Bib wiped down the bar again, the fifteenth time in the last hour. He looked over at the clock on the bookcase, but was reminded again that Tenk never got around to fixing it, what with the arrest and the whole Miss Star thing. At least that much was over. It was nice having Miss Star in the Bucket so much, but when it came right down to it, it weren’t really Miss Star at all, was it? Nope. It was Lucy in a Miss Star mask. How he would love to take that greasy head between his two hands and pop it like a rotten pumpkin. No matter, he was taken care of now. Trapped in his own little room. Good riddance.
Bib took the cigar from his mouth and rested it on the edge of the bar. He looked at the skull sitting there. Should he hide it now that Miss Star had her wits back? He puckered his lips, considering the thought.
The panel in the wall swung open and Mrs U sauntered out. “Morning Blackie.” she said with her customary smirk. She held a dainty cup of tea in her hand. Where did she get that? There was nowhere to boil water back there. After all these years, these people still confused him when it came right down to it. Ozzie had always been a true gentleman and friend to him, and Mrs U was nice and all, but she fair put the hackles up on the back of the neck, didn’t she? Yes she did. Always smiling a little like she knew somethin about you. Maybe she did.
“Morning Mrs U.” he said, picking his cigar back up and placing it back in its home at the left side of his mouth. “Quiet in here without Mr U and Pip now, ain’t it.”
She nodded, taking a sip. “Where is the Soup woman?”
“I thought it best if we kept her in the back, since that brother of hers is nosin around. He was hanging out front last night, but he never come in.”
Mrs U’s eyebrows raised slightly. “You thought?” she asked, emphasis fully on the word ‘you’.
She smiled. “Perhaps there’s hope for you yet, Blackie.”
He puffed on his cigar, weighing the many meanings that sentence might hold. He decided to let it drift away without response.
Mrs U looked at the skull that Bib had only recently been contemplating hiding. “Well, mother Underby, your little boy is coming home today. So you may smile a little wider than is your wont.”
“T’day?” Bib asked.
Phae looked from the skull up to him, her face easily read as ‘what did I just say?’, so he added: “They let him off? Or is it bail?”
“Pip, it has been discovered, was not human apparently.” she smiled again as she said this. “Shocking, mm?”
Bib puffed again, thinking of this. He knew Pip were somethin different that a regular man, but still was fuzzy on exactly what he was… what it was… it made the whole business a little easier to stomach. But only a little.