“Well, O-rig,” Honey said. Her voice was rich and thick and warm and there was a definite hint of sweetness in the southern drawl that made her voice seem especially spicy. “We have to talk about finding everybody else.”
Original Beef Jerky had to admit to himself that he really liked the sound of the nickname she’d given him. Of course, he was pretty sure she could have called him anything and he would have liked it. “Um… would you like to come inside, Honey?” he asked. He felt pretty good about being allowed to call her Honey even if it was her name. What luck! He’d been searching for someone like himself for a very long time and then one shows up right at his door? That was perfect. It didn’t hurt that she was as pretty as could be. She was soooooo beefy and soooooo smoky! Yes, indeed. This was the best day ever.
Wait a minute…
She stepped inside with a smile. “Darlin’ of course there are others.” She let the door close behind her and reached forward to pat his cheek. “You didn’t think you were the only one did you?”
He felt a bit embarrassed but on the other hand, it was pretty exciting to have her call him darling in her amazing accent. “Well,” he said. “My name is Original after all. That means unique, doesn’t it?”
She shrugged. “That’s one thing it means. Shugah. But it also means the first, or the beginning. See, that’s why I had to find you first. You’re what started it all. You’re the best beef jerky in the world. All of the rest of us wouldn’t be around if it wasn’t for you.”
O-rig felt a burst of pride that was strong enough to make him afraid to say a word. He figured if he’d try he’d end up stammering or worse, giggling like crazy. He took a deep breath and said, “Well, I think you’re wonderful.” He smiled suddenly. “What is that wonderful perfume you’re wearing?”
Honey blushed. “You’re a charmer, aren’t you, Sweet Pea.” Again, O-rig felt pretty happy with her words. “You’re smelling genuine southern honey barbecue. It’s the wood chips that make the smoke and the smoke that makes everything perfect.” She batted her eyelashes and then added, “You don’t get good honey barbecue beef jerky if you take shortcuts, and nobody takes shortcuts with us. The smoke has to be perfect and then the barbecue sauce has to be so perfect nobody in the world can resist it.”
O-rig could certainly agree that there was something absolutely perfect about Honey. He also loved the delicious smell of the wood chips and the sweet and spicy aroma of the barbecue sauce. He thought hard for a moment and then said, “I think I like the balance best. I mean, it’s smoky but it’s woody and then the honey barbecue… well, it makes me want to fire up a grill!”
Honey looked like she was going to swoon but she recovered. “You’re a flatterer, Mr. Original.”
He shook his head, pleased with himself. “No, ma’am. Every word of it is true. And call me O-rig.” Honey blushed again and Original remembered his manners. “Would you like something to drink, Honey?”
She smiled. “Well, O-rig, y’all got any sweet tea?”
“Um… I’m afraid not.”
She shrugged. “Doesn’t matter. We can have some at my place later, Dumplin’. As for now, we have some planning to do.”
“Um… Honey? You called me dumplin’ and darlin’ and sweet pea and—”
“Well, you’re also a cutie pie and sunshine. Haven’t you ever been to the South?”
He shook his head. “Afraid not.” He shrugged. “Maybe we could go there someday.” He immediately felt silly for saying it but if Honey had a problem with his forwardness, she didn’t say anything. Instead, she walked to his dining room table and took a piece of paper from her pocket. O-rig followed her. “What’s that?”
She unfolded the paper. “I’m fixin’ to tell you, Sweet Patayta pie. I know I seem slow as molasses but give me a cotton pickin’ minute and hold your horses. Boy, you like to move fast. Sometimes you just have to sit a spell Punkin’. This is a list of who we have to find, the ones that are like us that I know about.”
He looked down. The names made a lot of sense. Peppered. Scorch’n. Others. It all seemed appropriate and it was pretty exciting. “You’re incredible, Honey,” he said.
“Well, I declare!” Honey said and the words filled Original with delight. “You’re just cute as a button, aren’t you?” She leaned forward and kissed his cheek. She was close enough that he could smell the sweet richness of her barbecue sauce.
“Mmmmmm,” he said. “There’s nothing fake about you. I can smell the molasses. You’re the real deal.”
She blushed again. “Oh, go on with you,” she said. “I haven’t heard this much silliness since I was knee high to a bullfrog.”
O-rig laughed at that one. “I tell you what, Honey. I really like the way you talk.” He smiled. “So what do we do first? All we have is names. How do we actually find everyone?”
Honey smiled and said, “Well, I have a plan. It might take a long time but I think it’s going to work. We just have to make sure we don’t get too big for our britches because we’ll end up plumb tuckered out before we get things done. We’ll end up madder than a wet hen and look like ragamuffins.”
O-rig stared at her for a moment. He didn’t want to admit it but he didn’t see any other way. “Uh… Um… Honey, I don’t have any idea what you just said.”
She laughed loudly and her laugh sounded like the most beautiful symphony O-rig had ever heard. “Don’t you worry about that, my little julep. I’m nervous, too. I’m as nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rockin’ chairs. I’m just saying that if you follow my lead and you don’t wander into the fields then if the Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise we might get some sugar after all.”
Original still had no idea what she was saying but he thought it best just to follow her lead. Honey seemed to have a plan and that was more than he had.