Cynthia J. McGean
The Battle of the Pewhasset Pie Palace
a short story
by Cynthia J. McGean

	Years later, Big Rosco would admit Taco Charlie had been right all along, but by then it was too late.  Every trace of the Palace was gone.  Even the memories only hung around in Big Rosco’s dilapidated, beer-stained brain.  He still insisted that owning his mistake made him the better man.  Loretta said it just proved he was the stubbornest cuss in the county.  And everyone said she oughta know.
	Back in the day, the only thing that set Big Rosco apart was his ears.  Loretta swore she never would’ve given him a second look if it hadn’t been for those jumbo head-handles of his.  Pete the Razorback called him Dumbo once, but Loretta wouldn’t have it.
	“Elephant ears are loose and flabby,” she said, demonstrating by flapping her arms and hands like a double-jointed chicken.  “Rosco’s got muscle in them things.  He could hang from the Tuscaloose Bridge by ‘em, safe as you please.  A crane could pick him up from one just like a coffee cup.  You could eat my three bean soup off ‘em and never spill a drop.”
	Loretta commissioned Sweeney the Artist to make double-handled mugs and bowls in the shape of Big Rosco’s face.  She sold ‘em for a buck a piece as Palace souvenirs.  The Palace Gift Shop had never sold more than the occasional recipe book (which didn’t include a single one of Loretta’s top-secret patented pie flavors), but everything graced with Rosco’s awe-inspiring auditory organs flew off the shelves.  Soon mugs and bowls weren’t enough.  Folks wanted postcards and bumper stickers, clocks and thermometers, letter openers and door knockers.  One fellow even asked for a coat rack.  With Sweeney’s help, Loretta obliged them all.  Nobody could ever say Loretta didn’t know how to turn a profit off her friends.
	She marketed the stuff as Ugly Mug Merchandise.  Even got a passing lawyer from Atlanta to file the trademark papers in exchange for a year’s free membership to the Pewhasset Palace Pie-of-the-month Club.  A lesser man than Rosco might’ve been hurt or insulted by the name Ugly Mug.  But Rosco took it as an honor to be singled out for such distinction by Pewhasset’s number one businesswoman.  
	“Loretta turns on the charm for all her customers,” he insisted.  “But you don’t see her investing in their likeness, now, do you?”  
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THE BATTLE OF THE PEWHASSET PIE PALACE copyright 2012 Cynthia J. McGean.  All rights reserved.