The snake stalked her prey as she slithered along, preparing to strike. As she coiled tight, every muscle working in concert, she waited ever patiently for the moment to launch herself. Instead, a dog barked causing her to jerk into an undignified lurch, her fangs missing the little gnome by a cat’s whisker. The little brownie squealed as the snake tried to reorient herself, preparing another lunge.
“Acorn? Acorn, are you alright?” Came a call from the alley.
Her moment lost, the snake retreated, the larger prey interrupting it’s lost attempt at a tasty faerie meal. A bubble of magic surrounding the woman pushed against the snakes senses and it chose to retreat then deal with the pressure.
“Acorn, there you are,” said a human female as she bent down to pick up the little brownie, who was nothing but terrified tears at this point. ‘Let’s go back inside,’ the woman comforted.
The snake flicked her tongue tasting the air.
“Soon,” thought the snake as she watched the tasty creature disappear behind an awful, cold metal door. “Soon.”
“What’ll it be big guy?” Piped a little voice from the bar.
Franklin looked down between his hands at the little devil standing there. Or more accurately, it was a little brownie, wearing a set of little red horns tied around it’s head and a little red tail tied around its waist.
“I ain’t got all day buddy,” the little creature called impatiently.
“Uh, I would like a beer please,” Franklin said, then lowered his head to get a better look. “What are you?”
“Your waiter,” the creature answered.
“You look like a mushroom,” Franklin said back.
“And you look like a horse.”
Franklin sat back on his haunches a bit taken aback.
“I’ve been coming here to the Lucky Devil for five years now, I’ve never seen a tiny devil like you before,” the centaur said, loosening the Windsor knot on his stripped tie.
“Changing with the times, grandpa,” the little devil said. “Now is that all you want? Just a beer?”
“Sure. My name is Acorn by the way. I’m actually a brownie, see?” Acorn lifted off the horns to show it’s little brown head as if that would clarify what it was.
“Nice to meet you, Acorn?”
“Is it? Because you said that like it was a question.”
“Franklin, don’t tease me new staff,” Rune Leveau, the owner of the Lucky Devil chided as she came up behind the little brownie with laughing eyes.
“Sorry, Rune, I’m trying to wrap my head around this,” Franklin visibly relaxed in Rune’s presence, his horse-body finally descending all the way to the floor, while his human-like half in it’s roughed up suit jacket leaned his arms against the bar.
“He says he wants nachos,” Acorn reported, looking up at Rune.
“I guess, if you want to have a coronary,” Acorn said, the coronary sounded more like ‘cowonarry.’
“Sorry, Franklin, their just a baby Fae and Alf has been letting them watch too much daytime television,” Rune explained as she poured a draft from the tap.
“I’m not a babysitter,” Alf, the dwarf bar manager, retorted as he walked behind Franklin to head into the other side of the bar.
“Faeries, huh?” Franklin commented lamely. He glanced down at the first example of a brownie he had ever seen. It was looking over the edge of the bar at him and Franklin couldn’t help feeling a little exposed.
“You got big feet huh?” Acorn asked, nailing Franklin with an appraising look.
“Uh, I guess,” Franklin answered, lifting one of his large front hooves to look at it, as if he needed to check to be sure.
“I bet they’re really good for snake stomping,” Acorn declared, setting it’s fists on it’s little waist.
“Acorn, leave Franklin in peace. You wouldn’t have to worry about snakes if you just stayed in the bar.”
“Are their snakes in the back alley?” Franklin asked.
“Oh you bet. There is one really nasty one, that wants to eat me whole!” Acorn declared.
Rune wandered off to answer another call down the bar. Franklin leaned against his fist, watching how her nicely rounded rear swayed back and forth as she left. He heaved a big sigh. Though he had asked her a dozen times, she had never once said yes to a date. Sure he could always head home to Montana, do a herd run for a summer, see if he hit it off with a female there who would be willing to relocate to Chicago, but… Hominal women were so very…
“You got the hots for Ms. Leveau, huh?” Acorn asked, in that exaggerated way that suggested it wasn’t entirely sure what it was talking about, but it really wanted Franklin to think it did.
“None of your business, pipsqueak,” Franklin said, lifting his beer to take a long needed drink.
“Hey! I’m not a pipsqueak. I told you I’m a brownie!” It stomped it’s little brown shoe. Then changed it’s tack again. “How about I make you a deal?”
“What kind of deal?” Franklin figured he could indulge this little fellow a bit longer until Rune came back to talk to him.
“You take care of that snake for me and I’ll do you one favor!” It held up a tiny finger to indicate the one.
“That’s your deal?” Franklin scoffed.
“Hey I’m a faerie! That’s kinda our thing!” Acorn tossed up it’s hands as if Franklin was the one being thick.
“Hmm, one snake for one favor…” he said, making a show of mulling it over.
“Come on! Do we have a deal or not!?” Acorn raged.
Then Franklin had a thought. “Okay, but you have to do the favor first.”
“Yeah okay!” Acorn said gleefully, jumping up and down on the bar. Then it sat down, dangling it’s legs over the edge in a way that actually made Franklin nervous for it’s safety. “So what’s the favor?”
“I want you to persuade Rune to go out on a date with me,” Franklin whispered, leaning over so Rune couldn’t hear.
“Oh!” The little brownie’s eyes went wide and it turned to look at Rune. “Oh dear. That’s going to be tough.”
“Hey, killing snakes isn’t easy either,” Franklin shrugged. “And a deal’s a deal.”
Acorn nodded, “Yeah, you’re right.” It scratched it’s head. “Okay. I guess I’m on the hook now.”
“Yeah, I guess you are,” Franklin said, taking another somber drink from his tall glass. “But until you get it done, stay away from the alley, ok? I don’t want you getting eaten before you fulfill your end of the bargain.”
Acorn sighed. “Yeah ok. Thanks Franklin, you’re a swell guy.” Then it got up and ran off along the bar, presumably off on it’s little mission.
“Yeah, that’s me. I’m a swell guy,” Franklin said after. He leaned on his fist again, feeling dejected. “I mean, come on, how likely is it that the little guy will succeed?”
To be Continued…
This story takes place after the novel The Finder of the Lucky Devil, available at Amazon, B&N, Kobo and Googlebooks!Subscribe