Chapter 11 – The ‘I’ in Team
SB Electrical Superstore – Bon Temps Retail Park
Most of the staff mingled with the customers in their costumes, Jason continuing the tradition of keeping a photographic record of everyone. Arlene and Terry played up to their Sandy and Danny costumes by singing songs from Grease every time Terry brought something out to the pay counter. Heidi curtseyed and smiled sweetly like the princess costume dictated. Pam lounged against the Geek Clique helpdesk in the striking yellow and Maroon of Sunnydale High’s cheerleaders. Portia and Caroline made a fine pair of zombies, apparently the make-up didn’t come in a smaller size and it seemed a shame and waste of money to only use half of it. Andy got into the spirit of the holiday, hamming it up as Dracula while Chow practiced the ninja moves to go with his costume by sneaking up on everyone.
There were laugh out loud moments when Eric’s Thor and Bill’s Loki faced each other and an almost shoplifter was thrown out of the store by Quinn’s Hagrid. Sam polished a prop glass behind the counter and held it up before pretending to spit in it again.
“Sookie’s kinda late.” He looked at Andy and threw the bar towel over his shoulder.
“Yup. Said she wanted to make an entrance so she’d be starting after everyone else was in the store.” Andy shook his head. “Although, I guess with all the hullabaloo around her getting her costume, bein’ almost arrested an all, she’s entitled to a little attention.”
Moments later Quinn, in an accent that was supposed to be Hagrid but sounded more like Gollum, announced over the radios that Sookie had arrived.
The staff quickly made their way to where they could see Sookie walk into the store, whether they were with a customer or not. Jason had his camera at the ready as the door opened and the shadowy, orange figure through the frosted glass became visible as Cheetara. Eric froze in place as he gazed upon her lithe figure in the orange and yellow costume, her hair teased to perfection, sprayed yellow with black spots.
“What on third earth is that noise?” Pam frowned and looked around for the source of the drawn out ‘ahhhhhhh’ before throwing one of her pompoms at Thor’s head. The noise stopped.
Apartment 2b – Chloe Street, New Orleans
Hadley sat across from her Gran, both of them sipping at their coffee and waiting for the other to talk. Adele, knowing how obstinate her Granddaughter could be, got sick of waiting.
“Aren’t you going to ask why I’m here?”
Hadley shrugged and continued to drink. Adele sighed.
“Right now, you’re still part of the family. You get your allowance and, when I’m dust in the wind, you’ll inherit part of the business and your share of the Stackhouse Homestead.” She paused, letting that sink in. “If you continue this ridiculous revenge scenario against Sookie, which could have ruined the company’s reputation, those things will be gone. Poof! You’re written out of my will, you will get nothing while I’m alive or when I’m dead.”
Hadley stopped drinking, the mug halfway to her mouth.
“And don’t think I’m as stupid as you think I am. If anything happens to Sookie … or Eric, Pam or even Bill … that looks like it’s had your grubby paws on it – you’re out. So, you should really look at Sookie as an investment – a financial package that needs to be … nurtured, protected.”
Hadley’s eyes narrowed and her mug slammed down on the table. “And what if Sookie does something stupid and blames me?”
Adele blinked and sipped. “Don’t be silly Hadley, not only does Sookie have the sense not to do stupid things, but she’s got the balls to take responsibility for her actions. You’re assuming everyone is as spiteful as you, they aren’t.”
“I’m not spiteful!” Hadley sputtered.
Adele laughed … and laughed … and laughed.
SB Electrical Superstore
The late afternoon lull was usually a social time in the store, where everyone caught up with everyone else’s day, and Halloween was no different. That quieter time between the pre-dinner shoppers and the post-dinner shoppers was treasured by the staff, to an extent, a brief respite to catch their collective breaths. That’s why it was so annoying that Felipe decided to storm through the door with Lafayette and Bruno at his side, Bruno holding his phone out to preserve the moment in all its digital glory.
In full battle dress, breastplate, sword and shield, Felipe took a deep breath in through his nose. “I, leader of the Knights of De Castronia, challenge this feeble band of misfits to a battle to the death!”
Sookie sauntered over, her confusion apparent to all, and stopped a few feet away from him. “Uh … whut?”
Felipe rolled his eyes and tossed a scroll tied with a black ribbon in her direction. “All of the details are there, I look forward to you forfeiting!”
Laffy and Bruno joined in Felipe’s laughter as they left the store, the few customers around not really knowing what they just witnessed.
Bill sidled up to Eric and nudged him. “Does that guy always laugh like a Bond villain?”
Eric shrugged. “Meh … kind of, I don’t think I’ve ever heard him laugh like … laughing at a joke or something.”
“Maybe it’s a medical condition?” Bill frowned.
Vic’s Redneck Roadhouse – 9pm
The entire team of SB Electrical, plus Lorena, took up a whole corner of Vic’s establishment. Vic whistled happily as he went back and forth with pitchers of beer and plates of chicken fingers and fries. He had a couple of waitresses now, but he liked to provide the folks from SB with personal service.
Yessiree, lettin’ these guys stick around was surely the best decision I ever made!
Adele walked in and nodded to Vic as she made her way to the SB table. Vic quickly got a sweet tea ready for her and was placing it in front of her on the table as she was sitting down.
“Why, thank you Vic! Much appreciated!”
“Not a problem, ma’am, all part of Vic’s care package!”
Everyone at the table smiled and thanked Vic for his hard work before turning to Adele, awaiting the results of her excursion to New Orleans. They stuffed chicken fingers and fries into their mouths with expectant eyes on the Stackhouse matriarch, Halloween makeup smudged and hair flattened after a day of running around the store.
“Hadley has been dealt with. I gave her the choice to keep her allowance and return home where I could keep an eye on her or stay in New Orleans and pay her own way. She chose New Orleans … in fact she has a job interview tomorrow which looks very promising – at a branch of Buy Everything of all places!”
“But she’s given up on the whole ‘get Sookie’ plan, right?” Sookie bit her lip and furrowed her brow.
Adele nodded. “She knows the score with that one but has a valid concern – should you do something idiotic, Sookie, and try to blame it on her, I’ll be most displeased.”
“I would never …”
“I know.” Adele held up her hand to calm her other Granddaughter. “But I just wanted to get it out there.”
Vic beamed as he dropped more full plates on the table and took away the empty ones. “Everything okay with you fine folks?”
“It’s great, Vic!” Andy nodded happily. “Are these new glasses? And I noticed the napkins have had an upgrade too, things lookin’ up for ya?”
“Yes, sir, they are! What with you guys comin’ in regular like, and other folks from the retail park stoppin’ by too … I’m doin’ well!”
“Good ta hear!” Andy slapped the table. “Vic’s doin’ well, we’re doin’ well, Hadley ain’t a problem and it’s smooooooth sailin’!”
“Not quite.” Sookie placed the scroll on the table and everyone groaned, except Lorena and Adele. The two women glanced at each other and shrugged. “This is a challenge from Felipe, or The Knights of De Castronia as he’s called his team; it’s addressed to the whole store – not just me.”
She unrolled the paper and passed it around the table. As the group read it there were groans, sneers and some cursing too. Once everyone had perused the document, Sookie rolled it back up, tied the black ribbon around it and tapped it on the table.
“The Shreveport Dragon’s Lair LARP Guild has recorded the challenge. Felipe is certain that we’ll forfeit – he thinks we’re either too scared to face him or that we can’t get a good team together. We need a team of ten and we need to register with the guild and respond to the challenge within three days of receiving it.”
“Forfeiting is not an option.” Bill’s eyes narrowed.
“And a Bellefleur never backs down from a challenge!” Andy crossed his arms.
“So we’re doing this?” Pam sipped at her soda and looked around the table.
“Oh, yeah, we’re soooo doing this!” Eric grinned.
Buy Everything – Shreveport
Bruno, Niall and Barry stopped stacking the shelves as Felipe approached. He was smiling, that meant the SB mob hadn’t accepted the challenge yet – and there were only 12 hours left. Felipe nodded to them, his eyes twinkling with smug delight.
“Imagine the scene, men, we will stride to an empty battlefield, have the guild record the lack of registration publicly and drink to the cowardice of Sookie and her damned rebellion!”
Laffy leaned against the shelving unit, his false eyelashes glittering under the halogen lights. “Still time, Fifi, you should know better than to gloat before you win and you should know better than to think Stackhouse shies away from a challenge.”
Felipe’s eye twitched uncontrollably.
SB Electrical – Break Room
Sookie had gone over everything they needed to do – make weapons and armour and have a team of ten trained in the art of LARP fighting. Sookie knew that Eric, Bill and Pam would be by her side in battle but finding six other volunteers was her main concern.
“Between stock runs, Terry and Chow will make the weapons – high quality foam, bamboo and duct tape. Gran and Caroline have agreed to work on a uniform of sorts to wear and some armour … but I still need more people for the team.” Sookie chewed on her bottom lip as she looked around the room at those who attended the pre-opening briefing.
“Hell, I’m in!” Jason grinned, Sam high fived him and Gave Sookie a thumbs up.
Okay, four more!
Andy stood up and nodded. “Like I said, a Bellefleur never backs down from a challenge.”
Quinn and Chow both put their hands up. Portia folded her arms and leaned back in her chair.
“So, basically, we run around in the woods with foam swords and smack the shit out of some assholes?”
“Yeah. This is a boffer LARP guild – no magic.” Sookie grinned evilly “No mercy.”
Portia seemed to mull that over before nodding. “Screw it, I’m in, sounds like great stress relief.”
Sookie fist pumped and smiled maniacally. “We are fully functional!”
Shreveport Dragon’s Lair LARP Guild – Website
The Knights of De Castronia Challenged SB Electrical Superstore to a battle to the death and SB Electrical Superstore (playing under the team name of ‘The Fellowship of Turtles’) have accepted their challenge!
The two brave armies will face each other on the battlefields of Clyde Fant Running Park at 1pm this Sunday (24th August). The battle will be overseen by officials from Shreveport Dragon’s Lair Guild.
We wish these brave heroes good luck and Godspeed! May the most cunning and strong be triumphant!
Buy Everything – Shreveport
Laffy had been staring at Felipe for a full minute and his boss hadn’t blinked yet, even with Bruno waving his hand in front of his face. Laffy sighed and slapped Felipe, lightly, on the cheek.
“Fifi! Snap out of it sugah-plum – you got five other Knights to find!”
Felipe shook his head and stared at Laffy, his eyes welling up. “But she was supposed to forfeit!”
“Well, she didn’t!” Bruno grumbled. “And now we’re stuck with a crappy team name too!”
“You should have known better than to goad that girl, Fifi.” Barry crossed his arms and narrowed his eyes at Felipe. “From past experience, didn’t it occur to you that she’d jump at the chance for payback?”
“I’m the only one here that’s allowed to call him Fifi!” Laffy pointed a magenta nail at Barry. “She’s accepted; there’s nothing we can do about that now except grab five other folks to get suited up for Sunday.”
Felipe gulped and nodded.