Never A Dull Moment
Aside from your usual duties, I have several errands of a more personal nature for you to complete.
- Take the package from my desk and deliver it to Pam’s home.
- Go to the mall and buy a new cell phone from every provider you can find.
- Use the van for the day. I know you like your ‘vintage’ Mercedes, but until you have it painted, it’s just an embarrassment. You’ll need cargo room anyway.
- Go to my warehouse. There will be 48 boxes for you to collect. They’re marked ‘Stackhouse’.
- A woman named Marjory will meet you there at noon with a special delivery.
- Take the boxes to Adele Stackhouse at 200 Hummingbird Lane in Bon Temps. Marjory’s delivery is going to the same address, but is intended for Sookie Stackhouse.
- Give Adele the message that I’ll explain the boxes when I see her tonight. Let her know you are available to deliver any boxes of books she has ready for donation.
- While you’re at the Stackhouse home, take note of the cells with the best signal strength. Report back.
This isn’t a business errand, so be friendly. Be on your best behavior. If you are the least bit insulting, I’ll sew you into a Grand Dragon hood and have you dropped at the African-American Festival next week.
When you’re done in Bon Temps, go to 10 storage companies in Shreveport and rent five units at each establishment. Yes, I know I’ll have 50 storage units. Yes, I do remember I own warehouses. Yes, it is sad that I know you’re asking yourself stupid questions in my absence.
Get to work.
When I rose there was a message waiting from Bobby.
“Uh… Mr. Nordmann, sir… Everything went just fine with the deliveries except for a couple of small things. That special delivery, didn’t like the ride out to the country. I had the carpet in the van steamed as soon as I got back to the city though… The other thing is… well you said to be nice. They offered me lunch and I tried to decline politely. I hope I didn’t offend them, but I needed to get back to Shreveport… Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Miss Stackhouse, she seemed like she was trying to be, I guess you could say, casual, but she was smiling a lot. All fifty storage units have locks. I took the liberty of buying them from a locksmith so you wouldn’t have fifty keys to keep track of. There are ten. They’re marked. You didn’t say what you wanted me to do with them, so I have them and I’ll bring them to wherever you want me to. And Sprint was the only carrier that got a signal on the property, but only outside. You know how to reach me if you need anything… Goodnight, sir.”
I should have been impressed Bobby took the initiative to buy locks… even if Pam was just going to break them all.
I usually had nearly an hour before I had to suffer the phone calls from tattling, nagging Vampires and throngs of high and drunk superficial whores. The name said it all… Glamour was where 21 to 35 year olds went to bask in false advertising. It hadn’t been amusing in months except for the theme nights Pam arranged. Some of the costumes inspired Pam to start a website.
When I turned onto the highway to leave Bon Temps the night before, my cell phone was finally receiving a signal again… a voicemail box full of whining, self important Vampires. A few of them were only calling to moan about rumors of a sequel being made for Interview With A Vampire… And as Sheriff, I had to call them all back, tell them all to shut the fuck up, and remind them Anne Rice lives in the Queen’s Area. I wasn’t the one who dropped that fucking ball.
I fed, inventoried a few things at one of my warehouses, and returned calls from my office (making very few of my own) and died in my safehouse.
Between personal ventures and my duties as Sheriff, I was bored until I met Sookie and I was planning to shirk as much responsibility as I could to take some time for myself.
The phone calls began nearly as soon as I left for Sookie’s house. Scheduling problems, vendor mistakes, squabbling over a business arrangement between Vampires, and one Vampire reporting he brought over a child… Not only was he letting me know I had a new Vampire in my fealty, he needed advice because his new child was suicidal after only 4 nights.
I did my best to advise him, but since the Maker was keeping something from me, there was only so much I could do…
Shortly after I lost my signal, I was given the amusement of feeling Pam’s mood. Her rage multiplied with added frustration… I had to assume she was trying to call me. I couldn’t have timed my arrival in Bon Temps better.
Whether it was the crunching gravel of the Stackhouse’s driveway or the sound of my engine, Sookie knew I was there.
She walked out to wait with an energetic ball of black and gray fuzz at her ankles and waited for me on the steps. More tiny shorts, another revealing tank top and she was barefoot…
I parked next to an old Impala station wagon and as soon as my door opened, I could smell fruit. Apples, pears, figs, berries, oranges and coconut… it was wafting from the house. Every window was open.
Sookie’s arms were folded, but she was smiling when I stopped in front of her.
Even though she was on the second step, she still had to look up to tell me, “You’re crazy.”
“It only seemed fair for there to be a puppy. You did get into the van.”
She giggled and leaned to kiss my cheek. Her scent was lost under the fruity aroma she’d absorbed. Not unpleasant, just disappointing. “She’s an adorable puppy… but I think an AKC registered Keeshond and every accessory I can think of is a bit over the top.”
“Does your grandmother approve?”
“Are you glossing over? You don’t care that it’s over the top, do you?”
“It’s a matter of perspective. If there had been someone with a box of free puppies at Wal-Mart…”
“You sooooo did not find that dog at Wal-Mart.”
“No. I bought that dog from an employee of mine. Do you like her less because she’s pedigreed?”
She watched the pup pounce on a cricket and sighed, “I would have gotten a kick out of a drawing of Snoopy taped to the wall of the van… Don’t you dare think I expect this kind of thing. I’m not one of those girls who want to be spoiled… that having been said…” She lifted her arms to hug my neck and say, “She’s precious. Thank you.”
“You’re keeping her, yes?” I was mindful of the two people moving around in the kitchen just a few feet away, listening to an audio book of Sense And Sensibility instead of having a conversation that could give me clues about who was there… Assuming one of them was Mrs. Stackhouse, I put my hands in the small of Sookie’s back (rather than her ass) to pull her closer.
“Only because we have presents for you in exchange… but yeah, I’ll keep her.”
“Presents for me?”
“Yeah… to thank you for the books. If you’re going to be a stalker bearing gifts though, we need to establish some parameters.”
“Oh really? What makes you think I wouldn’t find a way around them?” Loopholes were my second hobby.
“That wouldn’t be very honest and would negate the intention of the gift. You can be creative about loopholes, but I’m pretty sure I’d know if you outright lied.”
“What makes you so sure?”
She shrugged. “I have a sixth sense… $10.”
“You mean a $10 spending limit? That’s ridiculous. Nothing costs $10 anymore.”
“If you answered an ad for a free puppy, you could’ve gotten a collar and leash for $10.”
“Free puppies don’t come with health certificates from veterinarians.”
“I’d be willing to go as high as $20…” When I growled, she swatted my arm. “Don’t be like that. You’re the one who spent nearly a grand on a puppy on a whim.”
“How do you know how much was spent?”
She raised her eyebrow with the challenge. “Because I opened this awesome thing called a newspaper. There was only one listing for Keeshond puppies… $800. I called to ask about their temperament. She looks like a Chow-Chow so I was worried about her being aggressive. Marjory was really sweet and explained Keeshonds are great watch dogs because they have a loud bark, but they’re super friendly.”
“You said it would have to be a very cute puppy and Pam likened them to teddy bears when Marjory posted a flyer in the break room.”
Sookie cooed, “She smiiiiiiles… she may very well be the cutest damn puppy ever… Stop distracting me. $20 and…” Fuck. She was smart enough to be a problem.
“$20 within what timeframe? No one item worth more than $20 or does the entire gift have to be $20?”
“Per week and yes twice.”
“You’ve got to be kidding, Sookie. I went to a movie with Pam a couple of weeks ago and it cost $15 just to get in.”
She huffed, “I won’t count dates then… but don’t go crazy with those either. I already told you l’m happy just hanging out. We had plenty of fun last night and we only spent $7 between us.”
“I’m not limited on dates.”
“Fine. If dates aren’t included, neither are special occasions…”
“Hang on. What do you call a ‘special occasion’?”
“I don’t know. I’m installing a failsafe. Off the cuff, your birthday comes to mind. $20 per week, but I reserve the right to combine…”
She growled, “$100 monthly cap. Calendar months, not some ever-changing thing I can’t ever keep track of.”
“How much did you spend on the present for me?”
“$12.50 and we’d already bought it all before we got home and Bobby was waiting with Tina.”
“You named the puppy Tina?”
She shrugged, “So? I like it… Her AKC name is ‘Grand Duchess Constantina Lenore of the House of Barge’. Marjory just called her ‘Poofer’.”
I nodded. “Tina’s good.” Definitely an improvement from ‘Poofer’.
“$100 monthly cap, excluding special occasions and dates. $100 special occasion cap as long as a third party agrees there’s an occasion.” I couldn’t believe I was debating how to spend my own fucking money… but I was having fun.
She shook her head. “Nope. Starting yesterday. There were free puppies in the newspaper. I think we’re done.”
“A non-spoiling agreement… You realize you’re being a brat, yes?”
“Don’t be a putz about it. I’m not that girl who needs crap. In fact…” She lowered her arms and slid them down my back to my ass… then reached into my pocket to take out my wallet. “Leave this in your car. You don’t need it here.” Glamour was fire coded for 300… on any given night, every fucking customer wanted more… I’d just been ‘bullied’ into less.
“There isn’t a cover charge?”
“Nope. The Stackhouses are come-as-you-are. Hurry up. Aunt Linda’s dying to meet you.”
“Because of her niece or because of my Guttenberg Bible?”
“Me? Pssh. Are you kidding? Aunt Linda is a poetry fan. My cousin Hadley hasn’t been home for more than a week, and she’s been worried about your First Folio all day.”
I joked, “I might be stalking the wrong family member.”
Sookie gasped and put her hands on her hips… she was too cute to be threatening and when I laughed at the look on her face, she balled up her fists.
I put her over my shoulder and carried her towards the door while she squirmed and kicked, beating on my back along the way…
“I thought you said I was safe from your wrath, Sookie.”
“That was before. Now you’re asking for it!”
Tina was at my heels when I walked into the Stackhouse’s kitchen. Adele and another woman were sitting at opposite sides of the table with sewing machines. The reason for the heavy scent affecting Sookie was lining the steps leading upstairs and covering the counter… dozens of freshly poured candles in a rainbow of colors were cooling…
“Mrs. Stackhouse, I found a vicious beast on your property.”
She did her best to keep from laughing and huffed, “Erik, I’m going to have to call an exterminator. Sookie’s too smart for the traps I put out.”
“What have you tried as bait?”
Sookie slapped my ass and complained, “Y’all are a real riot! Erik Nordmann, if you don’t put me down, I’m gonna bite a hole in you!”
“Are you sure about that? I bite back.”
The aunt ignored Sookie and stood, offering her hand. “Linda Delahoussaye. Nice to meet you.” If I had to have guessed, I’d have pegged Linda as Sookie’s mother… similar features and the same coloring, including a stunning, golden tan… and my only guess was that she hadn’t taken part in candle-making because her scent, that same scent Sookie carried, hadn’t been completely hidden.
“Erik Nordmann, potential bite victim. Likewise… did you ladies enjoy your flea market?”
She nodded. “We did. We found someone clearing out their canning supplies and a few other things… did Sookie mention Momma and I found something for you to use against that sister of yours?”
“She mentioned there was a present, but she didn’t mention it’s part of my revenge. Do tell.”
The woman gave me a devilish grin on her way out to the small mud porch stacked with the boxes I had Bobby deliver. When she returned, she used her foot to push a chair out and place a large box on it. She took out an abused doll and said, “Little ransom notes…”
The little plastic doll had its eyes blackened and looked like it had been put to a belt sander. Its hair had been hacked sloppily and it was missing an arm… Intriguing, if not slightly frightening.
“…Sookie says your sister has 5 storage units worth of stuff and then some… Sookie beat the crap out of the dolls while Momma and I pieced together scraps for clothes…”
She held the doll out for me to inspect… they’d used a scrap of leather to make a mini skirt, gold lame for a tube top and a rabbit pelt for a coat… and ribbon crisscrossed its calves in the fashion of slutty little sandals…
“Sookie said y’all were just playing around, Momma and I thought you could toy with your sister and make her think you’d mess up her clothes.”
“I offer a trade?”
The woman shrugged. “If it was me and Corbett, that was Sookie’s Daddy, I’d leave the doll strapped to a bundle of kindling and soaked with kerosene on his front steps with a note and a key. ‘I’ll tell you where your clothes are when my books are back where they belong.’ Now… you wouldn’t have to give her all of them.” A pre-installed loophole? I got more than I bargained for when I decided Sookie would be Mine…
Linda pulled out two more battered dolls. One was in a little-black-dress and a hot pink fur, the other was wearing jeans and suede had been used to look like the Uggs Pam had become obsessed with.
“Brilliant! How many are there? I could use these dolls to practically control Pam.”
“Eleven, twelve if you count the one without a head.”
“There’s one without a head?”
“Sookie took a body part from all of the dolls and made them into keychains for the key… just in case.”
THAT bought Sookie’s freedom. I set her down and held her up while her equilibrium adjusted. “This is marvelous. I could have used this kind of help years ago.”
She narrowed her eyes and slapped my side. “Twelve. Fifty.” Her grandmother and aunt bit their lips to keep from laughing…
“You’ve proven your point, BUT I wanted to make sure the puppy is healthy. You might not have any intention of showing or breeding her, but she doesn’t have worms, kennel cough or parvo. I’ve heard Marjory talk about her dogs more than her children, so I know they’re well cared for.”
She deflated slightly and asked, “Parvo?”
“There was a local puppy mill in the news recently… infected, over-bred puppies were sold just in time to drop like flies at their new owners’ homes. Typhoid for dogs.” And the assholes running that farm were actually dead in the open when the State Police raided… damage control was a nightmare.
Sookie was already giving me a very apologetic look when her aunt told her, “Can’t begrudge him for that, girl. It’d break your little heart if you had to watch a puppy suffer like that.”
“No kidding… Good thing I made him agree to dial it back before I found out about that.”
I growled, “I still have loopholes.”
She narrowed her eyes and huffed, “What about the boxes?”
“Are we changing the subject? Or do you think the boxes are another reason for you to be bratty?”
“Yes to which?”
“What’s. In. The. Boxes?”
I chuckled, letting her become more annoyed for a moment before I explained, “Last night you mentioned the saying ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.’ The boxes are full of items I thought you ladies could use for crafting. We keep some things in storage for a while, but we usually just donate things we don’t find another use for. Specifically, those boxes contain the wares from Pam’s tea parlour. Elevenses closed last year and Pam saved the tea cups and saucers, lace and linen tablecloths, bakeware and molds…”
Linda’s eyes lit up. “You’re kidding! You… You’re kidding!”
I shook my head. “You’d be surprised how little of a write-off that type of thing is. I’ll have Bobby meet you at the warehouse if you’re interested in looking through things. There are several boxes of glassware from Glamour. Pam talked me into using colored glass recently so the boxes are full of clear…. Pam redecorated our houses last month so our old linens are there… I doubt the shelter would need or want hurricane glasses and pink Egyptian cotton… and can you think of a need for ping pong balls?”
“Thousands. Pam filled my room with them in January shortly after I made my annual complaint about Louisiana’s lack of snow.”
Linda nodded, looking slightly high. “Yeah… if you paint them, you can string them like beads to make Christmas garland for outdoors… or little ornaments for smaller trees.”
Adele shook her head. “You two both need a whoopin’. Do you have any idea how wasteful that is? The money you spend on your little prank wars… you could feed families.”
“We do that too… and normally our pranks aren’t as complex.”
“What did you do to get your room filled with ping pong balls?”
“I borrowed alligators and filled her shoe room with them… They were small, but she missed work one night because she couldn’t decide which pair of pumps to wear.”
My chiding, amusing as it had been, was over when Adele couldn’t get her hand over her mouth in time to stop her laugh.
By the time the women were breathing normally again, and agreeing with my methods, there was a truck bouncing along the driveway.
Jason Stackhouse let himself in, announcing his arrival by grumbling, “Damn it… there better be at least one pie. I could smell fruit from the street.”
Linda snorted, “Peach cobbler better be good enough.”
He nodded and scooped Tina up when she began inspecting his shoes. “Yeah… I was afraid I was striking out all over the place tonight. I went to get a beer at Merlotte’s and it’s all boarded up.” That was fast.
Adele gasped, “So soon!? It just opened!”
Jason shrugged and leaned against the counter. “Andy’s sittin’ in the parking lot ‘cuz some kids decided to tailgate with some MD 20/20, got outta hand… He said Merlotte had a run in with someone last night and he was moving back home. That trailer he was shacked up in, the one he kept ‘round back, that’s gone too.”
“That son of a bitch!”
Sookie and Jason gasped, “Gran!”
“Don’t ‘Gran’ me! That turd just up and left! He waltzed into town and hired a dozen folks that needed work! God knows poor Terry Bellefleur couldn’t find work anywhere… That’s just about… he could’ve left town and hired a manager to run it for him! BUT NOOOO… let’s just take off and not even bother staying open long enough for folks to be able to file for unemployment… I bet he didn’t even have the guts to tell anyone!” I might have offered to hire some of Merlotte’s former employees if his waitress had known what obligatory meant.
I offered, “How long could the building possibly be vacant?”
Linda huffed, “Long enough… It was empty for about 10 years before he hung his shingle.”
Jason shook his head. “Gran, it’s not like you liked the idea of him opening anyway.”
Adele Stackhouse scowled, “What am I complaining about, Jason? I’m upset that he left people out of work without warning… I’m not going to lose a lick of sleep over the fact that he wasn’t open long enough to give the church a reason for extra AA meetings because I’m going to be worried about how Arlene Denbigh is going to feed her babies.”
Jason had been studying Tina and finally asked, “Could someone tell me what the hell this is? It’s gotta be the weirdest cat I’ve ever…”
Sookie snatched the dog away from her brother and snarled, “It’s not a cat, jackhole… Tina is a Keeshond. Erik bought me a puppy.” So help me, that fucking puppy smiled at her.
He gave me an impressed look. “Yeah? Did it work?” Was he really asking if a puppy had been my ticket into his sister’s bed?
Thankfully, Sookie punched his kidney before I did… and Linda slapped the back of his head.
“Damn, y’all! Stop beatin’ on me! It was just a joke… sorta… So Merlotte’s outta the building… Why don’t you go back to the bank, Aunt Lin? It’s been a few years.”
“Because Mr. Rat-Fink at the bank only turned down the loan because he considered a sandwich shop to be competition for his sister’s diner. He’s still there, so the answer is still a no.”
I didn’t have to ask… Sookie volunteered, “Aunt Linda tried to get a start-up loan a few years back so she and Gran could open a sandwich shop.”
Jason added, “It woulda been nice too… They was gonna have pies and whatnot… and the daily special woulda come with a history of the sandwich… and have their own flea markets in the parking lot e’er month…”
Jason stopped when Adele left her seat to begin rifling through drawers. She had a hammer and a screwdriver in her hand and began walking towards the door.
“Gran? Where ya goin’?”
She grabbed a purse from the coat rack and huffed, “I’m making sure that turd didn’t leave behind any food to waste.”
“You’re gonna break into a restaurant to steal food with a cop in the parkin’ lot?”
“It’s just Andy, Jason. And I’m not stealing a dang thing. I’m taking every bit of it to the church so the preacher and his wife can divvy it up.”
I was new there.
I was waiting for a fucking clue while Adele’s family swapped pensive glances back and forth.
I heard the engine of the station wagon turn over, but it took a few seconds before everyone else had their clue…
The sound of gravel sputtering as she backed out of the driveway meant Adele Stackhouse was serious.
Linda grabbed Jason’s arm and yanked him to the door so they could follow and as soon as Sookie looked up, I knew…
“Put Tina somewhere safe.”
Sookie was worried en route, wringing her hands and needlessly apologizing for the ‘craziness’ and promising there wasn’t always so much excitement. Nevermind that the excitement was part of the appeal… Merlotte’s hasty exit was my doing.
Being there to glamour Deputy Andy Bellefleur so Sookie’s grandmother wouldn’t be arrested was the least I could do.
Given the heat, Sookie had rolled her window down…
I wouldn’t have been bothered if she turned the air conditioning on, but as soon as I pulled into the parking lot of Merlotte’s, I realized it was a good thing she hadn’t.
Luckily, Adele was still arguing with the Deputy… but they were too close to the front door.
My problem was being careful not to give away how acute my sense of smell was…
I took the tools from Adele and tossed them into the grass, leaving a confused look on her face. “Good evening, Deputy.”
“Well… it was until Mrs. Stackhouse showed up in a tizzy. How you been?”
“Same old, same old… Is there a hurricane in the Gulf that slipped by my radar?”
“Because Merlotte boarded the windows… Do you know if he contacted a real estate agent?”
“Naw… called the one he bought the place from while I been sitting here with nuthin’ to do. He ain’t heard hide or hair. Why? What’s up?”
I made a show of leaning towards the window and inhaling. “I’d venture to guess he called his insurance agent before he left town just on the ‘off chance’ something happened before he could sell the place.”
I nodded and pulled a sheet of plywood away from the siding. “Gas, Deputy. I can smell gas… you can’t?”
Jason approached carefully, as though his movement could cause a spark and followed my lead. “Damn. You got a hell of a nose. I ain’t smell it ‘til right here.”
The deputy actually caught on. “A lucky fire, huh?”
I nodded. “That would appear to be the case… What do you want to do? Since there hasn’t been a fire he’ll just claim it was an accidental oversight.”
“You seen this a few times?” Seen it? I’d done it.
“Enough to know he won’t be charged… If I were you, I’d get his contact information from his insurance agent and tell him he should play by the rules and put the property up for sale the old fashioned way. He probably doesn’t realize he can’t be charged unless there’s an insurance claim filed.”
“Not a bad idea… Fat lot of good that threat’ll do though. It was empty since the last owner died… 11 years.”
“I doubt it will take so long this time… I’ve heard a rumor someone is interested in opening a sandwich shop.”
“Sounds better than deep fried baskets of crap and watered down drinks… Much better. Someone local?” He ducked into his patrol car to use his radio.
“Linda and Adele actually… Deputy, I’m going to break some windows. It isn’t safe to try the doors. I’ll board them up again before we leave.”
He nodded and pointed as though I was the one who needed direction. “Yeah, yeah. Thanks. Fire department would just do the same thang.”
When I broke the first one, Jason gagged. The gas was so concentrated, it only took a moment for the ladies to begin coughing and moving away from the building.
Even though he looked ill, Jason followed me to help with the next. As well-intentioned as he was, his help made it nearly impossible to hide how strong I was. When I put my hand in the middle of the large pain of glass, I suggested he take a deep breath before it was broken… as soon as he inhaled again, I pushed until it crackled and a minor smack did the rest… Any other method might have invited questions about how I wasn’t injured.
Jason ‘helped’ me remove boards and break all six of the large front windows… Adele, Linda and Sookie called after us protectively as we moved around the building. I couldn’t help but chuckle with him while we were told to be careful…
Two more windows… and the bonus of finding the shut off valve for the gas…
Then ‘we’ decided to try the back door… Jason backed up to charge the steel door and kick it in ‘Chuck Norris style’.
I was laughing when I grabbed his foot to keep him from hurting himself. He stuck his tongue out when all that was needed was for the knob to be turned. Of course, it needed to be turned with extra force, but he didn’t notice.
I had to tell him to leave the door open and to not turn on the light as we entered… He stayed directly behind me as we moved through the service portion of the building… The only light for him was from the Deputy’s squad car.
Merlotte had left the safe of his office open and empty… Stupid mistake. ‘Accidents’ don’t happen when there isn’t something in the safe and the model he owned was sturdy enough to withstand the explosion.
He’d left all of his vendor’s information behind and as I rifled through the strewn shit all over the pig’s desk, Jason huffed, “You know, you shouldn’t oughta said that about the sandwich shop. It’s gonna be all over the Parrish by time Andy gets off.”
“Why? I much prefer the idea of ‘hanging out’ with your sister at an establishment run by her family than having her stalked by a deranged outsider. Not to mention how she’d be objectified by the customers at my club.”
“Cuz credit’s credit, man. Ain’t nobody loanin’ right now. They cain’t afford it. If they could, they’d been in business all along. They got the heads for it.”
“I’m not sure I’m seeing the problem then. If I buy the property from Merlotte and rent it to them, everyone is happy then, yes?”
“What?” I hadn’t found any sort of hint as to where Merlotte had gone so I could contact him myself, so I wandered out of the office and towards the kitchen. Jason walked closer than he had before…
“I assume the bulk of the loan your aunt applied for was the asking price for the property. If I buy the property, they can rent the property from me…”
“If the business goes under…”
“Nothing lasts forever, Jason. A wholesome family-oriented eatery would certainly do well for long enough to bring them above the red line for the term of a lease. If profits crash, they can close and I’ll do something else with the property. No harm. No foul.”
“You mean just… enjoy the high cotton while you got it…”
“I’m not familiar… High cotton?”
“Southern saying. Big money… good cotton crop.” That made enough sense.
“Alright. Go on.”
“Instead of crying over a bare field, move on to another one.”
“Then, yes. I own several businesses. It’s called diversifying. There will always be something newer and more popular breathing down the neck of any business. For instance, I drive a Corvette. Compare that to Ford’s Quadricycle. If Ford had remained stagnant since 1896, do you think they’d be a automotive giant?”
“Hell naw, guess not.” I was surprised I hadn’t needed to elaborate on the Quadricycle. If anything he looked surprised I knew what it was.
As I entered the kitchen, my attention was grabbed by the odd placement of a large broiler…
It was sitting on the stainless steel countertop with its power cord still plugged into the wall outlet…
Not only was it plugged into a timer set for 4AM, but it was filled with the paper used to line the baskets of obligatory chicken fingers.
“Merlotte was nothing if not thorough. Even if the heating element in the broiler didn’t ignite the gas, the paper would have…”
As though startling me wasn’t enough, the women in the parking lot yelped. “Asshole.”
He chuckled, “Sorry. Couldn’t help myself.”
He was still heeling to me as I joined Adele, Linda and Sookie. They were gathered closely while the Deputy watched with idiotic seriousness.
“Deputy, Merlotte filled a broiler with paper and set it on a timer. He might cry when he finds out it didn’t work.”
“You wanna tell him? I got his number… registered to a Bernadette Merlotte in…” He flipped through a small note pad. “She’s in Wright, Texas.” By now, so was he and he was most likely crying about how the big, mean Vampire helped the local rednecks run him out of town on rails.
“Is there a large city near Wright?”
“It’s about an hour from Dallas.” That made things easy. I had enough connections in Dallas, I could easily send some motivation in his direction.
I nodded. “I’ll contact him in a little while then. You’ve had too much to do as it is… Merlotte left food and liquor behind. I propose you take the liquor for the Fraternal Order of Police… I think Adele might have strong feelings about letting the food items spoil. Would you object to having her call the pastor about meeting Jason to store it in the church until it can be…”
“Naw! No problem at all! You got it, Mr. Nordmann. Be a shame to let it go to waste. I’ll call him myself.”
The women eyed me carefully as the Deputy lumbered back to his squad car.
Linda whispered, “How the hell did you do that? Andy’s a bonafide goober.”
“If I’ve learned anything, it’s that idiots don’t like to have their noses rubbed in their lot in life. You spent your morning finding potential in the unwanted items of others. Of all people, you should understand, there is driftwood, ladies, and then there are puppets…” When I winked, all of them giggled. “Go back to the house and settle down. Jason and I will move everything and be along shortly.”