Monday, September 29, 2008


Flora was talking to Bo'sun Jones this morning. They were enjoying coffees from the Mud House on Neponset Avenue while tidying up the club house after last night's supermarket sushi-and-pepperoncini blowout. The food was washed down with longnecks of Narragansett lager and beer and pickle juice was spilled everywhere. It was a night to forget, especially the moment Tweedledum laughed so hard some orange roe came out his nose.

Flora gets off work early at the wholesale Boston Flower Market and she doesn't mind being assigned clean up patrol. Someone has to do the dirty work and Bo'sun has taught her to handle a mop like a professional. As for Bo'sun, he does whatever task is demanded to keep the Peppermint Squad on an even keel.

Flora was sweeping up bottle caps and picking out the ones with rebuses printed on them. These were destined for the 'Puzzle Jar' that inductees use to show they have the smarts to join the Peppermint Squad. She said to Bo'sun, "I don't like Widowmaker. I don't know why he's allowed to be a squad member."

Agent Widowmaker earned his name honestly. He rides a no-brand scooter shaped like a Chinese insect that has the name "Princess Go-Go" in factory, chome-colored plastic over both rear wheel wells. The scooter is pinkish, more salmon than pink. It stands out in traffic and that is why he chose it. Widowmaker used to be known as Mr. Clean, but he was involved in some reckless lanesplitting around Roxbury Crossing and he killed a man who was trying to read the Metro and cross the street at the same time. Pedestrians have the right of way and Mr. Clean was at fault. The papers called him Widowmaker and the name has stuck to this day.

Bo'sun said, "The man rides two wheels and he keeps his engine under the seat. That makes him one of us."

Flora said, "But he's a convicted killer. Having him in the Peppermint Squad gives the squad a black eye."

Bo'sun dunked his mop in the bucket and pulled it out. He sloshed the mop head on the floor. "Even a black eye can see a good man," he said. "Nobody's perfect and it takes guts for a man to get back on a scoot again after he's taken another man's life. It takes guts for a man to ride a girly scooter. It takes guts for a man to be able to ride in formation with the Peppermint Squad."

The phone rang and Bo'sun answered it. When he hung up he said, "Saddle up, Flora. That was Peepeye. Someone's taking candy from a baby in front of the Ashmont Grill. We've got to intervene. We can continue this conversation later."

Flora put on her helmet and gloves. Bo'sun put on his. They mounted thier scoots and fired the engines. Before they sped off to trouble they flashed each other the Peppermint Sign. Their differences of opinion were left on the clubhouse floor as the buzzed out on patrol.

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