Chapter 9

Dolly's Cookout

At 6:00 the cookout began at Dolly's place. Everyone in the whole town looked forward to Dolly's cookout more than any other get-together they had in the town. The cookout was always a fun way to start the summer and made everyone look forward to that summer.

At that Harrison house Mrs. Harrison stood in front of the mirror staring at her reflection. She sighed heavily and ran her fingers through her hair.

"You okay Gloria?" David asked stepping into the room.

"Yes. . .I'm fine," she replied walking over to the closet to get her shoes.

"Will was just telling me about Dolly's cookout. He said that that boy Levi said that it was unlike any other cookout," David said smiling.

"I could really care less," Gloria said bitterly.

"Gloria, why do you have to be so difficult? Why can't you just try and be happy?" David asked angrily.

"I don't have to pretend David. I'm a grown woman. I hate this town. The people are so nosy and I just can't stand this heat," Gloria said fanning herself.

"Well I'm sorry about that but I like it here. And you want to know something else? Will is actually acting happy for once in his life. And you want to ruin that all because you can't stand the heat and the people?" David retorted.

Gloria didn't reply back although she wanted to fire back at her husband. Instead she pulled on her shoes and left the room.

The Harrisons soon left for Dolly's place and as they stepped out of the house they saw a bunch of their neighbors and town folk heading towards her place as well.

"Do you even know where she lives?" Gloria asked.

"Well not really but I'll go ask that fellow over there," David said walking over to a middle-aged man that lived right next to the Harrisons. Soon David returned.

"He said we could go with him. He's walking so we'll just walk to. There's no sense in taking the car," David said.

"Yet another thing I hate about this town. They believe in walking to everywhere you go," Gloria muttered under her breath.

"What's that honey?" David asked his wife.

"Nothing David. I was just. . .humming," Gloria said sighing.

The family followed Gregory Smith, the middle-aged man who was their neighbor down the street to Dolly's place. Already people were walking around Dolly's yard. Dolly had decorated the place a little bit with some streamers and little things. She had several picnic tables setting out in the yard and the grill was setting nearby too. As soon as the Harrison family stepped onto the yard Dolly came running out to them. She was dressed in a pair of blue jeans and a flashy pink shirt and of course she wore her favorite high heels.

"Hello there! I'm so glad you came," Dolly said taking Gloria's arm and leading over her to where several other women were sitting.

Gloria seemed to be rather nervous and upset but Dolly didn't notice.

"We missed you at the beauty shop this mornin'. Where were you honey?" Dolly asked as she and Gloria sat down at one of the picnic tables.

"I. . .couldn't make it. I'm sorry," Gloria said clutching her purse in her hands tightly.

"Well that's a shame. Listen Gloria, you just sit here and talk with Erma. I've got to go and see if Parker needs any help with the hamburgers," Dolly said as she turned and walked away.

Meanwhile Levi and Marcus were talking to Will. As they stood talking in Dolly's yard a man in his fifties came over to them.

"Howdy there boys!" the man said with a smile.

He was a short man with dark brown hair and he wore a straw hat and a pair of old blue overalls. When Will saw him he had his suspicions that the man was 'farmer brown'.

"Hello Mr. Eaton. Mr. Eaton this is Will Harrison. He and his family just moved here," Levi said.

"It's an honor I'm sure. My name's Marvin, Marvin Eaton," the man said with a large smile.

"Mr. Eaton owns and hosts Bogart's own little radio station," Marcus said.

"That's right young man. Will, you'll have to listen in sometime. I have my own little show in the mornings from 9:00 to 10:30," Marvin said.

"I'll have to listen in then," Will said with a smile.

"You do that," Marvin said patting Will on the back as he walked over to where some other men stood in the yard talking.

"Marvin is like Dolly, he's unique. You'll never meet another person like him," Levi chuckled.

"Hey, why don't we go see if Dolly needs any help?" Levi suggested.

The three boys went inside the house to find Dolly and as they entered the house they heard Dolly and her husband yelling at one another.

"Parker, please just cooperate," Dolly said flustered.

"You know how much I hate these social get-togethers," Parker said with a sigh.

"Well I love them and I think it's high time you did. You're such a loner and you need to get out of the house more," Dolly said blowing a curl of hair from between her eyes.

"Now please just help me find that stupid radio," Dolly said stepping into the kitchen where Levi, Marcus, and Will stood.

When she saw them standing there she started laughing.

"Well I guess you heard me and Parker gettin' at it didn't ya?" she asked as she turned on the faucet in the sink and filled a cup with water.

"We're sorry Dolly. We didn't mean to intrude. We just were wondering if you needed any help with getting everything ready," Levi said.

"I'm glad to see that you boys aren't goin' to turn out like Parker. Come with me out back and you can carry the paper plates and cups out to the picnic tables for me," Dolly said leading the boys through the house and out to the back door.

After we had gotten all the plates and cups outside and onto the picnic tables we went back inside the house.

"We need some good music goin'. Let me find my radio real quick," Dolly said going into her room and rummaging around. She soon returned carrying a radio that was covered in dust.

"I hope it still works," she said as she took it outside and plugged it up to an extension cord. She sat the radio on the hood of an old junky, run-down truck that was sitting next to the house. She turned it on and turned up the volume and bouncy music began to play and it could be heard all over the yard.

"Yee-haw! Now that's more like it," Dolly said clapping her hands and laughing.

"I wonder if anybody will start dancing?" Levi said.

"No doubt Erma will. Remember that time at Gerald's birthday party?" Marcus asked.

"How could I forget? When they turned on that music she jumped up and started dancing. It was hilarious," Levi laughed.

"What's that smell?" Will suddenly asked.

The three boys sniffed the air and they all smelled smoke. They looked around trying to see where it was coming from but they didn't see anything. Then finally Levi spotted it.

"Oh my gosh! Look over there at the grill!" Levi yelled.

Sure enough, there was a cloud of smoke hovering over the grill and filling the air.

"Quick let's go tell Dolly!" Marcus said running inside the house.

"Dolly! I think the hamburgers and hotdogs are burning," Marcus said as he burst into the house.

"What?!" Dolly exclaimed as she followed the boys outside.

When she saw the smoking grill her eyebrows narrowed and she got an angry look on her face.

"I'm going to kill that man!" she cried out as she ran over to the smoking grill.

To Be Continued. . .