It was hard pulling myself away from Ben yesterday morning.
We’d spent all weekend relaxing and just taking it easy, but it was Monday and I finally got the go head from the Doctor and the Physio-therapist to go back to work. I was excited to get back under the hood. Ben was not as pleased as I was to get out of the house. He was still stuck in it for a few more days.
I’d only been at work five minutes when Miles sent me the first photo of Ben hanging upside down. The rain gutter had him by the leg and put him within reach of Miles so that he could bring him back inside. I received two more as I went through the motions of opening up for the day.
Ben outside being held by a gargoyle.
Ben outside being chased back inside by the stone lions at the doors.
I finally gave in and called home at noon when I got the one of Ben, covered in dirt and being dragged back inside by Mark.
“This place is a prison and I can’t take it anymore.”
“You can and you will. The Doctor’s orders say rest, Ben. The photos I’ve been getting are not rest. They are the exact opposite.”
“Come home. I’ll rest with you.”
I sighed and tapped my forehead against the wall. I got a brilliant plan when I heard him whine that he was bored.
“Come to the shop. I need someone to go over my books.”
There was silence on the other end, then Ben cleared his throat. “On second thought, maybe I’m not that bored.”
I started laughing. “Ben, I know how much you love your work and I know this is killing you being stuck at home, but I’m not letting anything happen to you again. I need you to say there.”
Ben sighed. “One more day, then I have to go back to work.”
“One more day. We’ll go out to dinner tonight. Just you and me.”
“I’ll see you at home.” I was about to hand up when I thought of something wicked. “Oh and Ben?”
“I’m out of underwear. Can you do laundry today? I had to go without.”
I heard cursing on the other end as I hung up. That would keep him busy. I turned my phone on silent and tucked it into my back pocket. The Judge had brought in his hearse for a tune up and I wanted to get my hands dirty.
I picked up a socket wrench and was halfway through changing spark plugs when I heard the shop door open and someone shout my name. I shouted out for them to come to the back and grunted when the Sheriff came around the side.
“Hello, Eric. Any news?” I asked as I pulled a plug and chucked it in to the bin of used parts that couldn’t be reused.
“Yeah. Every single one of the dragons homes had Hex Bags and all 13 of them changed.”
“You said that before.”
“Now I’m sure. I was just guessing before.”
“You do an awful lot of guessing these days. Is there something that you’re not telling me that I can not tell Ben?”
“We still don’t know what’s going on and who’s doing all the incidents. The best we can do is call a specialist.”
I stopped what I was doing and looked up at the Sheriff. He looked like he hadn’t had any sleep in a few days.
“Bonnie keeping you up at night, Eric?” I said, trying to keep the mood light.
The Sheriff smiled. “No and neither is Peter. Both sleeping like angels now. It’s easier now that I have help at night.”
“I was sorry to hear about Sue being caught in that mess back in October. Is her sister helping out?”
He rubbed a hand over his face and looked at me. “Yeah, though she blames me for what happened. Like I could have known Sue was going in to work that day.”
“If you need a break from her and the twins, bring them over to me and Ben. We’ll watch them for an evening. The whole evening.”
“You’d take on twin eight-year-olds? For me?” The look on his face was priceless.
“Think of it as a trade. I’m plenty angry about what happened to Ben. Someone could have been hurt, but I’ve had a lot of time to think about it and I’ve come up with a deal. I’ll babysit for information. You keep me in the loop, I’ll make sure your twin witches don’t go turning people in to toads again or making the dog fly around the house.”
I watched the Sheriff consider my offer for all of five seconds. “Done. Tomorrow night okay? I need a break and so does Sandy.”
“Done.” I said. “You have my phone number, call when you’re ready to bring them over.”
“You’re welcome. Now about your car..”
He laughed. “I’ll bring it in next week. I know I’m behind on my oil changes.”
“You also need new brakes.” I pointed out and smiled when the Sheriff sighed.
“Next week. I promise.”
I nodded. I was about to ask him if he remembered to change his wiper blades when his phone rang. He nodded at me and then stepped outside to take his call. I went back to changing spark plugs. I didn’t notice when the Sheriff stepped back in.
“I might have to take you up on your offer to sit earlier than tomorrow night, Marlowe.”
I jerked and slammed my head against the hood. Cursing, I pulled myself out of the car’s guts and looked up at the Sheriff.
“Sandy’s in the hospital. Heart attack. It seems the twins made her fly.”
I coughed to hide a giggle and that got me a look from the Sheriff. “I’ll close up early and pick them up. Who’s watching them now?”
“Miss Maggie. She says to pick them up at five. No rush.”
I snorted. Miss Maggie obviously didn’t know how long it took to get grease out of my hands. “Okay. Five it is. I’ll pick them up.”
“I hope I didn’t ruin any plans for you this evening.”
I thought about Ben and what I’d promised earlier. I really hoped he wouldn’t be angry. “Nothing that couldn’t be changed.”
The Sheriff left then and l went back to work on the Judge’s hearse. I worked steadily, letting my mind cycle through of all the memories that came with touching the metal that old. I was deep in the memory of a woman who pressed herself up against the hearse, begging to be taken with her husband when I felt a hand grab my shoulder. For the second time that day, I slammed my head against the roof so hard I saw stars.
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I tried calling your name but you weren’t paying attention.”
I pulled myself out from under the hood and glared at the person who interrupted my day. It was Sally Kolodney from the ice cream parlor. I nearly lost my temper, but reined it in. I kept telling her there was no hope for her car, but she kept insisting I try to fix it the poor thing.
“Hey Sally. How can I help you?”
She looked down and well, bashful. “Well, I finally took your advice and got another car. I was hoping you could give it a tune up this week.”
If anything would surprise me yesterday, that’s all it would have taken. “What’d you buy, Sally?”
“Oh, that little Geo you said would be great for me. You were right. It’s perfect. Between that and the van, I’m all set for cars.” she was babbling, but I let her.
I was stunned someone in this town actually took my advice about cars. Sure, they’d let me fix them. Take my advice about what to buy? Not until today.
“Sure, Sally. I can tune her up for you. You’ll need to replace those breaks before we get too deep in to winter though.”
“Oh I’m sure. I’m sorry I didn’t believe you sooner, Marlowe. You were right about that car. We’re perfect for each other.”
I smiled. “Come back on Thursday. I’ll give you the whole morning.”
I watched her scoot out of the shop and then saw the clock. Swearing, I pulled off my coveralls and made my way around to close the doors. It was nearly four thirty. I had to hurry to get over to the Sheriff’s place to get the twins before five. I hurried through the motions, managing to close up shop in fifteen minutes. I broke every speed limit to get to the house and was only five minutes late.
Miss Maggie came out of the house with Bonnie and Peter, who ran up to the car, laughing.
“Miss Marlowe! Dad told us we’re going to your castle for the night because Aunt Sandy is sick!”
“All true poppets. In the back with you. Maybe the two of you eight year old terrors can tire my puppy out.”
They laughed and climbed in to the back with their bags, buckling themselves in before I could tell them to do so.
Miss Maggie coughed then and when I looked at her, she smiled. I knew that smile.
“No hints. Not even for you.”
“But haven’t put anything in to the pot yet on the date!”
“If you don’t know your own adopted grandson by now, then I can’t help you.” I said with a laugh.
“Now you’re just being mean.” She said as she put her hands on her hips.
“I am.” I replied with a laugh. I dropped my voice and leaned out of the car window as the two in the back started to squabble. “How is she?”
“Fine, fine. I saw her collapse when I was walking by. They didn’t see a thing. She’d started that movie about the talking things that look like Twinkies for them.”
“Ah, That one. I like that one. I’m glad she’s okay and that they didn’t see anything.”
“Me too. They’ve already been through enough.” When I looked in the rear view mirror and saw Peter raise a hand to his sister I raised an eyebrow and made the middle seat belt wrap around his arms so he couldn’t hit her.
“Hey! No fair!” He shouted. “You promised!”
“It’s not me!” She said and looked at me in the mirror.
“That’s right. It was me. You don’t hit each other, understand?”
They both looked down and sullenly replied, “yes, ma’am.”
Miss Maggie chuckled and patted my arm. “You’ll be just fine.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow night. Ben and I will need a night out.”
“I look forward to it. See you then.” She said as she stepped back from the curb and waved good-bye to me and the twins.
I headed home with the twins in the back and prayed that Ben wouldn’t be too angry about not getting his night out just yet. When I pulled in to the drive, he met me at the garage and got a look at what was in the back seat.
“Well, well. Where’d you get these two?”
“Jail birds. I broke them out for fun in a haunted castle and to tire out Gibbs.” I replied as he kissed me. There was gagging sounds from the back that made Ben pull back, laughing.
“That’s enough, you two. Inside.” He smiled when they got out of the car with their bags and ran for the door.
I got out of the car and as I locked it, I found myself turned around and pressed against the door.
“That was a naughty thing you did this morning, Marlowe.” He said.
“Did you do laundry?” I asked as I nipped his lower lip.
“Yes.” He said as he kissed me.
“Then it worked.” I said against his lips.
“Still dirty.” He said with another kiss and pulled back. Taking my hand in his, we walked in to the house together.