Smitty & The First Showdown
Elvira was in such a riled up state that when she stepped back and caught sight of the girl, she did a double-take. “You.”
“Me.” For a split second, the girl’s mask of wide-eyed innocence slipped and Elvira saw a flash of steel wariness. She cleared her throat. “Excuse me.”
“Not so fast.” The street was dark, the only lights coming from the pub and the diner across the way. Elvira stepped up to block the girl’s path and put her hands on her hips. “I wouldn’t go in there if I were you.”
The girl slid her eyes behind her to the pub and for a moment, Elvira wondered if she was even old enough to drink. On the street, alone, she looked younger than she had all day. “Why not?” She replied with sugar sweetness. “It’s a bar. And I need a drink. Excuse me.”
“Look, who are you, exactly?” Elvira narrowed her eyes and they did the dance again as Petula stepped to the right and El stepped with her. “And don’t give me that wide-eyed innocence crap. I was there at the diner all day, I saw the look on your face when you were talking to Sylvia.”
There it was, that flash of steel again. Petula narrowed her own eyes. “What was your name again? Waitress, was it?” Elvira sucked in a breath. “Mind your own business.” She tossed her red hair over her shoulder and that was her mistake, right there, because Elvira recognized the movement. It hit her like a sensory memory, like when she walked into the diner in the early morning on days when Manny was making sugary apple donuts and Elvira was suddenly not at work but in her mother’s kitchen, standing at her knee.
She saw Petula’s face in her memory. She was younger, smaller and her hair was not red but plain Jane brown. “I remember you,” Elvira said softly and both the fake innocence and wariness faded away on the girl’s face, replaced by fear. “You’re Aggie’s-“
“Shut up!” The girl hissed and she was pale now as she stepped back and tripped off the curb, looking for all the world like she’d just walked over her own grave.
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