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Frogs, Kisses and Gin
            The two women idly stirred their gin and tonics while sitting at an outside table at the Lame Duck Café. A newspaper was spread open to the fifth page.
            “Look here. Another girl is missing.” Ruth put her finger on the article. “It says; Mary Smith was last seen in the vicinity of Mulberry Street. Her friends say she was standing on a street corner. Five minutes later when they checked on her, she had disappeared.”
             Joanne dropped her stirrer on the dirty table. “Oh, Good Lord, Mulberry Street is only two blocks away. I think Lucy and Janet are over near Mulberry. What do you suppose is happening to these poor girls? Are they being kidnapped and sent to some old Turk’s harem in Egypt?”
            Ruth ran her finger down the article for a few seconds. “Mary is the fifteenth girl that the police know about. Lord only knows how many of us are actually missing. The police probably throw half of the missing women reports in the trashcan, especially if they are like us.”
            They looked up as Lucy walked briskly to the table. She was panting slightly, hair disheveled and carrying her hat in one hand while her other hand was over the inside hiding something. She beckoned at the waitress. “Bring me a double gin and tonic. Quick, I need it.”
            Joanne tried to look into the hat. “What do you have in the hat? Where’s Janet?”
            Lucy shook her head agitatedly. She grabbed the gin and tonic and drank half of it. “You won’t believe what I just saw.”
            Ruth put her hand on Lucy’s sleeve. “Calm down. Where’s Janet?”
            Lucy turned her hat over on the table and lifted it off. “Here she is. It’s Janet.”
 A frog sat quietly on the table. It moved slightly to get comfortable.
            Ruth pulled Lucy’s drink toward her side of the table. “You’ve had too many gins and been out in the hot sun too long.”
            “No, no, it is Janet. She was on the corner talking friendly to this guy. I turned to look at someone. When I turned back in just a few seconds, he was gone and she was like this.”
            Ruth stared at the huge frog. “That’s not Janet. That’s a dumb ugly frog.”
            “Talk to her. She knows you guys.” Lucy drank half of the remaining gin and tonic.
            The frog eyed a cockroach on the edge of the table. In a split second, its tongue extended ten inches, retracted and swallowed the cockroach.
            “It might be Janet. She never did have good eating habits.” Joanne looked down at the frog. “Janet, is that you?”
            The frog sat still, its green skin glistening. “Buuullruuum.”
            Lucy jumped up and down in her chair. “It’s her. Did you hear that? Janet answered you.”
            Ruth and Joanne were three feet from the table. They slowly pulled their chairs back to the table.
            Ruth prodded the frog with her finger. “If you give me warts, I’m going to beat the living hell out of you. You sounded like a bullfrog. Is it really you?”
            The frog flicked out its tongue and snared an ant. “That’s Janet. She’ll eat anything.” Joanne pointed at the frog’s forearm. “Look, there’s a birthmark just like Janet has.”
            Lucy finished her drink, waved at the waitress and held up four fingers. “I’ll bet there are more frogs where those girls disappeared. I heard a girl disappeared from Mulberry Street yesterday. The poor thing is over there hopping around wondering what happened to her.”
            Ruth touched the frog’s rear leg. “Nice pretty fat legs.”
            “Don’t even think about it.” Lucy pulled the frog closer to her side of the table.
            Joanne waited until the four drinks were on the table. “What do you supposed happened? How did she become a frog?”
            Lucy took a big drink, leaned forward and lowered her voice. “You guys have heard of Jack the Ripper, haven’t you? What we have here is Jack the Frogmaker. Somehow he kisses the girls and they turn into frogs.”
            “Did you hear that? Janet’s agreeing with me.” She used her straw to suck up some gin and blew it into the frog’s mouth.
           “Buullruuuum, buuullruuum.”
            “Oh, my God, it is Janet. Janet always makes noises after drinking a gin and tonic.” Joanne lowered her face to get closer to the frog. “Janet, what ever happened to you?”
             “Janet wants another drink.” Lucy hurriedly blew gin into the frog’s mouth.
Ruth put her half-empty glass on the table. “Don’t give her any of mine.” She looked at the other two women. “Well, what are we going to do about it?
           “In all the old fairy tales, Prince Charming came riding up on his white steed, gave the frog a kiss and presto, the frog turned back into the Princess. I think Janet qualifies as a princess, don’t you?” Joanne drained her glass and waited while the waitress supplied fresh drinks. “Janet’s had enough.”
           Lucy nodded enthusiastically. “I agree, but where can we find a Prince Charming? They are mighty scarce around these parts.”
             All three women quickly scanned the outside patio of the café. They looked at each other and grinned.
            “Jerry will have to do even though he’s got a few beers on his breath.” Ruth yelled for Jerry to come over and for the waitress to bring a beer.
            Lucy tugged on his hand. “Now what we want you to do is kiss Janet. Jack the Frogmaker has turned her into a frog. A hot kiss from you will bring her back to normal.” She blew another dram of gin into the frog’s mouth.
           Jerry looked down at the frog. “Make that two beers.”
           The three nodded and waited.
           “I’m not going to kiss a frog here. Everybody will think I’m crazy.” He picked up the frog and walked outside into an empty lot. He stumbled on a beer bottle, dropping the frog. The frog hopped under a building. He was on his hand and knees looking when Janet walked by. She entered the patio and sat down.
           All three women shouted at the same time “Where in the hell have you been? What happened to you?”
           “I don’t know. I have a terrible hangover. Someone gave me too much gin.”
Frogs, Kisses and Gin