Reel Her In
By Margie Keane
Mabel Bass cheered “wahoo” as she boarded the plane bound for Las Vegas. “Five days of gambling! she thought, I don’t even mind wearing this stupid “Our Favorite Grandma” T shirt that came with my plane tickets.”
She settled into her seat and opened a book, pretending to read so she wouldn’t have to talk with anyone. She was still marveling at winning the “Best Grandma” contest. She wasn’t a grandma at all. In fact, she despised kids, but she loved to gamble, so she entered the “Best Grandma Contest” advertised in the local Sunday paper. The winner would have five all inclusive days in Vegas, plus $1,000.00 dollars in cash. She signed the entry form ‘a caring neighbor who wishes to remain anonymous’, giving only her address and telephone number, just in case she won.
Mabel looked like a grandma. She had bright blue eyes that could warm or wither, and a winning smile that she rarely used. She had been married, but in time realized she would prefer living alone. Why should she have to do for anyone else? So, when her maiden aunt died and bequeathed her house and possessions, to Mabel she left her husband and Oregon behind and moved to Arizona. One of her old neighbors wrote and told her that on the day she left, Mabel’s husband had a “Free At Last” party that went on for ten days – “one day for each miserable year of our marriage,” is what he said.
“‘Well, good for him,” grumped Mabel, “ at least I didn’t have to clean up.”
Within weeks of the move, Mabel bitterly regretted the bequest. She hadn’t known that her aunt lived in American suburbia; kids, dogs, cats and neighborhood picnics. Her new neighbors welcomed her with open arms, thinking she would be kind and fun loving like her aunt. They were in for a sad surprise.
At the one and only picnic she attended, someone took a Polaroid picture of her, smiling and surrounded by children. She sent this in with her contest entry. ‘Thank God it didn’t show me pinching their little necks,’ she grinned.
When children played in front of her house, Mabel yelled, shaking her fist and threatening them. The children started calling her “Big Mouth Bass”
“Big mouth Bass? Halloween’s coming soon. I’ll put little fish hooks in their candy. I know some greedy brats will eat their candies before their parents examine them.” She was delighted to learn that the smart ass down the street hooked his lip.
She got that yapping poodle next door, too. Rat poison “accidentally” fell into the hamburger she gave him for a treat. It didn’t kill him, but he was plenty sick and the owners kept him indoors. Soon she was left completely alone which was fine with her.
Finally the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce called, telling her the name of the Grandma she submitted was one of five finalists. She was overjoyed.
“May we ask your name,” asked the caller.
“Um, Alice,” replied Mabel.
“As the final step, Alice, we will come out to interview your neighbors, to get their opinions of Mrs. Bell. I know you wanted to remain anonymous, but your candidate is one of the finalists, so can we interview you?”
“My dear, I’m sorry, but I’m leaving on vacation and will be away for a month.”
Hanging up the phone, Mabel thought, “Well, that’s the end of that.” She knew once they talked with her neighbors, she didn’t have a chance. Two weeks later, she received a certified letter. She had won the “Best Grandma” contest. She was overwhelmed. She didn’t know how it happened but she was not about to turn down a free trip to Vegas.
When the plane landed at McClaren Airport, Mabel looked out the window and saw a tall, tanned blonde standing by a white stretch limo with a banner along its side that read, “Welcome to Las Vegas Granny”.
‘Yick!!’ ‘Well, she thought, I’ll have to play along ‘til I get to the hotel. Besides, it isn’t every day I get to ride in a limo.’
Alighting from the plane, she flashed her sweetest smile. The blonde hugged her and gushed, “We are so happy to have you as our guest in Las Vegas, Granny. Every minute of your stay is planned. You’re scheduled in the children’s game rooms and playgrounds at four of our biggest casinos and you can have lunch with the kiddies,”
“Game rooms? Playgrounds? Lunch?” croaked Mabel.
“Yes,” replied the blond, “This contest is to promote our family vacations…it was all there in the fine print. When your neighbors heard about your itinerary Vegas, they laughed and cheered.”
“Oh, yes. They told us how much you enjoy children, especially on Halloween, they said you always had special treats for the kiddies. So we’re having a Halloween party just for you and some of the kids from your neighborhood.”
“Ha-ha- ahem – Halloween?”
“We know it isn’t until next week but we wanted to do this for you. Your neighbors sure love you. They said you are completely hooked on kids.”
On the news that night the reporter said, Avery sad story just came in from Las Vegas. It seems that earlier today the winner of The Best Grandma Contest died of a heart attack. With us is a witness to this tragic event.” A beautiful blond stepped forward. “I had just finished telling her about the surprise Halloween party we had planned for her and some neighborhood kids, when she shrieked and keeled over.
I guess the joy she felt was just too much for her.