SOUTHERN FRIED CHICKEN AND BONNIE AND CLYDE

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Annie and Jack and Cindy left the beach cottage with a picnic basket filled with food that Annie’s Momma had prepared. Jack was antsy to hit the road and kept saying, “Annie, we don’t need all that stuff. We need to get moving.”
She didn’t want to hurt her Momma’s feelings, nor did she want to turn down her Momma’s okra soup, pimento cheese sandwiches, her fabulous nut cake or her scrumptious fried chicken Her Momma was the best cook in the South and she had prepared all of her daughter’s favorites.
It was already ten in the morning and they were still at the beach cottage. Everyone had gotten up at the crack of dawn to clean up  before they left. Jack could not imagine that cleaning this old shack could be so much work. Boy was he in for a surprise. While the men loaded everything into the cars, the women scrubbed and polished everything in sight. The old wooden floor was shining like the sun. You could have eaten off of it if it had not been so full of splinters. The bathroom (I repeat one bathroom) had been scrubbed with Ajax and shined with old cloth diapers. Jack was sure they thought the Queen Mother was the next tenant. One thing he knew for sure was it was taking way too long and they needed to be on the road to Tennessee. These women were having way too much fun. He was in a hurry, obviously Annie was not. When Annie’s Daddy finished his chores, he went and sat in the drivers seat of his car, reading his newspaper. He was used to these particular three ladies. He had developed the patience of Job.
Annie and Jack and Cindy left the beach cottage with a picnic basket filled with food that Annie’s Momma had prepared. Jack was antsy to hit the road and kept saying, “Annie, we don’t need all that stuff. Annie, we need to get moving.”
She didn’t want to hurt her Momma’s feelings, nor did she want to turn down her Momma’s okra soup, pimento cheese sandwiches, her fabulous nut cake or her scrumptious fried chicken Her Momma was the best cook in the South and she had prepared all of her daughter’s favorites.

Finally, they were on the road. He watched Annie’s face as she looked out the car window. She watched lovingly as she passed the palmetto trees and pointed out all of the sites to him. Andre’s, where they use to go dance as sweethearts; the Charleston skyline with St Michael’s and St Phillip ‘s steeples standing tall in the southern sun; the Grace Bridge (where she had first driven after she got her driver’s license) draped gracefully over the Cooper River; an American flag was flying in the ocean breeze on the turret at The Citadel where he had gone to college. All of this faded into the unique landscape of The Holy City. This was the land she loved, her low country filled with azaleas and camellias and Palmetto trees and plough mud. Her Daddy use to say, “I’m Charleston born, I’m Charleston bred and when I die, Im Charleston dead.”
He was right. You can take the girl out of Charleston, but you can’t take Charleston out of the girl. He knew that she secretly longed to be back here in her beautiful native city, but she never said a word. Her home was with him and anywhere he was, she was at home and happy. She was content with just being with him. It still did not stop her from trying to get Charleston pampass grass to grow in her Tennessee yard year after year. She brought one home every summer but it refused to grow anywhere except where it belonged, in Charleston. He knew that some day, he would bring her back to Charleston to stay, just not this day.
They had not gotten to North Charleston before Jack announced he was hungry.
“Annie, look in that basket and bring out some of your Momma’s fine food that we waited so long for.”
“I don’t think so. Remember? Annie, we don’t need all that. We can stop on the way. Annie, come on. Don’t make your Momma go to all that trouble. Annie, your sweet Momma doesn’t have to outdo herself just for us. Let’s go Annie.  We need to hit the road, Annie.”
She continued to tease him until she saw him start to get red around the neck and knew she had gone too far. She broke down and they were both savoring fried chicken and pimento cheese sandwiches before they got to Lake Marion.
“Boy, Annie, your Momma sho’ can cook.”
Later that evening, they stopped at a little drive-in near the Tennessee border. They both ordered milkshakes. It was one of those places where the waitresses wore shorts and roller skates and snapped a tray onto your car window. It was as close as it came to fast food back in the fifties. Juke boxes were always playing and this drive-in was no exception. Jack went inside and put a dime in one. Their song began to play, “Maybe you’ll sit and sigh and wish that I was near.”
“Ah, Perry Como, what a voice,” Jack said.
They finished their shakes, fed baby Cindy, used the facilities and headed out. Back on the road, Jack said, “Annie, hand me another piece of your Momma’s fine chicken.”
She reached down into the basket and something alive and furry met her hand. Her body became a mass of tingles. Flight or fight, she thought. No contest. FLIGHT.
She bounded over the front seat and into the back of the station wagon shielding her baby from harm. Her loud screams awaken Cindy and Jack almost ran off the road. She and Cindy were both sobbing.  She didn’t know what was in that basket, but she knew it wasn’t good.
“Jack, there is something in that basket.”
He quickly pulled off the road and ran around to the passenger’s side. He cautiously opened the door looking for the vicious varment. He began to laugh. There in the picnic basket sat a tiny little kitten licking his chops. He laughed so hard he bent over double bracing  himself on the hood of the car.
“Annie, there’s a big cat in here. It came from out in the wild. I am so scared.”
He picked up the little tiger kitten.
“Now, what am I going to do with you. We are miles away from your home. Annie, I think you just got yourself a kitten.”
She wasn’t much of a cat person but she just couldn’t leave that poor little thing in the middle of nowhere. She made a bed for him in a cardboard box she found in the back of the station wagon and he immediately fell asleep.
Jack started the car and said to Annie, “As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted by your screams that almost made me run off the road, please gimme another piece of your Momma’s chicken.”
“Jack, you aren’t going to eat that chicken now are you?”
“You bet your sweet bippy I am, and it is a mighty sweet one. If you think I am going to let a little old kitten keep me from eating fried chicken made by the best cook in the South, you are just plumb nuts. Especially chicken that we waited forever for.”
She handed him a chicken leg and took one for herself. They looked at each other and laughed while they chomped away. It was the best chicken they had ever eaten and by far the most memoriable.
“I’m going to name him Clyde Barrow cause he’s a thief. He stole our chicken,” she announced.
A few months after they got home, Clyde Barrow had his name changed to Bonnie Parker when they realized that he was about to become a mother. She lived in the lap of luxury until one day she decided to move into a neighbor’s house.
Jack quipped, “Annie, I guess your chicken just doesn’t meet Bonnie Parker’s standards so she has moved up in the world to bigger and better things. I hear she now has a cat bed and a scratching post and catnip every day.”
“Jack.”
“Yeah?”
“Just shut up. By the way, we’re going to have another baby. Bonnie Parker probably didn’t want to put up with two kids.”
“Whoopee, it’s going to be a boy!”
“Jack, I said a baby, not a boy. It could be another girl you know.”
“No siree bob, it’s a little boy. I just know it. Yee haw! Just call me procreation Jack.”
He smiled at his wife and began to croon in his Tennessean bass voice, “Maybe, you’ll think of me, when you are all alone.” He was so happy he gave Annie a great big old smooch.
He was right, it was a boy. Edwin Welling Knox was born eight months later.
Bonnie Parker never came home.

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