For the prompt that began this game go here: Wed Stories: The Savage Outdoors .
Part i, by me: Victor and Hugo
Part ii, penned by LRose here
Part iii, again by me: here
Part iv, by LRose: here
Part v, LRose: here
This is Part vi.
Note that this is merely the latest installment – if you want to play along, please jump in!
Hugo watched as Charlene used her shirt tail to wipe the pistol then pushed it gently beneath the topsoil leaving the brown wooden grip ever so slightly exposed.
They both turned and hurried back towards the truck. He got briefly stuck as he turned around but he rocked the big Ford back and forth a few times and finally broke free. In almost no time they were making their way back down the mountain. They rode in silence, for the most part. Night was falling and there seemed to be no need for conversation. They were both comfortable without it. As they eased back into civilization they passed through downtown.
“How about if we stop for a coffee and a bite to eat? I’m famished.”
“Sure, where do you want to go?” asked Hugo.
“There’s an ‘Apple Alice’ just up ahead, if that’s OK with you.”
“That’ll work,” said Hugo and he started scanning for the familiar red and green sign. Apple Alice Family Restaurants had sprung up all over this part of the state. They were a popular franchise and offered hearty fare at affordable prices.
Spotting the sign Hugo wheeled his truck into the car park and found a spot not too far from the door. It was early yet, not too crowded.
As they entered, Charlene spotted Mike Garrett sitting in a booth all by himself. He was nursing a cup of coffee and talking on his cellphone. She nudged Hugo with her elbow and pointed at the Deputy. Hugo collected a couple of menus and nodded to the young hostess before he and Charlene headed over to Deputy Garrett’s table. He was just finishing up his call.
“You’re tellin’ me,” he said, “Well, at least you and yours will get what you went lookin’ to find.” He pushed a button on his phone to end the call and turned his attention to the interlopers standing by his table.
“Evening Charlene, Hugo; what are you folks up to?”
“Hey, Mike,” said Hugo. “We were just fixing to catch a bite and talk a little shop. It’s fortuitous that we should run in to you. Can we join you? I’m buying.”
Hugo and Charlene knew without discussing it that this would be their opportunity to learn if Old Vic’s remains had been collected by the authorities for analysis, or if something more sinister was up. Deputy Garrett waved his hand across the table and they slid in on the opposite side of the booth from him. Hugo pushed his menu to Garrett and he and Charlene shared the other. Mike pushed the menu to the side and said, “I don’t need that. I know what I’m having.”
“What’s that?” asked Charlene. “What’s so good here?”
“I’m getting whatever they have on special tonight. The specials here are the thing to order. You know they’re fresh and for the most part, they’re pretty tasty.”
About that time Irene showed up to take their order. She snapped her gum and stood silently with her pencil poised above the order pad. When she spoke she said simply, “Y’all ready; or ya need more time?”
“No, I reckon we’re ready,” Mike said. “I’ll have the special. What is that tonight?”
“It’s Annie’s meatloaf with Lima Beans. I can get you an end cut if you like it well done.”
“Nope, take mine out of the center.” He said.
“Same for me,” said Charlene, “and, a cup of coffee.”
“Coffee and meatloaf for me too,” Hugo added.
Irene collected the menus and headed off, weaving between the bastions of Formica and Naugahyde towards the kitchen, to put their order in.
The silence was just a little awkward and finally the Deputy broke the ice, “Does Larry know that you two are cavalierly tossing Foundation money around buying dinner for local law enforcement types?” He grinned.
“This isn’t Foundation money,” Hugo spoke up quickly, “this is strictly on me.”
“I’m just kidding.” Mike piped up. “It’s kind of a throwaway line in the cop business. It’s good for getting conversations started.”
“You know Larry well?” asked Charlene.
“Hell yes. He’s my cousin but we’re more like brothers than cousins. I thought you knew that.”
“No, no,” she said, “So you’ve lived here forever too? I know Larry’s a local but I thought you were a transplant.”
“Actually, Larry went away to school so technically, I’ve spent more time in town than he has. But, yeah we’re both born and raised.”
Without preamble, Hugo jumped in. “Who’s doing the forensics on the bones?” he asked. “Do we have that kind of expertise in town or will you have to call someone in?”
“We don’t have the equipment here,” Mike said. “They have it in Twin Falls and they have it in Boise. I called Boise this afternoon and they said they’d be up here first thing in the morning to collect Old Vic. Sorry, I shouldn’t be jumping to conclusions like that. They’ll be up in the morning to collect the remains.”
“Where are you keeping him?” asked Charlene.
“Vic! Or should I say the remains.”
“Oh, we just left him there. I figure he’s been there for a hundred years. What’s one more night? Right?”
“Um, yeah, yeah,” Charlene answered, “One more night.”
Irene materialized at their table balancing plates on her arm. She sat one in front of each of them. “Bon appétit y’all,” she said. “I’ll be right back with more coffee.”
Charlene and Hugo looked at each other as if to say “uh oh!” then they both turned their attention back to Garrett and smiled.
Musn’t let on!