Priscilla Good Henley, Episode 8- By Howard Schneider

For Jackie and Goody, the morning after the press conference the previous day began like any other—Jackie getting ready for her first day as CEO of the Good Life Cookie Company and Goody looking forward to a meeting about a housing project homeless for Portland’s homeless population. But after refreshing their coffee, Goody dropped a bombshell. "Jackie dear, the time has come for you to move on with your life. To find your own place . . . today, in fact. There's a suite for you at The Heathman Hotel for as long as you need it. Take your time to find a new home. 

"What?" Jackie was stunned by Goody's declaration. "Did I do something wrong?" 

Goody's voice softened. "Of course not. It's just that it's time for you to fly on your own wings." Goody glanced at the wall clock. "But you better get going. Can't be late on your first day as boss. I'll send your belongings to the hotel. So get a move on. I've got things to do, too." 

"But  . . ." Jackie began, but was interrupted sharply by Goody. "It's for the best. Now go!" 

Shocked by the force of Goody's ultimatum, Jackie grabbed her purse and computer bag and left without another word, tears flooding her eyes. 

After Jackie left, Goody called the mayor's office and reschedule the homeless housing project meeting, then turned on the oven. She was going to bake blueberry muffins, special muffins for a special person—that is if her hunch turned out to be correct, which they usually did. 

Meanwhile, Jackie's Aunt Martha was instructing her boyfriend Bobby about her plan for that very morning. "If the car door's locked and she won't open it, smash the window with this hammer, reach in and grab the handle, open the door, and pull her out. Don't give her a chance to drive off—you gotta be fast. Understand?" Martha held out the ballpeen hammer. 

"Yeah. I know. I done this before. Plenty ah' times," he said, taking the hammer. 

"That was twenty years ago. You ain't the same person you was then." 

"I can do it," he said defiantly. "But what if the old bag takes off before I can pull her out?" he added a second later. 

"She might think about that. But she won’t." Martha took a pistol from her jacket pocket and checked the chamber. "She'll cooperate when she sees this. Put her in the trunk of the Toyota and bring her back to this room. I'll dump her car in the shopping center across the street and join you here." She spoke slowly to make sure he understood every detail. 

An hour later, Bobby parked the Toyota next to a dense laurel hedge near a four-way intersection three blocks from Goody's house. Martha and Bobby had seen Goody pass there frequently and figured she might come through there today as well. "Here she comes," Martha said forty minutes later when she spotted goody's Mercedes approaching. 

Goody recognized the tan Toyota when she stopped at the crosswalk. Then, as she had suspected, a scruffy red-head and an aging brute of a man were yanking on her car's door handles and pounding on the windows, one on each side. Glancing to the right, she saw the pistol aimed at her. When their eyes connected, the angry looking woman screamed, "Open up." 

Since Goody had no intention of dying, she turned away from the woman and lowered the driver-side window. She smiled and said, "You must be Bobby." 

Goody's calmness immediately threw Bobby off balance. But before he could think of a response, Martha was standing next to him pointing the pistol at Goody. "Get out, old woman. You're coming with us." 

At that same moment, Goody glanced at the rearview window. "Oh oh. There's a car coming. But I need to talk to you, Martha. We better get out of here. Bobby," she said with a firmness that shocked the two assailants, "get in my car. We'll go wherever you want. Martha, you drive your car. We'll meet up later. Let's go." 

"Seeing the car approaching from behind, Martha said, "Shit. Okay. Take her to the motel." Then she quickly got in the Toyota and drove off. Goody followed with Bobby sitting in the passenger seat. "Fasten your seat belt, Bobby. We wouldn't want to be stopped by the police." 

Bobby, confused and not sure what was happening, did as ordered. "Where are we going?" he asked a moment later. 

"Like Martha said—to your motel. I'll follow her. But if I lose her, you'll have to get us there. Can you do that?" 

"I know the way. You think I'm too dumb to know how to go?" 

"Of course not, Bobby. You seem like a pretty smart guy. Hey, there's some blueberry muffins in that bag there. I was taking them to a meeting I was going to. Fresh-baked this morning. You may as well enjoy them since it looks like I'll be missing that meeting. Right?" 

"Yeah. probably." Bobby opened the bag and took out the first of the three muffins he'd eaten by the time they were halfway to the motel. "These are good," he said reaching for another one. 

"I'm glad you like them. It’s a special recipe." 

Goody pulled into the motel parking lot and parked in the slot next to the one 

Martha had taken. She and Bobby followed Martha across the asphalt drive and waited as she unlocked the room door. 

"What's wrong with him?" Martha asked as Bobby stumbled across the threshold and crashed onto the unmade bed. 

Pulling the door shut behind her, Goody said, "A few minutes ago he was having difficulty breathing. Maybe he's having a heart attack. I've seen that before . . . my first two husbands, in fact." 

A few seconds later, Bobby convulsed three times, let out a loud groan, then stopped breathing. His body became still as a stone. 

"Oh my god," Martha screamed. "He's dead. Bobby. Wake up! You can't die. I need you." 

Goody moved next to Martha and took the distraught woman in her arms. "Martha, my dear," she said softly. "Don't despair. He had a heart attack. His time was up. But his passing could be a blessing in disguise. Now you can shed the responsibility for his pointless life and take advantage of who you are, your strengths, your intelligence, your resourcefulness. And I can help you do that." 

"What do you mean? Help me do what?" 

Ignoring Martha's  question, Goody glanced at her watch, then said, "Come on, Martha. They're still serving breakfast at the New Deal Café. I'll treat you to the best scramble eggs and waffles you've ever had. And I want to tell you about an idea for a business I could use your help with."

Leave a comment