When she heard the door open, Amy sat up from where she had been lying on the couch. "Oh, good," she said, lying back down. "Can we go home now?"
"Yes, pretty soon. Just let me talk to Dad."
"He's asleep in there," she said, pointing to the bedroom door. "Lucky him."
I didn't need her to tell me that, however, because Dad still snored like a muffler with a hole in it. "You couldn't have slept with that racket anyway," I said.
"Wanna bet?" She smiled faintly, but she looked pretty rough.
"Hey, Dad. Wake up," I said, knocking loudly on the door when I went in. He had pushed all the disheveled junk from his earlier book search onto the floor and was sound asleep, face down and fully dressed, boot and all, on top of tousled covers. "Dad," I yelled, grabbing a boot that was hanging off the side of the bed and shaking it roughly.
The snoring stopped. "What?" he asked, not moving a muscle.
"Get up. I need to talk to you before I go."
"Right," he said. "One sec."
I was starving, so I walked out to the kitchen to get a snack. The towel that had formerly contained the ham was on the counter, but there was no ham to be found. I tore off a piece of the dark, dry bread and took a bite.
"I don't like that bread," said Amy.
"And it's a good thing," Dad growled, stomping loudly from the bedroom, "or it would all be gone."
"The food here doesn't fill you up," she said, defensively.
"Well, not YOU anyway," said Dad. "It fills me up just fine if some little girl doesn't come along and eat it all." He walked into the kitchen and poured a little of the now lukewarm coffee.
"You're a mean old man," she scowled. I could tell she liked him.
"Pleased to meet you," he replied.
"The food here isn't very satisfying for us," I told her, "but it's better than nothing."
"Well, son, what did you find out?" He plopped down in the kitchen chair in front of the still-opened Glory Dawn book on the table.
"She's not here," I said. "Her list has her parents, her husband and, interestingly enough, a cousin named..." I fumbled in my pockets for the paper on which I had written the name, "...Romeo di Marti."
"Why is that interesting?" asked Dad.
"Because, he just got here a few days ago."
"Hmmm." said Dad.
"I know. Maybe nothing, but still..."
"Do you know a cousin Romeo di Marti, Miss Amy?" asked Dad.
"No. I don't have any cousins," she answered.
"He might be a cousin of your mother," he said. "Ever heard of him?"
"Hmmm." Dad fell silent for a minute, and then yawned with a huge stretch. "Well, Simon," he said, "what have we learned?"
"Not much," I said. "We know we might be dealing with a Fate. We know Darla isn't here yet. Can you check out this Romeo di Marti guy?"
"I'll see if I can find him," said Dad. "It couldn't hurt."
"Right. And now, Amy..." I started. I was interrupted, however, by a knock on the door. Dad frowned and I got nervous. Amy sat up on the couch. "Are you expecting anyone?" I asked. Dad shook his head no.
"David, are you there?" came a familiar voice from the other side of the door.
"That sounds like the Sheriff," said Amy.
"That is the Sheriff," said Dad. "He's okay, Simon. Let him in."
It made me nervous, but I walked over to the door and opened it. "Hello, Sheriff Mercury," I said, with a smile.
"Well, this answers my first question," said the Sheriff with his huge smile. "Simon Sayer. I thought you two might know each other."
"Simon is my son, Farrokh," said Dad.
"I see. Well, any son of your's is a friend of mine, David," he replied rather formally.
"How can I help you today?" said Dad.
"May I come in, then?" the Sheriff asked, looking at me. I realized I was blocking his way.
"Oh, sorry," I said. "I'm a little tired and stupid. Come on in." I stepped out of his way and he brushed quickly by me.
"And here is Lady Amy," he said animatedly, seeing her on the couch. "You look like you need to go home, my dear." He sat beside her on the couch. "I'm afraid my town isn't very fun for you."
"I'm just tired," she said, managing a smile. "We're about to leave now."
"You've finished your business then," he asked, turning to look at me.
"As much as I can," I answered, closing the door and walking into the kitchen to sit at the table.
"Yeah, tell me Sheriff," said Dad, picking up the scratch paper from where I had laid it on the table, "how would I find a Romeo di Marti?"
"Di Marti? He's new. He's still over in the Welcome Housing."
"Do you know everyone here?" asked Amy. "How can you keep track of it all?"
"I'm the Sheriff," he replied. "It's my job to know who and what and why in my own town."
"Seems like a lot to remember," she said.
"Well, we have our little tricks," he answered, patting her lightly on the hand. "If you want to meet Romeo that would be perfect," he continued , turning back to Dad, "because I need you to make a little trip over to the Welcome Center for me."
"Why?" asked Dad.
"Should we talk later?"
"No, no. You can talk in front of Simon," said Dad.
"Well, there's a new arrival I need you to settle in. It's a personal favor," he said.
"I'd be happy to, but why me?"
"Well, it's not for me," the Sheriff explained. "It's for Wayne."
"Sheriff Wayne?" I asked.
"Yes," he replied. "It's his son."
"Oh," said Dad. "Damn. He should be here."
"Where is Sheriff Wayne?" I asked. Sheriff Mercury glanced at Dad questioningly.
"Never mind, Simon," Dad replied. "He's just not around right now. Of course, I'll go right away," Dad answered the Sheriff. "Anything for Wayne."
"I knew you would, of course," said the Sheriff.
"What's his name and where is he?" asked Dad.
"His name is Al Hall. He's just arrived this evening, so he's still with the greeters."