“So, he comes up to me,” Frankie says, slicing into a thick slab of grilled salmon, “and he says, ‘What the hell are you wearing?’”
The other two chuckle. “You’d think he never seen you in that suit,” Gail said.
The otter nodded, slowly masticating on a chunk of fish before washing it down with root beer. “Not my fault he rarely leaves his office. I mean, the poor guy’s bloated as a killer whale-”
“That’s because he is one, Frankie,” Moose said, slathering mayo on a burger bun.
“That’s not the point. He’s supposed to be out and about! Swimming! Enjoying the sun!” He paused to catch for breath. “Listening to our concerts!”
“Speaking of which,” Gail said, spying someone come into the diner as he applied ketchup to his fries. “here comes one of our fans now.”
The other two looked up to see an extremely tall, hugely built, blue-furred bear step in, slightly stooped as to not hit his head on the ceiling. He wore a bright orange tank top and an equally bright green pair of shorts. A silver choker-collar wrapped around his neck.
“Bear!” Moose exclaimed, getting out of his seat and walking over to the newcomer, giving him a huge hug.
“Heya Moosie-babe,” Bear rumbled, sounding like bumblebees the size of tennis balls buzzing through an organ pipe. He hugged back, bending down to lightly nose Moose. “I heard you did a performance today. How was it?”
Moose shrugged. “Eh, so-so. It’s the winter, so not many people here.” He brightened up a bit. “Still, seeing you has made my day.”
“Doesn’t he always, Joe?” Gail called out, causing the waitress attending them to grin.
“How long have they been together,” she asked him.
“Gosh, I don’t know,” he said.
“Approximately two years, three months,” Frankie said. “Remember that anniversary performance a while back?”
How could anyone forget that night? Bear, dressed like a lumberjack, showing up to a performance and giving Moose a dozen roses in front of everyone. Moose, singing an impromptu duet with him. Terribly romantic, but the crowd went wild with it.
Gail’s thoughts broke up when a huge paw gently slapped him on the back. “Heya Stevens. How’s everything?”
He looked up to Bear’s grinning face. “Not bad. Things are alright. Haven’t found a job yet, but still, it’s okay.”
“That offer’s still up there, if you want it.”
“I know. I’m still thinking about it.” Bear nodded at that and reached up to ruffle his hair, something that the griffin strongly disliked. “Stop that, you.”
Bear chuckled and reached over to snap up Frankie’s latest porkpie hat and placed it on his head. “What you think?”
“Give that back to me, you overgrown bruin!” Frankie said, reaching up and trying to get it back while still helping himself to the salmon.
“Now, babe, don’t be like that” Moose said, nimbly getting the hat and placing it back on the counter. He was leaning on him like a limpet on a pier post, rubbing Bear’s stomach gently. “Tell them what you told me.”
Bear nodded. “I want to hire you for a few days.”
“Say what?” Gail said.
“Nothing too fancy, just general music for the folks there.”
Frankie looked up at the ceiling while chewing the last of his lunch, a sure sign of thinking. “How much will you pay us?”
“Five hundred a day. And yes, it will include free food and drinks.”
The otter nodded, pushing away his empty plate and signaling the waitress to give him another helping of the fish. “We’ll take it.” Gail nodded in agreement.
“Alright then!” Bear exclaimed, smiling toothily and clapping his hands in joy. “I would like you guys to come by tonight to start things off. Maybe at seven?”
Moose grinned and got on tiptoes to kiss the bear on the cheek. “We’ll be there, babe.”
“Okay then.” He turned to Joe, picked him up, and embraced him, giving him a huge bearhug. “Finish your meal, babe, and I’ll see you later tonight.” And with that, he let Moose down and left the diner.
“Man,” Gail said as Moose sat himself down on the chair. “I wish I could find someone like that.”
“Ah, you will,” Frankie said, noticing the waitress grin as he said that. It was no secret that she was head-over-heels with the guy. Gail, on the other hand, didn’t notice. Typical male, he thought.
“So,” Moose said, looking at his burger with same look of starry-eyed worship that he gave Bear, “I think the money will come in handy for what we have planned, right?” The other two nodded. “I just wish Al was available.”
“I tried calling him,” Gail said, nodding thanks at the waitress, who just placed a basket of curly fries next to him. “I got his voice mail and left a message.”
“We might have to get a replacement if he’s going to keep bailing out on us,” Frankie said. The other two nodded. “And that will cost money, of course.”
“Considering Bear’s offer, I think we can afford to buy an ad in the paper later on,” Gail said.
Moose gulped down his glass of coke before answering, “For a harmonica player?” He looked dubious. “I don’t think we’ll be able to find one, guys.”
Frankie shrugged. “Al is a good guy, but seeing that he doesn’t return his calls—“
“Or get to our practices,” Gail muttered.
The otter nodded. “I mean, if we can’t find another one, we might have to call the project quits.”
Moose slumped. “After all we done? We can’t give up now.”
“Still,” Gail said, “I think we can get through this with us three.”
“Hmph,” Moose grunted, his mouth full of food.
“I know, Joe,” Frankie said, patting the moose on the back. He sighed and motioned the waitress to bring over the check. “My turn to pay this time?”
“Every time is your turn,” Gail smirked.