|A New Dance of Lasting Love
Author: Rena Del Ray PM
A new girl moves to town and immediately catches Barney's interest.Rated: Fiction K - English - Romance/Humor - Words: 4,640 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 3 - Published: 11-13-06 - Status: Complete - id: 3243859
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A New Dance of Lasting Love
The move she made from Mt. Pilot to Mayberry had been taxing for Thelma Lou, but she was slowly becoming adjusted to her new surroundings. She didn't know a soul in the new town before she came there though the folks she'd met already, such as in her neighborhood and a few in the office building when she was briefed for her job, seemed really nice and made settling in go rather smoothly.
On the Saturday before that first week of work began, Thelma Lou realized used a few more items to be properly outfitted for it. So she indulged herself in a trip to Mayberry's downtown area and came across Mrs. Lukens' Dress Shop. There Thelma Lou found exactly what she was looking for, and Mrs. Lukens herself was very helpful. She didn't realize she had purchased as much as she had until she got out onto the sidewalk. Thelma Lou thought if she could just get a better grip with her left hand on the lowest box bottom, she'd have it secured. One little adjustment and she nearly had it, when she suddenly felt the box slip and it dropped with a thud to the cement.
"Oh my.." a voice exclaimed aloud, accompanied by hurried clipped footsteps. "Let me get that for you, Miss." And before Thelma Lou could respond, she saw a set of hands, rather thin ones but helpful none-the-less, reached down for the package.
"Thank you, I.." she raised her head just as her good samaritan did with his and their gazes met and locked momentarily. After a long moment, Thelma Lou noted the uniform. "Yes, thank you very much, Officer."
"Huh?" Came a slightly dazed reply. They straightened up as Barney Fife realized the girl meant him. "Yeah, yeah, uh, law of the officer, I mean, officer of the office..uh, I mean.."
Thelma Lou noticed his badge as well. "A Deputy Sheriff, I see?"
"Uh, no.. No, I mean, uh, yeah.." Barney glanced down where she was pointing. "Oh yes, that's it, I'm a Sheriff's Deputy... Deputy Sheriff.. oh.."
"The same?" Barney and Thelma Lou replied in unison.
"Yes, yes, it's good to see a civilian who's up on official titles." He tried to recover. "Deputy Barney Fife, to be exact, and you? Miss? Uh, is it Miss?"
She smiled brightly. "Miss, I have to say."
"Oh well, good, a town could never have too many Missess.. I mean.. Oh let me get those," Barney went to take all the boxes and packages from Thelma Lou. "It's the least I can do. Ah, you're new to Mayberry?"
"Yes, I just recently moved here from Mt. Pilot." Thelma Lou followed his lead to show where she would be heading.
Barney nodded. "Mt. Pilot? That's a right nice place but you'll find the town and folks in general here much friendlier."
"I'm looking forward to meeting as many as I can." She stopped in front of a shiny automobile. "Here we are."
"What a fine car," the Deputy sighed as Thelma Lou opened one of the back doors.
"Just right in there," she directed and he absently slid the boxes onto the seat. "Thank you oh so much. I don't know what I would have done had you not come along."
"My pleasure, Miss, just doing my, uh, job." He tipped his hat to her.
Thelma Lou kept her sweet smile as she moved around to the driver's side which Barney scrambled to beat her there in order to open the door for her. His own casual grin turned to sudden concern when he spotted Sheriff Andy Taylor striding down the sidewalk towards them. Barney moved from the car and quick stepped over to the Sheriff.
"So, um, things all right out at Emma Watson's place?" He got all out in one breath.
"Good, good. She thought she was having another spell, but the doc beat me out there and things are fine now." Andy then gestured towards Thelma Lou.
"What's this? We've got a new citizen?"
Barney quickly nodded. "Yeah, I was helping her with her boxes and.. well, uh, shouldn't we.." he moved past him towards the courthouse.
"Ah, Barn, I'm sure you properly introduced yourself and got her name in return. What is it?" Andy threw an amused sideways look at his Deputy. He slapped his hand to his forehead in frustration when it registered with Deputy Fife for what he had neglected to do. "Don't tell me you didn't get her name, and after all she gave you that for helping her?"
Barney glanced at a small box he still had in his hand. "No, wait, it's hers, I didn't realize.." He whisked around and bolted back to Thelma Lou's car. She was just about to pull away from the curb when the Deputy knocked on the passenger-side window. His words came in a gasp once she'd gotten the window rolled down and he handed her the box.
"Yeah, I'm sorry, uh, this is yours, I guess. I still had it in my hand. I wasn't gonna run off with it, I didn't even look inside, so I don't know what it could be."
"Well, I sure appreciate it, and by the way, my name is Thelma Lou."
"Thelma Lou?" Barney repeated. "That's real pretty. And I'm Fife, uh, Deputy Barney, uh, Deputy Fife, uh, Deputy Barnard Fife. Barney. Oh, I think I said that before, but anyways it's Deputy Barney Fife."
"Well, thanks again, Deputy Fife, Deputy Barney Fife," she blushed.
"Any time." He again made a hasty salute and turned around in a swagger only to see Andy striding towards them.
"I was just thinking I'm not being too neighborly," Andy said as he approached and paid no heed to Barney's gesturing to go back. "And being the Sheriff, it's only proper that I introduce myself and make the new member of our fair city feel welcome."
"Ah well, I already did that, and.." Barney tried again for him to go back other way, but to no avail.
Andy moved around his Deputy to lean into the car's window and offered his hand to Thelma Lou and introduced himself. "May I say, welcome and that you are quite a nice asset to our town." In which she grinned delightedly at all of the personal attention she was receiving.
Still ignoring Barney's hints for him to go about his way, Sheriff Taylor went on to tell Thelma Lou about upcoming town events. That included the Mayberry's Literary League's Social to be held the following Saturday night. The Literary League had reached their goal of five hundred books turned into the library on time without any overdue notices. As to why they felt cause to celebrate and have a dance.
"But I'm sure my Deputy has filled you in on all the details." Andy added with a raised tone for Barney's benefit.
"Well, not exactly.. we only spoke for a moment."
"Barney!" The Sheriff turned in mock surprise "I can't believe you didn't tell our newest citizen about these things! What about the town picnic next month? I guess she doesn't know about that either? Where is your civic duty? Not to mention your manners?"
"Well uh, I was fixing to get around to it, but, uh, you interrupted.. uh, she was in a hurry and.." He shrugged sheepishly.
Andy smugly shook his head and concluded his summary to Thelma Lou. "And if you need any more assistance, no matter how big or small, please do not hesitate to call on myself or my usually.." off Barney's exasperated look, "able-bodied Deputy here."
"I'm ever so grateful, Sheriff and to you, Deputy Fife." She gave a pleasant wave to both officers.
Barney stood watching Thelma Lou's car pull away as Andy had stopped on down the sidewalk to chat with Floyd Lawson, the barber whose shop was right next door to the courthouse.
"Pleasant looking girl," Floyd announced when Barney joined them. "I've heard she's from Mt. Pilot? That's so nice. I've got an aunt and uncle who live in Mt. Pilot. Did I ever tell you that, Barney?"
"Yes, Floyd," He nodded his head in frustration. "I'm going to be by at the end of the week for a hair.."
"Really nice couple, my uncle and aunt. Getting up in years, but nice." The barber went on.
Barney sighed and tried again. "Will that be all right, Floyd? The end of the week for..?"
"My uncle likes to garden, but my aunt always wants to trim everything down," he smiled obliviously, and raising his voice as Andy and Barney moved on to the courthouse. "It's a lovely garden, nice flowers, have you ever seen it? Yes, it's a nice garden."
The Deputy finally gave it up with Andy's urging and followed the Sheriff into their office. Halfway through the week, Andy had noticed two or three times, he saw his Deputy on the sidewalk in front of the offices where their newest addition to Mayberry's population was at work. Something had to be done.
"So it's Wednesday." Barney repeated, his eyes darting back and forth. "What about it?"
"A newcomer in town, and quite a pretty one to boot, with a social coming up, she might not be available for long. If I were you, I wouldn't be putting off calling her right up."
"Wh-what am I suppose to do?" His deputy looked as guilty as could be but Andy wasn't going to call him on it.
"Get on the phone and go from there." He gathered up some envelopes from the desk. "I'm going to get these to the post office before one. I'll be back shortly."
"She could be busy, getting settled in at her office and everything."
"You won't know until you try."
Barney waited until Andy had time to get clear before he picked up the phone. "Yes, Sara, get me Miss Jones, Miss Thelma Lou Jones' please. Yes, I know she's just moved here. She does have a phone already, doesn't she? She does? Good, good, good. Oh, of course that building's always had phones.. Uh? Hello? Miss.. uh, I mean, Thelma Lou?" Barney took a breath. "This is Deputy Fife.. Barney Fife.. We met the other day. Remember?"
He paused as she confirmed the meeting. "Good, yeah, well, do you recall the dance? The one the other day, uh, I mean the one the Sheriff mentioned? Yeah, yeah, the one Mayberry's Literary Society's putting on saturday night? I just wondered if you've given any thought on going? To the dance? That the Literary Society's putting on?"
Thelma Lou giggled a bit. "Yes, I remember hearing about the Literary Society's dance."
"Oh that's great and if you'd like, we could, uh, go together?"
"Sounds perfectly lovely."
"So since you're new here and.." He remained a bit matter of fact and calm until Thelma Lou's response begin to sink in. "You would?" Barney jolted upright for a moment before regaining his cool air composure, and again leaned back in the chair with feet propped upon the desk. "Yep, that'll be just fine," he casually agreed with her and stretched back even further. So much in the thought of Thelma Lou's acceptance, he missed the latch of the door opening. "It's a date then, I mean an evening, and I'll be by to pick you up at seven o'clock sharp."
Barney's grin turned instantly to shock when he casually opened his eyes to see Andy looking down at him with bemusement. He quickly straightened up, clutching the telephone, and he gasped out words in haste. "Yeah! Saturday, ten-four! I mean, seven-four! Uh, seven sharp! Got that?" He snapped the earpiece back on its hook.
"I was just... Uh, that was quick."
"Well, I met Postmaster Douglas coming back from lunch, and he took them in for me," Andy sat down in the chair his Deputy had so quickly vacated. He hesitated a minute before showing a big grin. "Barn? Did I hear correctly that you will be escorting Thelma Lou to the dance?"
"Well, uh, yeah, I.. just thought.. you know, with her being new in town, it would be a most hospitable thing to do." He fidgeted around for a few minutes until Andy asked him what else was there. "Um, are you going to be wanting the squad car?"
"Want to pick up Miss Thelma Lou and bring her to the dance, do ya?"
"Well, yeah, thought it would be the most considerate thing to do. You know with her..."
"Being new in town.." Andy finished for Barney, who wasn't exactly thrilled. "No, no, I won't be needing it. Ellie's helping with those pies Aunt Bee had volunteered, so we're riding over in her car."
"Oh yeah? Well, that's nice. Yeah, real nice."
"Thought you would think so."
In his attempt to get out of the embarassing conversation, Barney mumbled something about his crossing guard duty and stomped from the courthouse office. He didn't realize until he was outside that his post at the school crossing wasn't for a few hours more. Barney felt he couldn't return back to the office just yet but figured he would wander over to Floyd's to try and schedule his haircut again.
Thelma Lou didn't know what to make of Deputy Fife's abrupt end to their conversation. She chalked it up to his being quite high-strung, a trait of his she had immediately picked up on. Though she decided that Barney's timing couldn't have been more perfect. For prior to his call, her co-worker in the next office area from hers, Eldon, seemed to be hinting at the Literary dance, though she wasn't positive about it. But anyhow, she was grateful that Barney had gotten around to asking first, for there was something, what Thelma Lou couldn't put a finger on just yet, about the Deputy she was drawn to.
The rest of week trodded slowly by, with Thelma Lou really getting into the swing of things at the work. Mayberry was living up to its friendly moniker, for all of her colleagues were as nice as could be, and from her first day at work, she was joining them at the Bluebird Diner for lunch. On Friday, Eldon once again hinted at the dance the next evening. By that time, Thelma Lou confidently was able to make her own hint that she was to be the date of Deputy Fife.
At seven on the dot, Barney was at Thelma Lou's door. Nervously, he waited a minute or two before ringing the bell. Then just as he had it pressed, the door opened and there she was. "Oh, I.." she covered a giggle. "I thought I heard someone out here."
"Well yeah, I was.." he motioned towards the bell. "But anyway, are you ready for the dance?"
"Yes, just a moment," Thelma Lou reached back indoors to get her sweater and turn off the lights. She beamed as Barney held the squad car's door open for her. "You look quite handsome, this evening."
"Uh, oh, thanks," he stammered and made his way around to the driver's side. "And oh, as do you. You're quite fetching."
Her brightening smile and softly-spoken thank you caused him to blush again. During the ride to the hall, Barney pointed out various places and sights of Mayberry as they went past. Like the courthouse, the drugstore, Floyd's barbershop, the post office and so forth. Though she had already learned the whereabouts most of the town's establishments, Thelma Lou nodded politely at each one. When they had arrived at the hall, again, Barney hurried around to get the door for her. It was going to be a good night.
The trip to the punch bowl was getting longer and longer, Barney sighed as he waited for his turn. He had let his nerves set in about the evening and would do anything not for it to show. The dance began twenty minutes ago and it was already his third trip to the refreshment table, under the guise of getting Thelma Lou a glass but had been mainly for himself. He tried to steady himself by watching Andy and Ellie, the lady druggist, out in the middle of the swirling couples.
When song ended and Andy came over to the table to see how Barney was doing. He was about to ask just that when he caught sight of just how well his Deputy was faring and it told all he needed to know. "Your sleeve's in the punch."
"Huh? Oh for pete's sake!" He hastily slung his arm from the bowl before anyone else saw it, and turned about to wring his cuff of any access liquid, not paying much attention that he was making quite the sticky puddle on the floor.
"Ah, Deputy," a gentle voice greeted, making Barney flinch.
He snapped around. Thelma Lou flashed a bright smile, which Barney could only timidly return a small one. "Just getting you some..."
"Perhaps later," she kept the smile and looked from the Deputy to the dance floor.
"Let me get a fresh cup and.."
"Hmm, Barn?" Andy stepped up. "I think the young lady would rather to be out there." He made a slight whirling motion with his hand, gesturing towards the dance floor.
"Oh? Uh," he dropped his arm with the damp, red-hued cuff behind his back. "Well uh, do you wanna go.. and uh, dance?
"Sure, I'd love to." Thelma Lou put her hand in his which surprised him but he didn't take it away. "This sure is a lovely place. Are all the socials held here?"
"Um yeah, pretty much," Barney was concentrating on his hand placement in hers and the other at her waist, that once they were on the dance floor, that he was slow to catch what she was saying. He began to grow a bit more comfortable as the dance progressed. "There's bingo games, flower shows, raffles, preserve contests... you name it, it's been here."
Thelma Lou nodded to that description. "Sounds like such fun."
"It is, and oh, this is Mr. Schwump," Barney introduced Thelma Lou to the older man with the big grin as they spinned by him.
"He seems very nice, as everybody here, is he alone?" Her question came quickly as she noticed her partner was steering her hastily away from exchanging long pleasantries with Mr. Schwump.
Barney nodded matter-of-factly towards a group of milling around fellows of various ages. "He's in charge of the stag line."
"Oh and what a lovely band," Thelma Lou gushed. She could almost recognize the key of the current tune.
"Ah yes, that's Earl's band. His mother is the one the saxophone." He explained as they caught the rhythm of the next song. Which seemed to be some sort of a waltz with a bit of jitterbug thrown in.
When Barney and Thelma Lou were on their fifth dance there was a loud commotion outside that caused a goodly amount of the room to rush for the doors. Ladies were urged to stay in the hall, along with most of the civilian townsfolk as Andy and Barney sprang into action and hurried outside. Although most followed them out anyways.
In the parking area, they found a big scuffle going on with about five participants. Which all belonged to one family, that both Andy and Barney recognized. The McLarkin brothers, notorious for fighting over the least little thing, especially among each other, were at it once again.
"Avery, you and Jed need to stop this," Andy announced sharply to the two oldest in the melee.
"That's right!" Barney stepped up with his voice raised high. "You heard the Sheriff!" Suddenly the brothers' struggle surged back towards them and before the Deputy could get away, he was tripped and fell directly upon Jed McLarkin.
The fight was momentarily halted by the sudden intrusion. Andy took that opportunity to separate the rest of the brothers, and managed to help Barney to his feet when a crunch and spraying of gravel announced the arrival of a heavy truck. Out of the cab jumped Tom McLarkin, the eldest of the clan.
"Not again!" He growled and barreled directly into the midst of the group.
"Tom, now you need to get your brothers on home, or I'm gonna have to lock them up for disturbing the peace, and possibly causing an injury to each other or someone else!"
"Yessir, Sheriff, won't be happening again tonight," he grabbed the collars of his two nearest siblings and hauled them towards his truck. With his loud beckon, the others sheepishly followed without any words passing between them other than guilty nods towards the Sheriff.
"What was it this time?!" Tom demanded as they departed.
"Jed was wearin' my best tie, an' I told him to take it off!" Luke, the youngest cried. With that, Jed lunged for him but Tom averted the move by a strong shove into the truck. He packed them all in and they left. The curious onlookers began to file back into the hall.
Regaining his composure, Barney began to dust himself off. "Good thing, you stepped in, Andy, the way I had that McLarkin boy pinned down and.." He paused as what happened caught up to him and had to grab hold of the nearest vehicle before calming down.
Andy put his hand on Barney's shoulder. "Steady there, it's over now, and everything turned out all right." The Deputy nodded to that and he and the Sheriff made their way back inside the hall where everybody else was awaiting news to what had happened.
Thankfully inside the building, Earl's band had to continued to play. His mother was playing her heartiest solos on the saxophone and had kept all the folks within earshot occupied.
"Just the McLarkins' boys, a rowdy group, but not bad lot." Andy explained to those clustering around. He was going to leave it at that but took a quick glance from Barney to Thelma Lou with her genuine concern for his safety, and decided to elaborate further. "Uh, if it hadn't been for Barney here getting tangled up with Jed McLarkin, we'd never have gotten them settled down."
"Oh Barney," she crooned, "you could have been hurt?"
His chin lifted a few degrees higher. "Nonsense, it's all in a day's work for us lawmen. We're used to handling rowdies like that."
The dancing commenced with no more interruptions until the hour of eleven o'clock came around. Then the festivities began to wind down. After saying their goodbyes, and Barney enduring more playful ribbing due to that scuffle, he escorted Thelma Lou out to the squad car then to her house.
"What a really lovely night," Thelma Lou hummed. "It was a wonderful dance and I had a really good time. I got to meet a lot more of the townsfolk and every one nicer than the last. I'm going to really enjoy living here."
"I'm glad to here that, and yep, you'll find there are a lot of nice people here. We've got one of the friendliest towns in the whole state."
"Well, here we are." She stepped upon her porch after a slow walk with Barney up her sidewalk. "I do thank you for the ride there and home."
"No, uh, it was no problem, my pleasure." Barney smiled, then blushed a bit with his words. "Ah, I guess this is goodnight, and.."
"Guess it is," Thelma Lou smiled as he took a step closer then another wee one.
There was a bit of anticipation between them both when all of a sudden it was broken by a pick-up roaring down the street, honking as it went by and the driver leaned out the window to yell, "Hey Barney! Good job in bustin' up tha' fight!"
The commotion caused both Barney and Thelma Lou to spring back a step. "Well uh, I guess, uh, I'll be seeing ya around." He shuffled nervously and reached his hand out for her to shake it. "Uh, we've got a real nice service at the All Souls Church with real good preacher and all."
"I've heard, and I'll be seeing you there? Tomorrow morning, right?" Thelma Lou recovered from her surprise quickly enough to accept his handshake with a smile.
"Goodnight," she softly said. Barney hastily touched his hand to his hat and sauntered backwards toward the squad car. When he reached it, he gave a look back one last time, and was pleasantly taken aback to see her watching from the window.
Barney's chest stayed puffed up all the way home. He knew when he picked up Andy and the family for church in the morning, he was in for all sorts of questions and remarks about that evening and of course he would play down any personal situation of his as usual. Though as he arrived home at Mrs. Mindlebright's boarding house, Barney realized it might become more and more difficult denying any sort of affection for Thelma Lou, for there was just something about that girl.
The End. :)