“They should love you, just as you are. Parents should love their kids, right?” “You’d think so.”

Not everything runs smoothly at Floggin’ Brews. Don’t get me started on the plumbing issue we had with the water cut-off outside last week.

And sometimes it gets even worse.

It was a quiet Tuesday night. I was doing paperwork in the office while Ret tended the bar. I thought I heard a kerfluffle start out front when Boss jumped up on my desk (something She rarely does) and gave me Her “you better get out there” look.

Out front was Ret talking with a couple (man and woman) who were clearly unhappy about something. The two swiveled their eyes to me when I walked up.

“Help you folks?”

“Are you Michael??” the woman said.

“I’m Mikhel, the owner. What’s up?”

“You’re the pervert my son works for??”

“I think you’re mistaken. I don’t have any male employees.”

“Yes, you do! Brian works here!”

Ret stage-mumbled, “They mean Brita.”

I responded, “Yes, Brita is a barback-in-training here.”

“We’ve called the police! We will have this place SHUT DOWN! And his name is Brian!”

“Who are you people?” I asked as politely as I could (which wasn’t much).

“We’re Brian’s mother and father!”

“Oh. You’re the folks who threw their child out on the street, right?”

That brought them up short long enough for me to turn to Ret and say, “Could you check the schedule to see if Brita is due in today. Call her and tell her I’ll pay her not to come in, ‘kay?”

“Gotcha.” Ret gave them both the stink-eye and went back to the office. I turned back to the couple.

“Why are you here?” I asked. “What do you care about a child you abandoned? Brita has the approval of her case worker to be here, MY wholehearted approval, she stays away from the alcohol, she’s a helluva worker, and I don’t think you have a lot to say about it, so you two can kindly GET THE FUCK OUTTA MY BAR!” I blew back their hair with that last.

That last got the attention of the patrons we had. I suspect Georgie was giving odds on how far the two parents would skid in the snow when I threw them out.

The woman’s eyes narrowed and her voice got quiet. “You’re assaulting my son. I will see you in prison.”

With that, two guys in suits walked in the door. Something about them plainly said plainclothes cops. I pointedly looked past Brita’s mother and said, “Help you gentlemen?”

One of them walked up to me while the other started looking around the room. “You the manager of this place?”

“That’s me. Mikhel Kivi. And you are . . .?”

“I’m Detective Thursday. This is my partner Backer. We’re with the police. We have had a comp . . . ” His focus shifted to Brita’s mother and father. “Oh, it’s you two.”

The mother’s voice gained an octave and volume. “I want this man arrested! He’s been molesting my son!”

“Hold on, ma’am. Let’s not get ahead of . . .”

I had reached behind me to the cubby near the register and pulled out a folder. “Here are the files on Brita Crawford. Brita is an employee of mine, and these are the documents supplied to me by her case worker in the event of . . .” I side-eyed the gruesome twosome at the bar ” . . . any unpleasantness.”

“I appreciate that, sir. The department is, uh, acquainted with these two and their child . . . Brita, did you say?”

“Yeah. She changed her name and is working through the legal stuff to make it official.”

“Officer! I want him arrested!!”

“Ma’am, I need to look through these notes, and you need to settle down. The department knows about how your child was treated before he . . . er, she was thrown out.” He began to read the docs.

The other cop turned to me and was surprised. “Mikhel?? Hey, guy, long time no see!”

“Henry! Hey, how’s it going with you?”

“Oh, fine, busy you know. I had no idea you’d opened a bar!”

“Yeah, been open about six months. I’d offer you a Leinie’s Summer Shandy, but you guys are on duty, right?”

“Yeah, we are right now. I’ll come back later and we can swap lies.”

Thursday looked up from the docs. “You know this guy, Hank?”

“Oh yeah! We go back a long time. He did me a big favor once. He’s okay.”

Brita’s mother started up again, but Thursday shut her down. “Ma’am! From what I’m reading here, everything’s on the up-and-up. Case worker knows about the situation and approves it, the kid’s employed and safe, and you two still have a lot to answer for for tossing a 16-year-old child out of your house.”

The two parents started cranking up again, but Thursday ignored them and turned to me. “Could you get me a copy of this stuff? I’d like to take it down to the station and check it out.”

“Sure,” I said. “Let me make a copy of it for you. It’ll take just a sec. Ret!”

Ret popped her head out the office door. “Could you make a copy of the docs for these gentlemen?” I asked. More quietly: “Did you call her?”

“Yeah. She knows not to come today.” Ret took the papers from me.

“Officer, is there anything else I could help you with?”

Thursday mulled it over. “I think we’re good here for now. I’ll call the case worker and make sure everything’s all right. As for you two . . .” Thursday turned to Brita’s parents, “. . . I’d advise you to stay away from your child. It looks like emancipation is in the works, from what it says here, and I’d hate to have to recommend a restraining order against you. You treated . . . Brita pretty badly, and you got off easy with the judge on that charge of assault on her.” That took all the wind out of the father’s sails. “And if you’re gonna prefer assault charges on Mr. Kivi here, you might want to think that through.

“C’mon, Backer! We got some calling to do.”

“Hey, Mikhel! Take care, dude. I’ll be by later, ‘kay?”

“Sounds good, Henry!” The cops left with their paperwork, and the couple stood gape-mouthed.

I cleared my throat. “As much as I enjoy carp imitations, I think it’s time you two left and never, EVER come back. And I better not see you hanging around to bother Brita when she comes to work. She is safe here as long as she wishes to be around. Okie?”

The mother threw me a look-of-death but didn’t say anything. They both frumped out, but not before Boss (Who had been in Her nest above the front door the whole time) gave them one of Her loud screeching howls (guaranteed to cause ball retraction in startled men) when they got to the door.

I watched as they scurried out the door and down the street. Ret stepped outside behind them for a moment, then came in and said, “Dark blue Mercedes sedan” and handed me a slip of paper with the license number. I tucked it under the register drawer.

“Good thing you knew that one cop,” Ret said.

I laughed. “Yeah, years ago he got caught during a raid at a pro domme’s place. I vouched for him with an alibi. As far as I know, he’s still one of her subs.”

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