Colin lounged in the shady corner of a roomy bamboo jail cell. At least it’s nicer than the last place.
Movement outside the bars drew his eye again. The cell faced the street which allowed all sorts of people to stop and look. Last time there were kids. The time before that there were some scowling old guys with crazy long eyebrows. Who is it this – oh, it’s him.
The hooded priest was back.
Man, this guy doesn’t give up. Colin grinned apologetic but didn’t get up. “For the 20th time – no, thank you, sir. I’m perfectly fine being executed without your chants and beads and awkward good-luck dance.”
“Oh.” He recognized the priest’s voice, and not because he’d stopped by earlier. “Then I’ll find some popcorn and enjoy the show.”
Colin stared, dumbstruck. Holy… “Geoff?”
The imposter priest adjusted his drooping hood as his younger brother scrambled to the bars.
“I don’t know how they wear these things,” said Geoff. “I’ve walked into at least a dozen walls, a half dozen lamp posts and two horses.”
Colin’s agile personality quickly tore through shock, relief, delight and excitement until it settled in its default state of being stupidly tickled. He leaned a shoulder on the thick bamboo separating them, crossed his arms and smiled. “What, there weren’t any villagers out there?”
“In trying to avoid them I pretty much tripped on everything else.” Geoff sighed with annoyance. He wasn’t the manly, tree-hurling, beard-sporting brother. In fact, when they were boys his brothers had dubbed him ‘Team Mom’ and even improvised a memorable and irreverent plaque to commemorate the new title for the overly cautious third born. “Colin.”
Colin’s smile stretched. “Yes?”
Geoff seemed to have a reprisal locked and loaded but it fizzled out. “Forget it.” He examined the simple padlock on the door. “Griswold and Uncle can make you regret life when we get home.”
This is crazy. Colin wiped his mouth to hide a grin from the steady stream of villagers passing to and from the modest local market. Seriously. Of everybody to show up. I’m surprised nobody came with him. Griswold, Tanner, Sean and Uncle ‘ve all saved my can a bunch of times because they’re rugged adventure types, but this guy?
He doesn’t like crowded trains or animals… He watched his brother fuss with the heavy lock. Or germs or dust or encyclopedias not in alphabetical order…
Geoff nodded, oblivious of the pair of women immediately behind him with breadbaskets. “I can pick this.”
Hearing him, the women exchanged alarmed looks and hurried off.
Colin was too happy to care. “You?”
Geoff shot him a tart look.
“How’d you even get here?”
“Are you going to mock me or let me save your life?”