The Undisputed Champions of Texas, Part 36

Maggie was curled up on her couch in an oversized Yankees sweatshirt that had seen better days.  The color was faded, several of the letters had peeled away, and the famous logo was missing part of the “Y”.

The item had belonged to Bruno during his playing days, and even though he hadn’t worn it on a baseball field in ages, she claimed she could still pick up his scent on the material.  That was why Maggie wore the old hoodie whenever she missed him.

She had a leather bound journal in her lap and scribbled furiously in its pages.  She stopped writing only when there was a knock on the door.  Then, she gently placed the book on the table in front of the couch and scampered over in socked feet to greet her visitor.

Michelle smiled from the hallway and held up a bottle of wine.  “When you called, your voice sounded like it wanted me to bring a bottle with me.”

“You might have psychic powers,” Maggie chuckled and greeted her best friend with a hug.  “Sorry about the late call, but I thought you might need the company as well.”

Michelle nodded and entered the tiny, but homey apartment.

“This is the first time I’ve actually ever come inside,” Michelle commented as she quickly took in her surroundings.  “If I meet you here, it’s always at the door and then we head out.  I’m used to Bruno’s place being your place, too.”

Maggie smiled sadly at the mention of Bruno’s name and led her over to the couch.

“For all intents and purposes, we live together at his place,” she acknowledged.  “I hold onto to this apartment for moments like this.  When Chip’s away, I miss him so much that I can’t bear the constant reminders of him I get by being over there.”

fiction, mystery, crime, Modern PhilosopherMichelle frowned as she sat next to her friend.  “Any word on when he’s going to be back?”

Maggie shook her head.  “It sounds like they’re making very little progress on the case.  The frustration in Chip’s voice is so strong it’s like I can feel it in the room with me when we speak.  That’s what’s got me down the most.  Knowing he’s hurting and not being there to help him.”

Michelle nodded in understanding as he gave her a reassuring pat on the shoulder.

“You really are the Bruno whisperer.  I’m sure he wishes you were there as well.”

Maggie sighed and got up off the couch.  She disappeared out of the room for a moment, and Michelle’s eyes were instantly drawn to the journal on the table.  Her curious side desperately wanted to take a peek, but the respectful side of her persona won out on this one.

Maggie quickly returned with two wineglasses and a corkscrew.

“You might have been going for the laughs with that Chip whisperer commented, but you’re not far off from the truth.”

Maggie skillfully uncorked the bottle and poured the wine like someone who had worked in a bar since her teens.

“He might not seem like the type to open up and talk about his feelings, but that’s really how Chip and I met, you know,” she said with a grin as she handed Michelle her glass.

“Curiosity piqued,” Michelle confessed.  “I thought you met when he went to the bar to ask you to help him with a case.”

Maggie smiled brightly at the memory and took a long sip of her wine.

“They are both the truth as the stories are interlinked,” she explained as she got comfy on the couch and rolled up the sleeves on her enormous sweatshirt.  “He did come in to ask me about a case, and I was unsure about helping.  After all, it wouldn’t be good for business if my customers found out I was talking to the cops about them.”

Michelle shook her head and took a long sip of her wine as she also got comfortable.

“I fancied him because he was quite the looker, and something about the whole brooding and closed off persona intrigued me,” Maggie continued with a chuckle as the wine started to loosen her tongue.  “I wanted to say no to his request, but I also wanted him to stay, so I let him keep talking and thinking that he was convincing me.”

Michelle laughed.  “That’s my girl.”

“Chip’s not much of a drinker, but he probably thought he could get on my good side by running up a tab, plus I couldn’t just kick him out if he was a paying customer.  It was late, there wasn’t really anyone else around, and you know how liquor has that superpower to get even the most guarded man to let down his walls…”

“I supposed the beautiful redhead he was trying to impress had absolutely nothing to do with it,” Michelle countered with a laugh.

Maggie giggled and then covered her mouth like that was a noise that she wasn’t supposed to make.  That caused Michelle to laugh even harder.

Michelle reached for the bottle and quickly topped off both their glasses.

“So once you got him all liquored up you took advantage of him?” Michelle guessed playfully.

Maggie reached out like she wanted to smack her best friend.

“It takes a lot more than some quality booze and a little talk, dark, and handsome to get this saintly Irish lass to make the first move,” Maggie quipped.

“We somehow got to talking about our pasts, and Chip just opened up.  Once he got going, it was like the floodgates that had been locked for an eternity sudden gave way, and it all just spilled out of him.  We were there half the night just chatting away like we’d been best mates for ages.”

flash fiction, mystery, Modern PhilosopherMichelle nodded.  She hung on every word, amazed to learn that Bruno’s mighty walls actually had the ability to lower.

“I told him my secrets, too,” Maggie continued.  “That bit I confided in you about my Da the other night, I told him straight away.  There was just something about him that I trusted immediately.  I even confessed that it was my dream to be a poet, and so deep in my cups was I that I read him some of my poetry.”

Michelle’s jaw dropped.  “You wanted to be a poet?  You know, I saw the journal on the table when you got up for the glasses, and my lawyer mind kicked in and assumed it was a book you used to keep track of bets at the bar.  I’m so sorry I thought that.”

“No offense taken,” Maggie replied with a chuckle.  “It would perfectly fit the Irish stereotype I like to project to hide my secrets.  But no, I was writing some verse before you arrived.  That’s how I settle my mind when I’m upset.”

“That is amazing and I’m incredibly jealous,” Michelle almost squealed.  “I don’t have a creative bone in my body, and I wish I did.  I can’t even come up with a witty way to express how much I wish I was creative.”

They both got a laugh out of that and drank some more wine.

“Chip always says it was the first thing I read to him that made him realize he was going to fall for me,” Maggie informed her once the laughing had stopped.  “I still think it’s a rubbish line he came up with to try to sweep me off my feet, but fair play to him, as it kind of worked.”

“Oh now you have to let me read it,” Michelle pleaded.  “To not to do would be cruel and unusual punishment.”

“I’ll do you one better,” Maggie promised.  “I’ll recite it for you.  It’s not like I would ever forget the line after what Chip said about it…”

She placed her wineglass on the table as if she was preparing to give a proper presentation.  Michelle, in turn, sat up straight on the couch and waited for the recitation.

She was clearly a bad idea, and he was hell bent on allowing her to his personal downfall…”

“That’s beautiful,” Michelle gushed.

Maggie blushed slightly.  “I don’t even remember who, if anyone, it was about, but Chip immediately took it to mean it was about him and me.  He swears if he ever makes an honest woman out of me, he’s going to recite that as part of his wedding vows.”

“This is blowing my mind,” Michelle admitted.  “The concept that Bruno has a soft, mushy, romantic side is just impossible to process.”

Maggie smiled slyly and took a big gulp of her wine.

“The man has many layers,” Maggie assured her.  “And you have to peel away so much polyester and odd cotton blends and then miles of high stone walls to get to them, but there are one or two layers that make him both irresistible and highly loveable.”

Michelle quickly walked over to give Maggie a tight hug.

“I’m so happy for you.  I know it must be rough while he’s gone, but it sounds like you’ve found the love of your life.”

Maggie nodded.

“Speaking of which, how’s Wally handling things?”

Michelle smiled and maybe even blushed slightly at the mention of his name.  “Well, I wouldn’t say we’re at love of your life status, or even reading romantic poetry in a deserted bar status, but we’re good.  He probably misses Bruno nearly as much as you do, but at least he’s got this crazy case to keep him distracted.”

“I take it something important is happening tonight,” Maggie observed.  “Wally begged me to keep Champ busy while Tex and Aspen handled something, and the only way I could think to do that was to pretend to be sick and leave Champ to run the bar.  As much as he’d do anything to watch over Aspen and Tex, he’ll always put my requests first out of respect for what Chip’s done for him.  I knew he’d never abandon the bar if I left him in charge.”

“That was smart,” Michelle agreed.  “Wally didn’t go into details, but they have their first big lead and it sounds like it might put Aspen and Tex in a bit of danger.”

“Champ would not approve of that,” Maggie interjected.

Michelle nodded emphatically.  “There was no way they wanted Champ involved after what happened the last time he tagged along unexpectedly.”

They both cringed at the memories of the car chase and subsequent crash.

“I felt bad deceiving Champ, but Wally convinced me it was in his best interest,” Maggie added.

“I guess both our men are compassionate and have soft, protective sides,” Michelle giggled.

“Does that make us lucky, or are they the lucky ones for having found us?” Maggie posed the deep philosophical question of the night.

“You know what?  I’m not sure,” Michelle replied.  “I think the only way we’re going to get to the bottom of that one is by also getting to the bottom of this wine bottle.”

“Agreed!’ Maggie exclaimed and reached for the aforementioned bottle.


About Austin

Native New Yorker who's fled to the quiet life in Maine. I write movies, root for the Yankees, and shovel lots of snow.
This entry was posted in Humor and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The Undisputed Champions of Texas, Part 36

  1. kristianw84 says:

    There are not enough words in the English language to describe how much I love this! I’ve always been curious about the details of Maggie and Bruno’s story! And the fact that Maggie writes poetry makes me like her even more!!

  2. WebbBlogs says:

    I love the way you describe each scene. As I read I picture myself sitting on the couch with them and enjoying the deep conversation. I truly love the friendships between everyone.

  3. markbialczak says:

    Thank you for filling us in on the Chip-Maggie origin, Austin!

    • Austin says:

      I’m learning a lot about my characters in this second novel. The great thing is, since the first novel hasn’t been published yet, I can go back and add a few things to that story.

      After this chapter, I now plan to go back and add a scene in novel 1 that shows Bruno opening up to Maggie about his personal demons. I also plan to set it in that messy room about the bar to foreshadow its becoming Tex’s apartment and the safe house in the second novel.

      I’ve also gone back and sprinkled Art Girl’s work into the first novel…

  4. beth says:

    you’re helping us to fill in the blanks, fleshing out the characters, and connecting them – well done

    • Austin says:

      Thank you. Today I went back to the first novel, and added to what was Chapter 3 of The Vanishing Santa. Now that chapter ends with Maggie getting Bruno to open up about what his bothering him. He discusses the letter from the serial killer, its link to his past, and he basically breaks down in front of her. We see Maggie in Bruno Whisperer mode first hand in the first book and better defines both characters…

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