Last week, as you'll recall, Vinnie and Ethan acquired a temporary guest in the form of the Pekingese from the park. They settle the pup into their motel room and give him a name. Find out what that is in this week's Rose and Thorne. Then , in Moving Forward, find out who fired that gun, and is there more hell gonna shake loose? Then check out what the other Briefers have been up to! Their links follow my tales!
Rose and Thorne #6 (2.2)
The gravitational pull of the bed grabbed me, drawing me in, and I didn’t have the will to resist. I stumbled blindly in the direction of bliss, and nirvana, and mind-numbing nothingness. But before I had the chance to collapse into its loving arms and close my eyes, the yipping of the pup brought me back to reality. He was awake, and no doubt hungry.
“Okay, okay, I get the message. C’mon, let’s feed you, little man.” I ruffled his fur, and he didn’t bite me. Score one for me.
“Are you sure he’s a he?” Ethan asked. He opened the mini-fridge and slid the bottle of wine onto a shelf, followed by the subs. He turned quizzical eyes to me.
“Are you sure he’s not?” I countered.
“Easy way to find out. Hey big guy, are you a guy or a gal?” He took the Peke and held him up, examining him with a critical eye. “Yep, this boy’s a boy.” The pup gave an indignant yip, and Ethan hastily restored him to my arms.
“You know who he reminds me of?”
“He reminds you of someone?” Ethan must know some strange people.
“My uncle Benny. The one that did time.”
This was news to me. But then again, Ethan never talked about his family, so this tidbit was enlightening as well as interesting.
“No shit? What did he do?”
“Armed robbery.” Ethan scratched the pup under his chin and was rewarded with a licked finger. I guess he was growing on the little guy. “Nice Benny,” Ethan sing-songed. “There’s a good boy.”
“Jeez, don’t call him that. He’s not your Uncle Benny reincarnated or anything.”
“He can’t be. Benny’s still alive.”
I rolled my eyes. “Did you get a dish for his kibble?”
“Yeah, right here.” He pulled a yellow plastic bowl from one of the bags, followed by a small bag of doggy chow. “How much food does he eat?”
Why did he think I was some kind of expert on the care and feeding of dogs? Never had one in my life. “I dunno. Just throw a handful in for now. Not like he’s taking up permanent residence with us. We can take what’s left to his owner.”
Ethan had unloaded the rest of the bags. Besides the bowl and the dry food, I saw a can of wet food, a brush, and something that resembled a bone except it was a garish neon green. “Did you buy out the whole pet section, Ethan?”
“I wanted to make sure he had everything he might need, that’s all.”
“What about a water bowl?”
“I didn’t see one.”
I started to make a wisecrack, something to the effect that another food bowl would have served the purpose, but bit it back at the last minute. Ethan had been more than considerate. I didn’t need to be a bitch about it. “That’s okay. We can find something just for tonight. We have plastic cups that should do the job.”
“Yeah, good idea.” He pried open the top of the bag, scooped out a handful of food and tossed it into the bowl. “Where do you think we should do this?”
I glanced around the room, trying to determine a spot which would be least likely to result in a mess. “Bathroom,” I decided. It would be easier to clean something from the tile floor than from the carpet which lined the rest of the room.
“Gotcha.” Ethan carried the bowl into the bathroom and set it in a corner where it was out of the way of both sink and toilet. I followed him to the doorway. Just before I set the pup on the floor, I remembered what I’d wanted to know. I rolled him onto his back, curiously eyeing his tag. Damn.
“What’s it say?”
“According to this, his name is Spot.”
“Spot? Are you serious?”
“As a heart attack.” I wondered what kind of moron his owner was. I began to rethink my idea of a happy reunion between them. How happy could the little guy be with such a horrible name? But that wasn’t my problem. And he wouldn’t be my problem for much longer.
I set him on the floor, and he made a beeline for the food. While he ate, I filled a plastic cup with water and set it beside the food bowl.
“Good Benny,” Ethan praised him. He stood in the doorway, arms folded, watching the pup.
“Don’t call him that. It’s bad karma. Plus it’s not his name.”
“You gonna give him some of that canned stuff too?”
I searched among the items Ethan had bought, but in vain. “Not unless you’re gonna chew the can open with your teeth,” I told him.
“No can opener, genius.”
Ethan laughed. That man laughs at almost everything.
Shaking my head, I approached the dresser and opened the bottom drawer, eyeing it critically. I removed the few things that were in there, set them into another drawer. “I think this will fit him just fine. Get me a towel from the bathroom, willya?”
Ethan ambled over to me, bringing the requested item. I fluffed it into a makeshift bed. “He should be comfy here, and since we’ll be right there in the bed, he shouldn’t get lonely.” For some reason, I thought it was important that the pup not get lonely. I remembered what that was like, before Ethan.
Benny—I mean, the pup—trotted up to us, a contented look on his face, his tongue hanging out, dripping slightly. Obviously the water experiment was a success. I lifted him into the drawer. He sniffed around, exploring all the nooks and crannies, turned around a few times, then settled down and closed his eyes.
Speaking of which…
“These shoes are coming off. Now,” I declared. I stumbled toward the bed and flopped down onto the edge. Instantly, Ethan knelt at my feet, reaching toward one foot.
“Let me help,” he offered.
to be continued
Moving Forward #6 (2.3)
Instant silence filled the room, and no one moved a muscle. Roy held his gun over his head, his steely gaze raking over the crowd until he was sure he had everyone’s attention then he lowered it. “We are not going to do this. If y’all want to fight, then you need to take it outside. But I don’t really see there’s any need for that, do you?” He turned toward Al, who seemed a lot less belligerent than he had before.
Al held one hand over his streaming nose. He pointed the other at Lee. “He had no call to do that!” he protested.
“Be grateful he didn’t do worse, after what you said. ‘Sides, you hit him with a pool cue. I’d say that about makes you even. Other than the damage you owe Partners for the cue. Unless, of course, Marshall wants to press charges for what you did to him. Then that’s another matter entirely.”
“He can’t do that.” Al didn’t sound entirely sure of himself. He narrowed his eyes at Marshall. If his intention was to scare him, it wasn’t working.
Marshall was tempted to do just that, to teach the asshole a lesson about what was and was not acceptable behavior. But he wasn’t sure how closely he and Lee might be investigated as part of the process, and he didn’t want to find out. Still, Al didn’t need to know that.
The crowd began to part as a man pushed through them, excusing himself as he went, until he’d reached the eye of the storm. Marshall recognized Jeff, one of the bouncers. Jeff was familiar with Roy and Lee and their whole crowd. He’d seen them there often enough. Marshall knew Jeff would at least listen to what they had to say, and wouldn’t jump to conclusions. He also knew Jeff recognized Roy was a lawman.
Jeff was big, blond, and brawny, standing over six foot and built like a linebacker. Not many people at Partners were stupid enough to give him trouble. The few who tried found out in a hurry that he was as solidly built as he looked.
Jeff sized up the men who seemed to be in the middle of everything before he nodded to Roy. “Was that your gun I heard?”
“Yep, it was. Just tryin’ to keep the peace before World War III got started.”
“I see.” Jeff didn’t ruffle easily. He’d probably dealt with a lot of such situations in his time. “The rest of y’all—whoever isn’t involved, you can go on about your business.” He folded his arms across his broad chest. His very stance said he wasn’t going to take no for an answer.
The crowd began to slowly disperse, with backward looks and low murmurs, but no one argued with the bouncer. Finally, the only ones left were those belonging to the two sides: Marshall and Lee and their supporters, Al and his. Al seemed decidedly nervous, Marshall thought. He kept glancing in the direction of the entrance to the game room, as if maybe he was considering a quick getaway.
“Roy, you want to tell me what’s going on?” Jeff asked.
“Naturally you start with their side,” Al lashed out. “Your buddies.” His voice sounded nasal, the words a little slurred.
“Maybe it’s because I know you, Al.” Jeff arched his eyebrows at the man.
“I can tell you what happened.” Marshall stepped forward. “Since it happened to me.” He wasn’t a child. While he appreciated everyone’s support, this was something he needed to do himself. “That man”—he pointed toward Al—“came into the men’s room when I was in there and started beating on me. I told him I didn’t want any trouble, but he wouldn’t listen.”
“Did he give any reason for hitting you?”
“It was because I didn’t want to dance with him a second time.”
Jeff shifted his focus back to Al. “Is that what happened, Al?”
“It wasn’t quite like that,” Al mumbled. He stared down, as if he saw something very interesting on the floor, never meeting Jeff’s gaze.
“Then tell me what it was like,” Jeff encouraged him. Al maintained a stony silence. “Yep, pretty much what I thought. You didn’t get what you thought you were entitled to, so you used your fists. I’ve warned you about that before, haven’t I? This isn’t the first time we’ve had this conversation.”
“Don’t remember.” Al raised his head just enough to glare daggers at Marshall. “Little prick tease—”
Marshall felt Lee stir beside him, and he knew what his intention was, but before he could act, Roy stepped quickly between Lee and Al. He pulled out his wallet and flipped it open to reveal his badge. “I have the right to arrest you right now, so I suggest you keep that smart mouth of yours shut, if you know what’s good for you.”
“This was your last chance, Al,” Jeff said. “You’re barred from coming in here ever again. The way I see it, you have two choices. You can stand there like a dumbass and get arrested, or you can do the smart thing for once in your life and just get the hell out of here and never come back.”
Marshall noticed Al’s so-called supporters had drifted away. He guessed they knew Al too well to want to get involved in a mess of his own making. Al looked around him, probably drawing the same conclusion.
“He’s not worth it. If you wanna let him whore himself out, it’s no skin off my nose.”
Before anyone else could react, Jeff reached for Al’s shirt, twisting it between his fingers as he lifted him bodily from the floor until his legs dangled in the air. Al struggled, but to no avail. “Apologize,” Jeff told him. “Or I’m gonna let Lee deal with you.”
Lee took a menacing step toward Al.
“You can’t do that,” Al protested. “That’s… that’s illegal.”
to be continued
Now go see what the other Briefers have whipped up for you!