Odd Prompts: A Single Flap

The title refers to chaos theory, the snippet is from a work in progress that is set in the same town as Farmhand. 


The agents looked at one another, then Spurgle huffed a sigh and followed Ilvan to a table. 

Drema turned her back on them and headed for the kitchen. Gray sat at the counter, and she could see him out of the corner of her eye as she grabbed the coffeepot and a mug. Dawn had dropped cash at her table, then leaned over Gray’s shoulder to talk to him. Drema couldn’t hear what she said, but she could guess. 

“I can take care of myself.” She poured into the heavy mug, then handed it to him. 

“Yes’m.” He agreed meekly. “May I have a piece of that pie while you’re serving?” 

She raised an eyebrow and he chuckled. “The ticker is doing fine, and the doc told Irina he’d like to see me put on some muscle instead of losing more weight. So… pie?” 

“All right then.” She smiled at him, and he grinned back. He was looking better than he had a few months back when he’d finally come in after the heart attack. She agreed with his doctor, he’d lost too much weight and was looking gaunt. 

“Just one slice?” She asked, taking a few more steps to stand at the agents’ table, coffee pot poised and mugs in hand. “And wouldja like coffee?” 

“I’ll take pie. And unsweet tea, please?” The neon hair didn’t indicate a lack of manners, at least. 

“Oh, all right.” Spurgle didn’t look like he’d ever heard of the word gracious. “Coffee if you have non-dairy creamer, I prefer soy-based, and pie if it’s gluten free which it probably isn’t in this, er, place.” He sneered, looking everywhere but at Drema. 

“It’s not gluten free,” She informed him. “Only cream we got is straight from a cow.” She didn’t tell him that they could make a gluten-free pie, but the cook needed 24 hours notice. Hopefully, the agents of mystery wouldn’t be in town that long.

“Ugh. Sweet tea, then, nothing else. And no plastic straw!” 

On that note, she retreated. As she passed Gray’s position at the counter, which he’d swiveled enough to keep an eye on both her and the agents, she topped up his mug. 

“Sounds like trouble.” 

Drema snorted. “Just out-of-towners. We do get them in Bluehills from time to time.” 

“Like Prius guy, more’s the pity.” 

“Didn’t he upgrade to a Tesla?” She asked while getting the pie out of the display cooler. It was sliced already, but she still had to get it on a plate and make the teas up. 

“Not for long. Charging station wasn’t workin’ proper and did something to it. He’s back to his old Prius and I hear it cost him thousands just to get a new battery in.” 

“He means well.” Drema pointed out, filling her hands with glasses and balancing the small plate of pie expertly. She knew that after the big fires the summer before, there was even more bad feeling than the contempt towards the environmentalists prior. Having self-proclaimed ecoterrorists setting fires that endangered people and killed stock would do that. 

“Eh. Can’t see it, myself. Meaning well and doing good’re two different things.” 

Drema served her other patrons efficiently. Ilvan rewarded her with a sliver of a smile, but Spurgle just wiped his glass all the way around with a napkin, frowning. 

“Glass of ice water.” He snapped. “You didn’t bring us that.” 

Drema bit back her response that he hadn’t ordered one, and silently went to get it. Only when she was carrying the glass back to their table did it dawn on her she had never gotten a straight answer from them, about their agency. Spurgle had out a phone and was glowering down at it. She didn’t get a response from him when she put down the waterglass, but Ilvan did that glimmer of a smile again. He hadn’t yet started on his pie. 

Drema opened her mouth to ask if they needed anything else when Spurgle reached over, grabbed his partner’s silverware, and dumped it unceremoniously into the ice water he’d asked for. She stared as he swished it around for a moment before shoving the glass back toward the younger agent. 

Agent Ilvan looked up at her, a sickly expression on his face. “He’s… a bit of a germaphobe.” 

Drema turned away, walking toward the big window, which was blocked by the way the black SUV was parked outside. She wasn’t sure she could say something nice, and if a body couldn’t say something nice, better to say nothing at all, she’d learned. 

“What are you looking at?” Spurgle was twisted around in his chair. 

“There’s a butterfly at the window again.” She pointed at the little thing beating it’s wings along the glass. “Guess I’ll go shoo him off.” 

She made for the door, grateful of the slimmest excuse to escape her unpleasant patrons and grab a breath of fresh air. Also, as she stepped out, flapping her apron at the hapless butterfly who took the hint and tumbled gracelessly upwards and over the low Diner roof, a way to pull the phone out of her apron pocket and surreptitiously snap a photo of the license plate. She meant to find out more about these men, if they came back again. 

Drema walked back in to the room, her shoulders squared. 

“The pie is delicious.” Ilvan looked up at her, with a real smile. 

“I’ll tell the cook, he’ll be real happy to hear it.” Drema saw that he’d cleaned his plate. “Can I get you anything else?” 

“No.” Spurgle looked up, his eyes narrowed. “How do you stay in business with so few customers?” 

Drema blinked. “Just quiet now, not always.” 

“I was hoping to talk to some locals.” He pushed his chair back. “Pursuant to our investigation.” 

Drema bit her lip for the second time since she’d met them. She wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of asking a leading question about just what that was. Hopefully, they’d leave and never darken her door again. 

“Can I have the check?” Ilvan asked quietly, so she almost couldn’t hear. 

That, Drema was happy to get for them. 


My prompt this week came from ‘Nother Mike, with “The butterfly was at the window again…” 

I prompted him in return (luck of the draw!) with “At one point that would have been a dream job.” 

You can read all of the prompt responses, and join in on the challenge yourself, over at More Odds Than Ends.