Family Fiction posted November 29, 2023 Chapters:  ...15 16 -17- 18... 

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Mitch accompanies Miranda into Llarado's.

A chapter in the book Miranda's Trouble In Paradise

Must Be Cold


Miranda Jessup Buckley has decided to find out what happened to Dougie Wilcox.
So far, Miranda has met with the therapist, Carrie. She talks Mitch into going with her into the strip club, in search of Rita's husband.


The parking lot of Llarado's is full. It resembles the parking lot of Rose's two days before Christmas. Ironically, both Rose's and Llarado's would be full of men.

"Nervous?" I whisper into Mitch's ear as I hook my arm through his.

"This is a bad idea, Miranda. What kind of friend wants you to go into this kind of place just to check something out for them?"

I stop, pulling free long enough to face him. "Okay, I'm not gonna lie to you. Rita thinks her husband is stepping out on her. I was bored one day and followed him around for a while. He ended up coming here. He went inside and after an hour, well, he still hadn't come out so I left."

"Did she ask him if he's having an affair?"

"An affair, huh, I hate how it sounds so civilized. It's cheating, it's low. But, to answer your question, no, she did not."

"Why not? Never mind. Answer this. Did she ask you to follow him or are you just snooping?"

I bat my eyes innocently. "It was an implied request, Mitch."

He rolls his eyes. "Okay, Nancy Drew, let's get this over with."

The bouncer, who by the way, looks like he swallowed a Buick, gives both Mitch and me a long critical look. "Forty dollars," he holds out his meaty paw while Mitch pulls out two twenties from his wallet.

Once we get into the door, my breath catches in my throat. A mix of Aqua net, cheap men's cologne, cheap women's cologne, and stale beer all compete to take me out. I glance at Mitch, who is tucking his wallet into his back pocket.

"Forty bucks. I just willingly gave some meat head my hard earned money to go into a place I really didn't want to go into. Miranda, I love you, but after paying Forty bucks, make no mistake, I am looking."

"Okay. Look. No talking or touching. Look all you want." Quickly, I grab his hand and drag him towards the bar. "Beer?" I ask him.

He nods, staring intently at the countertop.

"Two Michelobs," I call out to the bartender. He pops the tops off and slides them across the bar to us.

I scan the room, recognizing several men who frequent The Little Eagle. Businessmen who always act like the Wonder bread family men are tossing greenbacks at girls who look young enough to be their daughters. I look towards the stage. A blonde bombshell is hanging by one tightly wrapped leg around the pole. A blonde guy with curly hair that bounces along with his enthusiastic gestures. I squint to get a better look. "Son of a bitch," I mutter. Why am I not surprised? It's not Rita's cheating husband all snuggled up to the stage, it's worse. It's my ex-husband, Farley. He's drunk, I can tell that from here. He's pretending to lasso the pole dancer while dancing to the music that's blaring overhead. In short, he looks like a cowboy having a seizure.

"What did you say that for? You see him?" Mitch turns to follow my gaze.

"Mitch, would you like to meet my ex-husband?"

I pull Mitch by the arm through the crowd until I'm beside Farley. "Never knew you could dance like that. What do you call that? The slime ball slide or the cheaters cha cha?"

"Holy shit, Miranda Lynn. You working here now?"

"No. No, I'm looking for someone. Why aren't you home reading bedtime stories to one of your eighty children? Aren't you a little old to be hanging out here?"

He grins. It's the same swarthy smile that used to greet me back in the good old days. How did I think he was attractive? I actually feel bad for his wife.

He waves a ten dollar bill at the girl as she comes down off the pole and starts crawling seductively towards him. "Hey, April, this is my ex-wife."

"Don't tell people that," I say. I look at the girl. She looks older than she probably is, with Cleopatra eyes and hot pink gloss on her lips. "Go home, Farley. You've got a wife who loves you. You've got all those dang kids. Be a real man."

Farley let's the girl slide the bill from his fingers as he smiles and winks at me. "Oh, Randa, you know there's enough Farley for everyone."

Mitch puts his arm around my shoulders. "Classy guy. I gotta say I'm surprised things didn't work out."

I elbow him playfully. "I don't see Bill anywhere," I say. I know I shouldn't be disappointed he isn't here, but I am. I was hoping to catch him.

A high pitched squeal sounds out to the left of us. "Mr. Danner. Oh my gosh." The squeal is followed by a nearly naked girl covered in glitter and tattoos as she tries to run towards us, on stiletto heels, much to the delight of every man in the bar.

"This should be good," I giggle. "Ooh, Mr. Danner."

Poor Mitch looks like a deer in headlights. He can't look at me, he can't make eye contact with the girl who is covering ground with surprising agility.

"Mr. Danner, hi, it's me, Carla. Remember me?"

"Of course," he says weakly. He swipes at a bead of sweat that rolls down the side of his face. "You're Carla."

She nods. "I went to Patterson Middle with Molly."

He looks around, as if surveying the room. I feel bad for him. Now, he definitely can't look at her. She's his daughter's age. She probably even spent the night with Molly. Back when glitter was solely for arts and crafts and tattoos were done with a sharpie during study hall.

"Hi, I'm Miranda. It's nice to meet you." I reach out and shake her hand. I move around Mitch to talk to her. "Can I ask you a question?"


"Do you know any guys named Bill who come in here?"

She seems to chew on it for a minute before answering. "Bill Templeton comes in sometimes. When he wants to close a deal. He's that real estate dude from the Proper. Can't think of anyone else named Bill. Wait ... the new janitor handyman is named Bill."

"Is he here tonight?"

She stands on her tiptoes and looks around. "Don't see him, sorry."

"Not Templeton. The janitor. Is he here?"

She nods. "In the back probably."

Someone calls out to Carla and she shifts into show mode.

"Come on, Mr. Danner, we need to see what's backstage." I say.

If Bill the janitor is the same Bill that I'm after, what is his story? And, is the Mr. Danner I walked in with the same Mr. Danner I'm leaving with?

Farley grabs my arm as I'm walking by. "How bout a kiss for old times sake?" He slurs his question as he looks at me through hooded eyes.

"I will. For all the money in your wallet."

He nods and pulls out four twenties and a five. He waves them lazily back and forth. "Pucker up."

I relieve him of the cash and put my finger to his lips. "Let me go brush my teeth. I'll be right back."

He flops back on the stool and smiles at Mitch. "She's something."

Mitch nods. Then follows me towards the back.

"You're really gonna kiss that guy?"

"What? No. I'm gonna give you your forty dollars back and mail the rest to his wife."

"Let's get back there and go home. I'm about done here," he says tiredly.

It's a funny thing about a partner, they might not always agree with you, but the good ones always have your back.

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