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   Chapter 23 No.23

Prodigal Sun By Christina Engela Characters: 5302

Updated: 2018-07-10 19:01

A fella came inside, dressed in jeans, a check shirt, boots and a cowboy hat. He was handsome, mid-twenties, shortish hair – pretty standard fare on Deanna – and honestly, pretty standard fare for the Slipped Disk on a Friday morning. Glancing round, and seeing nobody at the bar, he picked a stool in the center of the counter, and perched himself there.

Motionless, Fred watched him lean over the side, and pour himself a drink – a single whiskey, water, ice, tumbler. It was just when a masculine voice came from nowhere, saying "That'll be four credits, seventy five, thanks!" that the guy stiffened and almost dropped the tumbler. A tall plant behind the counter – which he had assumed was just a plant, extended a branch and wiggled some fleshy-looking leaves that might have passed for eyebrows on what might have passed for a head – if Fred had a head.

Dumb-struck, the wannabe moocher took out the money, passed it to Fred, and then paused to recollect if he had taken any psychotropic drugs the previous week. Fred dropped the money into the cash box, and cheerfully said "Thank you very much!" He dropped an olive and a swizzle-stick into the glass too, just to be funny, before keeping himself busy with the time-honored tradition of barista everywhere – polishing glassware.

Goggling at the whirl of motion of four branches of Fred cleaning glasses in a tub behind the bar counter, drying them, and stacking them on the counter – all at once, was a little much for the newcomer to handle. The rustling sound Fred's branches made creeped him out even more. The man just

nna have to work for it first! Learn wot a woman is really for – pleasin' a man – not other women!"

It was then that a breezy and almost cheerful masculine voice from right behind them, said clearly and firmly "Relax ladies – I'll take care of this, compliments of management!"

Things inside the Slipped Disk suddenly got a whole lot more interesting after that.

* * *

It was already early afternoon, and Peg had just returned from the most recent meeting – another two hour stint at the Mayor's office – where updates on the parade were discussed yet again. She's made a pit-stop at a hotdog cart in the street on the way back, ordered one with 'everything' on it, and had just sat down to eat, when Deputy Mike opened her office door.

"Young lady here to see ya, Sheriff." He said, leaning in. She could see Danielle standing behind him.

"Hi Peg." She greeted, "Got a minute?"

"Okay." She nodded, on the point of drooling as she ripped the paper bag open hungrily. "Come on in, but I'm gonna eat now – and you can watch if you want."

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