I got a bit of a late start tonight, and I was pretty worn out from editing two different manuals at work, but I managed just under 1500 words for the night, which keeps me on track. I’m still parading new characters into the story, but I think it is working out. Benton Noro is back, which makes me happy, even if it was a short appearance.

Good luck to all those working to get a novel out this month. Hang in there!

 

Marshall Cooper

Day Four– 7133/50000 words

Another patron showed up and asked for a beer.

Marshall opened a bottle and handed it to the man, who wiped the mouth of the bottle with his hand and turned to Shelby. “I’m going to cut out of here honey doll. I’ll be out by the pool if you’re lonely.” Shelby stared daggers at him and he looked at Marshall as if just now noticing him. He pulled out a twenty, “Bartenders don’t gossip. They know better.”

“I know better too,” Shelby told him, “Drink your beer and find somebody to drive you home.” She stalked off.

The man, in his thirties and almost as good looking as he thought he was, ran his fingers through his thick blond hair and said, “I’m just teasing her. Don’t get any ideas. She loves that old bastard.”

Marshall looked at him for a moment, and then shrugged. “Bartenders don’t gossip,” he said. Marshall liked that bartenders had a code, even if this one was probably bogus.

The handsome man smiled. “Good man.”

Catrin came by with a plate of food, mostly appetizers. “I thought you could use this,” she said.

Marshall was about to tell her no, but then he realized he’s forgotten to eat today. That happened to him a lot, especially on busy days. “Thank you,” he told her, and set the plate down behind the bar.

A line of customers showed up right then, so it was another twenty minutes before he got a chance to take a bite. When he did finally eat, he started with a cheese cube. It tasted like plastic to him, but most things did. He washed it down with a bottle of water he had been sipping from/ there was a lull in customers, and he had time to relax a little and watch the room. Rainman had launched another song that was vaguely familiar. He could place it as a rock song from the eighties, but it took until the song was almost over to realize it was an Elvis Costello song, Veronica. Marshall forced himself to eat another cube of cheese and followed it with a slice of toasted baguette that has some sort of garlic concoction spread on it. His nose picked up a bit of the garlic scent, which almost made it taste like it had flavor.

Sheriff Dwight returned a few minutes later. He put up his hand upon approach. “Don’t worry,” he said, “I’m not going to make you sneak me alcohol. I’m not a teenage. Just pour me some water, and add a little lime if you’ve still got some. Marshall obliged. “I’ve been meaning to ask you,” Sheriff Dwight said, “How’s you get that scar on your head?”

“I was riding in a car that ended up on the front of a semi,” Marshall said. Sheriff Dwight was looking intensely at him, and Marshall got the idea that this was an interrogation. “What’s your name by the way?”

Marshall gave his name, and Sheriff Dwight told him his, to which Marshall nodded. The two shook hands. Sheriff Dwight had a very strong grip and Marshall did his best to return it. “You were riding, not driving?” he asked.

“My father was driving,” Marshall said, “My mother was in the car too. It was a Sunday. They liked it when we all went out to eat on Sundays. I’d come by, and my sister and her family. There was this steak house called Montis La Casa Vieja in Phoenix. It was closing down soon, so we were heading there one last time.” Marshall’s voice trailed off.

Sheriff Dwight raised his hands, letting Marshall know he could stop. “Sorry to push. I see scars and I get concerned. I’ve been sheriff here for thirty years, this is a good town, quiet, but that doesn’t mean we don’t get trouble. ”

Marshall sighed and didn’t say anything. The sheriff looked at him for a moment, and then said, “My own father died when I was a young man, just twenty. He went out on a boat and never came back. My family had been here since the 1890s. My grandfather, well, he owned a lot of stuff and my father had enough money to be… irresponsible.  Nobody was too surprised when he died. I had to make up my mind then if I was going to follow in my father’s footsteps. It was kind of up to me to decide what kind of a future I wanted. I decided I wanted to be on the side of the law.” He looked at Marshall as if he was trying to size him up. “You’re a little older than I was, but I’ll bet you’ve got similar things running through your head. Take some time. Sort it out.”

Marshall nodded. “Thank you for the advice Sherriff”

“Any time Marshall,” Sheriff Dwight said.

As the sheriff walked off, Dwight noticed Benton Noro across the room. He wasn’t sure if she had just arrived or if she had always been there. She noticed him looking at her and came over.

“You were not someone I expected to see at this event,” Benton Noro said, “Or behind a bar.”

Marshall nodded. “I am not someone I expected to see at this event either.” He told her, “Or behind a bar.”

Benton Noro smiled a thin smile. “Could you make me a glass of sparkling water,” she said, “I don’t drink, but it doesn’t pay to have people notice that. “They get suspicious of people who don’t drink.”

Marshall obliged. “What kind of investments do you handle,” Marshall asked, “Stocks and bonds? My sister is an investment banker.”

Benton Noro said, “I don’t trade in stocks,” she said, “I’m sure your sister is quite good at that sort of thing, but I find it very tedious. I make very particular investments, mostly in people, mostly short term.”

Marshall tried to puzzle out what she was saying, but was drawing a blank. Benton Noro leaned in close, close enough to kiss him. “I’m a loan shark.” she stage whispered. Then she smiled. “Not really, of course, but essentially that is what I am.”

Marshall nodded. He wasn’t really sure how to respond to that. Finally he said, “And what brings a loan shark to the sheriff’s mansion.”

“What do you think?” Benton Noro asked. Then she put her hand on his. I’ll be getting coffee tomorrow, if you want to talk. I’ve got to circulate now.”

The party officially ended at ten. Marshall started packing up his bar and Rainman came over to help. They went through the liquor. There were only a couple bottles of beer left, and slightly more wine. The vodka was mostly gone, as was the rum, but most of the other hard liquors were barely touched. He had run out of limes, but had plenty of olives and cherries. “You were right,” Marshall said, “There really weren’t many difficult orders.”

Shelby came by while they were loading up the van and gave them both an extra $100 tip. “Thank you for looking out for Dwight,” she said.

“Of course,” Marshall answered.

“We’re going to have a couple more of these things in October, if you’re interested in more work,” she told him.

“Sure,” Marshall told her. “Would you like my number?”

“Do you have a card?” she asked.

“Not yet,” he said. He gave her his phone number and she walked off. Once she was out of earshot, Rainman laughed. “You are making friends fast,” he said.

“She just wants me to bar tend,” Marshall said, answering the question that wasn’t asked.

“Sure,” said Rainman, “And you’re going to get yourself some cards made up.”

Marshall didn’t really know what to say to that. He remembered a time when he was good with banter, or at least when he thought he was. Catrin came up then. “Hey Rainman, can you give me a ride? Marcos is being an ass again.”

“Sure thing,” Rainman said. “I’m going to head over to The Gaslamp and get a couple beers if you want to come.”

Catlin sighed with a bit of disgust. “The Gaslamp is all old men who stare at me while their dentures fall out. I got enough of that here.”

“I like The Gaslamp,” Rainman said, “They’ve got a brass rail. I like brass.”

Catrin rolled her eyes. “Fine,” she said, “But we’re getting the back booth if it’s open, and no Springsteen!”

Rainman laughed at that. “No Promises.”

Catlin looked at Marshall. “You coming new guy?”

Marshall was tired, but he liked the idea of being included in something. The Gaslamp was only a quarter mile from the apartment building, so he figured he could walk back if a headache set in.

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