Based on a true story.

Danny’s trial was only about a month away, and we just knew his little niece was gonna sit up there and swear in front of everybody and the baby Jesus that story she told her momma was true. But I saw how that little VannaJean was with my Danny at the picnicUncle Danny I cain’t reach the bowl fix me some of that jello salad Uncle Danny fix me some sweet tea Uncle Danny play horsie for me.

Danny’s sister will not discipline that child, and a few months ago after her daddy died, Vannajean started hanging all over Danny. And Danny says he was just trying to teach her about what happens when little girls act that way around grown-up men; like he said, what else would he want with a skinny little eight year-old girl. I couldn’t let him go to prison just for trying to help his family

And Christian folk are supposed to be forgiving, is what I remember from Sunday School, but I swear that old lady’s family made such a fuss. If they were so concerned about her, they should’ve kept that plot up a little nicer; the only reason me and Danny picked it was ‘cause those flowers looked like they’d been there since the funeral. And anyway, Danny and me were gonna put her back—‘cept we got arrested first, thanks to that little VannaJean.  That sheriff wouldn’t even let me finish my Taco Bell.

At first when I saw that recall notice on Danny's car I thought, when it rains it pours; it said some people even burned up, or blew up just turning the key in the ignition, because the plant that manufactured all the ’89 Ford Probes installed the ignition wiring wrong. I read the recall notice to Danny and he got so mad he couldn’t even talk, just racked that rifle of his like he does when he gets mad, and he goes “Elvis, come here boy" always makes me nervous when he peels out of the front yard that way.  Then he came back a couple hours later when “CSI” was on and he still didn’t say anything, just got a beer and came in to watch my program with me. ‘Course I knew he was all upset about maybe going to prison ‘cause of that little VannaJean; then after I read him about the trouble with that car of his,  when Danny came back in, I didn’t even have to ask him where my dog was.  

Me and Danny watch all those “CSIprograms, and this one was about a man who dug up a body from the cemetery and put the body in his car and set the car on fire; almost everything burned up and he almost got away with it.  Danny and me figured with that faulty wiring in his ignition, and that recall letter—and you know what they say F.O.R.D. stands for—we figured with all that, the insurance company would have to pay me.  Seemed like the best way to keep Danny out of prison, and he promised we’d use some of the money to buy me another hound dog; I thought it was sweet, him telling me how sorry he was about Elvis, and crying like a little boy. I was thinking about maybe getting a bluetick hound this time, ‘cause the first and second Elvises were bloodhounds—Danny just loses his temper every now and then.

So what was supposed to happen was, most of Danny’s car and that old lady would burn up and whatever was left wouldn’t be enough to tell if it was really Danny or not; I’d get the insurance money, and meet him a few months later in another town somewhere, and we’d start over, is what was supposed to happen.

Well we already had that old lady on the back seat and then Danny says he forgot to bring a lighter or some matches. And by that time Danny and me were getting hungry too, so we pulled up behind the Gas ‘N’ Gulp next to the Taco Bell.  I was close to being put out with him 'cause he forgot to bring something to start the car on fire. But I can't ever stay mad at Danny; like he said, the only reason he forgot was 'cause he was drinking so much lately, worried about all the lies that little VannaJean was gonna get up there and tell on him.

Then Danny says, maybe him forgetting to bring a lighter or matches was like an omen about tonight.  And I remembered I didn't get to read him the funnies or the horoscopes like I usually do, 'cause Danny used the newspaper that morning to carry the rest of Elvis out to the dump. That old lady wasn’t going anywhere, so we figured we’d wait until I could read our horoscopes in the morning so we’d have a better idea about what to do; we thought about putting her in that Kold-Kween freezer Danny’s sister gave us, 'cause it's just sitting there on the front porch, empty. But we couldn’t remember a “CSI” program with something like that in it and we thought, better safe than sorry. For the time being anyway, Danny and me were gonna put that old lady back where we got her from. Then we couldn't find nothing to cover her up with, but we weren't gonna be that long, so we moved her onto the floor of Danny’s Probe and we parked up by the Taco Bell.

Well ever since VannaJean’s daddy died, I swear Danny’s sister lets that child have whatever she wants and of course, that night she wanted Taco Bell. VannaJean starts right in crying now whenever she sees Danny’s car; she says that’s where “it” happened, and in these little podunk towns everybody knows everybody, and everybody knows everybody’s car too.  I was trying to eat my Nachos Bell Grande in peace, but then Danny and me hear somebody screaming. We look out in front of the Taco Bell and wouldn’t you know, there’s his sister and that VannaJean snooping around Danny’s car, looking in all the windows with the sheriff right behind them.  I told you how she babies that child, so we knew that little VannaJean pitched one of her hissy fits, and Danny’s sister just had to show her: “See baby, Uncle Danny ain’t in his car—

But like I said, Danny and me were just about to put that old lady back, soon as we were done eatin'—'cept, we got arrested first, thanks to that little VannaJean.  That sheriff wouldn’t even let me finish my Taco Bell.

I am just sick to death worrying about what’s gonna happen to little Danny Jr. now.


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