In Second Siege, as they wait for the witches, Nigel offers to "send an Agent out for some of those Bedford Bros. thingies." Which better Agent to choose then our favorite Cockney ninja? Nigel's going to regret this...
If I owned the Tapestry, I wouldn't be desperately searching for any and all Maelstrom-related information. I would have just had Cooper and Miss Boon get married and been done with it.
BTW, the font's kind of squished together in some places. Sorry about that.
Cooper and the Quest for the Crackers
Otherwise known as
The Torment of Cooper
"…I could send an Agent out for some of those Bedford Bros. thingies…"
"Cooper!" The Agent turned to see Nigel Bristow hurrying toward him. "Cooper, how much time have you got before you have to leave?"
Cooper glanced at his watch. "A couple hours. Why?"
"Could you do me a really big favor?"
"What?" Cooper asked suspiciously.
"Could you drive into the city and buy some Bedford Bros. Crispy Soup Wafers?"
"Buy some what?" Cooper stared.
"They're these amazing crackers. Please, Cooper?" The Agent continued to stare at him. "I'll pay for it," Nigel added, rummaging desperately in his pocket and pulling out a wallet. He pressed several dollars into Cooper's hands. "Please?"
Cooper groaned. "All right, all right."
"Thanks," Nigel said gratefully. "I won't forget this."
"I'll see to it that you don't." Cooper turned and strode away, shaking his head. What this world was coming to…..
Cooper drove the black sedan out Rowan's front gates and through Rowan Township onto the main road leading to the city. Still wondering why on earth he was doing this, the Agent turned onto a street leading to the local Safeway. After securing the car with all three separate locks, he headed into the store. And that was where the trouble started.
Cooper knew that Nigel would never send him on a wild goose chase – the man wasn't an idiot, after all – so why couldn't he find these stupid crackers? Attracting strange looks from the various shoppers, he went up and down every single aisle. Finally, hanging onto his patience by a thread, the Agent went to the back of the store and discovered an entire wall of Bedford Bros. Wafers.
"Of course, the one place I didn't think to look," he muttered, grabbing two bags and turning to go up to the registers. As soon as he turned around, however, he found himself looking at a freckled, excited face. "Um."
"Hi! I'm Jeannie! Would you like to try some frozen sushi? It's not frozen now, of course, cause that would hurt your teeth!" She shoved a plate of sushi in his face.
Cooper backed up. "No, thank you."
"But they're fishalicious!" Jeannie protested, waving a piece around by its toothpick. "Try one! It's a free sample!"
"I can see that. No, thank you." Cooper dodged left, but she followed him and shoved the plate under his nose.
"Come on! It's really good!"
"Oh, for…" Cooper grabbed a piece. "Happy?"
"Well, you gotta eat it!"
"I'll eat it on the way out."
"Eat it now!"
Cooper was about ready to clock the girl when, mercifully, an old lady pushing a shopping cart hobbled by and Jeannie the Salesgirl ambushed her instead. Abandoning the sushi, he beat a hasty retreat to the registers.
Gunning the engine, Cooper peeled out of the Safeway parking lot and back onto the main roads. Luck was not on his side that night, he realized as a tire suddenly blew out. Cursing, the Agent pulled over by the side of the road and got out. Some idiot, he discovered, had thrown a glass bottle out his window, and now the tire was shot. Cooper unlocked the trunk of the car. Inside he found a suitcase of daggers, several lengths of rope, and shirts of nanomail in various sizes, but no spare tire. Slamming the trunk shut with more force than was really necessary, Cooper surveyed his surroundings. He was on the side of the road near another shopping center. A bus stop caught his eye. It was, he realized, the only choice. Locking the car and setting up several shields to dispel teens looking for a free ride, he set off to the bus stop.
After several minutes of waiting in the cool evening air, the metro bus pulled up. Cooper climbed aboard. "Does this go past somewhere I can find a mechanic?"
The driver raised an eyebrow. "Yeah. Gas station. Third stop."
Without another word, the Agent went toward the back of the bus. The only available seats were one beside an old lady and her knitting bag, and three in the empty row in front of her, right behind a teenage girl who was simultaneously chewing gum and talking loudly on her cell phone, giving everyone a clear view of said gum. Weighing his options, Cooper took a seat in the empty row.
The girl turned around to stare at him, hair as pink as her bubblegum framing a face with way too much makeup. She turned back around and began babbling into her phone in a very loud, very obnoxious voice.
"Ohmygawd, Lauren, this guy just like, sat down behind me, and his, like, face, is like, totally burned, and he's all in black, which is like so not in right now – I know riiiiiight? And anyway, he looks like the kid of that like dude Stacy likes and that Goth chick we saw yesterdayuh – nooo, not thaaat one, the one with the, like, brown hair and the earrings? Yeah, that one. He's like, sooooo creepy. I don't even know what he's, like, doing here, he should totally be like, lurking in some alley – OMG do you think he's gonna, like, attack me? He better not, cause I would like kick him in the –"
By this point Cooper had one hand on the knife in his sleeve and was seriously beginning to consider doing something drastic to shut her up. The bus pulled to a halt, and a harassed-looking woman carrying a baby and dragging two four-year-olds behind her got on. Oh no, Cooper thought. The only seats left are…
The woman plopped the whining children on the two seats next to Cooper and sat down with the baby next to the old woman, who engaged her in a conversation about knitting.
Cooper stared out the window as fixedly as he could. The children bickered for a minute, and then Cooper saw their reflections in the window catch sight of his.
"Hey," the girl said in a loud whisper. "Look at that guy. He's creepy."
"Whaddaya think happened to him?" asked her brother around a mouthful of chocolate.
"I don't know. Let's ask." She raised her voice. "Hey mister!"
Cooper did his best to ignore her.
"Mister! Hey mister! Hey mister!" She turned to her brother. "He's not answering," she complained.
"Maybe he can't hear you."
"HEY MISTER –"
Cooper spun to face them. "What do you want?"
They looked at him innocently from round eyes. "What happened to your face?"
"Nuh uh!" the girl persisted. "Somefin' had to happen!"
"Nothing. Leave me alone." He turned away again.
That was when the boy started poking him.
Two more stops two more stops two more stops…
As soon as the bus pulled up to the gas station, Cooper was off it. The sight of the gas station did not encourage him. The neon "GasCo" sign was flickering, and a McDonald's hamburger wrapper blew by the deserted gas pumps like a tumbleweed. Cooper pushed open the grimy door pasted with cigarette ads and went up to the counter. A fat, greasy-looking man glanced up from his magazine.
"I need my car tire replaced," Cooper said, getting straight to the point.
The mechanic went back to his magazine. "No night work. Come back tomorrow."
"I want that tire replaced now."
The mechanic ignored him.
Cooper sighed. "How much money will it cost?"
At that, the mechanic closed his magazine and straightened up. "Three hundred bucks."
"Three hundred bucks? I'll give you one hundred!"
Whatever shred of patience Cooper might have had left vanished. Before he knew what he was doing, the Agent had whipped out his knife and stabbed the magazine with it, right through Lady GaGa's arm. "One hundred dollars," he snarled.
The mechanic paled, but he squeaked, "One-fifty."
Cooper deflated, fed up. "Fine. Whatever. One-fifty. Now go fix it." He took his knife out of the counter and sheathed it. This worm wasn't worth it.
The mechanic and Cooper drove to the stranded sedan in the gas station's pickup. Cooper considered "forgetting" to remove the protective shields and give the man a shock, but this guy could already hold him accountable for armed threatening, and he didn't want to push it. The mechanic replaced the tire with one from the gas station, took his money, and split.
When he made it back to Rowan, Cooper walked inside and almost crashed into Nigel Bristow. "Here," he snarled, shoving a bag of Bedford Bros. Wafers into the Recruiter's arms.
From the look on his face, Nigel obviously hadn't been sure whether Cooper would really do the errand for him. "Oh, thank you, Cooper."
"You owe me $150."
"I – what? Surely the crackers couldn't have cost that much…"
"No, but the new tire for the car did."
"Oh." Nigel looked at him pleadingly. "Can I pay you back later?"
Cooper just stood there, arms folded.
"Fine." Nigel dug out a wad of bills and gave them to the Agent. As he did so, he noticed what Cooper was carrying. "Why did you buy two bags?"
"This one's mine. If I've gone to the trouble of buying these wretched things, I'm going to eat them." The Agent turned and strode away.
Because we all love to annoy Cooper. It's like teasing a tiger. Except Cooper knows more ways to kill you.
Have a Mystical day!