Duke Lethe and the Tangents

Vote by December 15, 2013!

tangents2-75x99In episode 3, readers voted that the landlady called Joanna to tell her that despite her best efforts to stop them, their van has been towed for parking illegally.

Episode 4

Maeve and Duke looked at each other. She could see the panic in his eyes. This was definitely not going to be good news.

“So who was it, then?” Cooper asked, frowning.

Despite the level tone of her voice, it was obvious that Joanna was just barely holding back her anger. “That was the landlady, Ms. Sylvie,” she said. “She just called to tell me that the van’s been towed.”

Maeve’s eyes went wide. This couldn’t be happening. “But… but why?” Her voice was no more than a squeak.

“Someone parked it in a ‘No Parking’ zone,” she said. The older woman opened her eyes, and she scanned the room. “So, who was driving last? I know for sure it wasn’t me.”

“Didn’t Sextus take it to get washed yesterday?” Duke said.

Predictably, the Aussie bristled. “And who the bloody hell are you to be accusing me like that?”

“I’m not accusing you of anything!” he said. “I’m just saying! Jeez, you’re sensitive today.”

Sextus bared his teeth, but a glare from Joanna made him rethink what he was going to say. “While I did take it out to get washed, I know for a fact that I parked it on the right bloody side of the street afterward,” he said carefully. “And it’s also a fact that you took it out after I did.”

It was Duke’s turn to be defensive. “I did not!” He crossed his arms and frowned, looking for all the world like an irritated child. “I was home all day yesterday.”

“What about today? You went to go… wherever it was that you went.”

“I never went anywhere,” Duke said quickly.

Sextus frowned. “Liar, I saw you put your jacket on and head out the door,” he said. “And I saw you take the keys, too!”

“That’s because–” He stopped abruptly. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “I didn’t go out, and I didn’t take the stupid van,” he said.

“Then where did you go?”

“I didn’t freaking go out.”

“You’re getting really bloody defensive about this, mate.”

“I am not!”

Joanna slammed her hands on the counter, making everyone jump. “Enough!” she hissed. “Since neither of you can seem to reach an agreement about who went where, I’m going to assume that you both screwed up. Both of you are coming to the garage with me, and you’re both going to split the fine.”

They balked at her. “What?!”

“I know it’s not fair, but we’re a little pressed for time here.” She turned to Duke. “Unless you want to come clean about where you went yesterday and prove your innocence.”

He glowered at her, his lips set in a hard line. “Lemme go get my wallet,” he grumbled quietly. Sulking, he made his way over to the stairs.

“Be at my car in five minutes,” Joanna called after him. She ignored the fuming Sextus and turned to Cooper and Maeve. “Get all our stuff ready for loading as soon as we get back. We’ll be able to just make it in time if I push the speed limit.”

“Should we call ahead and say we’ll be late?” Maeve asked.

She shook her head. “Barring a catastrophe, no. With any luck it’ll only be a couple minutes.” She turned back to Sextus. “C’mon.”

“But–”

“I said c’mon.”

With an exasperated sigh, he hopped off the counter and followed her out the door. Duke wasn’t too far behind, and he gave Cooper and Maeve a sarcastic salute before he bolted after them.

The remaining band members were quiet for a moment. Maeve looked up at Cooper. “Do you know who did it?”

“I, uh… I’m not really sure,” he said. “If Duke’s lyin’ about not goin’ anywhere yesterday, then it’s his fault. But if he ain’t…” He swallowed dryly. “After Six got back I kinda had to go get stuff…” He trailed off, sheepishly rubbing the back of his head.

Maeve stared at him. “Cooper!” she scolded. “Why didn’t you say anything?”

“‘Cause I dunno if he’s lyin’ or not! I mean, I know why he would’ve had to go out, but–” He stopped. “Dammit, I really shouldn’t’ve said that.”

She cocked her head. “What?” When he didn’t respond, she crossed her arms. “Cooper, why did he go out?” she asked firmly.

After a moment of hesitation, he sighed. “Well, so much for that…” he muttered. “Look, I’ll tell you if you swear not to tell anyone else. Alright?”

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