Every writer has heard the warning, “An author must kill her babies.” What this means is that if a scene doesn’t serve a specific purpose like character development or propelling the plot, the author must chop it no matter how brilliant it may be. During a ruthless editing process, several scenes from Fur Ball Fever ended up on the cutting room floor. Although I loved the scene I’m posting because of the humor—at least I thought it was hilarious, but then again, I wrote the thing—it didn’t move the plot ahead.
Setup: This scene features:
- Grace Donnelley (my heroine): Pet spa owner who has lost her client’s prize poodle and has tangled with one of the suspected dog-nappers, escaping only by virtue of her quick wits and a Zip-Loc baggie full of dog poop.
- The dope-smoking, wisecracking Auntie Beth, Grace’s aging hippie aunt and more-or-less-permanent house guest. The suspected dog-napper and Auntie Beth are arch-enemies to the extent that Auntie Beth trained Murphy to use her enemy’s yard as his private toilet (hence the dog-poop).
Many readers have commented that they adore Auntie Beth, so for those of you who have read Fur Ball Fever and others who haven’t, here is a free scene. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
One lucky commenter will win a free copy of Fur Ball Fever.
Rescued from the Cutting-Room Floor
Grace kicked off her sandals before unloading a double order of twisty fries, Philly cheesesteaks, and mocha fudge chocolate mousse cake onto her kitchen table. Her stomach growled in response to the perfume of sautéed beef, fried onions, and grease-saturated potatoes. A girl needed sustenance after slinging dog-poop at neighbors.
A fry fell to the floor. Murphy wolfed it down in a frenzy of greed. He gave a wistful glance at the table, and sighed as if his heart was breaking. A trickle of drool dribbled onto the floor, dampening the grout between the ceramic tiles.
Grace didn’t tear into the food immediately. She had several bones to pick with her aunt before sharing the bounty.
“You home yet, Auntie Beth?” she yelled. “You and I need to have a little chat.”
“Not a good time,” came the grunted reply. The sound of heavy breathing reached Grace, followed by, “I need help.”
“Can’t argue with that assessment.” Grace looked around for her aunt.
“Don’t be a smart-ass. There’s something wrong with this here thing-a-ma-jig.”
Grace padded toward the voice, her bare feet silent on the cool tile. Murphy stayed behind, keeping the cheesesteaks company. When she stuck her head through the door to the great room, she stopped dead in her tracks.
Her aunt lay spreadeagled on the floor in a tangle of psychedelic caftan, waving legs, varicose veins, and Birkenstock sandals. Wedged between plump thighs, the wings of a Super-Deluxe Fat Buster Thigh ’n’ Butt Toner spread the dimpled knees apart.
The contraption, a mail order special billed as a spring-loaded miracle, had been a huge mistake. Grace only kept the ghastly instrument of torture to prop up a wounded sofa, which had collapsed under the weight of one too many of her aunt’s Canasta Crones.
The burgundy microfiber sofa now tilted at a crazy angle.
“I’m stuck,” said Auntie Beth, struggling like a pinned spider.
Grace felt her lips twitch. “So I see.”
“This sucker is defective. I swear it has a spring like a bear trap. I followed the instructions to the letter. Look. I placed these here foam covered steel wings between my thighs and unsnapped the Easy-Loc doo-hickey. The wings sprang apart like they promised. Now I can’t squeeze my legs together to remove the sucker.”
“Open them wider.”
“This is as wide as they go.” To demonstrate, Auntie Beth raised her legs higher, revealing a great deal of puckered flesh.
Grace hurried over. “I warned you not to use it. There’s a design flaw with this model. The inventor went out of business due to lawsuits over strained groin muscles.”
“Now you tell me! I wanted to tone my thighs because I have a date with Milt. We made up on the drive home.” She punctuated the good news with a leg wave.
Grace took a closer look at her aunt’s crotch. “Dammit, you’re wearing my new tummy-tamer teddy, aren’t you? I recognize the quick-release snap fasteners.” How her aunt had managed to cram her ample curves into the undergarment defied imagination. Even spandex had its limits.
“I borrowed it this morning in case I needed to impress Milt,” Auntie Beth said. “Next time I’ll let my tummy fly wild and free. Damned thing gives me a constant wedgie.”
“No wonder. It’s ten sizes too small.”
Auntie Beth squirmed. “Are you going to help me or not?”
Grace cringed and glanced away. “Your booty’s hanging out and I can practically see your lady’s play-station.”
“My lady’s play-station ain’t seen much play lately. But that’s all about to change now that me ’n’ Milt are back together. Especially if I tone up my thighs.”
“Maybe you should practice by squeezing your legs together more often.”
“Or spread them apart more. Depends on your perspective. Now help me out.”
Grace fisted her hands on her hips. “Not until you apologize for training Murphy to poop on Oliver’s lawn.”
“Oliver deserved everything Murphy dumped on him. Hey, this thing’s killing me. Are you going to give me a hand here?”
Grace turned a killer glare on her aunt. “Your vigilante justice got me into big-time trouble with Nick.” The stubborn set of her aunt’s jaw nearly pushed her over the edge. “Dammit, Auntie Beth, I came close to blowing Nick’s cover because of Murphy.” She recounted the incident while Auntie Beth squirmed on the floor.
When Grace had finished, Auntie Beth continued to glare defiantly. “I’m still not sorry. Oliver had it coming to him.”
“All rightie,” Grace sang. “There’s cheesesteak and curly fries calling my name in the kitchen. I believe I’ll have a nibble while you and your conscience have a little chat.” She whirled and headed for the kitchen.
“Aw, hell. You don’t play fair,” Auntie Beth yelled after Grace.
Grace kept on walking. When she reached the door, Auntie Beth said, “It was Murphy’s idea in the first place.” A note of desperation crept into her voice. “So, maybe I encouraged him to do what comes naturally, but only a little.”
Grace returned. “By giving him liver treats as a reward.”
Auntie Beth’s resigned sigh indicated defeat. “Busted. I take it Oliver blabbed.”
“Fine. I’m not sorry I got carried away, but I am sorry I got you in trouble.”
Relenting, Grace squatted in front of her aunt. Trying not to look up the caftan, which was hiked high, she clamped a hand to each plump knee, leaving twin indentations in the soft flesh. “I’ll help you, but you don’t deserve it.”
A soft grunt escaped Grace’s lips as she tried to wrestle the legs together. The spring contraption was too tight. Auntie Beth’s flabby thighs weren’t much help either. The Super Deluxe Fat Buster Thigh ’n’ Butt Toner remained stubbornly wedged.
“Ouch,” Auntie Beth said, flopping onto her back again, legs spread in a wide ‘V’. “That didn’t work too well.”
“This is pretty difficult. I’ll try to tug it out this time.”
“Okay. I’m beginning to feel like I’ll never be able to close my legs again. If you don’t hurry, I’ll be out of commission for six months.”
Grace straddled Auntie Beth, grabbed hold of both wings, and tugged. Other than a lot of cellulite jiggle, nothing happened.
“Use more muscle,” Auntie Beth commanded.
Bracing one foot against a wall for leverage, Grace closed her eyes, sucked in a deep breath, and yanked with all her might. The Super Deluxe Fat Buster Thigh ’n’ Butt Toner popped out. Grace let go and flew backwards to land on the broken sofa.
Auntie Beth heaved a gusty sigh of relief and pushed herself into a standing position. “I never thought I’d say this, but closing my legs never felt so good.”