Beanery Online Literary Magazine

September 12, 2008




Cocoa, my Chocolate Lab, sniffed suspiciously at the inert object, then playfully nudged it with her paw. Her persistent yaps caused me to look out the kitchen window. 

“What the heck?” I wiped my hands on my jeans, let the screen door bang, and went to investigate. What appeared to be pieces of cotton stuffing were scattered liberally over sections of the lawn. Cocoa growled possessively and shook her head vigorously side to side as I reached tentatively for the object clamped between her teeth. 

“Cocoa, what have you got?  Let me see?”

Drenched in dog saliva, sheds of cloth dangled from her mouth. I reached for them as Cocoa snarled, pulled back, unwilling to give up her prize.  I stepped closer.  Slightly to the left and partially beneath Cocoa’s haunches, lay a cylindrical piece about ten inches long, four inches wide, with a small child’s shoe attached. I tugged and Cocoa relaxed her hind legs just long enough for me to free the object. Her throaty growling continued.  She leapt and reclaimed her toy.

The dirty chewed end meant my pooch had feasted on the remains of  . . . what?  I decided to follow the trail of stuffing that lead to my neighbor’s garage. The door was up but no one was in sight. In the cool interior and semi-darkness it took a few minutes for my eyes to adjust. In a corner among workbenches, tools, a bike, tires and general paraphernalia was an old army trunk. The lid was open and I peered inside. It was loosely filled with musty smelling clothes and old photos, and draped over the edge was a cloth doll’s leg. It suspiciously matched the object Cocoa so tenaciously defended. 

As I lifted it out, the shuffle of footsteps startled me. I cleared my throat hoping to make the person aware of my presence.

“Who . . . who’s there?” my neighbor Sadie shouted. 

“It’s me, Sadie. It’s Stephie!” 

“What you doin’ in my garage?” she asked in a high pitched, gravely voice. “Not snoopin’ around are ya?”

“No, oh no!  Seems my dog Cocoa’s found something of yours . . .or part of it anyway.”  I waved the leg in my hand.  More stuffing littered the floor.

Sadie shuffled toward me in the half-light and broke into a grin. “Oh, that old thing!” she said waving her right arm in dismissal. “That there’s a leg to my life-size doll, Granny LuLu, short for Louise.”

“Really?” I said, examining, then handing it to her.

We moved outside to an old glider with tattered cushions. Sadie motioned for me to sit beside her. She laid the doll leg across her lap and smoothed it with long, knobby fingers.

“Several years ago,” she chuckled, “I got bored bein’ in all winter and set to makin’ myself a life-size doll I’d seen pictured in a craft magazine. Stitched her up in a couple weeks. Used stuffin’ an a sheer stockin’ to make ‘er face, dug out an old red dress I was fixin’ to throw out, but couldn’t. Then I stuck a pair a patent Mary Janes that belonged to my grandchild on ‘er feet. She’s got several hats with feathers, flowers n’ pearls. My favorite’s her red hat. I’ve even taken ‘er to a monthly meeting of the Red Hat Ladies. They think she’s a scream!

Granny LuLu makes for great conversation. She’s got ‘er own chair with an afghan cover and a book she pretends to read with owl-shaped glasses.  Pretty convincin’ when you walk in the door not expectin’ ‘er.”

I laughed.  “But, how’d she loose her legs?” 

“They kinda become de-tached. What with the kids playin’ with ‘er an draggin’ ‘er all over the place. Then my miniature poodle tugged at ‘er legs until . . .well they came off.” 

“So, where’s Granny LuLu now? I assume you still have her?”

“Sure do! She’s quite the travelin’ lady.”

“How’s that?”

“Oh, she rides with me in the car. A lady can’t be too careful these days. With LuLu beside me in the front seat, no one’s the wiser she ain’t REAL. From a distance, not even a cop can tell. She’s great when you gotta drive one of them HOV lanes in rush hour traffic. And she’s a great companion. I talk to ‘er an all, like a real person.” 

 “You’re kidding!” I howled. We both laughed so hard we cried.

“That’s not all. She’s a great jokester. My husband Hank thinks I’m plum crazy, but the kids and my friends sometimes bundle ‘er up and head to the mall or a park.”

My eyes widened. “You WHAT?”
“We sit ‘er on one of the benches, a blanket wrapped round ‘er and watch people’s eyes pop! They stop, stare, come over to pinch ‘er cheek, shake ‘er hand.  Bein’ she looks so real, some can’t believe she’s only a doll.”

“Is this with or without her legs?” I asked, curiosity killing me.

“With legs, when we did it. This was a couple years ago, mind you.  Except for car rides, she’s not been out of the house much of late.” 

I wiped my eyes. “Sadie, I never knew I had such an illustrious neighbor. I’ve just got to see Granny LuLu!”

“Sure, hon.” She patted my hand. “Come on in. I’ll fix you a cup a tea, and I just made some chocolate chips for the kids to munch on tomorrow.”

The glider squeaked as we rose. Sadie looped her arm through mine. Cocoa came bounding over, stuffing stuck to his mouth like white froth. He dropped Granny LuLu’s other leg and looked at us with his doggy grin, tail thumping, seeking approval.














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