Jackie Hope: Murder! Mystery! Mayhem! B-I-N-G-O!
Word on the street: the bingo games at St. Augustine of Hippo are rigged! Sources — who asked to remain anonymous — tell us the bingo hall managers have unsavory pasts and their bouncer has an unsavory present, offering hot bingo cards under the table … for a price.
The bingo players are far from savory, as well. In fact, they are so far from savory, they cannot even see the back end of savory as it runs screaming out the front door, leaving them sitting at their bingo tables, daubers in one hand and a fistful of dollars in the other. Let’s just say the bingo games at St. Augie’s are so crooked, they make Tony Soprano look honest.
Well, folks, scandal like this must be investigated. And in our search to leave no stone unturned as we quest for the truth, we looked under a rock and found Granny Gravelgrit.
No, that’s not right. We mean we found Granny at her usual table, setting up for a night of high stakes — and low mistakes – at St. Augie’s. Granny is a seasoned veteran, with her own take on what is savory and who is on the take. She has a sharp eye, an even sharper tongue, and an egalitarian worldview. Granny hates everybody.
We asked Granny how long she’s played bingo. Seems she got hooked in 1949, and has been a regular at St. Augie’s for the past 15 years, driving herself to the hall in her 1952 Hudson. Rumors have swirled that she was banned from the senior citizens’ bus in 2001, but the driver of that bus mysteriously disappeared, so the rumors could not be substantiated.
She is a lone player, reluctant to share her table, and said, “I don’t socialize when playing bingo, since I have to keep focused on the game. And I don’t like people seeing my card. People cheat.” Granny admits she is just killing time at St. Augie’s, waiting for the big score, so she can be off — like a dirty shirt on Saturday night — to the big-time games in Deadwood, S.D.
Let’s cut to the chase, Granny. We asked her about the bouncer being on the take, and looking the other way during the games, while offering a little protection.
“Larry?” she asked. “He’s a laughable bouncer! He thinks he is at the top of his form, doing this brainless job. But he can’t even get the games started on time without causing trouble. He starts every bingo night with the same absurd speech he has given for 10 years. Idiot! Believe me, Larry is so stupid, he only knows how to look one way, and it sure ain’t the ‘other way.’ But I never cross him when playing, since he does have the power to throw me out of the church basement.”
Strong words, Granny.
So what about all the ladies who come to play? Granny says the young girls come to find men, and they are jealous of her because of her ability to draw the men’s attentions.
The girls look to her for fashion advice.
“Some girls are always asking me where I get my flashy outfits,” she said. “The girls are jealous of my beautiful blonde curls and the jazzy clothes I wear. I can’t help if the girls are envious of me. I am a natural beauty.”
Well, Granny, are you dressing to catch the eye of one of the bingo boys?
She did admit, “At my age, I find if men ain’t looking, they are dead!”
It looks like there is trouble brewing at the bingo hall tonight, and OMGoodness, we are right in the midst of it!
Granny, what do you think?
“What, trouble tonight? Are you nuts?” she asked. “We have trouble every week with these annoying people who think they can play bingo. Nothing would surprise me from these bizarre bingo morons. I hate them all.”
Well, alrighty then.
Hey, do you guys want to play bingo at St. Augustine’s of Hippo?
Well, you are in luck. There are three bingo dates next weekend!
The Dickinson Public Schools Foundation is presenting “Murder at the Bingo Hall” at the Dickinson Elks Club on at 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15 and at noon and 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16. Call 701-590-0495 to check ticket availability.
Oh, Granny, we have one last question: who do you think will be murdered?
“Now, get out of my way, girlie,” she shouted. “I am here to play bingo, not chew over your asinine questions. This here is a bingo parlor, not the red carpet at the Academy Awards.”
Go Granny! Go Granny! Go Granny, go!
Hope is a humor columnist for The Dickinson Press and The Drill. She writes about everyday life, living in the Oil Patch and Twinkies.