The jury was still out on the new Buck at the Landing, as far as Silas was concerned. She’d breezed into town in a slick European sedan, holed up in her late father’s apartment, and kept mostly to herself.
He’d only spoken to her once in the three weeks she’d been in residence. She’d been hauling a huge suitcase out of the trunk of that Beemer, and she’d refused his friendly offer of help. He’d gone in from the railinged porch roof that served as his “deck,” but he’d watched her drag that luggage up two flights of narrow stairs up to Jimmy’s apartment with equal parts amusement and distaste.
Silas recognized the young woman working the register at Buck’s. She’d pounded pavement before the last frost looking for a summer job, even coming into Atlantis Gifts to see if he was hiring. Turning her down had been tough, so he’d been glad to hear Jimmy had hired her on for the summer. Later in the spring when he’d run the numbers and knew could afford a part-timer, he’d hired his nephew Theo. His big sister was a persistent woman.
“Stacey.” He smiled. She was reading one of those creased and worn steamy beach novels that made their way from rental to rental. This one had been up and down the strip, he imagined.
Stacey stashed the novel. “Mr. Wilde. Can I help you?”
“I’m wondering if you’ve seen a kitten around the place this morning?”
Stacey lit up like the Funarama on a Saturday night. “Seventeenth hole. He’s a troublemaker, huh?”
“You could say that. Thinking of calling him Houdini.” He peered around the building towards the course. “Seventeen, you said?”
“Go on back, Mr. Wilde.”
Silas couldn’t help inspecting Jimmy Buck’s astroturf and the gravel paths that wound amongst the holes as he walked. Jimmy had been a good neighbor in the few months they’d known one another.
The older man had introduced himself the first morning Silas had woken up as the owner of Atlantis Gifts; he’d turned up on the small deck off Silas’s upstairs apartment with a pair of to-go coffees and a half-dozen donuts. They’d grown close before his passing, but aside from a handful of tales, inspired by the framed photos of an olive-skinned knockout and a little girl with mahogany ringlets, he’d rarely spoken of his family. His wife gone too young, his daughter just gone.
There were changes at Buck’s Landing, Silas noted. He had to admit, mostly for the better. The paths were weeded, their gravel leveled. The turf and obstacles had been cleaned and the greens patched in the worn spots. The music Buck had favored leaned toward classic country and western, so much so that Silas has begun to tune it out, but today he appreciated the thump of bass and electronic warble of autotune.
The daughter knew what the kids listened to, anyway. He heard Jimmy’s daughter’s voice first. Unlike the belting R&B queen over the sound system, this was the smokey voice of a blues singer. Who swore like a trucker.
He rounded the corner at the sixteenth hole and burst out laughing. There was Houdini alright, surveying his kingdom from the top of the Easter Island head, his posture comically regal. The cat watched his would-be rescuer hoist herself up from a short ladder by using the statue’s left shoulder as a foothold.
“Come on, sweetheart,” she cajoled, that bourbon voice pitched low. With an arm wrapped around the statue, she swung her leg over, bracing her other foot against its chest and reached up for his cat.
He closed the distance between them and pushed his hair back with his sunglasses. The better to get an eye full of Jimmy Buck’s mini-golf heiress. Silas took in the khaki shorts stretched across a toned rear and the long tanned legs, and briefly envied the statue, with his cement face pressed against that body.
“That’s one lucky statue,” he said with a chuckle. “I see you found my cat.”
I introduced you to Sofia on Monday, but it can’t be a good romance without a romantic interest. I hope you enjoyed this quick introduction to Silas.