that old pocketbook of yours!” She winks

and nods towards Rosemary’s purse,

sitting in navy blue like a pitched triangle tent, taught and erect with it’s straps standing straight as antennas

nestled on the counter cleavage of the two sink basins.

“That’s what ALL us girls need. A Hester Prynne Handbag. I can’t believe I never thought of it before.” Queenie beams.

Rosemary frowns,

like she’d absent-mindly forgotten to attend

THE awards ceremony;

the ONE for volunteering

where she’d be honored as the fastest


of church notes


She digs

almost frantic

inside her purse


until she apologizes.

“I’m helpless. I can’t seem to find a thing,” she confesses.

then removes a pocket-pack of kleenex tissues,

then sets aside a plastic rain kerchief,

then shakes her head at a small comb that should be ashamed of itself,

then comments on how a tube of chapstick isn’t it.

“I can’t for the life of me figure where it is.” Rosemary promises, “I use to have a very pretty pillbox. . .

It had roses which were red and

violets which were blue painted on the lid.”

“Sounds lovely.” Queenie interrupts, “But a Hester Prynne handbag should be designed with a little zipper pocket inside. Like mine.”

She reveals the practicality of her enormous shoulder bag to Rosemary

and with a quick zzzzzip… 

readily fishes out a tiny generic tin of aspirin,

clicking it open and holding it forward,

“Knock yourself out Granny,” she offers.

“Why thank you, dear.” Rosemary accepts, her voice full

of relief,

her trembling

fingers gingerly selective of just one,

she explains on account

of the high

milligram dosage and how she prefers

baby Ass-prin due to an esophagus that knows all 

too well,

by now,

acid reflux.

Rosemary cups her hand to receive the cool flow of faucet water into her mouth before the automated censor shuts off,

grimaces against the chalky wash of the pill

and straightens as much as her osteoporosis allows

some rush

past Queenie on a quest to alleviate

her current embarrassment

of a wet chin

only to become crestfallen

at a lack of paper towels

no matter how truly

scratchy, or nonabsorbent, or brown,

would still prove

at the very least

to be handy

since technology replaced their novelty with a push

button air dryer.

“I won’t nark on you, Granny. Just use your sleeve.” Queenie encourages her

and without thinking

Rosemary wipes her mouth across the cuff of her thin

navy blue and not very functional

nylon raincoat.

Queenie had stopped paying attention

to Rosemary and was again leaning over her sink basin to peer

into the the vanity

where she inspects

her hairdo, tilting and holding up

a face powder compact in order

to observe

the back,

one small mirror to another.

“Do you see any dried blood left in it, Granny?” Queenie asks.

Rosemary startles, “Blood?”

“In my hair, Granny. Do you see any I missed? Talk about headaches!”

“No dear.” Rosemary reports quietly and shoots a quick glance at the door.

“Dinner was ruined, needless to say.” Queenie informs Rosemary

and Rosemary appears at a loss

of comprehension,

of words,

of certain personal boundaries.

Queenie snaps

the compact shut,

tucks it inside her removable center

cosmetics pouch that remains fastened

to her shoulder bag as if by an umbilical cord,

and boasts,

“Never have to rummage! A Hester Prynne handbag should be so lucky.”

Whether to be or not

to be

teased, Rosemary is certain

she should remain composed

until a sign presents itself regarding proper conduct

and which course of action

she will follow.

“And see?” Queenie bursts with enthusiasm,

“If I just want a little tote,


The magic

of velcro!”

She peels apart the fastener straps,

prickling and

crackle-ripping apart

as a demonstration

for Rosemary to marvel at.

“Easy peasy.” Queenie winks, “And YOU know what they say. . .”

Rosemary shakes her head.

“If velcro’s good enough for Ass-tro-nauts it’s good enough for your Hester Prynne handbag!”

“Well now, isn’t that a well-equipt shoulder bag.” Rosemary agrees albeit sounding cautious.

“My hubby bought it for me.” Queenie announces,

lowers her voice, “Confidentially,

since he said I could pick out any one I wanted,

I went with the biggest,

most expensive one

in the whole

leather shop.”

“Well now, wasn’t that nice of him.” Rosemary agrees albeit sounding as a matter of politeness.

“He was feeling guilty.” Queenie corrects her, “I really need to practice slinging it over my shoulder,

for when and if

I ever need

to whack him in the head.”

“Oh dear…” Rosemary gasps.

“It’d serve him right.” Queenie insists.

Her eyes flashing


and hurt,

and betrayal, all at once;

Rosemary meeting her glare

with a wide expression

of fear,

and pity,

and effort; such great effort

to appear

positive if not entirely


and Queenie asks again,

“So you’re positive there’s no more blood in my hair?”

Rosemary’s tone effects cheerfulness when she offers her advice, 

“Well now dear, just remember how you must

 have loved him once and consider

the wedding vows 

you took.”

Queenie scoffs.  “Aw hell, he’s hubby number three, Granny.  

Don’t mean he qualifies as Mr. Right,

or Mr. Perfect,

not to mention anything close to my Prince Charming.”

Rosemary shines her brightest sequitur light bulb on the situation and argues, “But what about how the third time’s a charm? 

Certainly, that helps 

his case

as your Prince Charming.”

 “More like three strikes and I’m out, Granny.” Queenie admits in defeat.  

“So there’s no more blood?  For real?”

“I don’t see any.” Rosemary reassures her.  “But then, my eyes aren’t so good these days.”

“Hmmm. . .guess you’re not the best witness, huh Granny?”  

“No dear.  I guess I’m not.”  Rosemary contemplates.  

BigMouth Handbags” #1 & #2 (featured with LipWear Capris Pants & Gobstopper “Halter” Tops) from the LipWear Paper Doll Series by Katie-Rae Jean
The Smiths “Bigmouth Strikes Again” (music audio) is being posted on Bitter Sweet Place, a Fleeting (He)art Gallery for No Commercial Purpose.

Find more music by this artist here: The Smiths

“Bigmouth Strikes Again” written by Morrissey, Johnny Marr

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