Junior didn’t kill Cecil, but he tried. He made a necktie out of the water hose and was about to wrap it around Cecil’s neck when Bertie put him in a headlock.
“Let me go Bertie! I’m gonna’ kill him,” he screamed.
I leaned over and looked Junior right in the face for he was up-side-down in Bertie’s hold. “Now look here Junior, you can’t kill Cecil! It’s against the law. They’ll put you in jail and make you get a college degree. You know you don’t like books, and besides you might come out worse than when you went in. That would be disgraceful! Think what your mama would say.”
That made a difference, for Junior is afraid of his mama. His face blanched white which was extraordinary being he was wrong-side-up. He stopped circling Bertie, and let his arms hang limp. Cecil was curled in a ball, wailing for Della.
“Ok Bertie! Let me go. I won’t kill him, I’ll just kick him!”
“No kicking or gouging, or the police will haul you off,” she said. “And I hate to admit it, but Bunny is right. You’ll go to prison, no matter that he destroyed your garden, and you will come out a changed man. You won’t be the same Junior that we know. You’ll talk gibberish about things that don’t really matter, and you’ll want to sue everybody!
“You mean … you mean….I might become a…. lawyer?”
“I’m afraid so. I’ve seen it happen before; or worse, you might turn into a televangelist.”
I gasped and Carson’s eyes grew wide. “Oh Mr. Junior, may I say, Sir, you don’t want to go there. My old granny was taken in by one of those t.v. preachers and she never did get the miracle oil she was promised.”
Junior’s whole body fell into a slump. “Oh what a fix! If I kill Cecil, I’ll go to prison, but if I don’t kill him I’ll never be happy.”
“Junior, your Delphiniums will rise again and be as beautiful as ever,” said Bertie
“Awww! No they won’t. Not ever.”
“They won’t without Cecil,” I said as I inspected my nails. “He has a green thumb with anything that comes up out of the ground. And if Junior still has these urges to kill him, it might distract Cecil from doing his best. Look at him over there, curled up in a wad.”
Bertie flashed me a keen look. “I’m afraid Bunny is right again. We have to do something.”
Carson gave a discreet cough.
“Do you have a suggestion Carson?” asked Bertie
“Well, Madam, we must first identify our problems. One, Mr. Cecil wants Miss Della, but Miss Della wants Mr. Louie. Two, Mr. Junior wants to kill Mr. Cecil, and he won’t be happy till he does. Three, without Mr. Cecil the Delphiniums cannot be restored to their former glory.
Then out of the blue I thought of something else. It’s not often this happens so, in a highly spontaneous mood, I shouted out. “It seems to me that we have to change everybody’s wanner”
“Wanner? What’s a wanner?” sneered Bertie.
Carson gave another discreet cough.
Carson understood. He always understood me. That’s why I keep him around. He’s kind of like a translator.
“I think Madam, Miss Bunny means we must change everyone’s want to.
All eyes turned to me. Looks of amazement. “I hate to admit it,” Bertie said. “But Bunny is right again!”
She walked over to me, placed both hands to the side of my head, and rapped her knuckles on my skill. She peered into my eyes. Bunny! Is that you in there?”
I blushed in embarrassment. It’s not often Bertie thinks much of me. “Yes it’s me. What? You don’t think I can think?”
“Not often, Bunny, do you think at all,” she said.
“So, Carson, how do you suggest we change everyone’s Want To?”
“I suggest we start with Miss Della. Her affections or want to must be transferred from Mr. Louie to Mr. Cecil. And the best way to a young woman’s heart is through the language of love. They like to hear the inner feelings of the young men they are interested in.”
Junior scoffed. “You mean to say that Cecil has to tell Della he loves her.”
“More than that sir; he has to build up to it. Young ladies like to hear about how beautiful they are and varied other positive traits, and they like hear it often, especially in the first stages of the romance. It’s most imperative.”
Junior scoffed again. “You haven’t seen Della have you? She’s not what I’d call a raving beauty. She’s down right homely.”
“It doesn’t matter sir. Young ladies are very easily born away with ideas of what they think they looked like. And that is where Mr. Cecil comes in. He must tell her she is desirable. He must woo her.”
“Woo her! That’s a laugh. Cecil can’t even call the cows to the barn. And he has trouble telling me when we need more fertilizer. ”
“That’s where we come in. We must tell her for him.”
“And just how are we going to do that?”
“With poetry sir.”
“What kind of poetry? You mean ‘Roses are red, violets are blue kind of poetry?”
“No sir. Something a bit more delicate like… for example Elizabeth Barrett Browning in her Sonnets From The Portuguese, number 43.
‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light…..’”
“No, no, no, Carson,” I said. That won’t do. I didn’t understand a thing you said. What does it all mean?”
“But that’s not all Madam.”
I moaned. “You mean there’s more?”
“Bunny is right. That’s uh heavy load to lay on Della, and Cecil will never be able to spit it out,” Junior said.
“Carson that poem is beautiful but Junior has a point. If Bunny doesn’t understand it, Della won’t either. We have to rewrite this poem.”
So, Carson and Bertie with Bunny’s help rewrote the poem
Carson looked like he wanted to throw up, but Bertie said it would do the trick. I read it and it made perfect sense to me. I wished Junior would write me a poem like that.
Cecil cleaned out from under his fingernails and took the poem by Della’s house with an arm full of flowers and a big box of chocolates . He patted his hair down, gave his shoes a swipe on the cuff of his pants and knocked on her door. We were in the bushes watching.
Della peered out the window, and she took a long time coming to the door. She finally opened it a crack.
“What do ya’ want Cecil? I told you we were through.”
“Oh Della darlin’, please let’s talk this over. Look I brought you flowers and chocolates, and I’ve cleaned up my fingernails. See!”
Della frowned. She wasn’t moved. She looked like she had sucked on a lemon.
“So what! So you’ve cleaned yourself up and you brought presents. You’ll just go back to looking like a slob. I don’t want to marry no slob. You won’t really change.”
“But Della darlin’, I will change. I have changed. Take a whiff. I even smell good now. And that’s not all I brought ya’! Listen I wrote you a poem.”
“You wrote a poem? You wrote me a poem. I didn’t even know you could read.
What’s it say?”
Cecil cleared his throat and handed Della the flowers and chocolates. “Here goes,” he said.
“Do you want to know the ways I love you. I’m gonna’ count them for you.
My love for you is as deep as the Blue Hole where we swim.
My love for you is as wide as Carter’s Lake where we fish.
My love for you is as high as Ft. Mountain where we have picnics.
I love you so much that even if I died, I’d still love you.
I love you day or night. Even if you’re yelling at me or not.
I love you a whole bunch. Your love is what keeps me going.
Oh! I forgot. You are the prettiest girl in the whole town. Even prettier than Peggy Plemmons. Please come back to me!”
Well that did it. Della’s whole face changed. “Oh Cecil, that’s beautiful. And you thought all of that by yourself. And you really do think I’m prettier than Peggy Plemmons?”
“Yes, Della I thought of that all by myself. Yes, you really are the prettiest girl in town. From the top of your head down to your big toes.”
Della asked Cecil inside and when she drew the shades, we knew Cecil was home free. Shortly after that they were married and Cecil came back to work for Junior and grew even lovelier Delphiniums. But he always remembered to keep his fingernails clean.
To Be Continued…