March 2023 Newsletter
“You are going to that party tomorrow, aren’t you?”
Sara looked up from her chopper magazine and glared at her boss. He sat on the other side of the counter polishing off his chicken fried rice and beef with mushrooms like he hadn’t eaten in three days. The coolest thing about working for Marrec, though…every day she worked at the shop, she never had to pay for food. “Maybe.”
“Why maybe? Why not yes?”
“Jesus, Marrec. What is the big deal? It’s a freakin’ party. Not the prom.” Thank God. Her prom turned ugly right quick with Miki and Angelina starting that brawl and all. Talk about a long night in jail.
“You know I’m worried about you, right?”
Of course he was worried about her. Marrec always worried about her. You’d think the man didn’t have six kids of his own and more grandkids than Sara cared to think about. And his protective attitude seemed to trickle down to his whole family and—because everyone respected the old coot—right through the entire town. They all protected her. Like it was their job or something.
“Why would you be worried? Could my life be any quieter? I mean, nothing has changed for me in like ten years. Actually, I think Lynette’s death has been the most exciting time I’ve had in awhile.” Not a lot of wakes turn into a party unless you were in New Orleans, but everyone hated her grandmother so it wasn’t really a huge surprise. “So why you should worry about me, I don’t know.”
“Because. You deserve more than what your grandmother convinced you you deserved.”
Sara rolled her eyes, shoving the chicken chow mein away from her. Maybe it was her annoyance at this ridiculous conversation, but the smell had started to seriously bother her. “Come on, Marrec. What exactly are you expecting for me? That my two years of community college will lead to a high life of big business? Or maybe now I can go for that medical degree.”
“You are such a smart ass.”
“No. I’m a realist. Always have been. I have no delusions. Never could afford them. I just wish everybody would stop worrying about me. You know, I can take care of myself.”
Marrec grunted as he closed the lid on his empty container. “Yes, yes. We all know how scary dangerous you can be.”
“You don’t have to be so sarcastic about it.” Okay. So maybe Miki and Angelina were ten times scarier than she was, but she had her dangerous moments. Ask anyone who’d been around her when she’d been drinking.
“Just do me a favor, okay?” Marrec stood up. “Go to the party. Meet the people there.”
Frowning, Sara shook her head. Usually Marrec went out of his way to get between her and a pack of bikers. Now he wanted to toss her into their laps. Strange. Very, very strange.
“Look, I’m going. Okay? So stop askin’ me.”
“Good.” Marrec shoved his empty containers across the counter to her. “Thanks.”
She watched the ornery old bastard head to the back of the store. “I guess I’m taking out the trash?”
“Yup. Ya are.”
Grumbling, Sara took her and Marrec’s lunch containers outside and tossed them in the Dumpster next to the shop.
“Is that you, Sara?” she heard Jake, from Jake’s Auto, yell over the six-foot-high wall separating Marrec’s shop from his.
“Randy’s coming over.”
“Randy. Randy. Randy,” she chanted in a high-pitched voice as a one-hundred-pound red-nosed pit bull came around the corner. His leash and pinch collar still attached, although Sara never had to use them. His tongue hanging out, he trotted over to her and waited for his daily hello.
As much as it hurt, Sara crouched low beside him. “Is this my Randy? Is this my good boy?” She rubbed her hands along his flank. He growled and lay down on the concrete on his side. She continued to rub his thigh and back. “Who’s my pretty boy? Who’s my special guy?” Randy, as always, rolled over onto his back and Sara rubbed his belly, continuing to ignore the growing pain in her leg. She couldn’t disappoint Randy. “Who’s my good boy?”
“So, can I be next?”
Sara gasped in surprise at Zach’s voice, but she needed to get that under control. She hated the show of weakness.
“Um—” was all that came out before sweet, lovable Randy jumped up and charged straight at Zach, his teeth bared. Sara caught the leash and yanked Randy back, the dog’s jaws snapping shut mere inches from Zach’s face. But Zach didn’t move. He didn’t even flinch. In fact, he stared at Randy as if unimpressed with the sight of the one-hundred-pound dog trying to turn him into a midday meal.
Sara, still keeping a strong grip on the leash, turned her head to yell over the wall, “Jake! I need you!” She heard a vicious snarl and when she turned back, Randy had backed off, tail between his legs.
He ran behind Sara—whimpering.
She looked at Zach who stood in the same position he had been in five seconds before. Leaning against the wall, his arms crossed in front of his chest, completely relaxed.
“What did you do to him?”
“Not a thing.”
Jake came around the corner. “What in hell…”
“You better take him, Jake.” Sara handed over the leash.
Jake took it, but didn’t leave immediately. “You sure y’all okay?” He sized Zach up with narrowed eyes. “Randy don’t usually act like this, ‘cept when he don’t like somebody.”
“I’m fine. Really. Thanks, Jake.”
Jake gave Zach one more nasty look, and dragged the whimpering Randy back around the concrete wall.
“I’ve never seen Randy act like that.” She regarded Zach closely. “He really hated you.”
“But I’m so charming.”