A Battle of

           Many

                    Skirmishes

CHAPTER 39

              Leland put the pedal to the metal. The shooting schedule would be

       accelerated. The equipment trucks had back-up everything, so everything

       would be called up for active duty. Camera assistants became cameramen.

       Junior directors were now senior directors, and Leland transformed his own 

       position of senior director into something akin to a traffic cop.

              On a visit to Paula’s record & curio shop, he found and purchased a 

       riding crop with a rattlesnake grip. The crop went great with the aviator

       shades and his pants legs tucked into his boot tops, most impressive.

              No longer senior director, he became director general, maybe general

       director. As the vans left the parking area of the Willard motel, he would

       smack ’em on the tail lights with his executive riding crop and say something

       like “heeyah.” This, he thought, was what D.W. Griffith would have said, 

       or maybe, Black Jack Pershing.

              When Penny told Celia, who found out from Jackson, her 

       confederate union, that the home of Irma Willard, now Celia’s home, would 

       be a subject-skirmish-next on the docket, she immediately told Miles she 

       would not be on her morning’s appointed rounds. Miles needed only to snort 

       his approval and consent.

              From a two-seater porch swing that did not squeak, Irma and Celia

       smiled and waved as the van pulled up. Celia was up first, down the porch

       steps and by the van as the doors opened. By way of introductions, Celia

       expressed that there must be no swearing on this set or in this home.

              As if scrutinizing the punctuation of a script, Celia correctly 

       surmised that emphasizing the Christian sanctity of Irma’s home would

       serve to reinforce her own cover as the dullish local mail lady. For the

       occasion, she donned her postal blues, with the shorts no less, no knee socks

       though.

              On this occasion the invaders numbered as follows: 3 cast folks

       (2 women, 1 guy) and 1 ambitious but clearly over-tasked camera woman,

       who was not getting paid enough either but didn’t seem to care. The driver, 

       who never got out of the truck, went right to sleep.

              This was a “home redesign” show, where this really condescending

       trio would storm your domicile and tell you the walls were the wrong color,

       or the rocker is an eyesore, or the feng shui was interrupted. Heavens! 

 

              The two newcomer women and Celia, now breathless and

       immovable, took in the sight of the home from a short distance.

       Irma sat, still rocking the porch swing, beaming serenity while butterflies 

       and honey bees danced with swaying sentry flowers. Had these women been

       gazing up at the Taj Majal or a restored Parthenon, those sights would not

       have shined and glowed with the wonder of wonders that was washing over

       the congregation now. That masculine member of the cast was not so

       spellbound.

              “I say we just toss a match and call it a day.” Max got shoved from

       behind when the encumbered camera woman passed on the way with her 

       cohort to the foot of the porch steps.

              Irma rose, straightened her apron and descended the steps that 

       didn’t squeak.

              “Good morning, I’m Irma Willard. This is my home, and you are

       welcome to it.” The women reached out immediately and Irma took their 

       hands with both of hers. Max, the arsonist, suppressed a groan while visions

       of wrecking crews danced in his head.

              The interior of Irma’s abode was quiet stillness and visual comfort.

       It possessed the good sense of Shaker design and an antique truth without

       sentimentality. Though always charmed by this environment, Celia had 

       become acclimated to it, so seeing these women tearing up at the sight of it

       was a new wonderment for her.

              As they discussed what might be altered in Irma’s home, the 

       women rebuffed Max at every turn, not merely for disrespect or bad taste 

       but for sacrilege. 

              Celia had explained earlier to the group that Irma was near deaf.

       With the dismissal of all of his design revelations, Max’s tone hardened, 

       his voice rose in volume, and his vocabulary exceeded network guidelines.

       Irma and Celia were now back on the porch swing, as Irma could not be at

       peace with all those bodies and their gear in her home.

              Quietly, slowly, Irma turned to Celia, “Celia child, you know that

       pantry off the kitchen?”

              “Yes, Irma.”

              “Good, well when you walk in, down on the right, bottom shelf,

       behind the canning jars of okra and turnips, there is a florist’s box.”

              “Do you need me to get it out for you, Irma?” Celia jumped at any

       opportunity to be of service to her landlady.

              “No no no. But there is a sawed off in the box and shells in a red

       Christmas cookie can. Be a dear and check and see it’s loaded. Load it if it 

       ain’t.” Irma patted Celia’s hand and watched the activity around her bird 

       feeder.  

              “Wonder of wonders.”

              Keeping Max restrained by both arms, the designers left Irma’s

       perfect home. Irma and Celia rose from the swing, and Irma wished them well

       on leaving, as she had on their arrival.

              “No show here, folks, come on now, everybody move along.”

              The van pulled away slowly, raising little dust. Irma and Celia 

       swung a little more and sipped ice tea.