11,041 vagabonds plus:
a tale of the Magpie, witnessed by someone with a high fever....
There were those ominous clouds, and if one took the time and looked up to see the chocolate an vanilla swirl, then they would've known as soon as she noticed.
She sort of had the room with a view, perched high up in the egg float as the Easter Princess. An impressive float, yes, paper mache-d by Local Teamsters 502, out-biding Local Girl Scout Troop 4, risen and placed on an approved licensed trailer in a bed of cray-papered purple bonnets, surrounded by six pallbearered positioned little children in bunny suits. She was Princess only because she was the only one not frightened by its shabby-constructed-lazy flimsiness. Those little children were the first carried to the storm cellar under the paint store when everyone started shouting alarm. You know, since they could not run in those little flapper bunny feet.
She bolted from the egg. The music did not stop immediately until she ran ahead and pointed like a first lieutenant leading a charge. It was quiet then, except the triangle player still chimed his solo in disbelief as the funnel cloud came into full view as the parade route turned west. The panicked ones ran opposite, dropping the hard butterscotch candy wrapped in yellow plastic the little bunnies had weakly tossed, others huddled into the movie theater.
No one knows why she ran towards the storm, peeling away her outfit, passing her house with her dog running and barking after her with a mouthful of leftover butterscotch candy. She was always a rather odd girl anyway. But I loved her. We had our private vagabond club, a bulls-eye for getting bullied, and the only time I ever saw her smile outside of riding in that giant egg was when I imitated the voices coming over the shortwave radio in her garage. Some fascinating guy with sandpaper-weathered elbows off the coast of Scotland. She was missing once for three days because she packed a small suitcase and climbed the Thurber's water tower. As we exchanged brown bag contents one day she just blurted out it was because she wanted to be closer to Heaven. And then she started to cry silently. I hugged her and kissed her cheek. She hugged me so hard it hurt. You could tell her father took his belt to her horribly for that adventure.
The storm doglegged and set upon another course completely missing the town, except skimming the Jefferson's greenhouse, causing tulip petals to fall like pillow stuffing for weeks to come, Bertie Doyle said one landed in his beer on his patio.
Witnesses said she just disappeared running along side that tornado. About a week later at the diner an old guy turned to another old acquaintance and surmised that just maybe she'd always wanted to go to Kansas, and they just nodded and sat for another hour thinking about it.
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