You all almost ended up with some Gil flash fiction today because I saw a squirrel trying very hard to get into a BigMack box yesterday afternoon and it amused my muse. I decided to keep with Talbot's Peak instead and just post this cute quirrel pic instead. But be warned, you will likely get some more Gill at some time int the future!
Kids these days had no common sense, Sheriff Otis T Busby grumped to himself. A new week and a new blotter to deliver to that odd kid who bought out the Talbot’s Peak Gazette. Or rather the Guts and Butts Gazette, he corrected himself. Truth be told, he kind of liked the new format. Wasn’t too long on news but it was a lot more entertaining. Not that he was going to admit it to that Nick McMahon. No sir-y! There was a difference between being amused by it and actually encouraging all that non-sense.
Sixty-eight years, he’d been living in this little town and it had never been quite this… interesting. He suspected that Nick could tell him what in tarnation was going on if he could convince the kid to talk. So every week he took the county police blotter down to the editor personally, trying to build a report with the kid.
“’Lo there Nick,” Otis said congenially as he walked into the main news room. The tall, dark and nervous young man popped his head up, acting startled, though Otis suspected no one ever actually snuck up on that boy.
“Sheriff! Imagine seeing you here this lovely spring morning,” Nick called out too loudly. Otis chuckled. It was a blustery day with another three inches of snow expected to fall by sundown.
“Sure, son. You do know spring is a few weeks off, right?” Otis was rewarded with the sight of Nick flushing and looking like a deer caught in headlights. That kid was just plain odd sometimes. Of course, Otis reflected, he always had been a little odd. Here in Montana, that wasn’t a bad thing. This was the kind of place where being a little different was over-looked so long as you paid your taxes, kept your property in good repair and treated folks good. No one much minded your quirks, which was a good thing since a lot of the residents of Talbot’s Peak qualified as quirky.
“If you could just hand the blotter over, I’ll review it as soon as I get done here,” Nick said, typing furiously at the keyboard of one of the computers in a bank of them set up for the paper’s cadre of reporters.
“I think I would really rather talk it over with you,” Otis said, watching the young editor intently. Otis was trying to figure out why he would be out here using one of the communal computers rather than the sleek laptop computer he knew Nick had in his office. Otis glanced at the firmly shut door to Nick’s office. “Want me to wait in there for you?” he asked, nodding his head at the closed door but watching Nick out of the corner of his eye.
“NO!” Nick shouted, finally stopping whatever he was doing to look at the door furtively, then back at Otis. Nick chuckled nervously. “I-I mean, no need. I’m, ah, working out here today, so you can just bring it to me here.” Odd, Otis thought. He had kind of expected to get some kind of reaction out of Nick, but nothing quite that guilty. Just what did he have in his office that he didn’t want anyone seeing?
“You got something’ you want to talk about, boy?” Otis asked cautiously. He watch carefully as Nick glanced quickly back at his office, starting to visibly sweat.
“No,” Nick said with an unconvincing attempt at a casual air. “I just felt like working out here today.”
Otis cocked one eyebrow in disbelief when Nick’s words were punctuated with a muffled thump coming from the general vicinity of the shut door. “So!” Nick said brightly, getting up from the computer he had been working at. “Let me just take that from you now. I’m sure a man as busy as our town sheriff has better things to do than wait for me to finish that editorial.” Nick, cheesy smile plastered over his slightly panic-stricken face, held out his hand for the folder Otis always brought the blotter over in. Otis eyed him for a moment before deciding to play along.
“You know,” Otis said after giving Nick enough time to notice a certain entry on the blotter about a disturbance out at the Inter-species pleasure Club on Valentine’s Day. “You really are not a good liar, Nick.” The youngster looked up, his eyes glazed over y out-right panic now, either from the entry--which Otis doubted; Nick always seemed to e making a fool of himself over Zeva--or from Otis’s comment.
“I can explain this,” Nick said, surprising Otis. “I worked it out to pay for the damages already--”
“I’m not talking about you going nuts at finding Zeva working at the Club,” Otis said archly. “Nick, I’ve known you since you were knee-high to a grasshopper. You been nuts for that girl since you were old enough to realize you weren’t going to get cooties from girls. I’m talking about all the odd stuff going on around town lately.”
“I doubt you’d believe me,” Nick said after a moment, calming down considerably in the process. That was interesting, Otis thought. He had expected panic over this topic, not Nick’s on-going crush with his some-times employee.
“Try me, son,” Otis said seriously.