Baby Presidents

Chapter 9: The snappy saga of Dot & Dash continues …


“Ooh,don’t you look sassy,” Dash said as he arrived at the corner bistro.

“Hey, thanks.  You look perky yourself.”  Dot beamed at her brother and pushed out his chair for him with her foot.  “You do realize you’ve got a pink Post-It on your breast pocket.”  She pointed at his white linen jacket and reapplied lip gloss.

Dash peeled off the square piece of paper and read it.  He laughed.  “I’m such a dork.  I’ve just walked 16 blocks with ‘Pick up Guy’ on my pocket.”

“How is Monsieur Guy these days and where do you have to pick him up from?  Not that bitch Mitzi Finn’s?”

Dash nodded.

“Another sleepover?”

“Yes.  I don’t get it.  She keeps spurning his advances.  Mrs. Finn is getting a bit frantic.”

“Because of the stud fees?”

“Oh, it’s not the money.   She confided in me that she’s desperate to become a grandma, no matter what it takes.”

“She needs to chill.  Mitzi’s what, 15?  She’s got plenty of time to get pregnant.”

The dual gasps at the next table got Dash’s attention.  He turned and saw two flushed matrons sputtering their revulsion.

Dash leaned across the tiny bistro table to his sister and cupped a hand at the side of his mouth.  “Let’s not tell them we’re talking about dogs.”

Dottie’s eyes crinkled with a suppressed laugh.

“Decided yet?”  He tapped his menu.

“I’m thinking shrimp crepes and green beans.  You?”

“I’m so hungry after my long walk I think I’ll opt for the unfussy grilled sea bass and the fondant au chocolat chaud.”

The waiter arrived and took their orders.

“Thank you,” Dash said to the retreating waiter and sipped.  “Remember my old friend Inky Patterson?”

“The one who looks like Roscoe Lee Brown but sounds like Ewan McGregor?”

Dash chuckled.  “He loves putting on that Scottish burr to confuse people.  Anyway, remember Edison?”

“Vaguely.  Invented the light bulb as I recall.”

“My friend Edison.  Edison Knight.”

“Ahh, yes.  The one trysting with Martians?”

Dash hurled a raised eyebrow at her.  “The owner of the Knight Gallery.  Well, he’s invited Inky to exhibit his latest works there all this month.  Isn’t that exciting?”

“For Edison or Inky?”

“Both.  Honestly, you’re having these mini detours into senility lately.”

“I know.  It’s beginning to worry me at times.  You know how some people say they can’t find their house keys but they can tell you what they had for dinner last week?”

Dash nodded.

“Well, I’ve got my house keys in my bag but I couldn’t tell you what I had for dinner last week, not with a gun to my head.”

Dash shook his head and patted his sister’s hand.  “You’ll be fine, sweetie.”

“I hope you’re right.  So, are you inviting me to the opening of Inky’s exhibit?”


“Can I bring Ollie along?”

“I’ve already invited him.”

“You already invited my boyfriend and not me?”

“Well, he is my business partner and I want him to see Inky’s work with a view toward us commissioning him to create some artwork for the Ranch.  Oh, don’t pout.”

“I can’t really see Inky’s artwork fitting in with the décor at the Ranch.  His stuff is so …” she cocked her head and stared up at the ribs of the umbrella.  “So … urban kind of.”

“Are you insane?  Urban?  He’s done an entire beach-themed series.”

“Ooh, I’d love to see that.  Is that going to be on display at your friend’s gallery?”

“Yes.  Inky says I’m trewly gainta laikid.”

Dottie squinted at him.  “Translate, please.”

“I’m truly going to like it.”  Dash smiled.  “You know how he mixes his medias and a lot of them are 3D?”

“I’ll bring the 3D glasses you sent me.”

Dash made a face at her.  “No need for 3D glasses, smarty pants.”

“So, are there going to be horseshoe crabs epoxied to the canvas?”

“Honestly, you never know with Inky.  I’m really looking forward to it.”

“OK, but getting back to the notion of commissioning him to do some artwork for the Ranch.  I mean it’s all Zennish and chakrafied with muted mantras floating out across the meadow.  Your guests are there to be one with the mountains and indulge themselves with hot rock massages and alfalfa sprouts.  How would Inky’s art fit in?”

“We’ll just have to throw it out to him and see what he comes up with.  I think it could be a win/win situation.  You know, fabulous for his career what with the high-end clientele we have staying at the Ranch and it may draw other guests who hear about his artwork gracing our walls.”

“Why am I imagining something like a kindergartner’s macaroni and finger paints?  You know, a horseshoe nailed to a frame with a sprig of spruce and a pine cone?”

“Don’t you dare say something like that to Inky.”

Dottie lowered her eyes and shoulders to let Dash think she felt chagrined. “Can I ask him if when he plays his tenor sax it sounds like bagpipes?”

“I’d pay you to ask him that.” Dash laughed and turned his attention to the approaching waiter.  “Mmm…here comes lunch.  Tuck in.”

“Is this going to be some swanky dress-up affair or jeans casual?  Or should I wear a tartan Dashiki in honor of Inky?”

“Dottie, Inky’s the artist.  He gets to be quirky.  Not you.”

They ate their meals in relative silence, each taking little nibbles from the other’s plate.

“Oh, I forgot,” Dottie said and dug inside her bag.  “Look, Dash.”   She handed her brother the birth announcement and slid her Dolce + Gabbana sunglasses into her purse as the sky clouded over.  The red umbrella above them shuddered slightly in a sudden gust of wind.  Curbside debris eddied in a scurrying whirl.  Dottie slapped her hand onto her paper napkin to keep it from blowing away.  “Don’t tell me it’s going to rain.”  She checked the weather report on her cell phone.  “Oh, crap.  It’s coming this way.”

“What’s coming this way?”


“Maybe it’ll blow over.  Whose baby is this?”

“Aunt Gertie’s neighbor’s.”

“Well, number one, why would they send you an announcement?  And number two, not a particularly good shot.  Though those little knit hats are kind of sweet.”

“They didn’t send it to me, silly.  They sent it to Aunt Gertie and she forwarded it along as incentive.”

Dash rolled his eyes and groaned on his sister’s behalf.  “And how original with the name, huh?  Just what the world needed, another Madison.”

“Was that a drop?” Dottie asked and held her palm out from under the umbrella.  “Dammit!”

“Don’t get all Jack Bauer on me, Dottie, relax.  It’s just a little water.”

“Well, I’m supposed to meet Ollie at the Carousel in an hour.”

“Don’t pout.  You won’t melt.  When are people going to stop naming babies after presidents?”  He returned the birth announcement to his sister.

“Madison’s from ‘Splash’.”

Dash sighed.  “Yes, Darryl Hannah’s mermaid’s name was taken from the Madison Avenue street sign, but the street was named after the president.”

“Was it?  Hmmm…”  Dottie dabbed at her lips after a forkful of shrimp crepe.  “I think you’re stretching it a bit, son.”

“How many baby Jackson’s have you heard of?  And Harrison?  Tyler, Taylor, Kennedy, Carter, and even some Jeffersons.”

“Sorry, I guess I’m not up on my Presidents.”

“How do you not know your presidents?  We were in the same class and I remember. They even named a Muppet after one.”

Dottie squinted in thought.

“Cleveland,” Dash prompted.

“There’s no Muppet named Cleveland.”

Grover Cleveland.”

“Oh.” Dottie nodded.  “Right.  I was thinking more along the lines of President Piggy.”  She laughed.

“Well, it’s just ridiculous what some people will name their children,” he fussed.

“Dash, you do realize we were named after Morse Code.”

“True, but our parents were eccentric, not trendy.”


Previous episodes in the Dot & Dash Chronicles:

Chapter 1: Unday Runch

Chapter 2: Om on the Range

Chapter 3: Swim Cinema

Chapter 4: Dancing with the Czars

Chapter 5: Cloud Monkeys

Chapter 6: Broken Record

Chapter 7: Winches & Pulleys

Chapter 8: The Man-Gler



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Born and raised in the Bronx, MARY VETTEL has spent the last 15 years residing in Southampton, NY, where she’s written six of her nine novels, two of her illustrated children’s books, and The Chronicles of Dot & Dash. She also adapted her novella, Greetings From Hell! (based on her three years living in Central Florida) to a stage play which was produced by The Naked Stage of Guild Hall, East Hampton, NY. Her novel, DEATH AT THE DRIVE-IN, is available on Amazon, and her short story “This Ain’t the OK Corral” is included in an anthology by Stone Thread Publishing called The Least He Could Do.  You can also view some of her work at


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by Mary Vettel

A sometime amateur sleuth, Billie offers to help the cops solve a local murder. One mention of her psychic visions and they scurry, but when a body from a cold case appears in her backyard, they’re all ears. During this turmoil, Billie realizes her accountant, Emmett Gilmour, is sweet on her. She’d like to let him know the feeling’s mutual but doesn’t remember how; it’s been decades since she dated.