Eidetic Sunshine

Eidetic Sunshine

Monday, August 18, 2014

Chapter 15


“Grenadine.  Grenadine.  Grenadine,” Danny muttered in irritation as she sat at her makeshift desk. 

“That stuff you put in drinks?” Butch asked into the silence that followed. 

Danny jumped and looked up from the papers spread across the table.  “You are supposed to be asleep.  The quack said …” 

“The quack can take a flying leap.  What are you grinding your teeth about?” 

Danny missed having Tito around to talk to.  He wasn’t always interested in his sister’s wheelings and dealings but he at least listened.  “Uh …” 

“C’mon.  Don’t keep me in suspense.  The Tavern run out?  Somebody get pickled in a barrel of the stuff?  What?” 

Danny shook her head.  “You’re in a strange mood Butch Pinder.” 

Butch was two seconds away from a smart aleck comment about a pot and a kettle when he changed directions and said, “I want to get to know you.” 

“What?” 

“I said I want to get to know you.  Not the you that you let everyone see, but the real you.” 

Danny shook her head.  “You won’t like her.” 

“Instead of assuming I won’t, why don’t you let me be the judge of it?” 

For whatever reason – probably mental deficiency – Danny decided to give him what he wanted instead of making a huge deal out of it.  “I’ve got an order I’m not sure I can fill without shorting the Tavern.” 

“Grenadine.” 

“Si … er … yes.  I make it.  My mother’s recipe.” 

“Another one of your businesses I take it.”  At Danny’s nod But shrugged and said, “Happens sometimes … shortages I mean.” 

“It wouldn’t have happened this time except Maddox sold two cases away to a traveling merchant without telling me.  Actually traded them is more correct.” 

“Did he get ripped off?” 

“No.  Not really.  It’s just … conyo … I can’t go around telling everyone I’ll do a trade for them, especially not Maddox.” 

Trying to braid the facts Danny was letting him see without tying a knot he said, “Yeah, ol’ Maddox can talk … and he ain’t above making a buck either.  He just assume that the stock could magically be replaced?  Or does he know you …?” 

Danny sighed and leaned back from the table a little.  “He knows I make the grenadine and I have a hand in making most of the liquors for the Tavern.” 

“Most?  For how long?” 

Danny snorted, “Longer than you’ll be comfortable knowing.  Leave it alone Butch.” 

With effort he surprised Danny by nodding and saying, “OK.  But what?  He assumed you’d be able to replace two cases of bottles just like that?” 

“Yeah, apparently he did,” Danny said on a sigh.  “Last nine months or so Maddox has … look, he’s no spring chicken and Mrs. Maddox, she covers for him a lot.  Serving at the bar?  No problems.  But lately he’s gotten sloppy about … back room stuff.” 

“Is that when and why you stepped in?” 

Danny almost played stupid but then shrugged.  In for a penny, in for a pound.  “Before that.  Mrs. Maddox and I … well, she’s sharper than people give her credit for being.  Mr. Maddox, well the bar has always been his but it was Mrs. Maddox that added the eats and has kept the place from turning into another Buzzy’s Place.   Don’t get me wrong, Mr. Maddox is still sharp but he’s … he’s getting older and winding down.  Sleeps in more, not because he has the help to do it but because he needs to, to handle the afternoon and evening crowds we get now.  If they didn’t still dream about their son and grandkids showing up …” 

“They never heard anything?” 

“Nothing.  Just the initial contact and then the official letter stating they’d been given permission to emigrate into Florida and that they were supposed to board the train and be here within the month.  Only it’s been three years and it’s like they’ve vanished off the face of the earth.  For seven years they held out hope … then …”  Danny shook her head.  “They think if they found them once they’ll find them again, they just need to keep praying and hoping.” 

“What do you think?” 

“I don’t.  None of my business.”  The almost shamefacedly Danny muttered, “ I … I paid a private investigator.” 

“Excuse me?” 

A little irritated at her confession she snapped, “I said I paid a private investigator.  You hard of hearing?  People claiming to be Bart Maddox and kids got on the train outside of Omaha.  They got their ticket punched as far as their connection in Mobile but what became of them after that I don’t know.  They could have gotten detained.  They could have gotten their tickets boosted.  They could have missed the connection and gotten lost in the system.  They could have been robbed and thrown from the train.  Mr. and Mrs. Maddox know all the possibilities and probably a few they’ve made up in their nightmares.  But nothing stops them from hoping.  That hope, it kills them a little at a time … the grandkids’ birthdays, things that remind them of their son … not too many people know and I’d appreciate it if you’d not mention it or get in their business.”   

Butch could see that Danny didn’t like anyone knowing she could, or even would, do something like that.  He told her, “I could always …” 

Danny’s head shot up and she said, “No.  That hope kills them a little at a time … I think absolutely knowing what happened would likely just kill them off in one fell swoop.” 

“So you don’t think that the son and grandkids are alive.” 

With resignation Danny said, “I’m not sure they were ever alive.” 

Butch nodded.  “You think someone stole their identity out in Omaha and used it as a way to get traveling money to get out of that hell hole.” 

“I think that is more likely than any of the other possibilities.” 

Butch was almost sorry he’d brought it up when he realized the Maddox’s situation probably brought up bad memories of Eddie for Danny.  He decided to drop it and said, “Ok, so ol’ Maddox has some reason to be slipping a bit besides age.  How does that play into you grinding your teeth over grenadine if you are the producer and the supplier?” 

Danny was grateful that Butch was willing to drop the other topic.  She’d never be able to say with truth that she’d forgotten Eddie but she was fairly certain that whatever Eddie had gotten himself into when he left, he’d chosen to forget about them.  Danny winced at the oncoming headache.  She didn’t get them often but when she did she felt hung over for days.  “Pomegranates don’t just whistle into existence.  I’ve nursed my bushes and they produce pretty well … Momma planted some of them before Flare Day.  But their supply isn’t bottomless and they are very difficult to get fresh at any local market.  Even with a decent crop this year I can still only make so much juice.  And I decided to try a batch of pomegranate wine this year.  It used up most of my cushion.  To fill the open order is going to use up all my cushion, and my private supply.” 

“Then tell the open order you can’t fill it.” 

“Not … not really an option.” 

Suspiciously Butch asked, “Why?” 

With a sigh.  “None of my orders are illegal Butch but the people I sometimes do business with may not always have the same scruples.  I normally stay out of their business but the people who placed this order do business with a family that is … let’s just say you would have heard of them.  And while normally I wouldn’t care, right now I’m trying not to … to draw unexpected attention from people that might complicate this other situation we got hanging over us.” 

In frustration at house complicated things were getting Butch snarled, “Dammit to hell Daniella.” 

“Teach you to ask questions next time won’t it.  Told you that you wouldn’t …” 

Butch got up out of the chair he’d been sitting in and moved a lot faster than Danny had been expecting.  “Don’t you dare say it woman.  No, I ain’t happy about you having anything to do with certain types of people … even if it is through a back door connection … but I’m not a complete idiot.  Just tell me you keep those contacts to a minimum.” 

Danny looked at Butch and asked, “Would you believe me if I told you I hadn’t intended to make such a connection to begin with?” 

“Yes.  You have the boys and Nita to think about.” 

How quickly he said it caused a knot at the back of her neck to loosen.  “Thank you … for seeing that.  And ‘cause … look, I was doing business with this party well before they took up with … big connections.  They did it to grow their business.  I don’t …”  Danny sighed.  “That’s … look, maybe I would like to get so big one day that I can pick and choose who I do business with but right now that’s not where I am at.  But I’m not careless either.  This party in particular knows that.  I just owe her a favor.” 

“Her?”  Butch asked in surprise. 

“Yeah.  Her.  And that’s all I’m saying because you probably wouldn’t believe the rest of it no matter how stripped down a version I give you.  Either way though I think I’m going to have to risk it and fill the order.  We might need to tap her for some info though we’ll have to be very, very careful.” 

Trying to ignore the rest of it and Danny’s wicked grin Butch said, “So you don’t really have plans to stay a bar maid.” 

“Who knows what the future holds,” Danny responded with a very Latin shrug.  “I can have plans but that doesn’t mean they are what God has planned.  Look at my parents.  Look at just about everyone around.  Fastest way to make God laugh is to say you have plans.” 

“So you believe in fate?” 

Danny snorted.  “Don’t get your hopes up.  I don’t believe in fated love or anything like that.  Useless, romantic crap is all that is.  I see too much of that make believe nonsense with the other girls.  Believing every man that gives them a line is ‘the one’ and that he’s going to help her escape from the mierda her choices have turned her life into.  And no, I don’t believe in karma either.  There is no such thing as fairness or real justice in this life.” 

“Then what do you believe in?” 

Danny snorted.  “Sometimes I wonder that myself.  I’d like to believe in what I learned from my parents and from Father Brannigan.  Most days I think I do.  Then there are the days that I’d like to be on the giving end of some revenge and smiting.” 

“Damn sure sounds better than being on the receiving end of it.” 

Danny relaxed at Butch’s easy acceptance of how she felt.  “What about you?  What do you believe in?” 

“Used to believe along the same lines as you.  Then I started to believe in that oath I made and the badge I wore.  These days I’m not …”  He stopped, looking troubled. 

“You’ll get your job back Butch.  You’re too good for them to let you get away.” 

Carefully Butch admitted, “Not sure I want it back.  At least not this job and this badge.” 

“Just because there are a few bad apples …” 

“Oh well, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the Militia Investigators are worthless, if I did I would be steering Tito into something different.  I just don’t know if I fit anymore.  Don’t know if they’ll let me fit anymore.” 

“One thing at a time Butch,” Danny said, worried that Butch would get depressed again. 

Butch nodded with a tired sigh and asked, “What else you doing?” 

“Wondering if I got the undertaker killed?” 

“What?!”

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