We did a LOT of talking after that – or rather, I did, explaining why I’d just told the Mistress we were just a distraction for her. I honestly think a few were disappointed, I guess from all the excitement up until now.
I also asked for volunteers – just because we weren’t the main event did not mean we should let all this nonsense go unanswered. Admittedly, if it had been nothing but the hit and run crap, I might have been inclined to forget the whole mess. But a man had been killed and another attacked – no one in the building, slayer or otherwise, was in any mood to let that go.
There was no lack of volunteers – quite the opposite, everyone wanted to help. My first reaction was to trim it down but I thought better of it. Vinnie had been wanting this place stirred up – he was going to get that and a lot more than he bargained for.
I had about a million questions for Crystal that I would have to ask later. I sketched my plan for the crowd but saved the critical stuff for individual meetings. Now, that should have irritated people. Most folks want to know all the juicy bits but instead they were fine. I found out why when Mertyn commented that my ‘style’ of leadership was a lot like the Mistress’. Several people nodded in agreement. Tim will never, ever let me live down the fact that I blushed.
Which was why I wasn’t feeling particularly charitable to my sibling – he was still trying not to chuckle or at least he was pretending he was trying not to – when Mrs. Schmidt asked me what I’d meant by a bee.
I grinned maliciously at my brother. He glared back. I think the rest thought we’d both lost our minds.
“Well, when we were in junior varsity, Tim played wide receiver. The last game of the season we were tied at the end of the fourth quarter. The quarterback decided to fake a pass to someone else and then pass to Tim. That was all well and good until we got to the line of scrimmage and a bee got in Tim’s helmet. He didn’t notice it until he was getting into position for the catch – then it got where he could see it and he panicked. Tore the helmet off just as the quarterback threw the pass.”
There were a lot of polite chuckles. Tim tried to bore holes in me with his eyes. I went right on. “He saw the ball coming, made a grab for it, and it landed in his helmet. The bee buzzed past his face while he was trying to figure out if he should run or not, and he was tackled while he was swatting at the bee.”
There were howls of laughter now. Tim was beet red.
I wasn’t finished, “We actually got the first down – the ref’s ruled the pass complete since it never hit the ground – and could have had a touchdown, except for him swatting that bee. We lost the game, however, because the next play they got an interception and ran it in for a touchdown.”
“Funny thing, that stupid bee showed up on his helmet again as we were leaving the field. Johnny Feldman got a look at it – he said it was a carpenter bee, one that can’t sting.”
The hooting didn’t stop for several minutes. Tim would get his revenge a few weeks later by telling Crystal’s entire family about my first date with Rebecca Timons – but it was so worth it.