Jun came from the kitchen to see what the commotion was about but stopped dead in her tracks. A kid – more of a stick figure, really – with pumpkin orange hair, plain white t-shirt, black biking shorts and no shoes had followed Jinpei in.
“Jinpei, who’s your friend?” Jun brought herself to ask before it seemed like she was gawking.
“I’m his new girlfriend!” the kid chirped as she danced around the Swallow. She stopped in front of Jun and added, “Radical Edward to my BILLIONS of online fans!”
“Oh really?” Jun chuckled.
“I told you I don’t date freaks!” Jinpei howled, “And you’re the freakiest bitch of all freaky bitches!”
“Jinpei!” The Swan scolded, “Watch how you address the young lady!”
“Yeah, Jinpei!” Edward licked her lips and leaned toward him, “Watch how you address the lady or I’ll give you a big wet slimy sloppy kiss!”
“Yip!” agreed a voice from near the floor. Jun looked down and saw for the first time saw a Pembroke Welsh Corgi.
“Oh, that’s Ein.” Ed said just before she puckered her lips and started chasing Jinpei.
“Oh dear.” Jun sighed.
* * * * *
“I’m glad you understand why I asked you to wear these shoes, Edward.” Jun said as the girl admired the flip-flops on her feet. Jun had commandeered a pair from Jinpei, fearing a health inspector might choose that day to have a surprise inspection.
“Edward would never ever want to get you in trouble. You’re nice.”
Jinpei had stormed off to the store room to sulk. He’d hoped that Jun would toss Edward out on her boney butt, not give her his stuff! So what if he never wore that pair of flip-flops? They were HIS, and Ed was annoying, and her dog was stupid for being with her, and . . . .
Ryu had come in and was sitting at the end of a bar, watching a little bit of a talk show on the tv. Ken was due to come in shortly to work off some of his tab, and Ryu wanted to hang out a bit; Ken always added to his tab before he went to work.
Sure enough, Ken came in and joined Ryu. Edward instantly noticed the change in Jun’s demeanor as soon as Ken opened the door.
“You like him, don’t you?”
“The really really cute guy who just came in!”
“He’s nice. He’s a friend.”
“Why don’t you kiss him, hmm? I know you want to.”
“Stop that. It’s really none of your business.”
“Why don’t you go over there and do it now? I don’t mind.”
“I told you it’s none of your business. And, anyway, it’s not that simple.”
“Oh. I see.” Ed entertained herself by spinning on the barstool.
It looked like the subject had been dropped, so Jun busied herself with putting clean glasses under the bar.
Suddenly, there was a startled cry while Ryu shouted, “Hey, what are you doing?!” Jun nearly cracked her head open as she quickly straightened up to see what was the matter.
Her jaw dropped, and that was all she bring herself to do. Edward had wrapped her arms and legs around Ken and had him in an intense liplock. Ken had a grip on her arms, unsuccessfully trying to pull them loose. Ryu had his hands around her waist, trying to pull her away without luck. Ken started sinking to his knees as his skin took on a bluish pallor.
Suddenly, there was the popping sound of a suction cup being pulled off glass. Ryu staggered back with Ed still in his hands. Ken dropped to all fours, gasping and gulping for air.
“See, Jun,” Edward cried with an enormous grin on her face, “it’s not hard!”
* * * * *
Jinpei sat on a box in the store room, having a severe sulking session. He’d hoped that Jun would toss Edward out on her boney butt, not give her his stuff! So what if he never wore that pair of flip-flops? They were HIS, and Ed was annoying, and she had a stupid name, and she was ugly, and she dressed funny, and her dog was stupid for being with her, and , and, and. . . .
He opened a small bag of cheese puffs that he kept in a hiding place in the event of this kind of emergency. Ein waddled in and sat in front of the boy. Jinpei pulled out a cheese puff and held it over the dog’s head before pulling it away. He slowly placed the puff in his mouth.
Jinpei focused on Ein’s face, expecting to see a suffering dog.
Ein just stared.
Jinpei shifted uncomfortably. He then realized that the dog seemed to be staring at his right shoulder. He stole a quick glance . . . nothing.
Ein seemed to be looking at something just past Jinpei’s shoulder. The Swallow strained his neck to get a good look without turning his body. . . .
The bag was ripped out of Jinpei’s hand and the canine crook bolted out the door.
“SON OF A BITCH!” Jinpei discovered too late that, in spite of their stubby legs, Corgis were some of the fastest dogs to conquer a home.
“NO!” He reached the front of the Snack J in time to see Joe step through the door and let the dog out. Jinpei came to a stop a few steps away from the door once he realized Joe wasn’t going to help in the chase.
“Let me guess – “ Joe said, “you fell for a dog’s trick and lost your potato chips.”
“Cheese puffs,” Jinpei replied as he tried to catch his breath, “but, yeah.” He started to feel a bit embarrassed – a DOG tricked him!
Joe produced a bill out of nowhere (or so it seemed) and stuffed it into Jinpei’s hand. “Go buy yourself another bag. That dog’s long gone.”
“Thanks, Joe!” The boy barely got the words out before he was through the door and out of sight.
“So, Joe,” Ryu called from his bar stool, “how many puppy dogs did YOU fall for?”
“Fuck off, Ryu.”
* * * * *
“I just feel terrible asking Ed to leave like that.” Jun and Ken were heading toward the office to get the list of chores he was to do.
“I know, Jun, I feel sorry for her, too . . . even though she almost killed me!”
“I just can’t help thinking that she might be a missing kid who’s needs medication. Or what if she was acting that way because she’d been abducted and been through something horrible?”
That never occurred to him, but he didn’t think it was wise to let her know. They had just passed the store room.
“SON OF A BITCH!” Jinpei shot out of the store room and headed toward the front of the Snack J.
“Did he bring a dog in here?!”
“That’s Edward’s dog. I think Jinpei can get a handle on that situation.”
“I guess I’d better make sure there weren’t any ‘surprises’ left in the store room, huh?”
“Okay, Ken. I’ll wait in the office.”
Jun took the last few steps toward the office and froze. Peals of manic laughter came from within the room. She cautiously peeked in.
Edward was sitting at the desk, transfixed by something on the computer monitor.
“How did you get in – “ Jun stormed in, forgetting her earlier concerns about the girl. But she lost her train of thought when she rounded the desk and saw what was on the monitor.
“Edward, is that Berg Katse?”
“If you mean the pointy-purpley guy. . .”
The footage seemed to be from a security camera not quite at ceiling level. Katse had been throwing a massive temper tantrum, but it had gone on long enough to resemble a bad slapstick routine with a handful of goons getting the worst of it.
“This is a viral video, right?”
“Nope, it’s live.”
“How did you do that?”
“Radical Edward strikes again!”
Katse started throwing anything within reach. A wine bottle sailed toward the camera.
“Oh,” Ed moaned, “he swatted my fly on the wall.”
“Can you get it back?”
The girl slid out of the chair and made her way to the door. “Need another fly.”
* * * * *
A very tall, thin man stood outside the Snack J. His black hair looked as rumpled as his suit. A Corgi was at his side.
“In there, huh?” He said.
With a quick pat he made sure he had his gun, though he hadn’t found any proof that he’d need a gun in these parts. Still, in his line of work. . .
He took a deep breath, opened the door, and stepped inside.
Edward flew out of nowhere, wrapping her arms and legs around the man’ “Spike!” she shouted, “SpikeSpikeSpikeSpike! I missed you!” She let go of him and dropped to the floor.
“Good to see you too, Ed.” Spike replied as soon as he regained his breath. He then noticed five people by the bar. “Um, thanks for keeping an eye on Ed. I’ll get her out of your hair now.”
“Jinpei – “
“But Sis – “
Spike quickened his pace while Edward skipped around him. Ein did his best to keep up.
“We don’t have much time.” Spike explained, “Jet just got the Bebop fixed, and the anomaly’s closing!”
“I like it here, Spike!”
“It’s too weird for my taste. Gimme Ganymede any day.”