Angelo's Death (PG-13)
Angel Eyes (PG)
Heaven's Mafia (not rated)
"Bet he's not."
"Bet he is."
"Bet he's not."
Lily sipped delicately from her glass. "I'll bet you... say, the next round of drinks... that he's not."
"Done." Jody pushed back her chair. "I'll go find out."
"You'll be wrong," the fox insisted, waving an admonishing finger.
"Won't!" Jody shot back. "You watch!"
"Oh, I will."
The raccoon forced her way through the crowded bar. She managed to step on only a few tails before she reached the counter.
The magnificent wreck of a wolf sprawled luxuriantly over the counter hardly twitched an ear. Jody stood on tiptoe and shook him by the shoulder.
"Boss? It's Jody. You awake?"
"Mmm-hmm." Angelo slumped into a position that might, in the right light and from a certain angle, be considered 'sitting.' "What is it, kid?"
"Well, Boss, no one's on stage, and it's awfully quiet..." Jody whispered something in his ear.
"Hmm... yes..." The wolf eased himself off the bar stool, abandoning his long-empty (several times over, due to the multiple refills) drink. "Good idea, kid. You'll go far."
Joe stumbled by the piano, carrying a mug as oversized as his coat, and ran into Jody as she backed away from giving some instructions to the pianist. "'Scuse me—oh, hey, Jody."
The raccoon giggled. "Shhh! Look at the stage."
The rat could only stare as Angelo lurched across the stage and attached himself to the microphone.
"What the ****'s he doin'?"
Jodie grinned. "I asked him to sing 'Angel Eyes.'"
Joe blinked. "You realize he's going to kill you when he sobers up."
"Well, I had a bet with Lily that he was drunk enough to do it."
"All I'm sayin' is, I'm glad it's you and not me."
"Shhh, he's starting!"
The quiet introduction, played solo by the ermine pianist, was lost in the chatter, but every tongue in the bar was stilled as a rich voice rolled over their ears. A few breathless females whispered, "Frankie?!"
Still, it's uncomfortably near...
Only two heads did not turn. Mike, the squirrel, choked on his drink, and spent the next few moments fighting for control of his trachea; Box, the technicality, just leaned his forehead on the counter and muttered, "Just how many drinks...?"
When Mike had recovered enough to breathe, he risked a glance at the stage. While Angelo seemed to have some trouble focusing on his audience, his voice sounded as good as ever as he informed the cantina that his love was misspent with Angel Eyes tonight.
"Who d'you think's going to be roadkill in the morning?" he asked Box in an undertone.
"One of the girls, I guess." He ignored Lily as she leaned over his head and ordered another round, but he looked up and nodded to the barmaid when she refilled his mug. "Think he'll go easy on her?"
"Maybe if it's Ruby, but I wouldn't count on—" Mike cut off as a young mouse handed him a note and scurried off. "Oh, hang it."
"I've got to go." He hopped off the stool. "Take my drink. I'll be out all night."
The drink and the laugh's on me...
The squirrel made his way to a little table by the footlights. A pretty little marten was sitting there alone, swaying to the slow music.
"Hmm? Hello, Mike."
He settled himself in a chair beside her. "Uh... hi. Um, Dolly, we've gotta go."
"Yeah." With a weak smile, he slid the note across the table. "We've got a call. Just a quick run to England."
Dolly scanned the note, then looked up with hollow eyes. "They would call us on our night off, wouldn't they."
"I'm afraid so." Mike gallantly helped her out of her chair. "Look, Dolly, I'm awful sorry about this. I'll try to be quick, then we'll come right back."
The marten shivered. "I don't want to come back. It wouldn't be right."
"Well, you know me," the squirrel reminded her gently. "I can't sleep without a drink afterwards."
"Right." With visible effort, Dolly pulled herself together. "My coat's by the door."
"Great. Let's go."
As they began to move off, a hand clamped down on Mike's shoulder.
"Where ya goin', ya ***' Polack?"
Mike turned around very s l o w l y. Angelo had finished his song and made it off the stage in one piece; he now regarded Mike through glassy eyes.
"Back to HQ for some black milk," replied the squirrel quietly, "then to England. Let me go, Ange."
The wolf blinked eloquently.
"England's far off," he slurred. "Far..." His words trailed off into song: "Pardon me, but I've gotta run..."
"Yes. Good boy." Mike twisted gently out of Angelo's grip. "Go on, Ange. Go dance with Ruby or something."
"Ruby. Yes." Angelo laughed unsteadily. "Dance. Okay." His voice dropped conspiratorially as he sang a line. "'Scuse me while I disappear..."
Dolly moved closer to Mike as Angelo slunk away. "Gosh, he's creepy when he's drunk."
Mike chuckled hollowly. "He can be even creepier when he's sober."
The duo, at length, reached the door. As they pulled on their coats, Mike glanced back at the stage; Angelo and Ruby were slow-dancing to the tune of 'Angel Eyes.' Ruby, obviously a bit intoxicated herself, was resting her head on Angelo's shoulder.
When Angelo saw Mike watching him, he said something—too quiet to be heard across the crowded room, but easy to read off his lips: "Disappear."
Mike saluted solemnly. Turning and taking Dolly's hand, he opened the door onto the autumnal night and obeyed his leader's orders.