The Beast, Pt. 68 (Chapter 17n)

Chemically altered mental state?”

“Perceptual blindness?”

“Shadowy government conspiracy?”

“General inattentiveness?”

The women tilt their heads as one and look at us quizzically. “Oh, do you guys have a hive mind thing going on, too?”

“No, we’ve just known each other for so long that… Well, I guess yeah, actually, we kind of do.” We glance at each other, our eyes darting back and forth, one man to the next. The women laugh at that, which was half our intention and half just a pleasant but unplanned for side-effect.

After wards, the conversation drifts towards other things. A four-piece band comes out and plays a few songs that slowly build in tempo and volume, as if promising dancing to come. As the bottles empty, our attention begins to waver to other subjects. The brunette and the redhead excuse themselves to go talk to some male and female twins. The blonde and Monk hit it off. Googe, Papa Chub, and I get up to go the bar. Erb rolls his eyes at us, gestures for the staff to bring over another bottle of the colorful stuff, and stays with Monk and the blonde.

“Alright, boys,” I say as we hop up on the stools at the bar. “Sit rep. How’s everyone doing?”

“You know what? I’m having a pretty good night,” Papa Chub says. “This whole thing is weird, but it’s interesting. And the company’s easy on the eyes. Yeah, I’m into it.”

I nod knowingly. “I hear you. Googe?”

Googe does not respond. I turn to look over my shoulder and find him lost in conversation with hair the color of amber, soft grey eyes, freckles. She laughs. She twirls a lock of hair around her finger. She looks him in the eyes and smiles and puts her hand on his knee to punctuate her points. “Well, shit,” I say, turning back to Papa Chub. “Good for him, huh?”

He gives a nod of his head, indicating for me to look again. “More like great for him.”

Googe has followed the woman back to her table to meet her two friends. Except her friends look exactly like her, and their faces light up at his approach, and they twirl their hair and touch him just as the first one did.

“Guess there’s someone for everyone, huh?” Papa Chub says with smile and a sniff, picking up a glass of some brown liquor and sipping at it.

“Guess so. His someone just happened to come in a three-pack.”

And that’s 700. Ta da!

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