set

“She h’ain’t coming!” So shrill and trilling for a chicken, who usually wax eloquently when they have that talking device inserted down their throats. But Toothpick knew what happened; voice matches emotions of the moment. He figured Elberta ran off with that [delete name] boy Jimmy John Jones who she’s been going on about for months now. She’s bucking tradition in more ways that one. So she sent her messenger chick. The coward. He’d understand. He didn’t want to see her that way neither. This was his sister for God durn sake. His *twin*. He begins to think of running away himself. Maybe he’ll just follow her and Jimmy to wherever they went. That’ll teach ’em. He would have understood. He h’ain’t no looker like Jimmy. Everything will be safe and above board. He always liked Jimmy anyway. Despite the, um, well…

—–

“We’ll have to order you a new part from Black Ice. I think it’s down in the belt section.”

“No.”

“You’ll get use…”

Duncan Avocado kept shaking his head. He wasn’t going to budge on this. Pot-D can do whatever they like to him in return. Send him back to Dixie for all he cares. Then the memories flood back, the Slave-up vending machine, etc. Two months is a long *long* time down there (in Hell). He doesn’t want to relive that pain, even from a safe distance. He forces himself to come back to the present. He fondles his skeleton heart necklace, the one Buster gave him almost two years ago now. He reconsiders.

Buster Damm senses the change of heart and sweetens the package. “Elberta is a *looker*. You’ll get use to the hick ways. And they’re not really from the Deep South anyway, Mississippi and all. They’re from the very southern part of Black Ice where we use to have the Boos and Bogota…”

Duncan was nodding his head now. He’d given in. To whatever they had in mind. Mention of The River sealed it.

“No three word name. One, or, at best, two.” He spits in his hand. Buster spits in his. They shake.

Reality changes.

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