[Part the first... wherein Rex Mason goes missing, and we discover some new features of Sarah's Diner...]
Setting: Sarah's Diner.
Most of the patrons had gone home for the evening. The kitchen was quiet. The lab rats had finished cleaning up from the 'Sarah's Diner is Drowning in Books' awards party. The party decorations had been taken down, but the pictures and framed book covers had not yet been put back on the walls. A maintenance crew was due in the morning to paint the walls and strip and re-wax the floors, so most of the wall hangings and moveable furniture had been taken out of the diner and stored in the cavern out back.
Sarah's mini-onions were banished to their dormitory tower – those bare rooms, with just a few remnants of The Pink. Most of the mini-onions sat huddled in the common room of the dorm plotting their next color and literary outrage, but no-one could come up with a rhyme for 'orange.'
Yes. It was a Stark and Dormy Night!
A phone rang out.
…actually, it was more like a snore, interrupted by the ringing phone. Sean the young/old/curly Wolf – aka Wolfie – answered the phone. "Sarah's.
"… No, Sarah's gone home for the evening. She said she had to proofread Eric term paper. It's on Shakespeare and Robert has been teasing him with 'Six Degrees of Bacon.' Laura, nope, she took off early with a bunch of new recipes. Dom?" He cocks his head and listens to the faint sounds coming from below. "Sorry, she's 'occupied.' Chief Dragon lady? Nope, studying for her certs.
"Look, Donna, I know you've been mad at me, but I thought we settled that? Besides, there's no one else here to answer the phone. Well, Speaker to Lab Animals is here – at least - *one* of him is here, but he's writing. You'll just have to talk to me.
"Rex? No, of course not. Look, Speaker's here to supervise the cleaning crew, and I'm supposed to lock up after that.
"No, Speaker's giving me a ride.
"Yeah, lifted my wallet again. No license, no driving. Fortunately Speaker's got family in Texas.
"I don't know, haven't seen him in… I don't know… hours!
"I'll check – 'Speaker?' "
The portly man in the back booth looks up from his laptop." 's up, Wolfie?"
"When did you last see Rex?"
"Well, he tried to talk to that young trucker gal, then she got scared by The Drool, Rex tried to convince me I needed powered armor for LabRats™ Cleaning & Demolition, Inc., but when I said no, he headed off toward the restroom muttering about trying to find someone that would appreciate his genius. I figured he went home to Donna."
"This *is* Donna."
"Oh. Well, tell her 'Hi' for me, and that the Lab Rats *loved* the Camembert, but stay away from Uzbekistan."
"Long story. But I haven't seen Rex since right after I got here."
"I'm sure I don't want to know." Sean takes his hand off of the mouthpiece and speaks into the phone. "Rob says, 'Hi,' something about Camembert and Uzbekistan, and that the last he saw Rex was a couple hours ago…
"Unh unh. No, we haven't seen any Cherenkov radiation – he didn't go FTL from *here*. Sorry, wish I could help. I suppose he *could* be at the Tavern. Call Eeyore. You too. 'Night. Bye." Sean hung up the phone. "Sweet lady. I wish I understood what she sees in Mason, though." He looks up to see s2la packing up his laptop, and about half a dozen black and white laboratory rats slipping down into various pockets in his lab coat. "The lads all done? Good. I appreciate the lift."
As the two men walk out, set the alarm and lock the front door, Sean can be heard to ask: "Have you got any nice poisons I can booby-trap my wallet with? I *swear* I'm gonna kill French…"
[To be continued... tune in next time when we will discover the Diner's New Makeover, find out Who's in the Kitchen with Laura, and ask the all important question... What's for Lunch?]