I used another picture prompt today in my latest chapter of Stan and Ollie. Last week they learned a little bit about their spirit visitor. Today, road trip! Enjoy! And then check out the rest of the Briefers, whose links follow my tale!
Stan and Ollie #6
Although I hate the reason for them, and although I bitch and complain about each and every one, the truth is I really enjoy taking road trips with Ollie. Getting away from the diner is good for both of us. As long as we’re together, that’s what counts. That’s also what I worry about the most, being separated from Ollie. Not because I’m a jealous prick or anything, ‘cause I’m really not, and I trust him implicitly. But I’m afraid of him being caught. Naturally, I don’t want Ollie to be found out for what he is. I’m sure the government would give their collective left nuts for definitive proof of life in outer space. Such as Ollie.
I realize he’s not in a position where he can be sent back where he came from, since that world no longer exists. That’s assuming that anyone would even believe he’s an alien from another planet. The thing is what if they do believe? I’m afraid of what they might do to him in the name of “science”. And that I can’t allow.
No, don’t tell me I worry too much. There is no such thing when it comes to Ollie.
I’ll say one thing about our road trips—we do travel in style. I have a car that’s the same age I am. A baby blue 1979 Lincoln Continental Mark V. They don’t make them like that anymore. Long and sleek and elegant, she rides more comfortably than a lot of newer vehicles I’ve had the misfortune of riding in. Luckily for me, the best mechanic in the world lives in the same town we do. And he loves to keep our baby in tiptop condition.
It’s about ten and a half hours from where we live to Cortez, Mississippi, a trip that would have been perfect except for one hairy little fly in the ointment. She doesn’t care for long car rides. Unfortunately, my suggestion that she stay at the diner fell on deaf ears. I expected no less.
My other suggestion—which involved a muzzle—was met with a great deal of hostility, hissing, and hatred.
It’s early evening when we arrive in Cortez. It’s not a very big place, split between the town proper, and the surrounding farmland. I wanted to arrive before it got too late; places like this tend to roll up the sidewalk fairly early. I guess that first one to the cow tipping gets to pick the best bovine, or something like that.
First things first. We need to secure lodgings for the night. There’s actually a hotel in the middle of town, not part of any low budget chain that waits for you with the lights on or anything. So we get a room, and I have the satisfaction of seeing Xylina put into her carrier. I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay for a second room for her royal highness, when she can stay a cat for the duration of our stay and play the part of Ollie’s pet. Let her be mad about it, I don’t care.
“Where first?” I ask Ollie, watching him carefully lay our clothes into the maple dresser. A flat screen TV sits on top of it; chained down, as a precaution.
“The flower shop.”
Makes sense. This particular store was the original Bo’s Blossoms. Bodean Fairchild made his start here in Cortez, before branching out. The employees might be able to tell us something about Consuelo.
It’s only a block from the hotel so we decide to walk. When I suggest the princess wait for us in our room, she leaps onto Ollie’s shoulders and settles herself there with a particularly nasty glare at me. I give in with as good a grace as I can muster, which isn’t very good.
As you might expect, the shop is overflowing with flowers, particularly tulips in a variety of shades. An older woman sits behind the front counter. A gilded cage hangs above it, within which a colorful bird resides. I’m no avian expert, so I can’t hazard a guess as to what it might be, but it looks tropical, and emits intermittent squawks.
On the wall behind the counter, I spot a familiar face. Conseuelo’s. It’s on a poster hung there, with the caption, MISSING. Below that is HAVE YOU SEEN THIS GIRL? Of course we can’t very well say we have and that she’s dead. Who’d believe us?
The woman rises from her chair at our entrance, a smile of welcome affixed upon her face. “Can I help you?”
“We’re looking, ma’am, thank you.” Ollie is usually the first one to interact with the people we run across. As Gwin puts it, Ollie could sell ice to the Eskimos, while I’m more likely to get pelted with the stuff due to my lack of tact and diplomacy.
“Well, if there’s anything you’d like to see, let me know.” She waves one hand, indicating the breadth of the shop. “We have just about any kind of flower you’re likely to want, and then some.”
“The flowers are beautiful. It’s a very lovely shop you have,” Ollie continues.
“Land sakes, it’s not mine.” The woman laughs. “It’s Bo’s shop, I just run it. Especially now.” She shakes her head and clucks.
I reach for Ollie’s hand and squeeze it. I can feel his sorrow from here, his desire to tell her the truth, set their minds at ease so they can mourn. But that would be premature.
“Thank you, ma’am.” I pull Ollie closer. We step aside just as the door opens and a young man enters. He has thick wavy hair that falls in disarray over his forehead; large black glasses that frame intensely blue eyes. He pulls open a case and emerges with a single purplish tulip before heading back outside.
“Poor Egbert!” The cashier sighs, wiping at her eyes, as Ollie and I exchange glances.
The chase is afoot!
to be continued
Now go visit the rest of the Wednesday Briefers!
Until next time, take care!