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The Tallywacker Chapter 5
Thefifth episode in the weekly serial
from the fountain pen of Alexandra R. Nyfors
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Buckets of Fun

After a few weeks of working, Mrs. Hibbert found herself promoted to working
four days a week. Portia disappeared with nary a trace. The cash register
and she reached a meeting of the minds, although she knew they would never
be friends.

Then Tom gave her keys and asked her to open in the mornings. She was a
valued employee! Her sense of self-worth experienced an extreme upsurge,
which led to all sorts of interesting interactions with Mr. Hibbert.

There was one thing, though, that was proving to be problematic. Virginia
was of an age that she was unfortunately afflicted with the universal
leveler among middle-aged women: the Dreaded Hot-Flash.

The first time it happened, the customer she was talking to watched the
flush rise up her neck to take over her head with some trepidation. He tried
to ignore it, but as beads of sweat popped from her brow, he found himself
unable to concentrate on natural sunblock.

“Are you all right?” he asked.

As he was a young man of no great exposure to women of menopausal age,
Virginia’s direct answer (“Of course dear, it’s just a hot flash.”) left him
puzzled. Subsequent research caused him great embarrassment. He was unable
to contemplate going in the store again for several weeks.

The year was advancing. It was sometime during the following week that Mrs.
H. realized that the store air-conditioning was not going to adequately
chill the store against the afternoon sun. Combining the California
afternoon with a hot flash was clearly not a supportable combination for a
store clerk who was dealing with the public and needed to keep more than
half a brain about herself. Something had to be done.

The first thing she tried was keeping damp washcloths in the cooler. Tom
objected to this.

“Mrs. H., we can’t do that. If the health inspectors came in we could lose
our food license!”

“But I need them!” she protested as rivulets of sweat rolled down her
beet-red face and her pantyhose became damply crawly.

“Can’t you bring in a cooler to keep them in? Like a picnic cooler?”

“I suppose I could. Of course, it wouldn’t be as handy as keeping them in
here because I’d have to go into the back to get them, so I guess I’d have
to lock up, but if that’s what you want me to do I guess I could.”

“Okay! Okay! There’s room under the front counter,” he agreed quickly. “But
at the end of your shift you’ll have to put it in the back room.”

So for awhile she would mop her face and neck with cool cloths, and squeeze
the cold water into her hair. Sometimes it felt like steam was rising from
her, but it did seem to help with the outer manifestations. It didn’t do
much to make her more comfortable though.

Her discomfort was borne completely of her own doing. The fact was, Mrs.
Hibbert had a secret.

Over the years, her form had not maintained its sylph-like slenderness.
Especially, after her children reached the age where sweets were a normal
part of their diet, she was unable to keep herself from gaining a certain
amount of weight every year. Although she struggled, it was not to be – her
form continued to thicken as the years passed.

What was worse, her upper bits had not swelled with the lower bits, causing
an imbalance in the proper shape, which she battled with all the strategic
ingenuity that fashion could suggest.

Currently, her nicely feminine shape owed more or less everything to a set
of foundation garments that were very nearly waterproof and which retained
heat with a devilish intensity. The upper garment consisted of a wide set of
rubberized traction-stays around her midriff, combined with a deft
combination of underwires and stuffing which shoved everything up (there was
a sad tendency to sag) and balanced the remainder.

The brassiere’s lower companion was a long-line long-thigh panty girdle
several sizes smaller than the manufacturer recommended for her unwrapped
measurements, pulled over pantyhose. In order to camouflage the swellings of
flesh that appeared at the edges of these garments (were they in other
places they could have been called panty-lines), she topped the combination
with a full slip of an opaque nylon, which breathed not, neither did it

Over all of this, she wore the outer garments of the day.

Thus, while cold compresses soothed her fevered brow, puddles of sweat
formed in her cleavage, and her entire body felt as if it was about to melt
in place. What to do? She couldn’t disrobe in the store. She couldn’t go
without her battle-armor. There was only one other way she could possibly
cool herself.

So it was that one day Tom arrived about noon to find the store locked. He
let himself in, turned the door sign to ‘Open’ and gave a holler.

“Mrs. H!” he called. “Where are you?”

“Back here,” she replied.

When he found her she was standing in front of the cooler, leaning into it.
She was wearing one of her cold cloths draped over her head. Then he noticed
that she was standing in a bucket of water. It was a nice, blue, five gallon
bucket, and the water rose nearly to the knees of her hosed legs.

“I’m on break!” she snapped, sweat oozing from every pore.

“Maybe you should go in the back?” he asked tentatively.

“There’s no cooler back there,” she said.

“Uh, where did you get the bucket?” he asked.

“It was in the back.”

“I think it’s the one I soak the fresh tofu in,” he observed.

She looked startled. “It is?”

“I think so,” he confirmed. “Uh…how long…?”

“Weeks,” she sighed. “I’m sorry Tom.”

“Well, let’s just keep it our secret. There haven’t been any complaints
about the tofu have there?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“How about the sprouts? I rinse them in it too.”

“No, people love our sprouts,” she said, on surer ground here. “They rave
about them, especially the mixed with radish which I guess some people like
although I think they’re too hot myself and they should be grown a week
longer so they’d be milder, but I guess if they did that the bean sprouts
would be too far gone and would be bitter and woody. But I can’t stand the
radish mix myself,” she added, “even on sandwiches.”

“That’s nice. Just the same I think I’d better get a new bucket for that don
’t you?”

“I suppose so,” she agreed. “Although I don’t really like this bucket much.
The bottom is too small for my feet and it’s hard to keep your balance whit
your toes wedged up in the air.”

“Maybe you should buy one of those plastic washtubs,” he said. “Just for

She was nodding in agreement when the store door opened to admit a customer.
Tom and she both jerked as if caught at something illicit. He started
towards the front of the shop and she made an abortive turn to see if it was
one of her regulars.

The inevitable occurred. She lost her balance and began to tip over, like a
Christmas tree on a stand that was very much too small for it. Tom, a step
away, felt her clutch at his back on her way down. His shirt tried to
strangle him for a moment until a button popped and he felt an iron hand
grab the seat of his pants.

All the suppressed avoirdupois made Mrs. H. dense. In spite of her grip on
his pants she continued to fall, straight as timber, her feet encased in the
bucket of doom.

Tom wasn’t a belt wearer. Neither did he affect suspenders. In fact, he was
already sprouting the kind of gut under which the waist of his pants dipped,
not willing to assay the distance around his middle. While he liked to think
that he was still a young gentleman of fine figure, his best friends were
wont to refer to him as either the “chinless wonder” or the “buttless
wonder” depending on which side of him was facing them at the time.

Mrs. Hibbert’s density and grip combined with Tom’s paucity of rearward
assets to cause his pants to descend with her to the floor.

Mrs. Turner, 86, spry, and not easily shocked, was greeted by Tom with his
shirt askew and boxers flapping above mottled and hairy thighs that very
clearly had never seen the sun.

As she stared, open-mouthed, the young man succumbed to his own forward
motion and the pants around his ankles. He pitched straight at her, uttering
a cry of dismay.

Mrs Turner uttered a small squeak and stepped back, only now seeing
Virginia, layers of underwear exposed to full, if modest, view, lying in a
large puddle of water, her lower limbs disappearing into blue plastic. The
cold cloth upon her head had slipped down over her still red and sweaty
face. She brushed it aside to look at the elderly woman.

Mrs. H. recovered first. “May I help you?” she asked.


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Legal stuff: Please do not print, copy or distribute this without prior
permission from the author. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2001 Alexandra R.
Nyfors. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.

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