Chapter 4: Jones
Katie broke down today. Luckily we were passing through a town when she did, and there was an auto repair shop nearby. But they say she's going to be out of commission for at least 4 days. I asked Matthias if it was going to affect our payment, he said it wouldn't as Midas was going to swap out most of the parts anyway. So we just have to sit tight here for a few days, to be honest I would've preferred somewhere besides St. Augustine, Texas to spend Halloween, but what are you going to do, right?
"I'm going to find a place for us to stay," Matthias said as we left the auto repair shop, "The mechanic said there was a bed-and-breakfast nearby, so I'll go check that out."
"I also have to go," Natasha said, "I'm going to look for a book store."
"Really? Didn't you just get a new book?"
"I finished it," she had already started walking away.
"Alright, I'll call you two once I get us a room. In the mean time, I suggest you find something interesting for us to do while we are stuck here," and Matthias headed off in the opposite direction.
"You know, Smith, I've been kinda wondering about something," Nick said.
"Is it why we always seem to get stuck together and Matthias and Natasha go off on their own? Yeah I've been wondering about that too..."
"Uhm... no actually, it's not. See here's the thing, for someone that's supposed to be British, you... ah. Aren't very British. You never use the mannerisms, your accent is even slipping a bit. I mean, I could understand it if you had lived here for a while, but you just came over a few months ago."
"Right, I'm not even a citizen yet."
"So what's the deal with that then?"
"Alright, think about why I was brought on board this little 'Oktober' thing. Disguise expert right? Nothing gives away a disguise faster than using the wrong mannerisms, or an accent. And those aren't things you can just turn on and off, so while I'm in America, I'm trying to pick up American speech patterns and such."
"Oh, huh. See I always thought you used American speech patterns cause of lazy writing."
"Nothing, nothing. Anyway, let's find something to do. Honestly, I don't want to be sitting in a bed-and-breakfast for the next 4 days. Halloween is tomorrow, and this place seems like it's got the whole 'homely, small town' vibe. Maybe there are some festivities."
"Nick, I don't want to go trick-or-treating. Sorry."
"No, no, I mean like a local party or something you know."
"I dunno, I've never been big on Halloween parties. They're always populated by angsty teens trying to get laid, or angsty adults trying to get laid."
"Oh come on, that only happens in urbanized cities and stuff. This place has those good ol' southern values."
"What, like inbreeding?"
"You're trying too hard to find the negative in this."
"Sorry, I just really hate the country. With it's farms and tractors... But we'll do things your way, let's try and find out what sort of festivities they have going on here."
"Alright. How 'bout we duck into that general store there, see if they've got some sort of event bulletin board or something."
"General store? This place has a general store? At least tell me it's a chain, like a Duane-Reade or something."
"Duane-Reades only exist in New York. And it looks like this is a family-run store."
"Lovely," I said sarcastically, pushing open the door. Bells affixed to the door with twine chimed, and the obnoxiously overwhelming smell of potpourri washed over me. The majority of the store was wooden, wooden floors, wooden shelves, wooden counter. It was also incredibly crowded, not by people, but by bizarre pieces of furniture and other objects that had been rather carelessly placed about. Nick was right, there was indeed a bulletin board of local events. He went off to examine it while I walked up to the counter.
"Hello," I said to the girl behind the counter, "I'd like a pack of gum, and a copy of People magazine please."
"Oh why look at what we got here!" she said, "Ain't you one of 'em British folk? I can tell by your accent."
"I'm sorry," I said, as politely as I could, "Say that again, but this time use proper grammatical convention."
"... I'm sorry I don't understand that British slang."
"You'll have to excuse my friend," Nick interjected, I didn't even notice him walk up, "He's one of those 'avante-garde' types. Who's your favorite artist Smith?"
"Andy Warhol but I don't see how-"
"Case-in-point," Nick turned back to the woman, "So, want to tell me about this Halloween Hoedown here?" Nick produced a bright orange flyer.
"I'm a reporter Jones, this is as painful for me as it is for you," Nick whispered back.
"Well," the girl behind the counter said, "The Halloween Hoedown is an an- uh," she leaned in to look at the paper, "An-yew..."
"Come on sound it out," I said.
"There you go, gold star," she glared at me.
"An annual event we hold ever ride. It's loads of fun, there's dancing, a bonfire, a hayride. But I don't think I'll be going this year on account of the..."
"The what?" Nick asked.
"Oh, nothing. I don't want to scare you off," she said.
"Not a possibility, our car broke down. We're stuck here until it gets fixed."
"Well, see, the thing is... There have been some kidnappings recently. I know! Kidnappings! In such a nice town like this! I'm afraid that if I wander off while I'm there, or my friends convince me to go somewhere that I might... I mean, I'm a pretty, young girl..."
"And modest too," I added, Nick elbowed me.
"Nah, you don't have anything to worry about, I think," Nick said, "Just don't put your drink down anywhere."
"Well see, the thing is there have been 22 kidnappings and..."
"22?!" I exclaimed.
"Yeah, I know! I can barely count that high!"
"Okay, now you're just putting me on."
"Yeah, I am," she laughed, "It's fun to mess with you city-folk. Now if we're all done with this 'smalltalk' you two better buy something or get out. I'm trying to run a business here," towards the end she dropped her southern accent.
"Excuse me?" Nick said, offended.
"I'm from Brooklyn, kid. And pay with cash, I don't want any bogus checks." So Nick bought a Hershey's bar and we were rushed out of the store. A few minutes later, Matthias gave us a call, telling us the location of the bed-and-breakfast we'd be staying at.
"What are the chances that we'll run into whoever is doing the kidnappings around here?" Nick asked after I got off the phone.
"I wouldn't be surprised. Matthias probably already knows about it and is going to spend our time in St. Augustine hunting down the kidnapper."
"Maybe the kidnapper is supernatural, and if you say his name he'll show up and take you away."
"DON'T SAY IT."
"Really though, I think we should tell Matthias about it. This is right up his alley, and at the very least it'll give him something to do while we're here."
The rest of the day was uneventful. Nick and I checked out the bed-and-breakfast, it's run by a homely housewife named Betty, she's one of the most hospitable people on the planet, but she has no idea when to close her mouth. Matthias, Nick, and I spent the rest of the day aimlessly wandering around, hopping between restaurants and stores. Matthias told us some stories about when he was a hunter in the Australian outback, for the most part I think he was putting us on. We made the best of things, but I honestly don't think I can stand 4 days of this. Halloween may prove to be entertaining, but I don't know about the other 2 days. Hopefully, something interesting will happen. Then again, be careful what you wish for, right?
... I just set myself up for something awful to happen, didn't I? Alright, you know what, I'm going to go see if I can buy a gun somewhere.