Coffee and Conspiracies
Coffee and Conspiracies
Why could her life never be simple? Most women who woke up after a wonderful night out only had to worry about whether or not the guy would call. But there was no such luxury for Joyce Summers. No, she had to try and figure out if the guy was a vampire, trying to get to her eldest daughter through her, or a robot, feeding her mood enhancing cookies.
Now when she met someone she really felt an affinity for, she once again had to tread carefully, because he was an investigative journalist, who might want to write a story about just how screwed up this small town was, while using her daughter as the centrepiece of how creepy and kooky Smallsvile can get.
Hell, she should change her name to Morticia and be done with it. A woman crossing the street gave her a funny look as she snorted at the thought. She stopped for a moment checking through the window that Harry was in there, and then schooled her features before walking in.
“Hi Harry,” she said, smiling brightly as she approached the table. “Look, I must apologise about last night. Buffy doesn’t normally behave like that. I don’t know what came over her.” She frowned down at him in a sign or repentance.
“Hey it’s forgotten,” he said, smiling up at her. “As I said last night, it’s nice that she cares enough to be worried about your happiness.”
The smile returned to her face as she took the seat opposite him. “Thank you for being so understanding, most men would run at hundred miles an hour in the other direction when they see a woman has wilful children.”
“Then most men are not worthy of you,” he said, with a lopsided grin. “Believe me when I say that nobody was harder to get along with that I was when I was younger.”
“I think I can see a story there,” she said, leaning in, waiting for him to embellish it.
“Not much to tell really,” he said shifting uneasily in his seat. “My parents died when I was only one, and I was forced to live with the aunt from hell. The only true happiness I found was when I was at boarding school, away from my family altogether.”
Her heart went out; she had not meant to bring up bad memories. “Harry I’m sorry…”
“Stop apologising,” he said, reaching over and claiming her hands with his. “It’s alright, as I said my school days where among the happiest of my life. I had three of the best friends anybody could wish for, Ron and Ginny Weasley and Hermione Granger.”
“The school year was wonderful, full of high jinx and adventure. But every time I met them after the summer with my relatives, I became distant and obnoxious. They spent the summer together having fun, while I cooked, cleaned and got shouted at for every little thing that went wrong. I took my problems out on them…” his voice was a shallow whisper. “So I know about being a terrible teen, and Buffy didn’t come close last night.”
She smiled at him as she gave his hands a squeeze of understanding. “So Ron, Ginny, and Hermione, did you keep in touch?”
“Yeah,” he said, the pain drifting from his eyes, “Ron married Hermione and I’m the godfather of their ten year old son, they named him after me.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a photo of a young boy swinging in a woman’s arms.
She smiled; the scene of simple domesticity was so familiar. “Nice kid, so what happened to Ginny?”
“Well that’s a long story,” he said, looking away for a moment. “But enough about me, tell me what it’s like bringing up two teens.”
A real full hearted laugh left her body, “well it’s never dull, I have to say that.” She thought for a moment trying to bring up safe topics that wouldn’t have Harry running one hundred mile an hour in the opposite direction.
For the next half an hour she regaled him with stories of the highs and lows of raising two young girls in a modern society like California.
“So, she said when they both seemed totally relaxed. “What’s an English investigative journalist doing in a small town like Sunnydale?”
She smiled as his eyes filled with excitement, “There is so much mystery surrounding this small town that it’s a journalist’s dream come true. There are more unexplained deaths per capita here than in any other town in the whole of the United Stated.”
“And that’s something to get excited about?” she scoffed, “remember single mom bringing up two teenage daughters here.”
“Sorry,” he replied, trying to look contrite. “But there are so many other things that just go unexplained, or explained by totally implausible excuses. There are more deaths by animal attack here per year than there are in the whole of Africa.
A pack wild dogs ate the high school principle, in his office during a school day and nobody batted an eyelid. The high school is closed because it is infested by a swarm of bees, snakes, and frogs, nobody says a word. The same high school is blown up during the graduation ceremony, killing twelve students, another principle and the mayor, it’s blamed on a gas leak, and nobody questions it.”
“Why would anybody question it, gas leaks happen all the time?” laughed Joyce, her heart pumping ten to the dozen. He was getting way too close to her daughter’s territory.
“If it was an isolated incident then there wouldn’t be a reason to question the validity of a gas leak, but there have been too many coincidences for it to be that simple.” His face once again was full of excitement. “My biggest question is why has nobody else asked these questions?”
She frowned, damn the hellmouth, why oh why could she not meet someone that was just a normal Joe Schmoe, somebody that was not evil, not psychotic, and definitely not gunning for her daughter?
“So what do you think, there’s some kinda conspiracy theory keeping the truth from us?” she asked, trying to keep her voice neutral. “So what do we have, aliens running around cutting up bodies, blowing up the school and eating the principle?”
He laughed at that, genuinely laughed, “I don’t know what’s behind it but I’m gonna find out.”
He was lying, she could tell. You don’t spend this much time trying to keep two teenagers is check, or trying to keep tabs on a cheating husband without spotting a lie five miles off. The problem she had was knowing why he was lying, and how much he actually knew.