The Holey Sweets Underwear Manufacturing Company from New York invades Butler’s Butte Texas to open a new plant and manufacture intimates and undies. New York snobbery clashes with small town values when Edna Glaspey goes to work for the firm. Her life will never be the same when she walks through the doors of Holey Sweets. The town of Butler’s Butte is as much of a character as its inhabitants of backwoods, hill country people. Crooked business deals, murder, prostitution, secret abortions, a serial killer and underwear add to wackiness of this tale. The plant brings more than jobs to the town. It brings a new way of thinking. Edna is forced to abandon her small town closed mindedness and become tolerant of people who are different from her. It’s Edna who catches a notorious killer of gay me from Dallas. Butler’s Butte was his dumping ground. This is the same Edna who had threatened to read Leviticus 20:13 to her grandson when she thought he was spending too much time with the town sissy.
The Holey Sweets Underwear Manufacturing Company
Edna Glaspey slammed her arms like two fat hams onto the newspaper. She took a pencil in her right hand and began circling ads. Her loops were thick like mascara. Her grandson Jericho had suggested she use the computer to hunt for a job. But Edna would have none of that. No beeping little box full of blue writing and flashing pictures lead to anything solid, Edna reasoned. “A newspaper is solid,” Edna said to Jericho as he lapped coffee out of a saucer. “Solid as the pages in the Bible.” The first ad she encountered as she squinted at the paper through her turtle colored bifocals was for a hair stylist at Mabel Marley's Hair Emporium. “Shit I wouldn’t work for that witch if she was the only hair stylist in town.” “Um Mah Mah, she is the only licensed beautician.” “Nah she ain’t. Beulah's got a license. And she do dead colored people’s hair and she don’t hire no sissy in her place.” “Can’t nobody fit in that nook in her garage but her. Her paper’s done expired. That’s why she only do hair after five o’clock and her little bitty sign say ‘Air Fixing’ instead of Hair Fixing. She trying to throw off the inspectors.” “Well, she do my hair just right.’ “Um, I reckon.” “You don’t know nothing about hair.” “Mah Mah, maybe you can do something at Clyde’s. His business done picked up since the train started coming through again. Just last week that train killed a chicken farmer and his wife. Spared all the chickens they was hauling.” “The hoot with you boy! I ain’t working in no darn Funeral Home. Darn buzzards flying around there big as eagles.” “Them buzzards don’t know dead peoples in there. Whenever I go in there, it smells spicy like your ginger cakes. Don’t smell like nothing dead to me. I think them buzzards there ‘cause of that ol’ slaughter house nearby closed down.” “Well, you get you a job at Clyde’s.” “I’m scared of dead peoples.” “And what you think about me?” Edna looked up at her grandson. “And don’t be comparing the smell of my ginger cakes to any smell at Clyde’s.” “I ain’t saying they smell the same.” “Still, don’t be mentioning them in the same breath with Clyde’s.” “I’m talking about a job Mah Mah. You say you took typing in High school and you knows how to sew.” “Dead folks don’t need no letters typed and no clothes made.” “I heard they sews their lips together to keep their mouths from popping open grinning at folks like a chess cat.” Jericho bared his lips back at Edna and got in her face.” “You get outta my face before I take a switch to you, boy.” Jericho got up and walked like a zombie around the room. Teeth bared and hands outstretched. “You stop that dead walking in my kitchen or else I ain’t cooking no butter biscuits tonight.” Jericho sat down. While Edna had her nose stuck in the paper, he sneaked and bared his teeth behind her back close to her neck. Edna swatted at him with her hand and hollered at him stop or else. Edna circled a couple more ads and threw the pencil down. She took her a sip of coffee. “Them darn health nuts.” “I feel you, Mah Mah. Why folks from way up in Dallas come down here and meddle in Butler’s Butte’s business? Talking about rank sausages.” “All they had to do was boil em in a stock pot full of saltwater with just a little half-teaspoon of bleach. That would have cured the rankness.” “And wouldn’t mess up the flavor.” “Nah it wouldn’t. Them thangs had so much pecan wood smoke in them, you could belch a week later and still taste the smoke in your mouth.” “Sure could.” “But nah, just because a few so-called important folks up there in Dallas got sick, here they come all swooping down here in Butler’s Butte and Banyon’s Meat Packing like we had Osama Ben Laddin hidin’ out in here. Got the news cameras all up in Mrs. Banyon’s face—You know I never thought she was as old as she was. The cameras showed all kind of lines and cracks in her face. Them darn news folks closed down the biggest job around here. “Mr. Banyon almost went to jail.” “Sure did. His poor ol trucks--well sometimes they did break down between here and Dallas and the refrigerators went dead on ‘em a lot. But that don’t mean he was being negligible or malicious.” “I kept telling him about those trucks. You know I worked on ‘em every Saturday evening. You can only keep a truck running for so long. Even if it is a International Harvester,” Jericho said with a bit of smugness. Edna looked up at the star shaped light fixture on her kitchen’s ceiling. “You know, Jericho I bet ol’ Brown had something to do with some of that negative publicity. He didn’t say one word in defense of Banyon’s.” “Not a peep. And he the Mayor. He supposed to fight for Butler’s Butte.” “And now they bring the Bullet Train to Butler’s Butte after Banyon’s closed down. Something funny going on. They trying to declare Banyon’s land a hazard site. What kind of fighting for your citizens is that? And funny thing his son was down here from Washington. Don’t he work for something on the computer? “Yahoo.” “What’s that?” “A thing people go into on the computer when they need to get somewhere.” “Go into the computer to get somewhere?” “Aw Mah Mah. I don’t know exactly. Solomon says it for news, weather, sports, and a whole lot of stuff. If we had a computer, I’d know more about it.” Edna looked at her grandson for a moment. “Ain’t no computer comin’ in this house. Rev. Boyd says it’s all kinds of sins in them boxes. He gave a big sermon on homosexuals last Sunday. Speaking of, you better quit hanging around that sissy Solomon. Folk’s going to be saying funny things about you.” Aw nah they won’t. Everybody know me and Sheila is tight.” “Y’all ain’t too tight. You ain’t married her.” “How we going to get married and I ain’t got no job? Ain’t we talking about how Banyon’s done closed down?” “You had plenty time to marry her before Banyon’s got shut down.” “She got to agree to it too. You know she taking care of her sick mama.” “A woman that take care of her mama got plenty room in her heart for a man.” “I ain’t moving in no sickhouse.” “I’d rather move in there than be always hanging around that sissy. Don’t let me have to read Leviticus to you.” “Y0u ain’t reading nothing to me, Mah Mah. Not a thing.” Jericho grabbed his cap off the nail in the doorjamb and stalked out the house. “Don’t let me read Leviticus,” Edna shouted at the screeching tires as his truck screamed out of the driveway. “Lord, don’t let me read Leviticus in this house,” she said to herself as her eyes slowly scanned the column of Help Wanted ads. “Lord, maybe I should let you pick me out a job.” She closed her eyes and traced her finger carefully along the paper once, then twice just in case it landed on Mable Marley’s ad. Then she traced it some more. She opened her eyes and her finger had stopped on a tiny peculiar reading ad:
Holey Sweets Underwear Manufacturing Needs Seamstresses Send In Resume to firstname.lastname@example.org
Edna looked at the address and thought it seemed odd. What was she supposed to resume and what kind of address didn’t have no street number? She would have to ask Jericho about that when he got back from either Sheila’s or Solomon’s. “I wonder if it’s some kind of religious concern?” Edna asked herself. “Or maybe it’s holly and it’s got to do with Christmas. Could be a fruitcake operation. But nah, it says underwear. I wonder if Peg or Shawna heard anything about this? Needs seamstress,” she murmured. “Now if there is one thing I can do, it is sew. I can whip out a house dress in a day and a Sunday dress in two,” she said circling her index finger around the ad.
People had often told Edna she had been wasting her talent at Banyon’s stuffing pig entrails with questionable hog parts and things that weren’t part of the hog. The only outlet for the display of her sewing talent was her church choir, River Valley Baptist/Butler’s Butt Pentecostal Church and wedding gowns. Edna belonged to the Baptist side of the slash. The congregations alternated their Sundays and every other Wednesday. The Pentecostals took every Saturday and for the most part, this arrangement worked out pretty well...unless there was a funeral or Christmas fell on a Sunday. Then Reverend Silas Boyd and Elder-Overseer-Bishop-Prophetess Laura Mae Waters tossed a coin. Before that coin toss, they pulled straws to decide who would be heads and who would be tails. Bishop-Prophetess Laura May always seems to draw the larger straw and chose heads. But tails won. And if the coin toss couldn’t decide the outcome of who had the church on Christmas, then the Sheriff settled the matter by threatening to throw Silas Boyd in jail. The Sheriff just happened to be Elder-Overseer-Bishop-Prophetess Laura Mae Waters’ cousin. Edna’s blazing blue choir robes could be seen way up in Heaven and was probably blinding God himself, folks often remarked. Edna had spent almost a year on turning that roll of remnant sky blue “sateen” fabric into a garment fit to blind the devil. She had ordered two Crisco sized tubs of red sequins and the same quantity of Number eight dazzling white sequins. The red became curlicued initials RVB’s near the backsides of the robes and the white was supposed to be a treble clef over the heart. But folks remarked that her treble clef looked more like a J. Edna not wanting to be outdone by this mishap, convinced the choir director Velma Trueblood to adopt the motto “Singing in the Key of Jesus.” Thus, the J looking treble clef was saved. Now there were those red blazers she made for the Elks Club men. People would have joined just for the Blazers, except every member of the Elks Club died after getting sick on a cruise ship that went to the Bahamas and got stuck there for two days. It took about three years for all fifteen of those Elks men to die. But they still died. Doctor’s called it Legion Airs or something like that. “And to think how close I came to joining the Elks, Mah Mah,” Jericho told her as he drove her car on the way back from burying the last Elk. “You had taken the measurements for my blazer. It almost became my shroud.” “Yep almost as close as you been to marrying Sheila.” Edna glanced over the back seat and winked at Sheila, who glared at the back of Jericho’s high domed baldhead. Jericho gunned the motor. For a while, there was a rumor that there had been something in the fabric that Edna had used to make the Blazers and that was what killed the men. But just as that rumor was about to catch fire and destroy Edna’s sewing reputation, The Windstar Phone Company dug some trenches and gave the town Cable TV. The Discovery Channel was running a series called “WHATS KILLING THE RED ELKS?” There was an autopsy scene where a Doctor held up a piece of the liver from one of the Elks. He described mottled purple blemishes and used a whole bunch of scientific words and said stuff like, “And a cultured pathology of the left region shows striated variations of the liver…” People in Butler’s Butt turned their television sets off and just quietly went about their business. Not a peep was mentioned about Edna or Legion Airs. Good country people are satisfied with, “God had a hand in it.” Edna stopped making wedding gowns. Now she didn’t stop making them because they were ugly. In my opinion, most wedding gowns are down right silly looking. They remind me of a Christmas pageant with all them folds of fabric and veils. All they need is a one of them aluminum foil halos that folks attach to their foreheads pretending to be angels and you can’t tell a wedding from a Christmas play. Well, Edna made this wedding dress for Mayor Brown’s middle Daughter—the one who has the personality disorder that makes her deliberately try to get stung by bees if she don’t take her psychiatrist medicine. They said Brown actually gave the boy--who was a bit slow himself graduating out of high school in Dallas at almost 21--a used Lincoln Town Car, five hundred dollars, plus arranged for him to work at Clyde’s Mortuary. Well, the job at Clyde’s didn’t last too long because that boy was, as Clyde put it delicately, “Acting peculiar” around the dead women. So anyways Edna made Brianna’s gown out of something called taffeta with yellowish lace zigzagging all over it. It was the talk of the town. But people’s reaction to things can lead to some odd requests. Women started coming to Edna not for wedding dresses for their daughters, but for shrouds for themselves to be buried in at some future date. Edna gave it a try. She made one lavender tunic looking shroud and decided to try it on just before Jericho got off from work. She laid down in that gown on her neatly made up bed, folded her big arms across her chest just like she was a dead woman, and before you know it, she was fast asleep. Jericho came home and saw his grandmother laid out like that and went to whooping and hollering, he almost scared Edna to death. She jumped off her bed and scared him back to death. And it didn’t help matters for her to be running towards him trying to calm him down. He thought for sure, he was being chased by a dead woman. It took the sheriff and the ambulance crew to come out and get them two calmed down. Edna decided she had enough of making shrouds and wedding gowns. The only wedding gown she swore to make was one for Sheila to marry Jericho in. The only death shroud she would make was for herself to be buried in, hopefully not until she saw Jericho married off or after the year 2020--whichever came first.
Edna knew she was a good seamstress, but she still sat puzzled as the Saturday sky turned purple, over what that Holey Sweets Underwear was all about. Her calls to Peg and Shawna didn’t lead to not one good answer. All them girls could offer was just a whole bunch of country talk about buttermilk pies and Bingo. “Well,” Edna said after she had hung up the phone from Shawna, “I guess I got to go see Blind Pudding.