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78

Fleeced

Back at the club, there was a flurry of activity. Stanley had his trusty video camera out, following the staff and student butlers around as they spit and polished, placed fresh flowers around the first-floor rooms where the party would be held, prepared food in the kitchen, and set up buffet tables. The whole downstairs area of the club had been cleaned and shined. Clara had worked like a dog all day long and was exhausted.

Clara, Thomas said. Why dont you stay for the party tonight?

You mean to work? she asked incredulously.

No, I mean to have a good time.

Thats different, she said.

Do you have anything to wear?

I keep a dress and a nice pair of shoes in my locker because sometimes my sister gets half-price tickets for the theater at the last minute, and I always want to be prepared, just in case-

Very good, Thomas said, cutting her off. If youd like to take a nap, you can go into my apartment and lie down on the couch.

Are you feeling all right? Clara asked, suspiciously.

More than all right, Thomas shot back. Ive decided that if were going down, we may as well enjoy our last moments.

Clara looked thoughtful. Its kind of like one of those movies where you die and then you come back to life and enjoy things more.

Something like that. Thomas stared out the front window of the club. Oh my God, he said.

Clara followed his gaze. The sheep are getting out of a stretch limo with Janey!

Now you see why I fell in love with her, Thomas said softly.

Well, if you love her, youd better go help her drag them in here.

Stanley appeared behind them. Whats going on? he asked.

Nat and Wendys sheep are back, Thomas said as he hurried outside.

I love this! Stanley cried, capturing on film the limo and the sheep being carried over the threshold of the club. Im sure Ill be able to use this in my piece.

Thomas and Janey carried the sheep back into the parlor, Stanleys camera following their every move. Thomas, if these sheep are so important, we should do something dramatic with them, he suggested. Itd be good for my piece.

What should we do? Thomas asked. I was going to put them in front of the fireplace.

Stanley shook his head and looked around. Why dont we place them on a platform by the window? Itd be gorgeous. You know how some restaurants have all sorts of stuff hanging from the walls? The two sheep could be like two guards at Buckingham Palace, except theyre guarding the Settlers Club. And if theyre up in the air like that, theyll be seen from the street.

That sounds wonderful, Janey said. We can put the big anniversary cake on a table between them.

Youre wonderful, Thomas declared. You brought them back.

Clara rolled her eyes and said to Stanley, Who are we going to get to build a platform?

I turned a gas station into a home. I can do it.

Thomas, Janey said, Im going to run to my apartment and get the cakes and pies.

If Mrs. Buckland calls, please dont answer the phone, Thomas called after her.

Janey laughed and bounced out of the room, the sheeps eyes jiggling in her coat pocket.

Thomas, Stanley said, I know just how to build that platform.

Do you want some help from any of the butlers? Thomas asked.

No, Ill help, Clara declared. This will be fun.


| Fleeced | c