Last night I was sitting in the big armchair, alternately working on the christening shawl and wondering how in the hell Giada De Laurentis got a cooking show, when the front door banged open. Dolores staggered in, breathing hard, carrying a whimpering Harry under one arm.
"Let me guess," I said. "Ann Coulter's violated the restraining order again, hasn't she?"
And suddenly Dolores was pinning me to the back of the chair with a pointy hoof and glaring with a hatred she normally reserves for the bartender who announces Last Call.
"You...fool," she hissed, still panting. "You're going to get us all killed."
"They tried to rip off my ball band!" screamed Harry.
"Harry," said Dolores, "Round up the other guys and get under the bed and don't come out until I give you the all clear. And stay calm, goddammit!"
"We're gonna diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiie," Harry squealed, skidding toward the bedroom.
Outside, on the street, I heard the rumble of many angry voices. A crowd was seething around the corner, blocking traffic and yelling...my name?
"Shit," said Dolores. "They cover ground faster than I thought. Quick, we gotta pile the furniture up against the door. You take that end of the sofa."
"Dolores, put the furniture down."
"This is all your damn fault," she said. "You just had to go and shoot your mouth off in that freaking blog, didn't you?"
"What did I do?"
"You insulted the crafters!"
"Yes, you did. And now–"
The rest was drowned out by a sound not unlike a heavy hailstorm, as thousands of tiny objects began to ping against the living room window.
"They're shooting Popsicle sticks at us!" shrieked Harry.
"Get back under the bed!" shouted Dolores.
On the street, lights flashed. The cops had arrived, but their patrol cars were immediately overrun by a pack of women who unfurled an appliqué banner suggesting that I do something Addi never intended with my knitting needles.
The phone rang.
"This is Ernie at the front desk. I got all these people down here say they wanna découpage your mouth shut. What the fuck is découpage?"
"Ernie, don't let them in here, please–"
"What? Hang on, hang on. No, lady, I don't want my picture taken. No, I don't wanna be in your scrapbook. Jesus, lady, back off...Ow! Franklin, what the hell am I supposed to–Ow!"
There were sounds of a scuffle, and then suddenly another voice boomed into the phone.
"Is this Franklin?"
"Who wants to know?"
"Listen, you stuck up little yarn sniffer, my name is Loretta Fortescue and I'm from Grand Forks, North Dakota, and I'm here with my Mama and my Granny and our cousin Bruce and about ten thousand of our best crafter friends and we'd like an apology."
"Um. How about if I just apologize from up here?"
"Oh yeah?" said Loretta. "Well, you got two minutes to reconsider that idea before we bust up there and give you the Rubber Stamp Treatment."
And she hung up.
I just stood there, limp, with the phone in my hand. Dolores was pacing back and forth, brow furrowed. And then I uttered a sentence I never imagined would come out of my mouth.
"Dolores," I said. "Help."
"Gimme the phone," she said. "I gotta call in a favor. It's a longshot, but it's the only thing I can think of."
I collapsed into a chair. Dolores tapped at the phone and talked to a seemingly endless number of different people, passed along from one to the next until finally she shouted, "Martha! How the hell you been, girl? It's Dolores Van Hoofen...Dolores...Right, from Woolrich! You do remember! Uh huh. Yeah, as a matter of fact I do still have the negatives from our duo shoot after that gig. That's kinda why I'm calling. We have a situation. There's ten thousand pissed-off crafters outside, looking to make my boss into a tree ornament because of something he wrote. I was thinking, you say the word to 'em, and these pretty pictures go back into the vault. And wouldn't that be a good thing?"
I heard some yelling on the other end of the phone. Dolores listened placidly until it stopped, then said, "Aw, I knew you'd help an old girlfriend out. Say, while we're talking, any way I could get tickets to the show?"
More yelling, then a click.
Almost instantly, the shouting downstairs ceased. I ran to the window, and saw the protestors leaving the building in a steady stream, two by two, in docile silence.
"She works fast," whispered Dolores with an unmistakable tone of admiration.
"Let's just hope she never decides to use her powers for evil," I said.
"Not on my watch," said Dolores.