The diamond bikini - By Charles Williams


Oh, that was a fine summer, all right.

Like Pop says, farms are wholesome, and you just naturally couldn’t find a wholesomer one than Uncle Sagamore’s. There was a lake where you could catch real fish, and I had a dog, and there was all the rabbit hunters with tommy guns, and Miss Harrington. She was real nice, and she taught me how to swim.

Miss Harrington? Oh, she was the one with the vine there was such a hullaballoo about. You remember. It was in all the papers. It was a tattooed vine, with little blue leaves, winding around her off bosom like a path going up a hill, and it had a pink rose right in the center. Pop raised hell with me because I didn’t tell him about it sooner but, heck, how did I know everybody didn’t have one? I just sort of took it for granted the Welfare ladies had vines on theirs too, but I never did ask one because when I was with them I hadn’t seem Miss Harrington yet, or her vine.

But that’s all getting ahead of the story. I better start at the beginning and tell you how we happened to go to Uncle Sagamore’s in the first place. It was on account of Pop getting drafted so much.

I guess it was just a bad year for being drafted. The first time Pop got drafted was at Gulfstream Park, along in the winter, and then it was Pimlico, but Aqueduct was the worst of all. We’d hardly got a place to park the trailer and started printing when they drafted him again. And of course the Welfare ladies grabbed me, the way they always do.

Those Welfare ladies are funny. I don’t know why, but no matter where they are they’re always the same. They ask you the same old questions, and they usually have big bosoms, and when you try to explain how you sort of travel around to all the big cities like Hialeah and Belmont Park, and how Pop is a turf investment controller, and about him having so much trouble with the draft board, they look at each other and shake their heads and say, “Oh, how terrible! And he’s just a child.

Well, these Welfare ladies at Aqueduct asked me where I go to school, why Mama went away and left Pop, and can I read and write, and so on. And when I told ‘em, sure I could read fine they brought in this book to try me out. And, say, that was really a swell book too, what I could dig out of it in the month I was with the Welfare. It was all about a kid named Tim Hawkins and a pirate with one leg named Long John Silver, and it was fun. I sure wish I could get hold of it again so I could find out how they ended up. Do you think there might be another copy of it around?

But to get back to the Welfare ladies, they just looked at each other when they saw how much trouble I was having with it, and said, “Uh-huh, I thought so.”

And I was having trouble with it, sort of. It wasn’t that there was any real tough words in it, but the man that put it together had a funny way of writing, spelling everything out the long way.

“Billy, you shouldn’t have told us you can read,” the boss lady said. You can always tell which one is the boss, because it’s odds-on she’ll have a bigger bosom than the others. “Didn’t your father ever teach you that little boys should always tell the truth?”

“But, ma’am,” I says. “I can read. It’s just that this stuff is wrote so funny. There’s too many letters in all the words.”

“That’s ridiculous,” she says. “How could there be too many letters in the words? Are you suggesting that Robert Louis Stevenson didn’t know how to spell?”

“I don’t know anything about this guy Stevenson,” I says, “but I’m just trying to tell you this stuff is wrote funny and nobody could make it out. Look, I’ll show you what I mean.”

I still had my baloney sandwich in my pocket because we’d just got to the track when the Pinkertons drafted Pop and I remembered it was wrapped in a sheet of yesterday’s racing form. I hauled it out and took a bite of the baloney while I showed ‘em.

“Now, here,” I says, pointing to it with my finger. “Look