There was a disadvantage to the cleared smoke. We were able to see Jonathan and Bob, but they were able to see us, too. Jonathan pointed our way. Bob took his cigar out of his yap and shouted something over his shoulder.
“I think we’d better run,” Moira suggested.
Without time to discuss it, we scattered into the crowd behind us. None of us were tall. We’d be fairly well hidden unless someone walked right up on us. Then, we’d be screwed.
I hated losing ground, and I hated losing Mike and Moira even more. I couldn’t see either of them anywhere. I scooted into the shadows between two booths and tried to take stock, get some idea of what to do next. I unzipped the pet carrier and ran a quick Bethel check. She peered sleepily up at me. I wish I could nap through all of this.
I zipped the bag back up and steeled myself to step back into the crowd to look for Mike and Moira. As I lifted a foot, a face suddenly poked into my hidey hole and right into my own face.
“Gah!,” I yelled.
“Didn’t mean to startle you. But I never forget a customer. Have to remember everybody you meet, when you are starting a new business. Would you like to try another rat snack? Still at the introductory price for returning customers.”
“Hi, Jaye. I appreciate the offer, but I don’t have five bucks,” I said.
“No problem! No problem! I can barter. Bartering is the new financial system. What you got in that bag?”
“I got nothing to barter in this bag,” I clutched the pet carrier to me. “I don’t want a rat snack. Go away.”
Another head joined Jaye’s. “What’s going on in here?,” the head asked. This head belonged to Trish. I tears blurred my eyes, for a second.
“Trish,” I said, “I’ve been waiting for you. Let’s go find everybody else.”
“Yes, we do need to find everybody else,” Trish said. “So I can arrest them along with you.”
Trish grabbed my arm and slapped a handcuff on my wrist. I stared at it. I have really skinny arms. The handcuff looked like an adult bracelet on a premie’s arm.
“Oh, you are with the Pit Police. You people are doing a wonderful job, simply wonderful,” Jaye said. Once her sucking up was done, she immediately started to bitch. “Tell Bob I haven’t gotten my supplies for the week. I’m all paid up and I’m waiting.”
“Does Bob run EVERYTHING?,” I asked.
“You hush,” Trish said. “You have the right to remain silent.”
“That means I can talk if I want to talk, Trish.”
“Huh. Maybe. But I think probably not. Let’s move along, now. I don’t have all night, here.” Trish dragged me out of my hiding place by my premie bracelet.
“You tell Bob he owes me!,” Jaye shouted after us, as Trish pulled me into the crowd.
Trish was in black leather, of course. She had a pretty cool leather duster that swished around her legs as she walked, but she also had a ridiculous little flat leather Confederate war-inspired cap. She had a large metal Mickey Mouse pinback on her lapel. That must have been her badge. “Trish,” I struggled to keep up with Trish as she strode her purposeful, Amazon strides. “Trish, stop for a second and let’s talk.”
Trish stopped so fast and so unexpectedly that I shot past her. The handcuff jerked me back. “All right, what do you want to talk about? I was instructed to arrest you and Mike and Moira. There isn’t a lot to talk about, here. You’ve broken the law.”
“What law, Trish? What law have we broken?”
Trish opened her mouth and then closed it. “Well, I’m not really sure, but I was told that you broke the law. I was told to arrest you.”
“Actually, Jonathan told me to arrest you.”
“Jonathan told you to arrest me?”
“Yes, he did. Bob told Jonathan and Jonathan told me.”
I chose to ignore the whole Jonathan mystery, for the moment. I had Trish with me, and Trish needed to be my focus.
“Trish, what has happened to you? What happened to your brothers?”
Trish’s eyes darted away from me, then they filled with tears. “They got eaten. Out by the river. When we were waiting for the ship. I got away while the birds were…busy. I ran back to Bob’s place, and he let me in. He said that I could work for the community. He said I could do community service. He said I could be all that I could be.”
“That’s the Army, Trish. Remember that commercial? ‘Be all that you can be, in the Arrrrrmy.’ You are Navy.”
“I’m Pit Police, now.” She started dragging me along again.