The Totawka Brewery was a dark, noisy barn of a place, with sawdust covering the old wooden floorboards and the rich smells of hops, mesquite and whiskey mingling in the air. A vaguely country-western band was playing at a volume that made conversation nearly impossible.
A hopeful, anticipatory mood engulfed Scout as she looked around. This was the kind of place they used to try to sneak into with their fake IDís when they were teenagers. In fact, she had the strangest feeling she might actually have gotten in here once or twice, back then. Only then of course, it wouldnít have been a microbrewery.
"Well?" Marsha shouted in her ear. "What do you think?"
Scout beamed back at her approvingly, and sneaked a glance at Lucy. She too was looking around with an expression of grudging enjoyment on her face. Their gazes met, Lucy shrugged and rolled her eyes, but for once she wasnít scowling. font>
"Thatís better," Marsha shouted, approvingly. "Címon, you two. Letís get a table. Iím starving."
"Marsha, I donít know why you wanted to drag us all the way out here," Lucy told her, when they were seated at a booth in the slightly quieter back room and the waitress had taken their drink order. "Itís a hell of a funny place for a vegetarian to pick, thatís all I can say."
"Are you both vegetarians, now?" Scout asked, a little nervously. Sheíd been thinking of ordering a steak, but she was already feeling wrung out from her unexpected meeting with Nick. If it meant taking more grief from Lucy, sheíd be happy to take a pass on the beef.
"No," Lucy said shortly. "Just her."
"Order whatever you want, Scout," Marsha said reassuringly. "I donít claim any sort of moral superiority. Itís just a personal choice."
"Sheís been like this since her accident," Lucy said, sighing a little as she twirled her fork between her fingers. "I think she had some kinda hallucination about a cow or something while she was in her coma. Or maybe it was a chicken."
"Lucy. It wasnít a cow or a chicken," Marsha replied with some asperity. "And it wasnít an hallucination, either. It was a vision. A profound spiritual experience which brought me face to face with my personal guardian. My Power Animal. And as Iíve told you many times before, I have no intention of revealing exactly what form she took. So quit fishing."
"Ahh. A fish, huh? Was that it?"
Marsha smiled. "Youíll never know. Anyway, I like this place, you know? Itís got great energy. And for your information they make killer nachos."
"Well Iím going to have the whiskey-mesquite ribs and a side of fried green tomatoes. As usual," Lucy announced closing her menu emphatically. She hesitated a moment and then, rather reluctantly it seemed, she turned to Scout and inquired politely. "So, uh, what are you thinking of having, Scout?"
"I thought . . . maybe a steak?"
"Uh, huh. That sounds good. Sirloin or porterhouse?"
"The ten ounce sirloin with the burgundy onions," Scout told her. "And maybe some garlic fries."
Lucy nodded. "Oh, yeah, I love those. And, you know, the fried baby artichokes are very nice, too."
"Mmm. I havenít had any of those in years. How are the salads here, by the way?"
Lucy appeared to consider the matter for several minutes. "Well, the Caesar is nice, but the Cobb salad is pretty boring, and I havenít tried the spinach salad yet. Maybe Marsha could tell you."
"Christ," Marsha muttered. Their drinks had arrived and she took a long sip from her margarita. "I know I said you guys should be civil to each other, but youíre both being so damn sweet itís making my teeth hurt. Youíre also boring me to tears. Canít you relax a little bit? Weíre here to have fun, remember?"
"I donít know Marsha," Scout said. "Having fun was your idea. Iím not sure Lucy and I are really up to having fun together yet." font>
"Yeah, if ever," Lucy chimed in. "This might be as good as it gets.
©PG Forte 2004
Scent of the Roses
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