Avery, perfectly postured, sits with the group of sycophants and their mistress for what seems like an eternity but is really only about 45 minutes. The smile on Avery’s face is as fake as Beatrice Moomy’s nose.
“Oh, delightful!” Moomy sings. “Tell us anover!”
Beatrice’s speech is taking on a slur, and Avery realizes the tea the woman has been drinking is of the spiked variety.
The sweet girl whose seat Avery occupies stands proudly in the center of attention. She begins another tale, something out of a children’s book.
“Once upon a time,” the girl says with animated grace.
Beatrice abruptly stands to dismiss her coterie with a wave. The group gasps. Their Lady stumbles, and Avery is there to catch her by the elbow before the woman with resting bitch face on the opposite side can even think to move.
“Oh!” Beatrice calls out, “Xacher take me, I do believe I’m…” She trails off as Avery steadies her.
“You have strong hands,” Beatrice murmurs. “Yes, you may lead…”
Her eyes meet Avery’s, but she isn’t home.
“My chariot, please,” the Lady requests dreamily.
“I’ll help,” an Easter egg says. “I’ll help, let me,” the crowd offers, yet no one moves a muscle.
Avery helps the doll/woman from the patio and through the cafe. A large black and red transport pod awaits them in the street. The host in his ridiculous jacket is standing by the pod door waiting, and Avery clocks his eyes. They’re looking for anything valuable that may be hanging loose.
“Step away,” Avery orders him, and he’s taken aback by her hard tone -her lack of manners. “Now.”
The man’s eyes sink from surprise to resignation. In Avery’s vision, he begins to glow a dull yellow. She blinks out of habit.
SLIGHT VARIANCE, her HUD reads.
Avery tries to push the woman into the pod, but Beatrice is little more than dead weight. Avery props her against the door, steps into the pod, and then drags the Lady in.
Moomy drops into a seat, and at the feeling of plush comfort cradling her, she sighs.
“Oh, thank you thank you,” she says to no one in particular.
The door closes as Avery gets comfortable in the seat opposite.
A bell chimes.
“Destination,” the pod prompts.
Avery eyes the mistress.
“Destination,” the pod demands.
Beatrice arouses from her stupor, bellows, “Home!” and then sinks back, passing out instantly.
“From zero to one hundred in minutes,” Avery marveled.
“I had uh aunt like that,” a southern twang bemuses in her ear. “One drink, she was fine. Two, three, four. And then on that fifth round, we’d lost her.”
Avery rolls her eyes. “You could have warned me.”
A too-loud bark of a laugh makes her wince.
“Remember,” the voice says jovially, “sincerity’s the name of the game.”