Burning Coals of Fire

picture of girl in overalls
A short story by Pamela Eason

Image attribution & link is below story.

Minnie Prankster is a name everybody around Goodwill knows. Her name pretty much described her. She was about five feet and maybe came in at around ninety-five pounds after a big dinner. As for the Prankster part of her name, most anybody can tell a story about at least one of her pranks.

Take Eva Everson for instance. Eva runs Everson’s Excavation now that her father’s retired. She graduated with Minnie. Eva told the WMU – that’s the Women’s Missionary Union, down at First Baptist, the one about how, when Minnie was in high school, she pushed dozens of lizards and frogs through the window of Mrs. Botany’s biology classroom.

Eva Everson’s story as told by Pauline Pritchett

Pauline Pritchett – she’s married to Pastor Paul down at the First Baptist – she’s the secretary of the WMU – anyways, Pauline said she couldn’t help but laugh the way Eva told it. Eva puts her whole body into it when she tells things.

Pauline said Eva said Mrs. Botany had opened the window that Friday to let out the formaldehyde fumes. The class had dissected frogs. Anyways, Mrs. Botany had forgotten to close the window since, during the last period class, she’d got a call that her daughter was in labor. Her daughter is Faye Fleming. She’s married to Ferrell. They own Fleming’s Fast Food over on the new four-lane. Anyways, Frank, who turned out to be Mrs. Botany’ first grandchild, was about to be born, so, Pauline said Eva said Mrs. Botany rushed out right after class without closing the window.

That next Monday, when Mrs. Botany opened her classroom door, a whole bunch of frogs were croaking and hopping around all over the place. Most of them escaped down the hall, so the whole school was in an uproar the rest of the day trying to catch them.

Pauline said she had a hard time reading the minutes from the last WMU meeting after Eva told that because she got tickled and couldn’t get over it.

What Faye Fleming told at Kathy’s Coffee Counter

Faye Fleming – you’ll remember, that’s Mrs. Botany’s daughter – said she overheard Kathy Cafferty – down at Kathy’s Coffee Counter – talking to Curtis Cartwright.

Curtis works over at Harry’s Hardware. If anybody wants to know where to find some little screw or nail, they can just ask Curtis, and he can take them right to it. He’s a good paint mixer too.

Faye said Kathy said to Curtis, and to anybody else who wanted to listen, when she was over at Stella’s Salon getting highlights, Stella told the one about how, at the Class of 88’s graduation reception, Minnie put plastic fishing worms in the punch.

Faye said she said to Kathy, “When I was growing up Mama told me all kinds of stories like that about Minnie. Faye said Curtis said he’d heard the stories too and he’d said, “You’d be hard pressed to find anybody in town who hasn’t heard at least one of them” and, on top of that, he said, “ You’d be hard pressed to find anybody who doesn’t know it’s still Minnie doing the pranks.”

That’s true enough, but Minnie’s never been caught. She’s never owned up to doing any of them either.

Faye said Kathy said Stella said, “Everybody around Goodwill thought the pranks would stop after high school.” Faye said Kathy said that’s when Miriam Moseley – she was in the salon too waiting on her weekly wash and style – she’s the one who won the Garden Club’s Best Spring Yard award three years running now – anyways, Miriam said, “Boy were they wrong about that!” Faye said Kathy said, everybody at the salon agreed, except for Betty Bullock. She’s married to Brian Bullock. They run Bullock’s Beef Farm. She does all the bookkeeping. Faye said Kathy said Betty was sitting under the hair dryer looking at a Celebrity Hairstyles magazine, so she couldn’t hear anything.

Faye said, “I said, speaking of Minnie, has anybody heard anymore about her cotton-ball prank?”

What Duncan Day old everyone at Kathy’s Coffee Counter about Minnie’s cotton-ball prank

Duncan Day – he’d come in to get his coffee – he always gets a large Guatemalan poor over with two creams – he owns Day’s Donut’s right next to Kathy’s – anyways, Duncan said Chief Parker told Garrett Guthrie, – he’s the reporter down at the Goodwill Gazette – “Off the record, I don’t have any evidence, but there’s no doubt in my mind it was Minnie.” Faye said, “Duncan sounded just like Chief Parker when he said that.”

He’s good at impersonating people.

Minnie pulled off the cotton-ball prank back in November. It was the night of the big rival game between the visiting Mooreland Marlin’s and the Gazelles – that’s Goodwill’s home team. It was the same night as the big freeze.

Everybody was all decked out in their horned hats and Gazelle logo-wear that night. The Boosters’ Club sold the logo-wear last spring to raise money for new tackle dummies.

Anyways, Duncan, in Chief Parker’s voice, said, “By halftime, Minnie had covered at least twenty windshields in wet cotton balls. And, they were all hometown cars.” Faye said Kathy asked, “Why’d she just pick on hometown cars?” and Curtis said, “Who knows why Minnie does anything?”

Duncan said, “I don’t know the ‘Why?’ either, but the ‘When?’ I can explain.” He said according to Garrett, Chief Parker knew the prank was done by halftime because, when he interviewed Dr. Carla, she’d said that’s when she got there, and the windshields were already covered. Dr. Carla said she would have mentioned that to Chief Parker right away, but, as soon as she arrived, Coach Catching sent her straight to the Gazelle’s locker room. Peter Pritchett – that’s Pauline and Pastor Pritchett’s son – he’d hurt his ankle on that last tackle he made on the twenty-yard line. She had to make sure his ankle wasn’t broken.

As it turned out, it was a pretty bad sprain and he was out the rest of the game.

What Tony Tremble told about why Dr. Carla was late to the big game

Tony Tremble – he’d come into Kathy’s to get his Americano – Kathy had seen him coming and had it ready for him – anyways, Tony said Dr. Carla was late to the game because of his brother Ted. Tony and Ted are the ones that got Goodwill’s Volunteer Fire Department up and running a few years back. Anyways, Tony said Ted thought he was having a heart attack, but, as it turned out, it was just a bad case of indigestion from eating one of Marty’s meatball sandwiches too fast.

Sam Synder – he’s the safety manager down at the Sawyer’s Sawmill – anyways, Sam had scheduled a fire drill at the sawmill that day. Tony said Ted had forgotten all about the drill until he’d called him and said, “Everybody’s ready to go. Where are you?” and so Ted had woofed the sandwich down on his way to the fire station.

What the Goodwill Gazette said about the cotton-ball prank

Garrett’s article about the cotton ball prank made the front page of the Goodwill Gazette. According to the article,

Deputy Harry Henderson left the game right after the Marlin’s last touchdown to work crowd control. He noted that fans were still complaining about the pass interference call the referees should have made when he saw that some windshields appeared to be covered in a white substance. Upon further inspection he realized the white substance was cotton balls. ‘I knew then it was going to be a long night,’ Deputy Henderson said.

What was said at the Monday night Goodwill Town Hall Meeting

The cotton-ball prank was what everybody was talking about Monday night at the Goodwill Town Hall meeting. Stella said, “From what I’ve been hearing at the salon, it’s probably going to take people a good while to get over this one.”

Betty Bullock elbowed Brian in the side, and he cleared his throat and said, “I didn’t think Betty and I were going to get home without a wreck that night.”

Brian does the beef deliveries for Bullock’s and the general running of the farm since Betty stays busy with the books.

Anyways, Brian said, “I sprayed the windshield of my delivery truck with wiper fluid and turned the wipers on to try and clear off the cotton balls, but the balls were frozen and just turned into a smear of white fuzz all over the glass. I had to get Betty to pour the coffee she had left in her thermos onto the windshield while I wiped with my handkerchief just to get enough of a peephole to see through so we could get back to the beef farm. We didn’t have enough coffee for Betty’s side so she couldn’t see anything.’”

Eva Everson said, “Kathy Cafferty called me to come pull her out of that ditch in front of her house that night. She misjudged where the turn for her driveway was because of the cotton ball mess. I thought I was going to have to go get my caterpillar, but I was finally able to pull her out with the wench.”

Tony Tremble said, “Me and Ted had to go pick up the Batterbuilt’s in the fire truck.”

The Batterbuilt’s run Barney’s Bakery down on Church. Everybody uses them for their wedding cakes and such. Their daughter, Beverly is one of the Dancing Gazelle’s.

Barney Batterbuilt said, “That’s right. We’d made a peephole like Brian did, and I thought I could make it home, but a car was coming towards me just before the bridge on 29 and the headlights made everything look distorted. That’s when I ran off the side of the road and busted the tires on the passenger side.” He said, “We called Thomas, but he was already out getting Harry Henderson’s truck.”

Thomas is Tony and Ted Tremble’s older brother. He’s got the only tow truck in town.

Nicole Nolan spoke up and said, “That was because of me. I couldn’t see a thing through all that cotton, so I stuck my head out the side window. I thought I could drive home like that because I just live two blocks away. I had my hat and scarf on so I was warm enough, but before I could even get out of the parking lot, I’d run straight into Harry Henderson’s pickup.”

Nicole is on pretty much every committee there is. She’s really big down at First Baptist.

Harry – he owns the hardware where Curtis works said, “It was just as much my fault as it was Nicole’s. I didn’t see her coming and pulled out in front of her.”

Sam Snyder, he knows a lot about hazards and risks being the safety manager at Sully’s and all. He’s married to Shelby. She’s Mayor Maize McMaster’s secretary. Anyways, Sam said, “I think it’s fair to say that Minnie’s pranks are beginning to endanger the safety of the people here in Goodwill. The risk of people getting hurt is only going to increase if she keeps going like this.”

Police Chief Perry Parker said, “I’d sure hate to have to put Minnie in jail. She’s going to have to be stopped for her own sake and everybody else’s too.”

Everybody knew Duncan would be practicing Sam and Chief Parker’s comments for repeat.

Charity Cartwright – she’s married to Curtis – she knows as much about people in town as Stella does being the head cashier down at Gilbert’s Grocery and all – anyways, Charity raised her hand and said, “I don’t think Minnie means to hurt anyone. Maybe she just wants some attention.”

After Charity had her say, Pauline Pritchett said, “Charity might be on to something. Minnie mostly just keeps to herself.”

Eva Everson said, “That’s true. The only person she ever had anything to do with, even back in high-school, was her father, and he died a few years ago.”

Charity said, “Maybe if Minnie knows we care about her, maybe if she feels included, she’ll stop the pranks.”

Sam Snyder said, “I certainly hope so for everyone’s sake.” Shelby gave Sam a wink and a thumbs up when he said that.

Pastor Pritchett said, “The Apostle Paul does commend us to encourage one another and build one another up.”

Brian Bullock – he’s the chairman of the deacons down at First Baptist too – he supplies all the beef for their Sunday night socials – anyways, he said, “Amen.” Betty folded her arms and shook her head in agreement, and some of the other deacons said, “Amen” too.

After that, people seemed to calm down a little. There was some discussion among some of the folks about exactly how to go about encouraging Minnie and building her up. Charity was the one who came up the idea of a whole day’s celebration honoring Minnie.

Mayor McMaster called the meeting back to order. Sully Sawyer – that’s Stella’s husband – he owns the sawmill where Sam works – anyways, he made a motion to officially recognize Minnie Prankster Day. Stella said, “Seconds to that!” and flashed her signature Ravish Me Red Revlon smile at Sully.

Stella keeps up with the latest styles. Last year she flew all the way to Minneapolis for a refresher course. Brides, prom girls, and beauty contestants as far away as Mooreland come to Goodwill to get Stella to do their hair and makeup.

When nobody was opposed, Mayor McMaster said, “Motion passed,” and whispered to Shelby, “It’s a good thing Minnie never comes to these meetings.”

She forgot to turn her microphone off when she said it.

After that, Nicole Nolan got busy and organized a lot of committees. Nicole always heads up the events down at First Baptist.

Kathy said she heard Betty Bullock whispering to the people sitting around her that, “Nicole’s a perfectionist and a bit hard to work with, but she’s the best organizer First Baptist has got.”

For years after, Mayor McMaster would say, “The planning sessions were the most fervent I’d ever seen.”

It was true. Other than Minnie’s pranks and the year the Gazelle’s won the regional championship, it was the most excitement Goodwill had seen in quite awhile.

What happened on Minnie’s way into town according to Kathy

According to what Kathy pieced together from what was said at the coffee counter, on the morning of the official day, which was a Saturday, as usual, Minnie was on her way to Gilbert’s Grocery. Several people said they had honked and waved at her. Principal Penny Proudfoot – she’s the principal of Goodwill high – anyways, she said that she’d passed Minnie about a mile before the Town Limits, Drive Slow, Speed Limit 25 signs. She told somebody, “I had the Minnie Prankster Day magnetic sign on the side of my car.” She said, “Minnie must have seen it.”

Principal Proudfoot is always in a hurry, even on the weekends, doing this or that with this or that club.

Miriam Moseley said she was out in the yard fertilizing her prize Pink Parfait roses when Minnie stopped her car in front of her house. She said, “I had situated my Minnie Prankster Day sign in the middle of my Sweet Williams where the Garden Club award had been. It looked real pretty there.” Miriam said she went over to Minnie’s car to see if she was all right and Minnie had said her head felt like it was buzzing, and she felt a little dizzy. Miriam said Minnie pointed to the sign and asked her, “What are all these signs about?” Miriam said she said, “The whole town just wants to officially recognize and celebrate you.” Miriam said she tried to get Minnie to come in the house until she felt better and she offered to call Dr. Carla down at Carla’s Clinic, but Minnie refused and mumbled that she’d be all right. Miriam said that, after Minnie backed out of her yard, she watched Minnie’s car as far as she could see and that it seemed to be weaving on and off the road a little bit.

What was heard around town about what Garrett Guthrie found out

Garrett Guthrie – he did an investigation of all that happened on Minnie Prankster Day since he’s the reporter for the Goodwill Gazette and all – anyways, he said Eva Everson and Sam Snyder both said they had waved at Minnie on their way into the Post Office. They said Minnie just stared at them with her mouth open and didn’t wave back. They said they were wearing their Minnie Prankster Day t-shirts like everybody else that day.

The decorating committee ordered the shirts. They’d paid an extra three dollars a shirt to have the photo of Minnie on the front.

Garrett said Mayor McMaster, and Pauline and Pastor Prichett, from over at First Baptist, all remember waving at her too just before they crossed the street to Kathy’s. Pauline said she thought Minnie looked kind of bewildered.

Preston Parker took the photo of Minnie that was on the t-shirts. He’s Police Chief Parker’s son and the photographer for the Goodwill Gazette. Everybody loves his action shots. He shoots for all the high school sports.

Anyways, Preston told Garrett he’d snapped the photo of Minnie just as she was taking a big bite of her meatball sandwich outside of Marty’s Mart. Marty told Garrett Minnie loved those. He said she came in at least twice a week to order one. Preston told Garrett seeing her picture probably made Minnie’s heart race. He said everybody gets excited when they see their picture in print.

What was heard around town about what happened at the red light at Main and Church

Henry, Deputy Henderson that is– he’s Harry’s son – that would be Harry over at the hardware  – anyways, he said he was standing on the corner of Main and Church when he saw Minnie. He said Minnie was looking up at the giant Celebrate Minnie Prankster Day banner hanging above the light when it turned red.

The banner had Preston’s photo of Minnie, only bigger.

Anyways, Deputy Henderson said Minnie almost ran the red light. He said she slammed on brakes halfway under it and had to back up a little. He said Minnie was rubbing her head, and, when he walked up to her window to see if she was okay, he’d noticed that her hands were trembling. He said the reason he noticed was because she kept wiping them across her overalls. He said he’d asked her if she was okay, and she said she was feeling a little sweaty and shaky. Deputy Henderson said he’d offered to drive Minnie to Dr. Carla’s, but she said she could make it to Gilbert’s all right.

Deputy Henderson is the one that always hides behind the big elm that sits a few feet from the Speed Limit 25 sign. Everybody knows it, but sometimes people forget and that’s when he gets them.

What was heard around town about what happened in the parking lot of Gilbert’s Grocery

Brian Bullock told Garrett Guthrie and some others that he saw Minnie stumbling across Gilbert’s parking lot. Brian said she didn’t even notice that he’d slammed on brakes to keep from hitting her.

Brian was making his Saturday delivery of grass-fed beef. Everybody as far over as Mooreland says Brian’s farm has the best beef around.

What Curtis Carwright told down at the hardware about what happened in Gilbert’s Grocery

Curtis Cartwright said Charity – she’s married to Curtis – she’s the one that came up the Minnie Prankster Day – anyways, Curtis said Charity saw Minnie come in and pick up a Gilbert’s Special’s flyer.  

Charity always stacks them in a magazine rack just inside the door.

Curtis said Charity said she and Gilbert had a lot of fun making up the flyer. They’d had Celebrating Minnie Prankster Day printed in bold forty-point font above the specials so it would stand out. They’d named some of the specials after Minnie. They’d changed baby carrots to Minnie Carrots —- 75¢ lb” and Gilbert’s single-serve pies to “Minnie Pies —- $1.00, all flavors.”

According to Curtis’ telling of it, Charity noticed Minnie was standing there looking at the flyer for a long time, so she’d gone over to Minnie and said, “Happy Minnie Prankster Day Minnie! I hope you like the flyer.”

Charity said, Minnie looked kind of disoriented so she’d asked Minnie if she was okay and Minnie had said something about her ears ringing and her head feeling like it was on fire. Charity said she offered to let Minnie sit behind one of the empty registers until she felt better, but Minnie wouldn’t. Charity said, when Minnie got to the checkout line, she’d noticed Minnie had forgotten half the items on her list.

Charity knows most people’s grocery buying habits.

Was what heard in Gilbert’s checkout line about Mayor McMaster’s ride with Minnie

Mayor McMaster told Chief Parker, when she pulled up to get Minnie that day, – Minnie didn’t know she was coming – anyways, Mayor McMaster said Minnie was standing beside the Goodwill Gazette box staring at the front page at Garrett Guthrie’s, Celebrate Minnie Prankster Day article.

It was a real nice article. In it, Chief Parker was quoted as saying,

Minnie keeps things mighty interesting around Goodwill. There have been some close calls and a few heart attacks that were suspected of being brought on by Minnie’s pranks, but, so far, no direct links to any deaths have been claimed or confirmed.

Garrett had listed the day’s events in the article too.

12:00 p.m. – Minnie Prankster Day Picnic at Goodwill Gardens, suggested prank food recipes page 7
2:00 p.m. – Minnie Prankster Day Parade on Main.

Mayor McMaster said she’d rolled the window down and motioned for Minnie to get into her car, but she said Minnie looked paralyzed, like a deer in headlights, so she had to get out and led Minnie to the her car. She said she helped Minnie into the passenger seat and put her cold items in the portable refrigerator she keeps hooked up in the hatch just in case.

She said, on the way, she told Minnie about the order of events and mentioned the impromptu speech that Minnie was expected give. She said Minnie just sat there kind of rigid and didn’t respond. Mayor McMaster said she wasn’t sure if Minnie heard anything she said. She said when she asked Minnie if something was wrong, Minnie had said she was dizzy and her head felt like it was burning up. Mayor McMaster said she reached over to feel Minnie’s head and it felt normal, but she let the windows down a bit and turned up the air conditioner anyway.

Chief Parker mentioned all that to Henry – Deputy Henderson that is. Anyways, Henry told it all to Harry. Henry is Harry’s boy.

The Henderson’s always eat supper together. Harriet – that was Henry’s mom –  anyways, she always made a fuss about family dinners when she was alive. Everybody says, between the two Henderson’s, they pretty much know everything that goes on around Goodwill. Harry knows all the news around the hardware, and Henry knows all the police business.

Anyways, the next day at work, Harry repeated his supper conversation with Henry to Curtis Carwright, and Curtis told Charity that afternoon on the way home from work.

The Cartwright’s always drive back and forth to work together since Harry’s Hardware is just across the street from Gilbert’s Grocery.

The next day Charity mentioned it to a few people in Gilbert’s checkout line and that’s how everybody found out about Minnie’s ride to the picnic with Mayor McMaster.

What Happened at the Minnie Prankster Day Picnic

When Mayor McMaster and Minnie got to Goodwill Gardens – that’s the name of Goodwill’s park – that’s where the Minnie Prankster Day Picnic was – Mayor McMaster seated Minnie in the Guest of Honor chair next to Principal Proudfoot.

Miriam Moseley had covered the chairs at Minnie’s table in blue satin and had put a red vase filled with her Profusion Red zinnias and a spray of blue cornflowers on the table. Red and blue are the official town colors. Everything looked real coordinated. That’s how Miriam does everything. If anybody in town has a shower or a tea, Miriam usually decorates for it.

Mayor McMaster sat on the other side of Minnie. Shelby Snyder sat by Mayor McMaster in case she was needed to fetch something. Shelby is Mayor McMaster’s secretary. Police Chief Parker and Pastor Paul Pritchard sat at the table too since they were to give speeches.

Shelby has the reputation of being a very observant secretary. Maybe she’s that way because she’s been married to Sam for so long, and he’s always talking about safety, that being his job and all down at the sawmill. Anyways Mayor McMaster always says she will tell anybody she’s glad to have Shelby.

Everybody lined their picnic food up buffet style on tables Miriam had covered the tables with red and blue plastic tablecloths. It was all prank food, so nobody was sure whether they should arrange the food by what it looked like or by what it really was.

Mayor McMaster welcomed everyone and Pastor Pritchett said a prayer. After that everyone lined up for the buffet. It had been decided though that Minnie should be served since she was the official Guest of Honor.

Little Felicia Fleming – she’s Faye and Ferrell’s granddaughter – Mrs. Botany’s great-grandchild – anyways, she had been selected to serve Minnie first.

At Fleming’s, the waiters and waitresses dress like roller derby skaters, so Felicia’s mom, Fifi, had dressed Felicia in a cute little derby uniform and a little Fleming’s apron.

Anyways, Felicia brought a plate of apple slices disguised as a French fries to Minnie. Minnie winced when she bit into one, and rubbed her front teeth. Felicia didn’t seem to notice. She curtsied to Minnie and skipped back to where Fifi and Faye were sitting.

After the apple-stick fries came Betty Bullock’s famous coconut candy pops. She’d made them to look like chicken nuggets on a stick.

Later on, Shelby told everyone down at Stella’s that she heard Betty tell Minnie it had taken her a whole day and a half to get them right. Shelby said Betty had stood right by Minnie until Minnie ate everyone of them. She said Minnie gagged a bit getting the last one down.

Next came Beverly Batterbuilt with chocolate balls wrapped in a big slice of pound cake and served on a crystal plate from Barney’s Bakery.

She was already dressed in her Dancing Gazelle outfit since there wasn’t much time between the picnic and the parade.

The desert looked like a Marty’s meatball sandwich. Barney Batterbuilt told the people sitting around him that he’d designed the dessert especially for Minnie since his brother-in-law – that would be Beverly’s Uncle Marty of Marty’s Mart – anyways, Marty had told Barney how much Minnie loved meatball sandwiches.

Shelby told some of the women at Stella’s that, after Minnie ate those, she’d noticed beads of sweat on Minnie’s forehead. Shelby said Minnie’s hands were trembling pretty bad too when she handed Beverly the crystal dish back. She said Beverly had to wait for the plate. It was one of the Batterbuilt heirlooms that Barney’s mother had given him.

Shelby said Beverly said, “Daddy said not to forget it.”

After what happened with Minnie, some people down at Kathy’s heard that Dr. Carla had told Chief Parker that she suspected all the sweets probably got Minnie’s sugar level off balance.

Kathy said, “The mashed potatoes Isaac Iverson had served to Minnie in a chocolate sprinkle cone probably couldn’t have helped the situation.”

Isaac owns Iverson’s Ice Cream Café. It’s less than a mile down from Fleming’s Fast food.

After Minnie had been served and people had got their plates full and settled down, Principal Proudfoot gave her speech, Outstanding Pranks Through the Years at Goodwill High. After that, Chief Parker and Pastor Pritchett gave their speeches. Pastor Pritchett told about the time Minnie sent out anonymous Christmas cards filled with glitter.

The cards said, May your holiday sparkle.

There was a lot of laughing after that since most everybody in town had got one of those. Duncan Day yelled out, “There was a whole lot of vacuuming around Goodwill that day,” and the laughing started up again.

Later on, Shelby told some of the women at Stella’s that was when she noticed that the carotid artery on the side of Minnie’s neck was throbbing.

None of the speakers brought up about the cotton balls since that was still kind of a touchy subject with some people.

After Pastor Pritchett’s speech – his was the shortest – he’s not the long-winded type – anyways, after that, Mayor McMaster asked Minnie to give that impromptu speech she had mentioned in the car, but Minnie said she felt a little nauseous.

Shelby said she’s sure the nausea began with Nicole’s chicken-on-a-stick.

Pauline was at Stella’s when Shelby said that and she said, “The big bite Minnie took out of that mayonnaise-filled donut probably topped it off.” Pauline said, “Minnie looked kind of green after that.”

Darla Day – she’s Duncan Day’s niece – she helps him at the donut shop sometimes – anyways, she had delivered the mayonnaise-filled donut to Minnie during Pastor Paul’s speech. Darla says she’s in the Goodwill Drama Club because she wants to be an actress some day. Some people suspect that Duncan’s impersonations have inspired her ambition.

Word around town was that Dr. Carla said, “It is possible that, if Minnie’s sugar had already spiked, Minnie may not have been thinking clearly when she had taken a big bite of the donut.”

Some of what was heard around town about what happened at the parade

Just before two o’clock, everyone walked over to Main Street. Mayor McMaster walked beside Minnie to the parade platform. Miriam had draped the platform in blue silk to match the chairs.

Mayor McMaster told Harry Henderson Minnie was still complaining about her head being on fire on the way over to the parade. Mayor McMaster said she’d felt of Minnie’s forehead again, and it did feel clammy, but it was still cool. She said she offered to have Dr. Carla take a look at her, but Minnie refused.

Dr. Carla has a brochure in her office that lists the symptoms of anxiety. Two of them are feeling hot and clammy skin.

When they got up in the parade platform, Mayor McMaster proclaimed Minnie the official Grand Marshal of the Minnie Prankster Day parade. Anybody there could have seen that Minnie’s face was quite flushed and that her hands were trembling when she took the microphone and stammered out, “Tha–tha-thank you for this h-h-honor.”

Later on, Shelby told Stella, “Minnie pretty much just dropped into her chair after that.”  

Mayor McMaster gave the signal to start the parade. Then she sat down beside Minnie. Principal Proudfoot, Police Chief Perry, and Pastor Pritchard, and, of course, Shelby sat there too.

After that the Marching Gazelles began moving down Main Street behind the Celebrate Minnie Prankster Day banner. Ted and Tony Tremble carried the banner. They looked real nice in their new volunteer fire uniforms. They raised the money for them last summer at the Friday night fish fries. The Trembles know how to fry fish.

The Marching Gazelles stopped right in front of the parade platform and played I Started a Joke and You Think It’s a Joke for Minnie. Shelby told some of the women at Stella’s that was when Principal Proudfoot had leaned across Mayor McMaster and whispered to Minnie, “They’ve been practicing for weeks.”

Shelby said that was when she’d noticed that Minnie was getting fidgety. She said Minnie kept chewing her bottom lip. Shelby said, “I asked Minnie if she would like a bottle of water. I told her ‘I have extras,’ but Minnie refused. Maybe she thought the water was pranked.”

Fourteen floats rolled down Main Street after that. The theme of course was Minnie’s Pranks. Pick-up trucks pulled all the floats except the FFA float. That’s the Future Farmer’s Association. Their tractor pulled it. They bought that tractor with money they’d raised from the Future Farmer’s Fruit and Vegetable Stand. They had mounted the stand on the float.

Some of the FFA members dressed up to look like Minnie. They had on wigs with short brown hair, and overalls, and gingham shirts, and Keds sneakers. They threw little bags of cherries and plums to the crowd. They weren’t rotten like the ones Minnie had thrown at people’s backs the day she’d volunteered to run the stand.

Some more talk around town about what happened at the parade

Later on, Chief Parker told Duncan Day, “Right when the FFA float was in front of us was when I pointed my finger at Minnie and shook it. She had thrown a rotten plum at me that day, but when I’d turned around, she acted like she was inspecting the receipt book.”

When Duncan told Shelby – impersonating Chief Parker’s voice of course – she was getting the chocolate covered confetti donuts she ordered special for Sam’s birthday party – anyways, Shelby said, “That’s exactly what Chief Parker did, and that was when I noticed that Minnie’s hands were shaking real bad and sweat was dripping off her chin. And, that was when I opened a water bottle and handed it to Minnie and said, ‘You’re going to have to drink this.’”

Later on, Miriam told everybody down at Stella’s that Minnie’s satin chair cover had so many sweat stains on it that she didn’t know if she’d ever get them all out in time for the Iverson’s twenty-fifth anniversary party. Miriam said, Isaac was bent on having it at Iverson’s Ice Cream Cafe, but she’d talked him into having it at the First Baptist’s dining hall since it has an industrial size kitchen.

Nicole Nolan politicked for that kitchen for years before they got it. On top of the Sunday Night Socials, Nicole’s in charge of the anniversary teas, and wedding receptions, and all the other events they have there. Some of the people down at the church said the money should be spent on missions and helping the people around, but others said the kitchen would bring in more folks. Anyways, Nicole finally got her way.

Trixie – that’s Ted Tremble’s wife – she’s one of Stella’s Monday regulars – she cleans the Volunteer Fire Station on Fridays – anyways, when Miriam said that about the sweat stains, Trixie said she’d noticed Minnie’s hair was clinging to her face that day. She said, “I guessed then she must be sweating pretty heavy.” Then Stella said, “If the day hadn’t been a surprise, I would’ve offered to do Minnie’s it for her. It’s pretty thin, but I could have at least lifted it and given it a thick coat of spray.”

The Dancing Gazelles and the Cheering Gazelles were staggered between the floats. The Dancing Gazelles were dressed in camouflage. The Women of the Woods had donated the outfits and Trixie Tremble had altered them.

Trixie does alterations on Mondays and Wednesdays.

They performed a choreographed dance that had a lot of hopping and running in it.

Later on, Beverly Batterbuilt told some people down at Barney’s Bakery that their dance was inspired by the prank Minnie pulled at the Women of the Woods winter camp-out last fall.

Beverly has been on the dance team for two years now. She tells everybody she loves it.

Anyways, everybody had heard about the camp-out prank. About midnight Minnie had yelled, “Bear! Run!” All the women had run out of their tents barefooted because before she yelled, Minnie had somehow gotten everyone’s shoes and hung them from the trees around.

Eva Everson – she’s the Wood’s leader – anyways, after it happened, she’d told Kathy, “We couldn’t run too far because the pinecones and briars were sticking our feet.”

Later, when Kathy retold it, she’d said, “Can you just imagine how that looked?”

Shelby told some of the women down at Stella’s that during the dance was when Principal Proudfoot had tapped Minnie on the shoulder and pointed out the Gazelles’ horns to Minnie.

The Gazelle’s had been glittered and glued the horns to headbands.

Shelby said that was when Principal Proudfoot told Minnie, “That’s what they did for two hours last night. I’m telling you glue and glitter was everywhere.”

Shelby said, “When Principal Proudfoot said that, those big brown eyes of Minnie’s glazed over glassy like, and I thought she was going to slide right out of that chair.”

Shelby said that was when she’d tapped Mayor McMaster on the shoulder and pointed at Minnie. Mayor McMaster told Chief Parker that Minnie did look pretty bad at that point.  

After the dancers finished, a few more floats passed by, and then the cheerleaders stopped in front of the parade platform and chanted an original cheer. Cherry Childers – she’s the team captain – she’s good with rhyming – anyways she had made up the cheer especially for the occasion.

Minnie! Minnie!
Pranks aplenty!
Goooooo Minnie!

The cheer was pretty catchy so it didn’t take long for people to turn towards Minnie and chime in on the five repeats. Most in the crowd were doing the hand motions right along with the cheerleaders.

Shelby said that was when she noticed that Minnie seemed a little delirious. She said, during the cheer, Minnie was still staring out blank like but that she was saying something. Shelby said, when the noise died down, she made out that Minnie was muttering something about burning coals of fire on her head. Shelby said that’s when she pulled out the Gilbert’s flyer she’d stuffed in her pocket and started fanning Minnie with it.

When Chief Parker interviewed Dr. Carla, she said, “It is possible that, if Minnie’s blood sugar had spiked, and that, if she had gotten dehydrated from sweating so profusely, that she very well could have been delirious at that point.”

Chief Parker mentioned that to Duncan who retold it in Dr. Carla’s voice. He does a pretty good impression of her too.

Duncan says he can get anything out of Chief Parker when the chief’s munching on a hot glazed donut.

Curtis Cartwright – he and Charity and Garrett Guthrie were standing pretty near the platform – anyways, he said he saw Shelby fanning Minnie and that was when he’d noticed that Minnie’s face was very pale. He said he had pointed it out to Charity and Garrett. Garrett said he saw Shelby fanning Minnie too and that Minnie didn’t look too good, and he remembered Curtis saying that he hoped Minnie was okay.

At the end of the parade, the Goodwill Fire Department volunteers, except for Ted and Tony Tremble – they were still holding the banner in front of the parade platform – anyways, the volunteers all hung from the fire truck waving and throwing out candy that made everyone’s lips blue for the rest of the day.

That was in honor of the prank Minnie pulled last Halloween. Blue lips were flapping all over town for awhile after that.

What was heard about what happened after the parade

After the parade, Mayor McMaster awarded first place to the Cotton Balls on Cars float. The Goodwill Boosters Club sponsored it. She said the boosters were very thankful to Santiago’s Salvage and Gilbert’s Grocery.

Mr. Santiago had donated the front end of the red sixty’s Saab to the boosters and Gilbert had had put in a special order at the grocery for the twenty-five bags of cotton balls the football team had glued to the Saab’s windshield. They got the discount price that way.

Second place was awarded to Blood in the Bathroom sponsored by the Goodwill High Drama Club. Mayor McMaster said the club wanted to thank Harry’s Hardware.

Harry had donated a gallon of red paint, a cracked sink, and a toilet. The drama team had acted out a short skit as the float moved past Minnie. It was mainly just drama students running around the float pointing and screaming, “B-luuuuuud!”

Shelby told everybody at Stella’s that was when Principal Proudfoot had pointed to the drama students and said to everyone on the parade platform, “Look at that. The horror on their faces is so realistic.”

Shelby said that was when she had noticed that Minnie’s eyes were beginning to look vacant – like Minnie’s body was there, but Minnie was somewhere else.

Toothpaste in the Oreos, sponsored by the First Baptist church won third place.  The youth group had made up a cardboard Oreo out of some shipping boxes they’d gotten from Gilbert’s and the hardware. When that float had paused in front of Minnie, the youth group had reenacted the coughing and gagging the cookies had caused at the church’s One-Hundred Year Dinner on the Grounds celebration.

Shelby said that was when Pastor Prichett had cupped his hands and shouted to Minnie, “That’s one celebration we will never forget!”

Shelby said that was when she noticed that Minnie’s eyes were half closed and that she was awfully damp and limp.

That’s probably the picture Preston Parker took of Minnie where she looks like a limp dish rag.

After the awards were over, Mayor McMaster told Garrett Guthrie that she had planned to drive Minnie back to her car at Gilbert’s Grocery, but Minnie looked so pale, and had started breathing so rapidly, and seemed so incoherent that she decided it was best to take her straight on to Dr. Carla’s Emergency Care Clinic. Mayor McMaster said, “I’m normally a calm person but, when Minnie’s pupils started dilating, I was shaking like a treed squirrel myself.”

Garrett said Mayor McMaster said Dr. Carla said Minnie was suffering from shock. Mayor McMaster said Dr. Carla laid Minnie down on her exam table, elevated her legs, and covered her with a blanket. She said Minnie’s pulse was barely perceptible. The mayor said, when Dr. Carla couldn’t get Minnie to respond, she began CPR.

Remembering Minnie

The next Monday after the parade, Garrett Guthrie’s article, Remembering Minnie Prankster, appeared on the front page of the Goodwill Gazette. Kathy was sitting behind the counter reading the article when Duncan Day came over to get his regular Guatemalan pour over. Kathy said, “Listen to this,” to Duncan, and to anybody else at the counter who wanted to hear.  

Minnie Prankster of Goodwill passed away from shock after the Minnie Prankster Day parade. Opinions vary as to what put her into such a state.

Goodwill’s Mayor Maize McMaster said, “As far as I know, not one word of the celebration reached Minnie.” She speculates that “Maybe it was the surprise of it all that got to her.”

“Maybe finding out that everybody knew she was ‘The Prankster’ was just too much for her,” was the opinion of Eva Everson, the owner of Eva’s Excavation.

Charity Cartwright, the head cashier at Guthrie’s Grocery has a different view. “I think Minnie just got overwhelmed by the town’s kindness,” she said, “but I never knew Goodwill to kill anybody.”

Image is by deceased relative of Infrogmation (talk) – Family photo collection inherited by Infrogmation (talk), GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5587504