This segment wraps up the short story of Rosemary, one chapter in A Pocket Full of Posies. Next week we’ll start out with another lady, another posie in the pocket, as I add to this WIP.
Return to TUESDAY TALES for more great story snippets written to the weekly prompt.
Rosemary arrived home before the skies opened up and dropped a months’ worth of rain on the fields surrounding the shelter. Coco spent the whole evening either huddled in Rosemary’s arms or attached to her side like a shadow. The next few days Rosemary sloshed out to the pens, mud sucking at her feet every step of the way. She was thankful for the heavy duty rain boots she’d purchased on a whim, never dreaming that she’d get so much use out of them.
She worried that the mud would ruin the upcoming BBQ. Fortunately two weeks of warm, sunny weather followed the storm. By the morning of the fundraiser, the fields were dry and already beginning to show cracks. The trees and shrubs blanketing the property showed their thanks for the earlier rainfall by bursting into vivid green leaf. Queen’s Anne Lace blossomed along the roadside, billowing in the breeze as a welcoming entrance.
The morning of the BBQ began early for Rosemary and her friends. Nora and Steve arrived with a car load of musical instruments, extra chairs, food, drinks, bags of ice and boxes of raffle prizes. Lisa arrived shortly afterwards bearing foil wrapped trays of mouthwatering smoked brisket.
The crew stayed in motion all morning getting everything ready for the guests. Seating was set up. Food was arranged on long tables. Sodas and water bottles were placed in ice chests. Plates, napkins and cutlery were arranged. A side table attractively displayed all the door prizes that Nora and Rosemary had collected: gift baskets, gift certificates, books, t-shirts, key chains, bottles of wine, and specialty chocolates. The pens housing the shelter animals were clean and sparkling, ready for tours to show off the sweet faces looking for new homes.
Cars started arriving as the finishing touches were under way. One by one they came down the dirt road, parking in the large open field designated for parking. The crew moved into high gear and didn’t have a moment to stop, think or relax. Everyone was hard at work – feeding and corralling the crowd, giving tours of the facility, showing off the cats and dogs available for adoption, and selling raffle tickets.
After running all day and being pulled in a dozen directions, Rosemary stopped for a moment in the dappled shade of a grove of post oaks near the picnic area. Lisa joined her on the sidelines, enjoying a rare moment inactivity, listening to Steve’s mellow voice accompanying his acoustic guitar as the band captivated the attendees. “The brisket’s all gone. It’s a good thing I brought extra.”
Rosemary nodded. “It was delicious. You have me spoiled now for any other brisket. Everyone loved it. I saw several going back for seconds. And I think a few went back for thirds.”
“I knew I had to bring more than I originally planned. Nora told me that she sold all one hundred tickets. I think I’ve been smoking brisket all week.” Lisa pulled her long tresses back and held them on top of her head with a hand. A trickle of sweat ran down the side of her face. “I think my hair permanently smells like a mixture hickory, cherry and mesquite chips now.”
“Oh, look.” Rosemary pointed to the stage, where their friend was stepping up. “Nora’s going to sing.”
Steve’s soft announcement followed her arrival on stage. “My lovely wife and her sweet voice is going to join us on this song. I think most of you know this one. From one of the Fathers of Rock and Roll, Chuck Berry.” The lead guitar began the early strums of a recognizable oldie-but-goodie, Johnny B. Goode, and the crowd burst into applause.
It was well after midnight before the attendees finally filtered out, leaving the fundraiser crew alone – exhausted and drooping, yet elated at the success.
Band members packed up guitars, drums, amplifiers, and the miscellaneous gear that follows them from event to event. Rosemary, Nora, and Lisa wandered the grounds, picking up the last bits of trash. Rosemary couldn’t keep from grinning. “Did you see the sign-up sheet for the work day next week? Almost twenty people signed up to come help. And four ladies approached me about volunteering a few hours every week. They said they’d clean pens, feed, walk dogs and spend some social time with the cats.”
“Awesome!” Lisa clapped her hands. “And you placed some animals tonight, too, didn’t you?”
“Yes! After the tour, several people fell in love and wanted to adopt today. Three cats and two dogs went to new loving homes.”
Nora sidled up to Rosemary and slipped a fat, bulky envelope in her hands. “Here’s the money from the meal tickets and from the raffle prizes. This should buy the rest of the fencing materials you need. There should be enough left over for a lot of meals and medicines for the furry ones.”
Rosemary looked down at the bulging envelope she held and burst into tears. Before she knew it, Nora and Lisa embraced her in a group hug, silent tears slipping down their cheeks too.
“I can’t thank you enough,” Rosemary choked out between sobs.
Nora patted her friends back. “It’s not just for you. It’s for the animals too – the ones without a voice or a vote. We’re all in this together. We’re all connected – whether we walk on two legs or on four. We can’t take care of every stray animal in this world. But we can help the ones in our backyards. One by one. If we all do what we each can, together we can help the ones that need it.”
She held an imaginary glass high above her head. “Here’s to many more furry lives saved by Fur Baby Haven … and more years of friendship, love and caring.”
Another hug sealed Nora’s words as a pact between the three friends, joined together in their mission. They’d discovered that the tribulations life threw at them – storms, county inspectors, lack of funds – nothing could stand in their way. The echoing barks from the kennels behind them confirmed their words, as if the pups were joining in the celebration.