Delacroix strode in the shed door, the one on the side facing Millie's orchard. The big Lapua .338 was neatly tucked under her right arm.
"Who's dead?" inquired Uncle Mac, who was de-podding rutabaga seeds at the crude picnic table.
"No one you'd know", said Delacroix, tossing a bag of recovered brass on the table. "I was just checking the piece out after Twinkle Toes used it. It seems pretty much ok"
"By Twinkle Toes you mean Vida?"
"The very twinkler I had in mind." Lacey said.
"You lent her that freakin' cannon? What for?"
"I didn't lend her a damn thing. She "borrowed" it. Took it to Catulpa Valley and tried to eradicate that twit Victor. Admirable idea of course but she missed him three times clean, once from 70 yards. 70 yards! Blew a hole the size of the national debt through Violet's house in the bargain."
"What did you do to her?" asked Mac, sounding as if he'd rather not know.
"We had a conversation about borrowing other peoples weapons. I think next time, she'll ask first."
"At least there'll be a next time. You're mellowing in your old age."
There came an unexpected interruption from the garden, a protracted screech, fifty percent ululation, fifty percent triumphal bleat. One hundred percent unpleasant.
Uncle M flinched.
"What the hell is up with Agnes?" he said.
"Haven't you heard? She got herself a little head, and wants the entire world to know about it"
Delacroix looked closely at Uncle Mac. She had seem him angry, annoyed, and irritated. She had seen him euphoric, moderately pleased and positively ecstatic. She had seen a look of boozy lust lighting up his whiskery mug as he followed Farm Girl to the nearest hay stack. But she had never before witnessed anything like the rictus of horror that clung like a death mask to his suddenly bloodless face as the import of her announcement sunk in.
"I expect she'll be in to tell you about it any second now."
Agnes Dalrymple exploded through the garden side door:
"Look'ee here Mac, at whut I done! I took a pitcher for yew!"
"No!" said Uncle M hoarsely, clapping his hands over his eyes. "get the hell away from me you aberration! I won't look"
"Well watcher...don't yew want to see mah cabbage whut I growed?"
A semi-stifled snort of what might have been laughter* emerged from Delacroix's vicinity.
"Cabbage?" whispered Mac.
The fingers clasped to his face parted marginally. A bloodshot eye focused on the Polaroid** which Agnes thrust at him, beaming.
"She's real little now but soon we can berl 'er up with corn' beef and make some 'tater salad!"
" 'Tater salad." said Uncle Mac.
"Yup!" said Agnes
"Very nice, Agnes. Now maybe you should go water it, or weed it. Or something."
And Agnes wandered aimlessly away.
Uncle M looked accusingly at Lacey, who smiled serenely back.
"Ten AM." he said, reaching under the table for the ever-present Napoleons' brandy. "the sun, somewhere, has to be over a yard arm."
*Hard to tell, coming from Lacey.
**From the last functioning camera, nearly as old as Agnes herself.