The Head of the Nail
Daisy Taylor was the town vamp. Not that she was pretty. But sirens were all but non?existent in the town. Perhaps she was forced to it by circumstances. She was quite dark, with little brushy patches of hair squatting over . her head. These were held down by shingle?nails often. No one knows whether she did this for artistic effect or for lack of hair?pins, but there they were shining in the little patches of hair when she got all dressed for the afternoon and came up to Clarke's store to see if there was any mail for her.
It was seldom that anyone wrote to Daisy, but she knew that the men of the town would be assembled there by five o'clock, and some one could usually be induced to buy her some soda?water or peanuts.
Daisy flirted with married men. There were only two single men in town. Lum Boger, who was engaged to the assistant schoolteacher, and Hiram Lester, who had been off to school at Tuskegee and wouldn't look at a person like Daisy. In addition to other drawbacks, she was pigeon-toed and her petticoat was always showing so perhaps he was justified. There was nothing else to do except flirt with married men.
This went on for a long time. First one wife then another complained of her, or drove her from the preserves by threat.
But the affair with Crooms was the most prolonged and serious. He was even known to have bought her a pair of shoes.
Mrs. Laura Crooms was a meek little woman who took all of her troubles crying, and talked a great deal of leaving things in the hands of God.
The affair came to a head one night in orange picking time. Crooms was over at Oneido picking oranges. Many fruit pickers move from one town to the other during the season.
The town was collected at the store?postoffice as is customary on Saturday nights. The town has had its bath and with its week's pay in pocket fares forth to be merry. The men tell stories and treat the ladies to soda?water, peanuts and peppermint candy. Daisy was trying to get treats, but the porch was cold to her that night.
"Ah don't keer if you don't treat me. What's a dirty M nickel?" She flung this at Walter Thomas. "The everloving Mister Crooms will gimme anything atall Ah wants."
"You better shet up yo' mouf talking 'bout Albert Crooms. Heah his wife comes right now."
Daisy went akimbo. "Who? Me! Ah don't keer whut Laura Crooms think. If she ain't a heavy hip?ted Marna enough to keep him, she don't need to come crying to me."
She stood making goo-goo eyes as Mrs. Crooms walked upon the porch. Daisy laughed loud, made several references to Albert Crooms, and when she saw the mail?bag come in from Maitland she said, "Ah better go in an' see if Ah ain't got a letter from Oneido."
The more Daisy played the game of getting Mrs. Crooms' goat, the better she liked it. She ran in and out of the store laughing until she could scarcely stand. Some of the people present began to talk to Mrs. Crooms?to egg her on to halt Daisy's boasting, but she was for leaving it all in the hands of God. Walter Thomas kept on after Mrs. Crooms until she stiffened and resolved to fight. Daisy was inside when she came to this resolve and never dreamed anything of the kind could happen. She had gotten hold of an envelope and came laughing and shouting, "Oh, Ah can't stand to see Oneido lose!"
There was a box of ax?handles on display on the porch, propped up against the door jamb. As Daisy stepped upon the porch, Mrs. Crooms leaned the heavy end of one of those handles heavily upon her head. She staggered from the porch to the ground and the tin?Ad Laura, fearful of a counter?attack, struck again and Daisy toppled into the town ditch. There was not enough water in there to do more than muss her up. Every time she tried to rise, down would come that ax?handle again. Laura was fighting a scared fight. With Daisy thoroughly licked, she retired to the store porch and left her fallen enemy in the ditch. None of the men helped
Daisy?even to get out of the ditch. But Elijah Moseley, who was some distance down the street when the trouble began, arrived as the victor was withdrawing. He rushed up and picked Daisy out of the mud and began feeling her head.
"Is she hurt much?" Joe Clarke asked from the doorway.
"I don't know," Elijah answered, "I was just looking to see if Laura had been lucky enough to hit one of those nails on the head and drive it in.
Before a week was up, Daisy moved to Orlando. There in a wider sphere, perhaps, her talents as a vamp were appreciated.